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How to Get a Better Job Sooner Than Later

Because you deserve to be happy at work

Woman dressed in work attire ready to get a better job
Photo courtesy of Gerardo Marrufo

There are a lot of reasons why people want better jobs—more pay, the chance at a promotion, better hours, better benefits, the ability to work remotely, a healthier environment, a supportive boss—so there are just as many different ways to go about getting a job that fulfills what you want in your career.

You deserve a job where you are respected, supported, and challenged. Here are some ways you can work toward getting a better job.

How to get a job you like more

No one wants to get stuck at a job they hate. If you don’t like the work you’re doing for eight (plus) hours a day, it’s going to impact your overall happiness and wellbeing in a major way. In order to get your dream job (or simply a job you like better than your current one), it’s helpful to know what you do want, but it’s even more helpful to know what you don’t want.

Make a list of the things you hope to find in a new job (for example: good pay and a boss who understands and respects your role as a caretaker to your aging mother) and what you hope to leave behind forever (toxic coworkers and a culture of overwork, perhaps). You might want to stay in your current field, or you might decide to pursue a career change.

Identifying your deal-breakers is the first step in finding a job you like more than your current job. From there, you might finding a mentor that can help guide you in the right direction, seek out career counseling services (there are free options!), or start the process of a career change.

Once you know what you’re looking for in a new job, check out our guide: How to Find a Job You Love (No Really)

Once you identify the things you do want and the things you definitely don’t want in a new job, be frank about them in the interview process. More on that below.

Read more:I Learned How to Be Happy at Work

How to get a job that pays better

We all have to pay the bills, and we all deserve to be well-compensated for our work. But women are chronically underpaid, and we seldom negotiate for more.

There are two ways you can go about getting higher pay.

1. Ask for a raise in your current job

You’ll need to determine a good salary for your job to help guide your request. If you find that your current salary falls at the top of the range for positions and experience like yours, that does not mean you can’t ask for a raise.

Our guide on how to ask for a raise will walk you through the process of negotiating a higher salary. And just as important as how you ask for a raise, is when you ask for a raise.

2. Seek out a different job that will pay you more

If your boss won’t budge on salary, you may have to go looking elsewhere. When looking on job boards, filter your search results based on your minimum required salary. Come to the interview prepared to present hard numbers around your professional accomplishments, and beef up your resume with plenty of numbers that show your achievements. Read company reviews to find out which companies are most highly rated for salary satisfaction.

There’s no single right time to bring up salary in the interview process, but if pay is the deal-breaker for you, consider bringing it up sooner than later to ensure you’re not wasting your time. And when it’s time to field that job offer, check out our guides: How to Negotiate Your Salary (For Career Newbies & Industry Vets) and How to Counter a Job Offer & Get What You Want .

What about a career change?

You might decide that your best route to getting a better job is to pursue a career change. It’s possible, and it doesn’t always require going back to school full-time. You might take coding classes online or further your education at the local university or community college (many have online or night classes), explore training or professional development opportunities with your current company, but that’s not always necessary. What’s most important is to highlight those transferable skills that employers want to see.

Here are a few guides to help you explore and pursue a career change.

How to get a job with more upward mobility

Your better job might mean having the opportunity to rise in the ranks. If you’ve been working at your company for several years and have had a tangible impact but aren’t being promoted or given more responsibility, it may be time to talk to your superior, or even leave your job.

You can approach your current boss and ask for a promotion by presenting your accomplishments and making a case for the bump, or you can look elsewhere. The best way to vet whether a new job will give you the opportunity to grow is to be frank about it in the interview.

Rather than asking, Will you give me the opportunity to grow? Ask, How will you give me the opportunity to grow?

To further vet the opportunity for growth, you could also ask:

  • Where do you imagine the person in this role might be in one year? Three years?

  • Who was the last person to hold this role? Where are they now?

  • I want to make sure that in my next job I have the opportunity to climb the ranks. What percentage of your employees are promoted?

  • What are some examples of professional development, training, or learning opportunities you provide here?

  • Can you provide examples of others who have moved up and what it took?

  • Do you have clear criteria around what it takes to get a promotion?

How to get a job with flexible hours or work from home

If your better job means having flexible work hours or working from home, it’s best to be upfront about this requirement. And the good thing is, these kinds of work arrangements are becoming pretty common.

You can make the case with your current employer, perhaps even proposing a part-time trial period or a gradual transition to full-time remote work or flexible hours.

Most job search sites will let you filter your results by remote work or work-from-home arrangements, but even if the job doesn’t advertise flextime or remote work, you can still negotiate this as part of your hiring package.

Read more:The Future Is in the House: Legit Work from Home Jobs

How to get a job with better coworkers

Let’s face it—work is just waaaay more enjoyable if you like the people you work with. If you feel like you’re constantly having to tiptoe around toxic coworkers or you’re facing discrimination, your overall job satisfaction is going to decrease drastically. So, how do you find all of the awesome coworkers?

  • In the interview, ask for examples of what the company culture is like. Ask how the company ensures culture is healthy and supportive. Ask how they ensure employees take their paid time off and even ask for numbers about how much PTO employees actually use .

  • Ask the interviewer what kind of people tend to thrive at the company and what kind of people don’t do as well.

  • Ask to interview potential coworkers. If they refuse or allow you to interview them only with the boss present, that might be a red flag. Ask those potential coworkers if they feel comfortable raising concerns to management, if they feel comfortable taking time off work, and if they feel like they can “turn off” work when they get home. Do they feel their time is expected? Are expectations clear? How often do jobs change? What do they think of management?

  • Read company reviews to get a sense of what other employees have to say about company culture.

Read more:5 Subtle Signs Your Boss Is a Control Freak (& How to Deal)

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