Business

Tracking down a better job

Detroit Free Press Money section columnist Susan Tompor. (Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press/TNS)
Detroit Free Press Money section columnist Susan Tompor. (Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press/TNS) TNS

We're all looking for something better. That's the never-changing American Dream: A better job, a better boss, better health coverage, a better place to live.

In the next two years, roughly 41 percent of millennials expect to be in a new job, according to a survey by Fidelity Investments. But sometimes, we can all use a little help in figuring out what really will make us happy with a new job -- or even how to find that new job or career.

Does the job make sense for your career goals? Will working with this manager or working at this company offer opportunities for professional growth? Will I, realistically, be able to pay my bills and save for the future?

Many young professionals are looking at more than the digits on that paycheck. Millennials reportedly are willing to take on average a $7,600 per year pay cut if the job seems right for them, according to the Fidelity study.

And 58 percent say that when evaluating an offer the improved quality of work life trumps financial benefits.

So what do you do if you want a new job? Here are some tips to consider:

Make an impression

Finding a job can be as much about relationships as the resume.

"Many people may be qualified for the job, but your application can stand out if you know someone in the organization that knows and trusts you," said Derek D'Angelo, president of the Michigan Council on Economic Education.

"One time I met a young man working in the sports marketing department while at a University of Michigan baseball game," D'Angelo said. "Throughout the game I noticed his leadership abilities with his fellow employees, his ability to hold pleasant conversation, and his willingness to serve others."

When D'Angelo learned that the young man was an economics major who had just graduated, he was more than willing to help the youngster make a few connections.

Go to job-related events. Volunteer in the community. Join a professional organization. Use your energy to stand out and display your talents and work ethic.

Go online and elsewhere

Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com, said social networks and online sites can be terrific tools.

"But one still needs to make face-to-face contact through traditional networking, as well," Hamrick said.

Try something new and look around for different opportunities to learn about jobs. Or look to any local startup incubator.

"One of the best ways job-seekers can get noticed is to get out from behind their computers and meet people," said Phil Santer, a vice president with Ann Arbor SPARK, an organization in Ann Arbor, Mich., that helps growing businesses find talent.

Santer's advice: Attend meet-ups, talent mixers, open houses and events where people in the industry you want to meet or work for will be.

Want to be an entrepreneur?

Pay attention to the different opportunities that are offered throughout your community and state.

Many colleges and schools have special groups and events. The Hatch is a co-working space in East Lansing, for example, for undergraduate students at Michigan State University who are ready to develop their business ideas.

Be bold

If you just got a better offer or you think you're worth more money, do not be afraid to say so. A better quality of life is nice, but if you can also get a bigger paycheck at the same time, you'll feel much better in a few months or so after taking that job. Don't settle for less -- find something better.

Anthony Kasperek, 30, of suburban Detroit, who owns a holistic financial planning firm called Dig Wealth, said many companies are now offering perks instead of pensions.

But he cautions millennials to not be too impressed by discounts on Uber rides or dry-cleaning pickup from the office. While that's a nice immediate break, he said, it's also important to consider what's being offered when it comes to pay or 401(k) plans.

Ultimately, people need to work with the longer term in mind and keep their finances on an even track.

Should you ask for more money when an offer is put on the table? Maybe, if it falls short of what others are offering or you think the pay won't be enough to cover some big expenses involved with living in that area.

"My father always told me, 'If you know what you're worth, go out and get it,'" Kasperek said.

But again, you better be sure you are worth it and you negotiate smartly. You don't want to kill a good deal.

Never stop being a student

April Donaldson, executive vice president for Strategic Staffing Solutions in Detroit, said young professionals who want to be successful in the workplace need to study a company's culture and mission when they're looking for a job -- and keep studying once they start working on the job.

While it's important to understand your specific duties at a company, she said, it's not enough to get ahead. You need to understand how you might add value and know where your skills can contribute to a company's success.

Too often, millennials focus on their own role and not enough on the mission of the company, she said.

"They're looking at what do I have to do -- and what do I get in return," she said.

But being successful requires that you network, find a good mentor and never stop being a student, Donaldson said.

Susan Tompor, the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press, can be reached at stomporfreepress.com.

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