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Finding a great job is tougher than ever in some ways, but in others, you’ve got advantages your parents never dreamed of. The employer/employee relationship is no longer as asymmetrical as it once was; by following a fairly simple process, you can make sure your next job is a win-win arrangement.

How to Choose the Right Job for You

First things first: before beginning your job search, you should take some time to think carefully about what you need out of your next gig and where you’re likely to find it.

A great career:

  • Supports and advances your values;
  • Challenges you and provides opportunities to practice skills you enjoy using;
  • Matches your needs in terms of scheduling, hours worked, salary, and benefits;
  • Provides opportunities for future growth, advancement, or networking.

Knowing the answers to these questions will make it much easier to figure out where and how to start looking for specific jobs.

Top Tools for Finding a Great Job

Once you’ve thought carefully about these factors and have a general idea of what you’d like to get paid for, the next decision to make is how to choose a job to apply for. There are several ways to conduct your search, and it’s usually helpful to start by reading job search reviews. Some methods may yield better results than others for particular industries.

  • Online job boards are plentiful, and are a great way to begin casting a wide net - especially for remote workers. Some may even have online employment reviews written by other members. While these sites allow you to respond to many ads quickly and easily, keep in mind that they do the same for other job seekers, meaning you may face more competition.
  • Staffing agencies tend to be good starting points for entry-level blue or white collar workers. They act as a middleman between you and prospective employers, matching your skills to their needs to place you in a job you’ll be good at. Generally, full-time permanent positions can be hard to come by, as staffing agencies tend to fill part-time, temporary, or contract positions. Be sure to read employment reviews for staffing agencies as well as regular employers.
  • Classified ads in your local newspaper still exist and are often overlooked by younger job seekers. Small businesses looking for local talent often advertise in print publications, and may not advertise online at all. This can mean there is less competition for the job, especially if you check the ads early each morning.
  • Networking is ultimately responsible for up to 80% of new hires across all industries, according to some estimates. Whatever the exact number may be, it’s clear that you’ve got a huge advantage if you know someone with connections to a particular business or industry. Ask friends, family members, and former colleagues if they know of any openings you might be a good fit for.

Top Job Seeker Complaints About Employers and Employment Services

The early stages of the job search process are where most job seekers run into problems. Always read employment complaints when researching a company, but don’t forget to look for positive reviews for job search as well. Some of the most common complaints on pissedconsumer.com and other sites include:

Employment scams involving criminals posing as employers who offer you a position on the condition that you pay them money in advance for “background checks” or other fake application fees;

Subscription-based job search services which fail to produce useful results, are extremely difficult to cancel, or both;

Fake openings posted by legitimate employers for jobs that don’t exist or have already been filled (laws or company policies often require that the position be advertised to meet certain requirements);

Staffing agencies placing workers in positions that clearly don’t fit the applicant’s skills or requirements;

Late or incorrect paychecks remitted by employers.

How to Choose the Best Company to Work For

You’ve compiled a short list of jobs that seem to fit your needs - now what? An interview is the best time to find out if you and your new employer will be a good fit for one another, but you can (and should) do a lot of that work ahead of time.

  • Make sure you read online job reviews and ratings of companies written by both its employees and customers to get a good idea of how the company treats both. Employee reviews of companies are often the best way to discover what’s good and bad about a company. 
  • Research the company’s financial strength, longevity, corporate values, and its business structure. Depending on its size and legal status, some of this information may be public record. If it’s not, refer to their latest job reviews or ask a human resources representative during an interview.
  • Once a conditional offer is made or you’ve made it most of the way through a long hiring process, ask to review documents such as the position description and employee handbook. Transparent, serious employers will be more than happy to let you see documentation related to the work they expect you to perform.

How to Negotiate During an Interview

Once you’ve made it to the interview stage, most (but not all) of the hard work is behind you. Follow these simple steps to finish strong and land your dream job.

  1. Come prepared! Thoroughly research the company, the position you’re interviewing for, and comparable positions in similar companies. Be ready to explain what you bring to the table and how you can help the company thrive. Know what you want and be ready to ask for it with confidence.
  2. Remember that an interview is a two-way street, even if it might not seem that way. The questions you ask your prospective employer are just as important as the ones you answer, if not more so. Asking relevant, future-oriented questions about your role in the company shows that you’re engaged and motivated.
  3. When asked about pay, give a range rather than a single number. Ask for more information about what your responsibilities will be and negotiate in that context. Start high and give the employer room to counter; if your first answer is on the lower end of what you’re willing to accept, it’s very difficult to get your employer to agree to a higher salary later.
  4. Once you’ve agreed on a salary - or at least a ballpark range - don’t forget to bring up other benefits. Vacation, insurance, retirement plans, and the skills and connections you will gain in this job are all tangible benefits too.
  5. It’s okay to say no and walk away if you can’t reach a mutually satisfactory agreement with this employer. If you can afford to take your time and look for a better fit, do so. Exit gracefully and gratefully—don’t be rude or burn bridges.

It’s sometimes easy to feel like employers hold all the cards, especially when you need work fast, but this is usually not as true as it may seem. A great job is a win-win trade, and a great boss knows that. Putting in some extra time and effort to find the right job for you almost always works out better in the long run than simply taking the first offer that comes your way.