Tips for Finding a Desirable Job After College Graduation

Not long ago, there seemed to be endless possibilities and opportunities for a college graduate. Unfortunately, the market has changed over the last decade and college grads are entering a job market that is competitive and low salaries. So how can a college grad do the best for themselves after graduation?

Be Prepared

Before you graduate, you should do as much research into finding a job as possible. It’s likely that your college will have a guidance office or resources for finding jobs and you should take advantage of that while you can. This is where companies that are looking to hire new grads will be looking at your school.

Know the options by looking into jobs for new grads. Consider what kinds of jobs you’d be willing to take and try to find a sector that appeals to you so you’re enthusiastic about the potential jobs that are available.

Make Yourself Desirable

If you’re looking for a job, you’re like millions of other people. If you present yourself as an asset with a certain set of skills, you may be able to stand out a bit. Employers that are looking for new grads know what to expect from you, even if you don’t know it yourself. That means you should try to be as honest about your expectations and skills as possible. You won’t have experience on your side, so enthusiasm, dedication, and loyalty will be especially valuable.

Broaden Your Search

Don’t just search for your dream job. You’re just getting started, so you’re going to have to consider all your options that may lead to your dream job. Make sure you’re sending out a resume and personalized cover letter to as many potential jobs as possible, and take the time to learn about the companies you’re applying to.

Also be sure to tell everyone you know that you’re looking. A connection through a friend of a parent or classmate could be your best bet for a job that is both available and will pay a fair salary. The more people know you’re looking, the more opportunities could come your way.

Be Pro-Active

Don’t just apply for jobs that are posted, apply to companies that you want to work for. Even if you don’t see a relevant job post at a company, write to the HR department and let them know you are interested. If you send a friendly, well-researched, and enthusiastic letter with your polished resume, they may think of you when an opening appears.

Work with Recruiters and HR Professionals

Recruiters can give invaluable tips for how to best present yourself as a recent college grad. They’ll know what companies are looking to hire new grads and they can prepare you for what your options may be. Plus, it’s in their best interests to get you placed so they’ll do what they can to match you up with a good job for you. Be sure to be honest and thorough about what it is you are looking for so you can get the best match.

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Challenges of Today’s College Students

Going to college used to be the way to get ahead of the crowd. A college degree meant you’d dedicated yourself to being better prepared for the world and for a career. Those days are over. You may still be ahead of many people who don’t go to college, but the pool of college grads is only growing. College students face a lot of challenges.

College as a Second High School

Unfortunately, relying on a high school education is not possible in the US, due to underfunded schools, over-sized classes, and over-loaded educators. Many students arrive at college without knowing how to write a proper essay, which used to be a basic skill required for entry into college. That’s put pressure on colleges to start off by educating their students with a second set of high school basics. This has slowed down the advancement of students and devalued the average college degree.

Getting Through Academic Challenges

A lot of students find that they aren’t as good at the academic side of things as they’d hoped, especially in the subjects they thought they would want to study. If it turns out your desired major is just too challenging, dreams can become dashed very quickly. Students don’t know what to expect, and then they get disappointed in themselves. This has lead to a lot of kids doing poorly and dropping out, overworking themselves, and even harming themselves because they don’t see the bigger picture. There is always another way to get through college, but it can be hard to see that without the right guidance.

Financial Troubles

Most college students have to work through their education and this can add pressure to an already overwhelming schedule of classes, studying, and the hopes of having a social life, too. Balancing all these things is overwhelming, but when financial pressures are added to the mix, the stress can be damaging. It’s not just paying for college that is challenging, but also being able to afford the books, housing, and expenses while taking classes. A lot of people are forced to stop their studies because they cannot make enough money at their part time job.

So Many Distractions

While it may be normal for kids to take notes on a computer and to own a cell phone, these things can mean huge distractions during classes. Instead of focusing completely on what’s going on in class, many students get away with playing games on their phones or computers, and even chatting with friends and surfing social media sites. Growing up with these options, kids are not as good at the focus and pace required to do well in lecture classes that can be huge and anonymous.

A Balanced Education

Even the most dedicated and focused students can be frustrated by general education courses. If you want to be a doctor, why take history? It turns out that college is a place you’re going to learn all kinds of things, not just the specific skills required to do a job. Having a balanced education is critical to becoming a contributing and interesting member of society, something that employers value highly.

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Top 5 Colleges and Universities for HR Majors

Not everyone can get into MIT or Stanford, but if you want to be a leader in human resources or human resources management, start with your education. Which university you attend doesn’t have to determine whether or not you do well in the field, but having a degree from one of the following five schools can certainly give you a leg up. Besides being renowned for their curricula and high standards, they’re also places where you’ll find that the alum connection is strong. You’ll stand out to others who have had the education that you have had, and that can be the perfect in to start out your career.

All five of these schools are ranked highly for some of the same reasons. First and foremost, they have chosen to focus on the human resources majors. The faculty in human resources at each of these schools represents some of the best in the country and the reputation of these schools is well known in the professional sphere. Any one of these could help you to be not just a human resources employee, but a leader in the field.

Kellogg School of Management, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Northeastern is a great university all around. Kellogg is highly respected as a great place to get a degree in management or business. And they offer one of the most competitive human resource management courses of study in the country.

Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Another very highly regarded business school, the Wharton School offers a broad range of business, management, and HR courses that can help you to understand what it means to be a part of the HR team, as well as a piece of the bigger puzzle at any company or organization.

Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

The mid-west has its own great business school at the University of Chicago. Exceedingly high standards in business and economics pair well with high standards for human resources management.

Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

For all things top level, Stanford is fairly obvious. Their Graduate School of Business is well known as a destination for high achievers. Their program in human resources management is stellar as well.

Sloan Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA

Sloan at MIT is not necessarily an obvious choice to anyone who recognizes MIT. Most people think of the school when they think of technology, but it’s also recognized for very high level academics in HR.

Of course, there are many other colleges and universities that offer majors in human resources and human resource management. If none of these is an option for you, consider other business schools that have the right program. This list is certainly the top of the top, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great start somewhere else. If your goal is to succeed in human resources, then don’t let anything get in your way.

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Secrets to Climbing the Corporate Ladder in HR

Being in the human resources department has many advantages. One of those is that you probably know the salaries of the majority of employees, as well as their typical raises and bonuses that are given at various levels. This means that, like the accounting department, the HR department is in a pretty good spot to negotiate the right kind of pay increases. But of course that doesn’t mean you can do a mediocre job. You’ve got to earn the position you’re aiming for and you have to put forward an image of success.

Work Hard to Get Ahead, Right?

Yes, you’ve got to be a consistent and hard worker to get promoted. Your boss and other leadership will not promote someone who doesn’t put in the hours and the effort. Your dedication to doing your job is going to show and improve your chances of being given raises and potentially being selected for promotion. However, it’s not the entire picture. If you only work hard, you could be left behind. Especially if you have competition and they are paying attention to the big picture.

Be Present

Working hard is critical to success, and we all know it. But you can’t simply work hard and expect to get ahead. You also have to be a presence at your company. Your personality, your role as a member of a team, and your style will all leave an impression on those you want to impress. It pays to attend company events, dinners, and holiday parties. You should make an effort to make a good impression on others at the company, not just higher ups who you want to impress. Being likeable is important. You are one member of a team, and the team relies on you to play a very important role as a member of the HR staff.

Being the Leader You Want to Be

As in any position, you’ve got to promote the image of yourself that you want to be a reality. In other words, if you want to succeed, you have to act like a success. That doesn’t mean going around tooting your own horn, it means acting responsibly, with integrity, and gaining the trust that your higher ups need. If your company can rely on you to be a leader, they’ll put you in a leadership position.

Approachability and Availability

Finally, if you work in HR, you already know that being approachable is important. You are the buffer between employees who may have problems and concerns and the upper echelons who are responsible for making changes in case of problems. Your will only be successful in human resources if your co-workers trust you and feel they can rely on you. You’ve got to be available, too. While there may be a lot of employees who won’t have any say in whether or not you move up, your performance with them will play a role in the way you are viewed by company leadership.

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Top 25 Best Jobs in 2013

The economy is once again picking up, and companies are finally opening their doors to new hires. Find out which jobs paid well and showed the most promise in 2013.

1.     Dentist – We humans and our mouths full of teeth are so needy. So needy, in fact, that the demand for dentists will go up over 20% before the decade is over.

2.     Registered Nurse – What do you get when you mix the Affordable Care Act and an aging generation of Baby Boomers? A high demand for nurses.

3.     Pharmacist – We love our drugs. And knowledgeable folks with great people skills to dispense them.

4.     Computer Systems Analyst – Orchestrate and oversee the flow between employee, computer, and the spectrum of tasks connecting human and machine.

5.     Physician – Nurses may be superheroes, but they can’t handle all of those Baby Boomers alone.

6.     Database Administrator – Data is being used more and more these days. If you know your way around a database, you can probably find work.

7.     Software Developer – It’s as close as you’ll get to becoming a wizard in this day and age.

8.     Physical Therapist – An aging population combined with our increasingly stagnant and stressful lifestyles puts this job in high demand.

9.     Web Developer – Where creativity, organization, and computer science intersect.

10.  Dental Hygienist – Work fewer than 40 hours per week, collect a fat paycheck, and land a job with ease.

11. Occupational Therapist – Help folks navigate around their physical limitations.

12. Veterinarian – If healing Baby Boomers isn’t for you, perhaps you’ll find your calling with other species. Vets will enjoy a 30% boost in employment opportunities by 2020.

13. Computer Programmer – The robots won. The next logical step is for every company to fill their ranks with robot-whisperers to keep the machines happy. 

14. School Psychologist – Lend an ear and a helping hand to the littles and the not-so-littles.

15. Physical Therapist Assistant – With the growth in Physical Therapist employment, assistants will also enjoy a 45% upswing before the end of the decade.

16. Interpreter/Translator – The melting pot is a talkative one. Help boil it all down.

17. Mechanical Engineer – Innovative, creative, detail-oriented, hands-on types will enjoy a future in making cool stuff.

18.  Veterinary Technician – Assist veterinarians with the day-to-day operations while enjoying lots of promotion potential.

19. Epidemiologist – This hunter of microscopic game in the petri jungle helps track and prevent public health problems from air quality effects to infections and outbreaks.

20. IT Manager – Coordinate a team of IT professionals while enjoying a bank account overflowing with extra 1s and 0s.

21. Market Research Analyst – This modern fortune-teller uses hard data and tracks trends, looking for the next big market winner.

22. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer – Master the ins and outs of medical equipment and the patients to which they are attached.

23. Computer Systems Administrator – The nerve center of an office’s communications network will enjoy tremendous growth in the next few years.

24. Respiratory Therapist – Everyone must breathe.

25. Medical Secretary – With eternally changing insurance rules and billing practices, this occupation is Grade-A job security.

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Will US employees pay more or less for health care in 2014?

Since signing the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, speculation and horror stories have run rampant throughout American media and dinner table conversations alike, fearful of its implementation in the coming years. But now that the controversial changes are beginning to take effect, many are still scratching their heads about the actual impact Obamacare will have on their pocketbooks.

For the majority of the country, very little changed at the onset of 2014. Many employers that provided health insurance continued to do so at the same rate, while undocumented workers continue to exist without an insurance safety net. Slowing the snowball effect of annual insurance costs, the ACA is expected to actually lower premiums by nearly $2,000 per family. The AMA’s initial cost to individuals is leaving many previously uninsured citizens grumbling, resentful to be giving insurance companies a dime of their hard-earned pay. But with more Americans covering their own healthcare costs, as made accessible by the ACA’s lower premiums, the burden on taxpayers to cover emergency room visits by those without insurance should drop dramatically, relieving the strain on the collective taxpaying community.

Cost-control won’t just be seen in insurance premiums, however. The ACA seeks to eliminate unnecessary costs to the system by honing in on fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, reducing unnecessary paperwork and creating uniform operating standards, improving access to cheaper generic medications, increasing competition between insurance companies, and more. These reductions in insurance premiums, attention to medical bankruptcy prevention, federal deficit reduction, and individual tax reduction rolled out over the next decade are expected to save taxpayers and the federal government billions of dollars.

U.S. employees are certainly entering into a new era of health reform, and this is only the beginning. The hope is that with increased numbers of Americans signing up for more accessible healthcare, and with hospitals and insurance companies now competing for patients, we will see a gradual decade-long overhaul of an outdated and corrupt system. The ACA recognizes that this kind of change is not an overnight solution, but an evolutionary process requiring constant adjustment, input, and oversight.

One of the most important measures establishes an independent panel of medical experts tasked with devising changes to Medicare’s payment system, keeping costs below a reasonable threshold. The well-being of individuals is beginning to shift from a corporate-controlled business model to one that gives healthcare professionals and their patients more power to work together without costs dictating quality care.

As many have noted, the United States is one of the only first-world nations whose citizens do not have access to affordable, comprehensive health care. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but we are beginning to lay a foundation that may one day unburden thousands from the struggle to merely exist, and to perhaps thrive despite all odds. These first steps, these initial payments and costs to Americans in 2014, will allow us to collectively begin to shift the trajectory of our nation’s health policies, and to curb the decades-long rise in unnecessary spending. If all goes accordingly, the media-frenzy of horror stories will soon dissipate, and future generations will thank us for our initial investment in our nation’s health.

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Keep Contract Employees from Jumping Ship

Contract employees, typically hired at higher rates but without many of the perks of being a full-time employee, may seem like the most likely to leave at the drop of a hat. It’s not unusual for a contract worker to leave for what they feel is a better opportunity. While you weren’t able or willing to give them a full-time position, you probably needed them to stick out their contract so you could get a certain job done. When a contract employee decides to disappear, you’re likely to need to hire someone else quickly and the cost of training and hiring is significant. So how can you keep contract employees interested?

 Engage Them from the Start

 Even though they’re not a permanent staff member, make sure they’re invited to meetings and participate in events like holiday parties and happy hours. Even if it’s just making sure that they come to lunches with other staff members, it’s important for them to feel like part of the group, even if it’s only a temporary membership. No matter what kind of employee we’re talking about, feeling like you’re part of the team will improve productivity and make them less likely to consider other options.

Keep Them Updated About Opportunities

If you’re considering hiring someone full-time after the contract expires, or if you are likely to renew the contract for a longer period, tell them about your thoughts. Make sure they’re not already hunting for “something better” by giving them something better to look forward to. Because they’re not a permanent employee, they’ve got more to worry about when it comes to making their rent payments and having cash for groceries. They’ll be thinking about the next opportunity long before their contract with you expires, so don’t wait to tell them you are considering keeping them around. Tell them that halfway through their contract you’ll be ready to talk next steps.

Find Out What Contractors Like About Certain Employers

Go ahead and survey contract employees about why they do or don’t stay. Find out where they’re happiest and why. The fact is that you’ll probably learn a lot about what it’s like to be a contractor, and therefore you’ll learn just what it is that keeps contractors interested in working in a certain position or for a certain company.

If You Really Need Them

The fact is that some contractors want to remain contractors while others are looking for a full-time opportunity. If you have a contractor who you really don’t want to lose, it’s time to create a full-time position for them. Talk to them about what they’re looking for and how they see their next steps unfolding. Make sure they realize that you value their work as well as their needs as an employee. Figure out what it is you are willing to do to keep them on board and then find out what they need. It may turn out that you’re not on the same page. But more often than no, simply treating them like a human being will show you that there’s common ground and you’ll come to an agreement that works for both parties.

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How to Stay Competitive in the Staffing Industry

The staffing industry is one of the most competitive industries out there at the moment. Why? Because there’s a high demand for great staffing services and a lot of staffing professionals are trying to get in on the action. We all know that customer service is key and we’re all well aware of the strategies that we should be using to find the right recruits for the right jobs. But time and again companies that hire staffing firms decide to switch. Why do they move on to another firm? What mistakes are staffing companies making that are losing business to their competitors?

 While the conversation about customer service is almost completely worn out at this point, it turns out that most of the time, companies change staffing services because they perceive a sense of indifference from the staffing professionals they work with. In other words, HR professionals and companies hiring through staffing services don’t feel appreciated or they feel they are not getting the quality of candidates they asked for. They feel like they are just another client and they don’t mind going with a sales rep from another staffing company that seems to be more knowledgeable and appreciate them more.

Don’t Just Sell Customer Service, Deliver

There are a few important things you can do to ensure that you’re not just another dropped staffing company. But they all hinge on your ability to deliver what you say you’ll deliver.

Make Promises Once

 Every client will assume that you’re going to claim to be great at finding the best candidates and that you’re dedicated to the right match. You have to say these things because that’s the business you’re in. But don’t oversell those points. Say it clearly once, and then move on.

 Ask Questions

Don’t make this about you. The staffing company is a go-between; they’re the people working hard to make connections, which mean you shouldn’t be doing a lot of talking. What you should do is ask a lot of questions. Find out what it is that the HR professional is really looking for. Learn about the vacancy details, company policies and what it’s like to work there. Come up with a list of questions including things like, “what are you looking for in a candidate?”; “ask them about the company culture”; “What kind of benefits offered to employees”, ‘what kind of coffee maker is in the break room?’ and ‘do employees walk to local lunch places together?’ Get to know the company and let them know you’re really trying to find out as much as possible. They’re going to appreciate that you consider them to be so important.

Keep in Touch

Even when you aren’t tasked with finding someone for a client, don’t drop off their radar. Call them if you encounter a candidate who would fit in at their office, just to let them know you understand what they are looking for. Don’t push it, but see if they’re interested. Check in every once in a while to make sure they don’t need anything or anyone. Call and check in to find out how a new staff member is working out.

Build the relationship with your clients and you’ll find that they don’t just know you do a good job, they’ll stay with you because you’re doing a great job for them.

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How to Prepare for Job Interviews

There’s plenty of advice out there about how to best prepare for an interview. Practice answering common questions, look through your resume to be sure you’re not surprised when they ask you about items on it, and dress nicely and comfortably. Be ready for a question about your current salary. But there’s more to doing well in an interview than thinking about yourself. In fact, these days you should be paying attention to the person who is doing the interviewing. How are they responding to you and what you’re saying?

All too often, we don’t pay attention to the effect we’re having on an interviewer because we’re nervous or anxious about saying or doing the right things. But the best thing you can do is try to pay closer attention to what effect your words are having. You’ll be able to make adjustments, ask the right questions, and give yourself a better chance at getting the job.

Non-Verbal Cues to Pay Attention To

How can you tell if you’re doing well? First of all, make sure you’re not making the interviewer bored. Pay attention to signs of distractedness, like a lack of eye contact. Are their eyes glazing over? Do they seem to be spacing out? Maybe it’s time to cut yourself off and finish up your answer. The expression on their face can tell you a lot about whether or not they’re interested in you for the position.

For example, if the interviewer is making eye contact and nodding in agreement to the things you’re saying, you’re probably on the right track. Typically, an interviewer is doing this many times a week and they’ve heard all the answers before. You want to connect with them and show that you’re not just a good candidate because of your work experience and training, but also because you’re an attentive and thoughtful person. Being able to read facial expressions and keep the attention of the interviewer are signs that you’re not just self-involved, but you’re also interested in working with people like them.

Other clues come from things like posture and gestures. When people are interested and engaged they will lean forward or sit in a relaxed position. However, if they are leaning back, have their arms crossed, or have turned slightly away to cross their legs, they may be losing interest. Gestures to aim for are things like nodding, smiling, or taking notes. These things indicate that they are in agreement and have an interest in what you’re saying. Even when people say yes, if they are shaking their head ‘no’ it’s usually because they mean ‘no’.

What to Do When Things Aren’t Going Well

So you’re paying close attention to the non-verbal and verbal cues of the interviewer. It looks like they’ve lost interest or they’ve just wrinkled their brow and looked off into the distance. How do you salvage the situation? Don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Ask them if you’re answering the right question, or engage them by asking a question of your own that you’ve prepared beforehand about the company culture.

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How to Find and Hire the Ideal Candidate

Filling jobs with candidates that will want to stay

The right candidate is out there. There are just a few things you’ve got to do in order to find them and a few things to avoid if you want them to be interested in the position. Hiring someone is more of a matchmaking process than anything else. The right candidate is ultimately looking for the right job. So you’ve got to offer the right job to candidates. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by recruiting companies and HR staff.

Figure Out What’s Great About the Position

It may feel like the job market is still working in your favor, but that doesn’t mean the best candidates will be easy picking. You’ve got to be able to describe what is great about working for the company and what benefits the position offers to a candidate.

Losing Focus with a Team of Recruiters

Recruiters are representing your company when they contact potential candidates. The last thing you want is too many people out there doing a mediocre job of selling the position you’re offering. You’re better off building a relationship with recruiters who you know you can trust to do the proper research and represent your company well.

Low Offers

It’s tempting to make an offer that is lower than you’re willing to pay, in case the candidate comes back with a counter offer. But all too often candidates feel insulted by a low offer and then they become concerned that they won’t be appreciated. They want to work somewhere where their skills are recognized and that means being properly compensated from the start.

Hiring Timeline Sweet Spot

You don’t want to rush into anything. If a candidate seems great, make sure you schedule another interview with someone higher up so they feel appreciated and they know they’re closer to being hired. Sending an offer immediately after one interview will make your company look desperate. But you also don’t want to do what Google used to do, typically 12-14 meetings were required before an offer was made. You can imagine that lots of candidates get tired of what feels like endless interviews and end up finding something else in the meantime.

Keeping Someone in the Wings

No matter how perfect a candidate may seem, you should always have a second and even third option available. If your top choice doesn’t take the job, you’ll be starting over completely if you don’t have a second or even third choice who knows they’re still in the running.

Perfection Doesn’t Exist

The truly perfect candidate for the job is the candidate who has good training and experience but is also willing and ready to learn. Adaptability is more important than previous successes in many positions.

Ensuring that your hiring process is free of these simple mistakes will help you to find the right candidate each time.

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