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In Five Charts: How to Have a Happy Career

Congratulations, Class of 2016. More than three million of you will add a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree to your resume this year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Now it’s time to launch and enter the working world.

At Earnest, we recently conducted a survey of 1,005 people from ages 18 to 44 across the United States about how they found their most recent job — and what made them happiest on the job once they had it. Here’s what the data said.

short-job-searches-best

The shorter the length of a job search, the happier you might end up feeling about the job. Job searches of more than a year are associated both with less happiness and lower income. That said, people at higher household income levels (above $75,000) are also most likely to have job searches on the longer side (one to six months), likely because there are fewer jobs as you rise in the ranks.


use-personal-connections

They call it “climbing the ladder” for a reason. People who use personal connections and previous internships to get a job are happier, according to the survey.

 


Bar graph showing that people who negotiate their job offer, or didn't negotiate because they were happy with their offer, are much more likely to be happy with the resulting job than people who simply forgot to negotiate.

People who negotiated their last job offer — or made a deliberate decision not to negotiate because they were happy with their offer—report being substantially happier than people who either forgot to negotiate or who were overly going with the flow. The takeaway? Be deliberate. The more actively you play a role in the outcome, the happier you may be compared to taking a more passive stance.


negotiate-for-pay

More money or more working remotely? Our survey results show that both are important things to negotiate for, but salary and equity (or other financial incentives) nose ahead of other factors when it comes to happiness with your job.


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However, also, consider seeking or negotiating for a job that has more vacation/schedule flexibility or, more training/advancement opportunity, or support for remote work. These are the things people are most likely to care enough about that they’re willing to give up 10% of their salary.

The bottom line

A new job is likely to generate a wide range of emotions. However, people who are happy with their job did these above things, according to the data. In sum: Don’t delay in your job search, use your personal networks, and then ask for what you want. Good luck out there!

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Earnest is a technology company using software automation, smart design, and exceptional service to restore trust in the lending industry and help clients take control of their finances.