Believe me, I’ve read the news.   Like, about how 40% of recent college grads are unemployed.  For those few who were lucky enough to find jobs, most are taking positions that don’t even require a college degree.

Labor market economist Heidi Shierholz states that employment situation for young adults has “never been this bad.”  It’s unprecedented.

But it’s not a reason to lose hope.  And it’s certainly no reason to settle.

I’ve seen too many of my friends and recent college graduates take one look at our current job situation, and respond by taking the first very first job that’s offered to them.

80 hour work weeks? Degrading pay? Rudimentary tasks?  Sure, whatever, I’ll take it.

It shouldn’t have to be this way.

On some level, I get it.  The job market is tough.  And it is certainly better to start from the bottom and work your way up, than to come out of college filled with self-entitlement and unwarranted expectations.  I’m not supporting an unchecked, preemptive mindset of any kind.

What I am supporting is sticking up for yourself.  You’ve worked hard in college to make a difference, and hey, college is expensive.  Don’t get pushed around by heavy-handed corporations looking to just squeeze every ounce of life out of you for pennies on the dollar.

Some of my friends thought I was crazy.  I turned down more than my fair share of job offers, even when there was no real certainty that there were any more offers to come.  I held fast to the belief that there were still companies out there who got it.   Companies who weren’t looking to exploit recent graduates at the weakest point in their employment careers.

And then, at last, I found one.  It’s called Metric Theory.

Against all odds, here is a company filled with twenty-somethings that has tripled in size year over year.  And it’s all happened during the worst employment period for twenty-somethings in the history of our country’s existence.

Wait, what?  Want to know how I found them?

The simplest answer is I looked.  And I mean, I seriously looked.  With every job interview that I had, I treated like it was me interviewing them, rather than the other way around.

Really digging deep into the companies and positions I was applying for ended up being the most beneficial part of my job search.  I’d encourage all college graduates out there to do the same, regardless of where the job market currently stands.

To get you started, here are five questions that I found to be helpful:

1)     What is the company’s interview process like?

Does the company really get to know you as a person throughout the process, or are they just breezing through a standard set of behavioral questions?  Chances are that if they don’t take the time to get to know you in the interview process, they won’t take the time to get to know you once you’re hired, either.

At Metric Theory, the hiring team was looking for great individuals – regardless of major.  I came out of college with a Master’s Degree in Statistics – and knew absolutely nothing about paid search.   However, the common thread of eventual Metric Theory hires is not centered upon major, or their ability to supply pre-meditated interview question answers. It’s marked by driven individuals who are excited and passionate about growing Metric Theory together.

A company looking for one specific skill is more likely to pigeon-hole you into specific tasks.  A company looking for the right people is more likely to give you an opportunity to grow.

2)     What does your company’s training program look like?

Here’s a quick reality check to determine how much your company really cares about you as an employee – how much do they invest in your training and growth?

At Metric Theory, you get a full year’s worth of training from some of the top paid search minds in the field, most of which is implemented by the company’s VP of Account Services.  That’s twelve months of Metric Theory fully investing in you while you’re not actually driving profits for the company.

3)     What kind of work will you be doing?

With the college-graduate job market the way it currently is, many companies are getting away with plugging new hires into mindless positions that are simply cogs in a big machine—rather than placing them in areas in which they can grow and succeed.

Watch out for euphemisms like “supporting people in ____ roles” or “executing on week to week responsibilities.”  What do those mean?  Is it a repetitive task you could do in your sleep by the end of week 2?

At Metric Theory, we can’t afford for our employees to be simply cogs in a machine.  As a young and growing company, we need all of our employees to be driven innovators at work—or else we wouldn’t be able to keep leading the ever-evolving field of paid search.  New hires have also done everything from develop training curriculum testing, revamped company document design, and write blog posts… and this is just people in their first three months!

4)     How does the company show employee appreciation?

It’s no secret that companies who take care of their employees almost always end up being the most successful (See: Google) – so look for this in your job search.  What concrete examples does your company have to demonstrate how much they appreciate their employees?

Metric Theory crushes it here.  From summer retreats (Lake Tahoe!), happy hours, and catered lunches all the way to nap rooms, and simply getting coffee with your supervisor to talk about life, Metric Theory sends one consistent message to all of their employees:  We care.

MT_Office_Shades Funny

Some of my esteemed colleagues in our Denver office


5)     What is your long-term career path with the company?

Everyone needs that first job out of college, but once you land it, you don’t stay 22 forever.  What kind of future does your company offer?

A simple reality check of your promotion potential: where does your company’s leadership come from?  Were they grown in-house, or are they mostly outside MBA hires who come in at a higher level than loyal employees who have been with the company for years?

Metric Theory prides itself in developing in-house talent, and training their own employees to help educate the next great class of Metric Theory hires.  From day one, I have always been excited about my opportunity to grow with Metric Theory because of all of the successes of the more experienced Metric Theorists who came before me.