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Make Your Next Career Move Your Best Move

A new year has arrived, and with it may come  a renewed desire to tackle goals and open yourself up to new opportunities for growth. Whether you’re looking to take your career to the next level or land your first post-college gig, knowing what you want is half the battle. Here’s a guide on how to get it.

Photo credits Christina Morillo

What is Your Main Goal? Before emailing cover letters and resumés, take a moment to make a list of what’s most important to you and what you require from your next employer. Are flexible work hours a must? Do you enjoy working remotely? Do you want your work and personal beliefs to align? How much money do you require to cover your bills and live your best life?

Look at job titles in your area to get a better idea of positions that meet your salary and other requirements. Glassdoor is a great site for researching companies, salaries and much more.

Resumés and Cover Letters Writing a resume can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. First things first: Figure out what kind of resumé you need. The Balance Careers is an excellent source for all things professional development. No matter what level you’ve reached in your career, they have plenty of templates that can help you draft a spectacular resumé.

Once you have your refreshed resumé, check to make sure you haven’t used any of these words. Ask a friend to review and offer a critique. There’s nothing worse than sending off your application only to realize you made an obvious grammatical mistake.

Cover letters aren’t the most fun to write, but having one on hand is always a good idea. You can get away with a general cover letter, but I would suggest tailoring it to align with each company you apply to. Scout the compan’s or organization’s website and check out the mission statement. You can drop information and keywords from a website into your cover letter to show that you’ve done your research and your values line up.

Also, make sure you have a professional email address. First name/last name is always a good choice. Once your resume, cover letter and professional email are in place, it’s time to start applying.

Phone, Video, and In-Person Interviews Interviewing can be nerve wracking. You might feel the pressure of graduation or just feel anxious about leaving your current situation behind. Either way, anxiety can set in when it’s time to begin the interviewing process.

Practice answering interview questions by yourself or with a friend. With practice, you can ensure you have a foundational answer for the most common interview questions and specific examples to share during the interview. The more prepared, the better, so here’s another example of common questions and appropriate answers.

Phone interviews can be particularly tricky because you can’t rely on physical cues to make sure your interviewer understands you. To limit any additional stress ahead of a phone interview, make sure you’re in a quiet, comfortable place and you have everything you need before you pick up the phone. This article on phone interview etiquette is a great resource to help you build confidence.

At the end of each interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions. This is a great time to ask for more context on the position, the company and when you should expect to hear back. Make sure you end every in-person interview with a firm handshake and don’t forget to thank them for their time. Follow up with a thank you email. It gives you one last opportunity  to reiterate any points you made during the interview and demonstrate a solid understanding of what they’re looking for in an employee.

No matter what type of interview you’re preparing for, remember, as much as the company is interviewing you, you are interviewing the company. You may think you want the job you’ve applied for, but interviewing is an opportunity to learn more about the company, their culture, leadership and whether you think they’d be a good fit for you. Salary Negotiations If interviewing didn’t make you nervous, salary questions might. Black women make 61 cents for every $1 their white male counterparts earn. Because of this, it’s imperative that you come to the table with solid knowledge of the average salary for someone with that title.

While the negotiation process can be thorny, doing your research and being confident in your abilities can help you feel confident once it’s time to start talking salary and benefits. The Interview Guys give several tips on navigating negotiations in multiple scenarios. Be sure to revisit Glassdoor to search the specific title and company once you book your first interview.

It’s perfectly acceptable to inquire about the salary range once you’re invited in for a second interview. Once you know, and they open negotiations with an offer, go in a little high and let them counter until you both reach a satisfactory figure.

For example, if an appropriate salary is somewhere between $40,000–$49,000 based on experience, go in at $52,000 or a little higher and let them counter.

At some point during the interview process you’ll be asked to fill out an application. There will likely be questions about your previous salaries. Do not list that information. They do not need to know you were making $12 an hour at your last internship or $36,000 at your last full-time gig. Instead, put your starting negotiation amount in each salary box. Internship salary, $52,000. Last full-time job, $52,000. If the company can’t meet the amount you are asking for, they will come back with a counter to see if you’d be willing to accept that rate. If you are, great. If not, counter a bit higher.

As the cost of living continues to rise, it’s imperative we become savvy in the art of job hunting and negotiation. To create the lives we want, we cannot live to work. We must walk into professional spaces knowing what we deserve, and not being afraid to ask for it.


Perdita Patrice is a Texas-based writer and documentary filmmaker. She enjoys live music, reading, and watching TV. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @perditapatrice


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