Finding a New Job: What We’ve Learned, From Applying to Negotiating

In 2019, we answered your questions about finding a new job.

You need a new job. Maybe you’re looking for a gig that’ll keep your passion project afloat. Or perhaps you’re looking for something that will turn into a career.

Either way, landing a job that matches whatever picture you’ve mentally painted takes time and patience.

At any given time, there are millions of job openings and millions of people just like yourself, pounding the virtual pavement (not to mention the countless hiring managers on the other side, looking for that needle in a haystack).

How can you present your best self and get offered the right job for you? We’ve covered a variety of issues relating to the job search, from applying to interviewing to negotiating. Here’s a look at what we learned:

The search is on

Most job postings are edited by committee before they’re posted online and yet despite that — or perhaps because of that — they always seem to leave a lot up to interpretation. Even when they are clear, it turns out that your perception of how you meet the criteria may shift if you’re male or female.

Researcher Tara Mohr found that women are much less likely to apply for a job if they’re not a perfect match for every qualification listed.

“For many women, the choice to refrain from applying is based on a fictitious idea of ‘the perfect employee,’” Rewire contributor Kelsey Yandura wrote in her article “Should You Apply For a Job You’re Not Qualified For?

“These findings suggest that women often see a list of job qualifications as a hardbound set of needs, rather than employer preferences.”

Not only that, but women are also less likely to apply out of a fear of failure.

Rejection can sting, but for some, even the act of applying to jobs and not hearing anything back can feel like a failure. It’s important to fight off that feeling of discouragement.

Rewire contributor Gabe Zaldivar reported in “Is Ghosting the New Normal in a Competitive Job Market?” that 60 percent of job candidates said they’d been ghosted by an employer after an interview.

The takeaway? Don’t take it personally, but also don’t consider that permission to ghost employers.

“Remember, the HR rep you jilted today might look at your application again down the road, and a virtual red flag will be sitting there to tell a clear story on how you treated the company,” Zaldivar wrote.

Into the hot seat

Let’s say you’ve cleared the first hurdle and now you’re being called in for an interview. Spend some time researching who you’ll be meeting with and draft a list of questions to ask when they give you the opportunity – which they definitely will.

These preparations will help you make a strong impression at your interview, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. While your ability to do a good job shouldn’t depend on how well you can hold your own at a company happy hour, Rewire staff editor Gretchen Brown reported on this particular personality-based hiring bias.

In “Do Extroverts Interview Better Than Introverts?”, Brown shared that a 1998 study from Santa Clara University found that the number one signifier of whether a student would get a job offer was how extroverted they were.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or the perfect cultural fit. Research has found that introverted leaders do just as well as extroverted leaders. And being a cultural fit does little more than create a culture of clones.

A search is not a career

The whole job search process can be exhausting. It can feel like you should spend all your free time on the hunt for a new job but, like most things, moderation is a healthy approach.

Lisa Severy, director of career services at the University of Colorado-Boulder, offered Brown the following advice in “How to Avoid Job Search Burnout and Find the Gig You Want.”

“Even though it’s easy to check for status updates via email throughout the day, it’s important that you set off-hours for yourself as well — just as you would if you had a very stressful job.

“Eating well, sleeping well and exercise can fall by the wayside in the middle of an extensive job search, but they’re also important for dealing with stress,” Severy said.

“Even the most hardworking person needs time to recharge.” 

[ICYMI: How to Explain Away Short-Term Work History in an Interview]

Show me the salary

Sometimes, it all goes according to plan and your fantastic interview is met with a very exciting job offer. Congratulations! But don’t celebrate yet — first you need to get through salary negotiations, perhaps the least fun phase of the entire process.

Knowledge is power in a job hunt and that’s especially true here. In “How To Determine Your Ideal Salary Before Starting Negotiations,” Brown wrote that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers wage data broken down by industry and title, and that other websites like Salary.com and LinkedIn’s salary feature provide similar information.

It’s not all about the number. If a company offers fantastic benefits it might make up for a lower starting salary.

Sometimes it’s even worth taking a pay cut to get the job you want.

“If money really matters, you should only take a cut when you can reasonably expect to grow in the company — and your salary will grow as well,” Joe Flanagan, a senior career advisor with MintResume, told Rewire contributor Julia Reis for “Here’s Why It Can Be OK to Take a Salary Cut.”

“But if you have priorities other than salary, such as doing work that has meaning for you, a salary cut to work at a non-profit in an area you’re passionate about supporting can be the right choice.”

Starting up and moving on

Accepting a new job offer is just the start of a whole new roller coaster. This is your opportunity to start fresh, make a strong first impression and maybe even be more organized than you were at your last gig.

Step into your new role and build yourself a reputation as an office gossip. But instead of spreading negativity, be known for talking about how well your coworkers are doing.

“By consistently being a positive force in the workplace, people doing this will gain a lot of recognition from their colleagues and their superiors for being positive and empowering,” said life coach Tiffany Toombs to Rewire in the article “Why You Should Compliment People Behind Their Backs.”

“This often leads to an increase in opportunities for promotion, advancement and friendship.”

Marissa Blahnik

Marissa is managing editor of Rewire and an award-winning digital and broadcast media producer. She identifies as a Leo, a Jersey girl, and a musical theater fanatic.