CareersOne of the most important aspects of your Sim's life will be her career. Not every Sim needs to find gainful employment, but if your household is devoid of breadwinners, you'll quickly find yourself getting behind on your bills and having to fend off the Repo Man. You'll need some source of income to keep your family afloat, and a good job is the most reliable and efficient method of money.
Finding Gainful Employment
There are two ways to get a job: through the newspaper, which is periodically delivered to your front door, and via a computer. The job listings in the newspaper are very limited; you'll only be offered three job listings per browse, all of which are level one. The computer listings are much more comprehensive, and better in quality to boot; you'll get five listings per browse, and you'll be able to enter a career track above level one if you happen to fit the skill and friend requirements for that track. You won't necessarily go straight to the job level that you're most qualified for--you may start a couple of levels lower--but you should have an easier time reaching the level at which you can best fulfill the Peter Principle.
If you don't have a computer, you should definitely get one before you attempt to find a job. If you're tight on cash, you can buy a computer, have your Sim use it to find a career, then sell it back before the day is over for the full resale value. Just make up something about the RAM not being defragged, and you won't incur any financial penalty from the transaction.
Getting PromotedJust having a job isn't the difficult part; your real goal in a career is to gain promotions and ascend to ever more lucrative positions. In order to do so, you'll need to steadily increase your skills. Each career will have three primary skills that you'll need to work on, with most careers requiring at least one skill to be maximized if you wish to reach the highest level on the job track. You can find more on skills and how to increase them in the chapter appropriately entitled "Skills." You can check what skills will be required for the next level of your career on the career tab for your Sim; skills you already have will have show in white, while the skill levels you need will be greyed out and highlighted.
In addition to skills, though, your Sim will need to be thoroughly networked, which means that you'll need to have plenty of friends available to you. Luckily, the game is fairly lenient in this regard, in that both friends and best friends count towards your total, and that both the friends of your Sim, and the friends of anyone else in the household count towards your career count. So if your Sim has three friends, and your housemate has four, you'll be able to proceed in your career track up to whichever level requires seven friends. (Assuming you meet the skill requirements, of course.) Your friends also show up on your career tab; the number of friends you currently have is located next to a smilie, while the number of friends required for your next promotion is beneath that In blue.
You'll also need to ensure that your Sim is in a good enough mood to do well at work. You'll notice another meter on the career tab; this gives you a bit of visual feedback as to how well your Sim is performing on the job. You want this to be towards the upper end of the spectrum, if possible; as this gets below the halfway mark, you stand a chance of being demoted. You can improve your job performance by simply showing up for work in a good mood, so be sure to satisfy your Sim's most dire Needs when you get the notification that the carpool or other transportation will be shortly showing up. Your Sim's ride will show up for work an hour before the beginning of the shift, and you'll receive the notification an hour before that, so you'll have around an hour and 45 minutes to work on any of your pressing Needs to ensure that your Mood rating is high. Grab some quick chow, go to the bathroom and take a shower, hit the couch for a power nap, or whatever; the point is to go to work in the best Mood possible. The higher your Mood, the more your job performance meter will increase for the day.
If you meet the skill, friends, and job performance requirements for the next level of your career, you should gain a promotion when you arrive home from work. This isn't automatically so, though; it can sometimes take a day or three to earn a promotion, so just keep going to work in a good mood until you nab it.
Workplace TroublesOf course, not everything is always rosy in the working world. If your Sim performs poorly, he or she risks getting demoted or even fired from the job. This is mainly a concern if you consistenly fail to show up for work (see Attendance below) or go to work in a foul mood often enough to lower your job performance below the halfway mark.
Demotions are relatively easy to deal with. If your job performance drops low enough to cause a demotion, all you need to do is work hard on your Mood before you go to work the next day to gain the level right back. Since you should already have the friends and skills required to gain the level (as you already obtained before), you should get another new promotion (along with the cash bonus that comes along with it). From there, you can proceed as you were doing before. If you're unable to quickly stabilize your Mood, though, you face the risk of further demotions.
If your job performance meter drops all the way to the bottom, or if you miss two days in a row without calling in sick, you'll get fired. Being fired is much worse than getting demoted, as you won't be able to regain your previous level in the job very quickly. You'll have to search back through the job listings until you find a job in the same track as the one you were fired from; unfortunately, this will almost always be at least two job levels below your level when you were fired, and could be even lower if you haven't maintained all of the friends required to get to the level you were at previously. It's fairly difficult to get fired unless you're actually trying to do so, however, so you shouldn't have to worry overmuch about this turn of events.