Tips for Finding Your First Job After College

first job after college

Finding that first job after college can be hard. These tips can help.

Following your last finals and finally saying goodbye to college, the real world hits you pretty quick. While I am sure you can remember many late and difficult nights meeting deadlines during your studies, job hunting becomes the next big challenge in your life. Finding that first job after college can be a full-time gig in itself.

This can be a difficult time for many graduates. As employers look for experience, and you seek to obtain it, you may feel discouraged or lost as you apply. But, before you throw in the towel, here are some tips for finding your first job after college:

  • Update your resume. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many recent college grads miss the mark on this one. Do a little resume audit, and make sure it is updated with recent relevant information. Include your grade point average (GPA) and any college or other activities, including community volunteering. It is commonly recommended to attempt to keep your resume one page long, but this can be difficult. Try not to exceed two. Always update it when you gain new skills. You don’t need a new job to attain new knowledge. Examples include learning a new language or website coding in your now free time. These talents should be added on your resume.
  • Look for internships. Opportunities are often right under your nose. If you are having a hard time finding internships in your area, try to create one for yourself from a company in which you’d like to work. Internships are a great way to build experience that you can include on your newly updated resume. Even if you have a couple internships under your belt already from college, you may need to do more until an employer takes your bait.
  • Follow up with your connections. Throughout your college years, you’ve been exposed to connections you may not even realize you have. Reach out to old professors from your major to see if they can inform you of available positions.  If you completed any internships that did not lead to an employment opportunity, follow up with them to see if there are any openings or if they can provide you with a reference. Networking is a great way to find a new job without using a resume. Friends and families can also be a part of your job network. Be sure to ask for help as you continue the job hunt. Not to mention, you can check with your Alma mater’s career office to check on any upcoming opportunities.
  • Attend career fairs. Face to face interactions still prove to be effective. Being able to talk to potential employers in person is important so that you can ask questions, make a first impression and discover jobs that will match your skill set. Many colleges host these career fairs, but you don’t always need to be a college student to attend them. Check local community boards and websites to see what job fairs may be coming up in your area.
  • Be flexible. Jobs do not need to be black and white. If a company has room for growth or potential for you to utilize your degree, you should consider applying even for positions outside of your field. For example, if you are hoping to make it as a social media manager in a big corporate company, try applying for a front desk or assistant position first to try working your way up. Don’t worry if you do not get nor find that dream job after college; if they were easy to obtain, everyone would have a dream job.   A lot of people end up going with alternatives like an online criminal justice degree instead of attending brick and mortar institutions.
  • Don’t rely on one resource. There are multiple resources you can use when applying for jobs. Sites like Indeed.com as well as your local career center are just a couple examples. The more you are able to distribute your experience summary to potential jobs, the better your chances of landing one quickly after college.
  • Personalize your materials. You will have a better chance of standing out to employers if you personalize both your cover letters and resume to the job listing. Don’t talk about your gardening skills in the cover letter if the job is for writing English papers. Make sense?

One of the most important things to remember during the application process is  to keep applying. You may face rejection, but this is a normal part of the process and should be expected. Keep going anyway, even though it can be a daunting task. Stay positive and remember that every time you get your resume out, you are regularly exposing yourself to new opportunities. Practice makes perfect, and the more you apply, the closer you are to landing  that first job.

What tactics did you take when applying for your first job after college?

Investment Strategies For Recent College Grads

Investment strategies for recent college grads.

Investment strategies for recent college grads.

Investment strategies should be one of your top priorities upon graduating college.

For those preparing to graduate from college this month, this post is for you.

If you have been following us, you may have read last week’s post regarding financial mistakes to avoid upon leaving your past four years of sanctuary. This week, we would like to discuss wise investment strategies for you as you (hopefully) begin interviewing more and potentially accepting promising job offers.

If you did not study finance or economics in your undergrad and you have never consulted with a financial planner, investing may seem like a foreign concept to you.

In addition to what we discussed last week, here are some ways you can set yourself up for a promising financial future:

Create a personal spending budget.

By not having a budget for yourself, you are more likely to spend more than you make each month as you begin to see an increase in your bank account thanks to your new job. However, holding yourself accountable will prevent any slip –ups as well as promoting positive spending and saving habits for your future. When everyone tells you to start now, they really are not kidding.

Set up your Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

If you’re lucky enough to land a job that offers a 401K, be sure to always add to it to help increase its value, even if your employer matches. The more you add in now, the better for your future. If you are among the many who do not receive this as a benefit with their place of employment, open an IRA now. A summary of what to look for in a retirement savings account includes:

  • First, there are two types: the Traditional and the Roth. Contributions to Traditional IRAs are tax deductible, but withdrawals during retirement are taxed. Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, but withdrawals are generally tax-free. In other terms, you avoid taxes when you put money in to Traditional IRAs, and you avoid taxes when you take money out in Roth IRAs during retirement.
  • No-fee IRA’s. Some charge you for simply holding an account with them known as a “custodial fee.” You will want to ask your institution if they charge any fees for hosting the IRA.
  • Additional charges. Another question you will want to ask your custodian is whether or not they charge any kind of transaction fee. These are typically charged when you go through a financial adviser to purchase your mutual fund. Be sure to also inquire about other fees that may be associated like contract charges.

It’s often recommended for those starting out their investment portfolio with limited funds to begin with a Traditional IRA. A concern is that individual tax fees for Traditional IRAs could be higher but is not guaranteed. You will want to weigh out all your options with both in order to determine what is best for you.

Ignore Get-Rich-Quick Schemes.

If something seems extremely complicated, it probably is. As a newbie to the world of investing follow the K.I.S.S. rule (“Keep It Simple Stupid”). Choose one source and keep it simple. Over time, you can grow your net worth, but it will be hard to accomplish if you don’t understand what’s happening to your money.

Don’t be afraid to purchase used items first.

The goal and purpose of growing your investment portfolio is to decrease debt. As a college graduate, you will already have loans unfortunately accumulated on your shoulders upon stepping foot off that campus for the last time as a student. So, buy used items and live below your means. You will work your way to having those nicer items much faster by choosing to spend less now.

Know your assets.

In this previous post, we discussed what comprises of an asset and what does not. In summary, an asset is something that puts money in your pocket; not removes it. Consider this as you make big purchases over the next few years.

Choose the right savings account.

If you are already excellent at saving money, that’s awesome! But, did you know you can make it a little more worth your while? Have your savings pay you back by choosing the right type of account to increase your investment will waive some worries for you in the future. Some to consider are:

  • Online Savings Account: Earning potential is higher.
  • Money Market Deposit Accounts: Despite minimum balance requirements and monthly fees, the interest paid is typically higher than that of traditional savings accounts.
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs): Another opportunity for higher interest rates paid, but limitations do apply for withdrawals.
  • Automatic Savings Plans: Can help you obtain lower banking fees.

As always, and with any choices you make, be sure to do your research and ask a lot of questions to see what fits you best.

Invest in an emergency fund.

This may not seem important, but with the economy so up and down, you will want to be prepared for the worst. I’ve heard of several stories of companies going under or downsizing, leaving individuals back on a job hunt in an increasingly competitive market. In fact, the company I did my undergraduate internship with closed down several offices, leaving no opportunities for me upon graduating. I watched co-workers one by one receive the unfortunate talk. There is also the possibility of being fired, which I have also heard of from individuals who seemingly held a strong position in their occupation. It happens, and you need to be prepared. The recommended strategy is to save six months of savings to keep you afloat in case of an emergency.

Invest in higher payments to your student loans.

Only paying the minimum on your student loans will keep them hanging over your head longer, and thus, keeping more debt in your life longer. The average time it takes for a college grads pay off student loan debt is 21 years. It doesn’t have to be this way though.


 

Make your future better and financially more stable through these tactics and tips.

Do you already have an investment strategy in place for when you graduate?

 

 

Financial Mistakes to Avoid As A Recent College Grad

Mistakes are unavoidable, but you should be especially careful when it comes to your finances.

Mistakes to avoid financially as a recent college grad

Mistakes to avoid financially as a recent college grad

As you prepare to graduate college, you also prepare for the “real world.” You’ve spent the last four years obtaining as much knowledge as possible in your field, making memories, applying for jobs, and writing and rewriting your resume. Graduates beware, though; student loans are the second highest form of personal debt, according to this New York Daily News article. And with college debts increasing, it will be more important than ever to have a smart financial strategy in place and avoid as many mistakes as possible.

By taking a step ahead of your peers in choosing wise investments, you can create healthy habits for your personal finances for years to come and avoid future debt issues.

Financial mistakes can be easy to make, but there are ways you can avoid them.

  • Having no credit. Everyone talks about saving money, and we are no different. Unfortunately, all this talk about savings has college graduates a little hesitant on taking out loans or credit cards in fear of creating an overwhelming debt. Plus, not to mention, college already creates those financial obligations, and it is increasingly harder for those under 21 to sign up for a credit card with no existing income. So, what’s a newbie to do? Build your credit history slowly and regularly by opening accounts and your own credit cards as you are able and paying them off by or before the due dates as well as routinely.
    • Why this is important: When you want to make big, future purchases, like a house, you will have a hard time being approved for a loan without a co-signer or at all. When I was still in college, I bought my first car with cash from money I had saved from my summer job. Not long after graduating, I needed to purchase a new vehicle, which proved to be a challenge due to my lack of credit. Over the years, I have been able to develop a favorable credit score through paying off a credit card, paying off that new (used) vehicle I finally was able to obtain and maintaining my bills.
  • Not having a plan. Having a limited or non-existent financial plan is one of the biggest mistakes recent college grads make. As a college student studying and working tirelessly toward that degree, you are lucky if you have two pennies to rub together as you battle the choice of groceries or rent. When you say “yes” to that first job out of school, though, it can be easy to fall into poor spending patterns very quickly. To avoid this, cut back on going out to eat by spending more time enhancing your cooking skills and spreading out your personal purchases instead of buying everything for your new apartment at once. Additionally, focus on always paying bills first at the beginning of every month so you know how much is available in the bank the remaining weeks.
    • Why this is important: Money adds up quickly, and developing these positive habits ahead of time can save you not only hundreds but possibly thousands per year.
  • Waiting to save and worrying about finances later. Consider consulting with or finding a financial mentor to help you along this new journey. Waiting to save or even failing to worry about beginning to pay off your student loan debt can cause inconveniences and hindrances in your future. Knowing where to invest savings is also tricky, but a certified financial specialist can help you. You could try to contact old friends from college with a finance degree who may be willing to provide some advice at no charge as they begin their careers.
    • Why this is important: The sooner you start working toward chipping away those student loan bills, the better your overall financial situation. If you were to plug your debt numbers into this student loan calculator tool, you may be appalled at the time frame it will take you to pay it all off (with interest) with a low monthly payment. Plus, creating a savings account will help to keep you out of potential sticky situations with money. And if you start investing now, you could be sitting pretty with a nice retirement fund.

By thinking about your future now, you can avoid these common financial mistakes recent college grads make, while building yourself a nice, comfortable financial safety net.