Post Grad & No Job? Relax.

The ceremonies and graduation parties are behind you at long last, but you are in meltdown mode because you still haven’t found a job. What are you going to do? Student loans are looming just six months away. How will you ever repay them? And you’ve seen the news reports. Jobs can be hard to come by. (Insert panic here.)

Panic

Image from Photobucket

You might feel like it’s your fault. You put all your eggs in one basket or submitted too few applications. You were so sure you’d get an offer you didn’t even bother putting in applications at other companies and now it’s too late. You learned a valuable lesson. Now take some time to regroup.

On the flip side, maybe you were the one who did everything right. You’ve been going to the college fairs since freshman year. You had your first interview in October and accepted the job in December. And then…the offer was rescinded. Can they do that? It wasn’t even your fault! What is up with this company? While it’s rare, an offer might be rescinded for a number of reasons. Budget cuts. Hiring freezes. You took too long to decide and another candidate accepted. The recruiter detected your uncertainty about the position. No one wants to get this news, but if you did, it’s not the end of the world.

Relax. That’s right. I said it.

I realize mom and dad probably won’t agree—especially if you’re camping out in their house with your feet up on the coffee table. If that’s the case they absolutely should give you the kick in the pants you need to get in gear. Give me a minute to make my case.

‘Relax’ does not translate into ‘do nothing’. It just means not having that career locked in this summer might be a blessing in disguise. You have your whole life ahead of you and you will be working for the next forty plus years. (!) Why not make this summer work for you?

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Why it Might be Okay to Find Your Career in the Fall

The competition was fierce. Sadly, another candidate swooped in and took your perfect job right from under your nose. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Apparently, it wasn’t the perfect job for you. At least not right now. Maybe you didn’t get the job because you weren’t quite there. It’s very difficult due to the volume of applications and interviews for recruiters to give you specific feedback regarding your interview. Or any feedback at all. Go back and read the job description and be honest with yourself. If the position required six months of customer service and you only have three, summer is the perfect time to remedy that. Choose your summer job wisely. Make sure it will add to the skills you can offer an employer.

You didn’t feel good about the offer(s) you received. You’re sure a better fit is out there. You took a risk and declined an offer or two, and that’s okay. It wouldn’t look good on your resume to quit a job just three months in. I see short stints like this frequently on resumes, but despite the message sent by many professors, new grads can and do enter companies and build very successful careers without job-hopping. I interviewed for several opportunities the summer after graduation and weighed my options before making a decision. I’ve been with my company for several years, as have many of my co-workers, and have received many promotions.

But on the other hand…some of your classmates might have accepted the first job offer that came their way thinking they wouldn’t receive another one. Or they really thought it was the right job. In a few months reality could set in. It becomes obvious their skill set or interest(s) don’t line up with the company goals or job duties. Perhaps the career path isn’t going to take them where they want to go. (They want to be an event planner, but there are no opportunities like that in the organization.) If by that time you’ve spent the summer discovering and honing your skills you might find that same job would be great for you!

You were barking up the wrong tree. Admit it. During your final semester you applied for anything and everything. Big mistake. You’re a sales person. You knew it in high school, the day you talked your dad into buying you a $6000 car for you instead of the $2000 beater he had his eye on. So why did you apply for Administrative Assistant? Well, you reasoned, it’s a foot in the door. But maybe not the best way in. Wouldn’t the company be most likely to promote someone in their training program who they are specifically grooming for sales management over someone in an unrelated role? Plus, the recruiter could tell when she read your objective: To contribute to an organization by increasing revenue utilizing exceptional sales techniques and negotiation skills. So, you avoided six months of misery typing documents when you don’t even like typing!

Enjoy one final summer before you begin your ‘real job’. Everyone earns vacation time, but unless you become a teacher the chances of having three full months off work again are slim. But I caution you, don’t do this without planning ahead. You should have attended career fairs, collected information, and shook a few hands to lay the groundwork for your career search. Use this time to do something meaningful—volunteer, travel abroad or reflect on your long-term goals.

Three months to network and find the right job. Networking happens every day, not just at networking events—and it’s not all job-related. I meet aspiring writers all the time and invite them to the writing group I attend. I invited a girl in the cafe at my gym to church. (Yes, l make conversation with random people. I consider it a gift.) I put an acquaintance seeking work in touch with someone who works in her field. You can connect with others at your summer job (and you should all have one), parties, wedding receptions, sports leagues and anywhere else you find people. Luckily, due to social media you don’t have to limit your networking to your own city. But remember, it’s not just about you. Consider what you can offer to those you meet.

Get to know your likes & dislikes through your summer job. Shadow, volunteer or intern in your field of interest. You might find it’s right up your alley. Or it’s not what you’d hoped for— and you’ll have time to make adjustments to your plan.

Now that I’ve talked you down off the ceiling, realize you’re not the only recent grad still waiting to begin your career. Your free time can actually work for you. Be sure to check out my next entry for tips to make your summer count.

 

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I’ve Graduated; what now?

If you’ve walked across that stage, received your degree and still feel at a loss as to what to do next, this article might give you some comfort.

The Sky is the Limit. An After College Curation Guide .

I’ve Graduated; what now?

   Robert H. Miller of John Wiley & Sons, Inc seems to know our struggle. In his article ” Finding Yourself: The Case For Taking Time After Graduation” he explores some of the reasons why we get so stressed and anxious about life after graduation. He also lets us know that it is fine to relax and really do some soul-searching. Ask yourself what you want to do and why you want to do it.  He also encourages the reader to follow their own dreams and not those of parents.  

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New Grads: Making Good Financial Choices

Hopefully you took some time to track your spending over the past week or two. Any surprises about where all your money went? Did anyone get angry enough to do something about that albatross around your neck? I hope so.

I get it. You just graduated college. How were you supposed to do that without racking up some bills? Well, it is possible but what’s done is done. Don’t despair, though, you can make some better choices from now on.

Budget

First things first.  Again, employers might run credit checks to see how you take care of your own finances and for an indication of how you’ll take care of theirs. If you’re a manager of a store for instance, like I was, you are more than likely in charge of a million dollars or more in inventory. A company doesn’t want to take a risk on a manager who doesn’t keep track of costs and spending and doesn’t make wise financial decisions.

If you find yourself in an interview where the hiring manager tells you they’ll be running a credit check and you know your report will be less than stellar don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best, be up front about it. Companies will take good explanations into consideration.

For instance: “I was out of work for several months and got behind. You’ll see that my mortgage/rent was paid but my credit cards fell behind. I felt it was more important to keep a roof over our heads than pay my credit cards.”  If this is true your credit should reflect that. There shouldn’t be any frivolous bills (recent collections from NetFlix or the cable company for instance) or companies listed who have run checks so you can get more credit cards or you’ll lose credibility. Instantly.

Divorce can affect your finances. So can unexpected things like lawsuits or medical bills that might be in dispute by your insurance company. By sharing this information, even though it might be uncomfortable, your honesty and integrity will give the recruiter a chance to fight for you and perhaps justify making you an offer.

Making Better Choices

Here are some ways to keep your credit sound, or, if you’ve already fallen behind, help it improve over time.

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Make a budget. (Check out www.mint.com to help you with this.) And keep in mind you aren’t going to sit down and whip it out one time. It will take a few months before you get it down pat and you still might find yourself making occasional adjustments. This is a challenging process, so build a little bit of fun money into it. If you’re serious about kicking those bills to the curb that will mean going out 1-2 days a week—maybe even every other week (gasp!)—instead of 5.

Set aside an emergency fund. Start with $500, just $50 a paycheck if possible. When you reach that goal go for $1000. That way when life happens—a flat tire, a hike in rent, a new transmission—you won’t go into a tailspin.

Move if you have to (& keep driving the ugly car). Or get a roommate to spread the cost. Your rent shouldn’t eat up the majority of your take home pay. If I hadn’t made the choice to move out of my fancy apartment to free up $150 each month and to keep driving my, shall we say vintage, automobile longer than I would have liked to in order to forgo a car payment it would have taken me much longer to climb out of debt.

A professional look doesn’t have to be expensive. Your new job has a professional or business casual dress code, but all you have are jeans. If you’re graduating this month and someone asks what you want for graduation, by all means ask for a suit! Beyond that, be creative to extend your wardrobe. Ladies, instead of buying a ridiculous amount of new clothing when you’re just starting out, select a couple pairs of slacks and a couple skirts, 5 blouses in different colors, maybe a print one to wear every 3 weeks or so, some inexpensive jewelry and mix and match like a bandit. Guys, get a couple pairs of pants, and a few inexpensive shirts and ties. Don’t rule out consignment shops. You might find brand new clothing with the original tags still attached or some things that have barely been worn.

Don’t skip bill payments. You might even consider calling your credit card companies to work out a payment plan. Do not give them access to your checking account. Get the agreement in writing and make the scheduled payments on your own.

Use your debit card instead of a credit card. Real time spending will keep you from getting a shock at the end of the month when the credit card bill shows up. And you’ll think twice about making that purchase. Do you really want to buy the pizza from Pizza Hut or can you buy the frozen one from the grocery store and save $8? Just remember to subtract what you spend on your checkbook register, excel spreadsheet or whatever method you choose.

Don’t put off thinking about retirement. If your benefits at your new job include a retirement plan-401k, 403b, profit sharing, stock options—take advantage of the opportunity to save early. The sooner you begin to put money away the better. Waiting even as little as 5 years to start investing can make a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, by the time you retire. At the very least put enough in your 401k to take advantage of any company match that is offered.

There is much more to learn about finances, but these basic tips can help get you started. Fifteen years ago I had no idea how to climb out of debt. I only knew I did not want to spend the rest of my life owing money! If you have the same desire and determination I had learn as much as you can. Search the internet. Read books like The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey or David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber. Financial freedom doesn’t have to be an impossible dream. Implement these tips today and you’ll get there much sooner than you’d imagine.