How to Find a Job You Love at the Salary You Deserve

You’ve finished college, and you’ve written your senior reflection swearing that you’ll live a life devoted to what makes your heart sing. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of crickets in the job market. Not to burst your bubble, but life is a little more complicated than just walking into a job that fulfills you and pays you a bunch of money. At this point, you probably have more than your share of people willing to put those dreams in their place.

Yes, the job market looks bleak right now, but don’t lose your spark just yet. There are a few ways to find or create your dream job at a salary that supports you without working yourself to the bone. The trick is to learn to look at things a little differently.

Get Clear on What You Want

You majored in business, and you want a job in something, well, business-y, or you majored in design and want something to design. This direct line from college to career is valid, of course, but you need to think deeper than just the job description.

Think of the kind of company you want to work for. Does it have a social vision? Does it foster innovation? Does it give you access to interesting people working on your team or does it leave you alone to do what you do? It helps to decide what kind of company you want to work for beyond just the job description. Then, if you land a job that isn’t quite what you had in mind, the atmosphere still inspires you.

You can also look at the types of coworkers you want. If your personality thrives with a little competition, it won’t make you happy to work with a line-up of yes men. If you want to be told the mission and how to get there, it won’t be a good fit to work with a boss that expects you to brainstorm and tweak the outcome.

Get Clear on How Much You Need

Money is a tricky subject. You need to find out exactly how much you need to live comfortably and what the market rate is for the work that you do.

When you know what your services and level of experience are worth in your particular area, it makes it easier to negotiate your salary, and the company is more likely to give you what you ask for.

It opens you up to other types of salary options. You can negotiate a trial salary with raises based on performance. You can add elements of non-cash benefits such as equity in the company. They might also offset a bigger part of your health benefits.

Another option is finding work with flexible hours so that you can have a side hustle that you also love. Having more than one income stream frees you up to accept a day job that is perfect but not exactly the right salary.

If you make good use of your network by authentically expanding your relationships, this will go a long way in helping you find jobs available that might not be readily advertised. There’s nothing wrong with leveraging connections until you find a position that speaks to you.

Invent Your Own Way

Look closely at the idea of working for a traditional company. There is security. There is establishment. There’s a job description that you just walk into.

Another option is to create the position you are looking for and market yourself. You can use the internet to build your business into something that gives you the freedom to work for yourself and charge what you are worth.

You can also make suggestions to your dream company to combine responsibilities into your strengths. Being honest about what you can do for the company helps them see you as the valuable employee you are.

Whatever you decide, don’t lose your spark of belief now that you’ve exited the sheltered world of college. Your detractors will tell you to put your head down and work your way to the top, but there are other ways to honor your dreams.

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