Exploring New Career Options

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Your dream career does not just magically appear. You have to plan your career based on your skills and interests and work at achieving it. To do this, you have to find out the career paths that are in line with your interests and expertise. This process involves research and is bound to take a lot of time and effort. The following sections offer most of the answers you need to set in motion the journey on your career path.

Determining the Right Amount to Ask for as Salary

Before getting a job, it is common to be taken through an interviewing process. During such interviews, a common question that has vast implications is that of the amount one expects to receive in remuneration. This question can be challenging to tackle, especially for students just out of college and inexperienced in job-seeking. The question requires balance because asking for too little means that you will earn less than you work for, and asking for too much may lock you out of the opportunity.

The following are things to consider when determining what amount to ask for:

Thorough Research

To have an idea of what the best figure to quote will be, look for information on how much a contemporary in the same position would earn. Consider factors such as the location of their company, the number of hours they work, the roles they perform, and the experience they have. The best figure to start working with is that of an equal at an almost similar organization with somewhat the same qualifications and experience as you. Additionally, ask employees at the target institution in a position similar to the one you’re seeking how much they make. While many may not be forthcoming with such information, a friendly approach with humility and confidence may be all that’s needed.

Another important resource is the internet. Free online tools and resources such as Glassdoor, Salary.com, and PayScale may be beneficial in determining what the best rate to ask for is. These sites allow filtering based on industry and job title, among others.

Put into Consideration your Education and Working Experience

While thinking about the proper salary to quote, your educational achievements and working experience will have a significant bearing. Having a formal education that meets the minimum requirement gives you eligibility for the job, but having more than the minimum requirement is an advantage. Having worked in the industry before, whether in a paid position or as an intern, gives leverage to quote a slightly higher salary than you otherwise could have. Ensure that the skills gained in this position are directly applicable to the job you desire to get. During the negotiation, let the hiring officer know that you have already been exposed to this career path and that you will be an addition of value to the institution.

Consider your Salary History

If the job you’re applying to is not the first, ensure that you think about how much you’ve earned before and what the responsibilities for the position were. If they are similar, then what you ask for at the new job should be slightly higher. If you’ve gained much experience at your old post, then that should be a stepping stone in your career path for an even better salary. If the roles at the new position are significantly different, find a way of integrating your past experience into the job as complimentary skills to aid in your salary negotiation.

Factor in Travel and Changes in Route

Consider the effect of the new job on your travel expenses and the impact it has on the route you take. Think about how much time shall be saved or spent using this new route. If you have to take up using private transport, other than the direct cost, think about the expense of parking and whether a spot shall be provided at the new workplace.

Having considered such items, factor these into the calculation of the salary you would like to ask for. Travel expenses may become a frustration when they significantly eat into your salary. Therefore, ensure that they are catered for in the payroll.

If these expenses are significant, raise the matter during the salary negotiation to explain why you would require a salary higher than that at your previous workplace. If your education, skills, and experience are what the new employer is seeking, they will be willing to grant this travel allowance as part of your salary to get you to work with them. Some employers may even consider making special arrangements to ease your commute.

Do not Forget the Non-monetary Benefits

Most employers grant benefits such as vacation time, health coverage, retirements benefits, and paid off days. Other perks may include workplace amenities such as cafeterias, child daycare facilities, and gyms. Additionally, some employers may also cover expenses for professional development courses. All of these are important considerations when selecting the best job offer and when determining the right amount to ask for.

Plan your Career

Ensure that you hold a clear understanding of the career path you intend to take, and put in thought into how to achieve your goals. Before delving into sending applications to potential employers, create a plan for your intended path. Planning helps to make the vision clearer and reduces the stress of considering what lies ahead by breaking things down into manageable bits. With your career goals in mind, simplify the task of job-hunting into more manageable sections, as follows:

Do a Personal Assessment

Figure out what your interests, personality traits and skills, and your work experience are. Also, knowing what you do not want to do or what you don’t might be helpful.

Self-assessment helps in gauging and selecting a career path that is in line with your personality, strengths, personality traits and skills. Such assessments typically focus on the following areas:

  •    Values

These are the things that matter most to you, both personally and professionally. For some, these may be personal achievements, independence, and accolades, while for others, societal impact is more important. Consider what the job offers concerning supporting your values to avoid settling into a disappointing career.

  •    Interests

To avoid a stressful and dissatisfying career, ensure that you sink into one that aligns with your interests.

  •    Skills

These are areas in which you have developed aptitude or ability. There are two types: technical and soft skills. Technical skills are abilities that can be measured or related directly to the performance of a specific task, for example, software development skills. Soft skills are abilities that are difficult to measure or connect directly to the execution of a job, for example, effective communication and positive thinking. Soft skills have a positive impact on the performance of tasks (even though the effects may not be direct and may be hard to measure). When seeking a job, do not disregard your skills, especially the soft skills which are easy to overlook.

Weigh your Career Options

Do research into your potential careers, collect information on the different industries and review trends on their performance and demands, and consider the available organizations. Match these industries and organizations with your personal traits and interests. Consider the alternative that supports your desired career path the most.

The following are ways of immersing yourself into potential industries and institutions to find what you truly love:

  •    Personal Interviews

Interview people who are following your desired career path to find out what their jobs entail, the things they enjoy about working in that career, and the challenges they face. Such personal interviews give a glimpse into the real world setting, exposing challenges and opportunities that may not be found out through reading the job description. Find out what most people like and dislike about that particular career, the most surprising discovery made along the way, recommendations on what to do to get the job, and the most satisfying thing about the profession.

  •    Job Shadowing

Accompany and observe a worker in your desired potential position. Avoid distracting them so that you get the best understanding of what the job entails. At the end of the period, have a conversation with them and appreciate the time they allowed you to be with them.

  •    Internship

This is a method that is commonly employed by graduates but may also be used between jobs. Internships may be paid or unpaid. Paid internships may serve as great placeholders for those between jobs, and may be an excellent starting point for young graduates. The most significant advantages that internships offer include work experience that may be included in a resume, opportunities to improve skills, and networks with individuals who may help along your career path.

  •    Working as a Volunteer

This is a unique way of getting valuable experience and creating an excellent reputation for your resume while at the same time having an impact on a community. Unlike shadowing, volunteering allows you to be immersed in the work experience and gives you direct information.

Other ways of obtaining information about the desired potential career include reading books and articles, watching videos, listening to podcasts, checking out job websites, and joining groups on LinkedIn.

Plan your Career Path

Develop a strategy to create a compelling resume and have a plan for how to do an employment search. Consider opportunities for internship and job shadowing and think about the ones that support your career goals. Create professional networks that will help your career path.

Because of many applications to institutions, the hiring officers may only have a short period to go through each entry. Therefore, ensure that your selling points are well brought out to stand out from the rest. The following are ways of creating an outstanding resume:

  •    Point Out your Uniqueness

Make sure that your personal traits and values resonate with the mission and vision of the potential employer. Rather than having a redundant and rosy resume, be precise but match your skills and education with the desired position.

  •    Highlight your Accomplishments

Point out your contributions to your previous employer’s growth or success. Use statements of fact and statistics to make accomplishments more objective and extraordinary. For example, state the growth rate in returns recorded by your department since your employment. Additionally, indicate the accolades that you received while at that job.

  •    Diction

Choose the words on your resume and cover letter carefully. Use wording that is captivating and dynamic. For example, use words such as ‘created,’ ‘generated,’ and ‘achieved’ to draw attention to successes.

  •    Formatting

Be careful to select formats that are generally acceptable and be consistent in your formatting. It will be sad to lose an opportunity just because of an improperly formatted document. Additionally, inconsistency in formatting communicates personal disorganization. This gives a bad reputation.

Other than having a compelling resume, craft a proper cover letter to go with it. The cover letter expresses the interest in a job and highlights the values and competencies of the candidate. Ways of making the cover letter attractive include:

  •    Specificity

The letter should highlight competencies and show their direct impact on the position of interest. The skills mentioned should be the answer to the employer’s needs.

  •    Attention to Detail

The format of this letter should match that of the resume. The address on the message should be specific to the hiring officer rather than general and vague. The names and titles mentioned in the address should be correctly spelled. Ensure that every detail is correct and avoid errors by proofreading.

  •    Formatting

Choose a format for the document which is most presentable and is outstanding to give a great visual impression.

Make Applications

Put your strategy into action by selecting the potential employers that you’d wish to work with. Start collecting application material and practice on your presentation and interview skills.

When making applications, avoid sending a single document to many institutions. Tailor each application to suit the target employer. Find out as much as you can about the institution before beginning the application process. The following are a few tips for a successful application:

  •    Follow Instructions

Most institutions give directions on how to make a request an application from them. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines provided to avoid wasting time on rejections because of small deviations from the given instructions. Additionally, not adhering to application regulations renders a general impression of rebellion.

  •    Express Genuine Interest

Avoid sounding overzealous in complimenting your potential employer and instead explain why you are interested in joining them and what you will do to improve their standing.

  •    Tailor your Applications

Avoid sending a single application to many institutions. Instead, work on a few tailored applications that are based on proper research of the target institutions.

  •    Wait Patiently

Having sent in an application, expect a response to take time before an answer is delivered. It is acceptable to ask how long the reply will take after submitting your application.

Tackling the Interview

Expect to be invited for an interview and be adequately prepared for it. Search for information on the company and the position of interest and make sure that you are familiar with the culture and policy. It may be necessary to prepare a copy of the job description for the position and have it at the time of the interview.

During the interview, show interest by maintaining eye contact and acknowledging the comments of the interviewers. Take your time to formulate answers and be prepared to answer open questions tactfully. Have compelling reasons as to why you should be hired.

Be prepared to be granted an opportunity to ask your own questions after the interview. Ask a question that shows your expectation of an affirmative answer to the discussion, such as what to expect of the working environment. End by appreciating the time you have been granted, and if possible, write to the company expressing gratitude for the opportunity.

Accept the Best Offer

Consider the available job offers carefully and make an objective decision on the best offer to accept. Consider the non-monetary benefits and the opportunities that the position provides regarding career growth. Prepare for the salary negotiation as you start the new job.

Most job offers are made in writing. The offer letter usually covers the steps to take to secure the position. Signing an agreement is probably going to be the final step.

The following are tips concerning the acceptance of an offer:

  •    Critically Review the Offer Letter

This letter is bound to be detailed and will usually explain the direct benefits of the job together with perks and bonuses. Carefully think about the details of the offer before deciding whether to accept it or ask for a renegotiation.

  •    Understand the Job Description

Ensure that you understand what the job entails. If there is anything that is not clear, seek clarification before signing the agreement.

  •    Ensure that the Remuneration is Fair

Only accept a position whose compensation is proportionate with the amount of work and the level of skills you will be offering.

  •    Set your Minimum Requirements

If the salary offered is less than what is acceptable, be prepared to renegotiate. If this is rejected, be ready to decline the offer. In short, know your worth.

  •    Know Whom to Approach

If you would like to negotiate or renegotiate, understand the organization’s structure and know who the right person to approach is. Sometimes the hiring officer is not the decision-maker when it comes to financial decisions. Ensure that you contact the right person for the correct results.

  •    Set your Priorities

Understand what you would like to get out of the job the most and use it to make the best decision. While a well-paying job may be very stressful, a lower paying job at a different place may offer better work experience or greater networking opportunities that contribute to your career path.

Tips for Students and Graduates

For most students and new graduates, the experience of job-seeking can be both thrilling and highly stressful. Having ways of dealing with this stress or avoiding it altogether helps to create stability early in one’s career. In addition to all the information in the previous sections, the following are important to consider doing the following:

Colleges provide career guidance through the use of career centers and career guidance officers and counselors. Many students fail to utilize this resource and end up struggling while it is meant to make choices more accessible and decisions smarter. The services offered here are free, and most centers have working relationships with some potential employers. Whether you know what you want to do or not, these professionals are there to help!
The college’s alumni group is usually composed of individuals from several industries and companies. This offers a rich source of information on various career paths. The group also provides valuable networking opportunities and some alumni may be potential employers or may refer you to one.
There are many sources available on the internet, including information on careers and opportunities in various fields. Some resources offer access to online career guidance, e.g., ‘The Muse’ even allows you to connect with Career Coaches.
Local community libraries and college libraries may have resources that may help with career information. It may be a good idea to try these.
Before employment, involve yourself in activities that improve your standing in the market. Volunteer, shadow a professional, do part-time jobs and attend classes that help to develop your skills. These activities strengthen your resume and may make you a better candidate than graduates with the same qualifications. Finally, travel and explore the world. See what other places and people have to offer. You may end up finding a more exciting career or create connections that propel you in your career path.

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