Many of us are well prepared for our new jobs and careers through education and experience. But school doesn't teach us how to manage those crucial first steps in a career. Here are five tips to help on your journey to career satisfaction.
1. Negotiate Offers
You got the offer! Congratulations. You're at the peak of your negotiating power with your employer. Make a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves”. Companies typically have latitude in offering base compensation –after all, they're called compensation “ranges” for a reason. Negotiate for at least the minimum compensation that you need to live on. Bonuses are wonderful, but they are often subject to company and/or personal levels of goal attainment. You don't buy groceries with bonuses, so negotiate for the highest compensation you can.
Your base pay will influence everything throughout your career, from the amount of matching funds you receive in your 401(k) to your next job offer. Bonuses are often paid as a percentage of pay, so it's paramount that you negotiate for the highest amount possible. If you need help identifying your target pay, sites like PayScale and Salary can help.
If you're changing jobs, think about negotiating for a sign-on bonus, too. Most companies are open to them, especially if you can justify it by having to pay for COBRA while you wait to be eligible for your new company's insurance.
2. Separate Technology
Get a work phone and use it exclusively for work related texts and emails. You can use this number throughout your career. There are several reasons why this is important.:
- It allows you to have more control over your work life balance. You can decide if you really want to answer that phone call. You can also shut your phone off or even leave it behind if you go out for the evening or on vacation. Nothing says “career satisfaction” like maintaining boundaries.
- If you use your personal device for company business you're potentially allowing your employer access to all of your personal interactions and information. To read more about how this happens, please click here.
3. Find Rewards Outside of Work
It's always interesting to see how Americans tend to identify themselves by their work. In other countries, the question of “What do you do for a living?” isn't a conversation starter. In some places it's downright rude.
So what are your interests outside of work? Do you have a hobby? A craft? A passion for something completely unrelated to your work? Find a creative or enriching outlet. If you adopt a curious, lifelong learner mindset it's amazing what you can discover. It's imperative to find something enriching beyond work and even family. Your kids are going to grow up and may even leave home one day! And hopefully you'll retire. What will you be left with? What will engage and interest you for years to come? Finding interests outside of work will truly create career satisfaction and avoid burnout.
4. Stay Healthy and Active
It's too easy to settle into a routine of sleeping, working, and eating. For many Americans, that involves a lot of sitting and snacking on unhealthy food. It also makes us tired, irritable, and less likely to find career satisfaction.
Think about good food choices and activity as daily investments into your retirement account. If you stay healthy and active during your working years, there's a good chance you'll be in good shape when you retire. So many people look forward to retirement, but when it comes they're not healthy enough to enjoy it. Don't be that person.
5. Be Grateful and Give Back
Practicing a gratitude mindset helps you appreciate the little things in life that are easily taken for granted. it also reminds you that no matter how difficult a situation is, there are always people who have it a lot worse than you do.
One of the best ways to practice gratitude is by paying it forward. At work, help out your coworkers by sharing information and workloads. And don't forget that volunteering is a wonderful way to give back. As you grow your network and career, you will find that board service is a wonderful way to meet new contacts while supporting causes that you're passionate about.
Creating career satisfaction is truly a multi-faceted process. Experiment, be curious, and keep practicing gratitude!