It took years of hard work, but you’ve finally earned the title that eludes so many: you’re officially a graduate.

Congratulations! Now that you’ve celebrated your success, it’s time to figure out how you can earn a new title that’ll put your new skills to work.

Do your homework

It’s easy to rush into the first job you’re offered when bills loom large, but you need to treat it as if it’s the most important paper you’re researching for school – because this time, it’s not a grade on the line; it’s your happiness.

Everyone wants to pay the bills, but is that worth dreading going into work each day? Are you willing to go the extra mile to find something you love to do that will also pay your bills? While researching a potential employer, take advantage of websites like Glassdoor and Indeed to look up the anonymous reviews from people already working there.

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You’re looking for patterns across the reviews. Are there a lot of reviews from former employees or employees with less than a year of experience? That could be an indicator of high turnover. Do you see a lot of negative reviews followed by an influx of positive reviews? That might be someone from HR or Marketing trying to cover up the negative reviews by posting some of their own. That’s a red flag.

Ask the right questions during the interview

Everyone tries to make a good first impression on both sides of the interviewing table. That’s why there’s not a one-size-fits-all checklist of questions to ask in every interview. The right questions for your next interview are the ones that’ll help you identify how authentic the replies are.

Most authenticity won’t come from the words your interviewer says. Studies like those done by UCLA’s Professor Emeritus of Psychology Albert Mehrabian have shown that only about 7% of communication comes from the actual words spoken. The other 93% comes from body language (55%) and tone of voice (38%). Knowing this, try asking questions that’ll help you get a sense for the company culture without relying on the words themselves.

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For example, when you ask your interviewer about their company’s core values, does their tone of voice suggest they don’t know (or don’t care) about the core values? That’s a red flag. When a company doesn’t take the time to identify acceptable behavior through their core values, anything is fair game. That’s a recipe for cultural disaster. If you ask the question like, “Do people in this company spend time together outside the office?” try to go beyond the words of their reply. Is their body language showing authentic excitement about their answer? Or is it obvious they’re answering with something they think is the right answer?

Check out the restroom

It sounds silly, I know, but bear with me.

During your interview, ask to use the restroom. Look in the stalls to see if you find any empty toilet paper rolls. If you do, that’s a red flag.

The basic principle is one I borrowed from rock ‘n’ rollers Van Halen. As the band grew in popularity, so did their stage show. They became massive productions that could be deadly if the crew it all together didn’t pay attention to the details. In their performance contracts was a small item that had major implications: No brown M&Ms.

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It wasn’t about the chocolate. It was a safety issue. If the band discovered brown M&Ms, they’d know someone didn’t pay attention to the technical details in their performance contract, which usually meant that it wasn’t safe to step on stage.

So when I see an empty toilet paper holder, I see disrespect. No one using the last piece of toilet paper gets surprised by it. They know what they’re doing when they avoid replacing it for the next person. If someone isn’t willing to take the five seconds out of their day to replace the roll for the next person, are they likely to spend more significant time to make sure they hand-off projects without issues? When leadership has built a culture that matters to the people who work there, they’re willing to do the right thing when no one else is looking.

Every company gives their employees a basic paycheck. Few go further than the traditional benefits to build a culture that matters. As you’re looking for a new place to work, think beyond the size of the paycheck and the skills to do the job. Some people can survive working in negative conditions, but you shouldn’t have to. Life’s too short to not love the place you work.

Piyush Patel, author of “Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work”, is an entrepreneur who grew his company, Digital-Tutors, into a leader in the world of online training, educating over 1.5 million students in digital animation, with clients including Pixar, Apple and NASA. A former Northern Oklahoma College professor, Patel grew frustrated with outdated training material, and launched the company from his living room with only $54 and built it without any debt or investors, eventually creating multi-million dollar revenue. In 2014, the company sold for $45 million.

Remember To Share These Handy Tips With Your Newly-Graduated Friends – Photo by isabisa, CC

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