5 things to know before starting your job hunt


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5 things to know before starting your job hunt


Whether you've recently graduated or have been in the working world for a while, you'll want to be strategic about your job-hunting efforts so you can find the job that best fits you. Here are some points to keep in mind before you get started.

1. People who move to a region other than where they went to school could earn more.

Willingness to move to a new city after graduating might do more than just allow you to discover other parts of the country -- it could also increase your earning potential.

A recent analysis from online lending company Earnest found that among graduates of the top 25 universities, graduates who moved to a new region within five years of graduating earned a median of $23,000 more per year than those who remained where they studied.

The effect was smaller for graduates from non-top 25 schools, but moving still led to a $10,000 higher average.

Of course, moving to a new region doesn't guarantee you'll make more. Research and identify higher-paying job markets and consider moving to a new city if the right opportunity presents itself.

2. Personal connections could help you land a job you're happy with.

It's all about who you know. Even in the digital age, personal connections are valuable for many reasons -- including, it appears, job happiness.

According to a survey conducted by Earnest, 74 percent of those who found their current job through connections were happy with it, compared to 65 percent of people who went through online resources or a recruiter.

While the exact reasons for this happiness gap likely varies by person, it could partially have to do with cultural fit.

Sam McIntire, founder of online job skill development platform Deskbright, says getting a job at a company where you know someone well means "you'll know that the values of at least some of the employees within the company align with your own... (which can) help you settle down more quickly and lead to a relaxed and more comfortable work environment."

3. Having 'assistant' in your job title might ding your salary potential.

The importance of job titles may be diminishing, particularly in industries such as technology, as many small and fast-growing companies don't use a comprehensive titling system for their employees.

But that doesn't mean you should ignore job titles when applying -- certain keywords are associated with significantly less (or more) salary, depending on the word.

"Assistant" is a word you might not balk at if you're looking at entry-level positions. However, given the choice, you might want to negotiate to drop it from your title.

An Earnest analysis shows that people with "assistant" in their title made a median of $10,000 less per year than someone in the same function without the moniker. On the flip side, someone with "lead" in their title made a median of $23,000 more per year.

4. People who negotiate when they get a job offer report being happier with the job.

Many experts recommend negotiating your job offer. However, fewer than 50 percent of job seekers actually do it, according to Earnest's survey.

The survey also found that 75 percent of people who negotiated their offer reported being happy with their job, while only 52 percent of people who did not negotiate their job offer were happy with their employment.

"Job seekers who negotiate their salary and benefits package with their potential employer are happier because they feel valued," says Leila Hock, a career strategy coach and founder of Alignment Coaching.

Hock advocates for negotiating your offer because when a potential employer works with you, "it shows that they value you enough to try to give you what you want" -- whether or not they're able to give you exactly what you've asked for.

5. Employers can check your credit report, NOT your score.

In some states, employers may view your credit report, but it won't contain your credit score. In most cases, they'll have to ask for your permission to look at your credit report, which gives you the chance to explain any derogatory marks on your report.

While improving your credit health may be worthwhile for other reasons, the score may not help your job search.

Bottom line

Now that you're armed with a few tips to help with the job hunt, get yourself out there! Remember, it's not just about finding a job, but also landing something you'll enjoy doing and will compensate you fairly.

About the Author: Catherine is the senior editor at Earnest, where she works with national financial experts and innovators along with Earnest's data science team to tell stories about new-fashioned finance. Before joining Earnest, she worked at the automated investing service Betterment.

Prior to that, Catherine spent a decade in journalism with jobs at Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, and Huffington Post. She graduated from Stanford University and studied journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her passion is for consumer advocacy and empowerment through better information and technology. You can read more of Catherine's work on Earnest's blog.

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