• Decoding your paycheck: What recent college grads should understand

    October 25, 2016 by
    Money saved for college with a small graduation cap

    Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

    Recent college grads and entry-level job seekers are often excited to get that first paycheck. But they are also shocked when they suddenly realize the amount of that check may not be what they thought it would be. Remember when Rachel from Friends sees her first paycheck? (“Who is FICA and why is he getting all my money?“) Understanding how to decode your paycheck can help recent college grads become fiscally responsible.

    “Educating yourself on how to read your pay stub and understand the information it contains can be the key to effective money management and proper budgeting,” says Brian Michaud, Senior Vice President, Client Service, ADP TotalSource.

    Below, Michaud helps decode your paycheck, and understand just where all your money goes:

    Gross and Net Pay
    The two main components to understand are Gross Pay and Net Pay:

    • Gross Pay: Gross pay is the total amount of wages you’ve earned for the pay period (a pay period is determined by your employer). This is typically bi-weekly or monthly. It’s your regular pay plus any other wages you earn, such as overtime pay or bonuses. Your taxes are based on gross pay.
    • Net Pay: Net pay is the amount of money you actually receive on payday, or your “take home pay.” It’s your gross pay minus all deductions and all federal, state, and local taxes.

    The basic components of a paycheck

    • Federal tax: When you are first hired by your employer, you are required to fill out a Form W-4. This form covers any tax that you may owe to the Federal government come tax time. It is deducted incrementally from each paycheck, and varies depending on how many exemptions you claimed.
    • State tax:  If your state has a tax, this amount is deducted from your paycheck the same way as Federal tax to cover the amount of tax that you may owe to the state when your tax return is filed.
    • Local Tax: Although rare, a local tax is sometimes applied to employees of certain cities, counties or school districts. For example, if you live in New Jersey, but work in New York City, you will be required to pay not only New Jersey state tax, but also New York City tax on your earnings.
    • FICA:  FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act and refers to amounts deducted for Social Security and Medicare taxes.
    • Retirement Plan Contributions:  Plans such as 401(K) or 403(B) retirement savings plans will deduct the percentage you decide to contribute from each paycheck.

    Here are a few items that you might find on your paycheck stub:

    • Insurance Deductions:  This is the monthly payments for such types of insurance as health (medical and dental) and life insurance.
    • Leave Time:  This includes vacation hours or sick hours. Most employers will detail how many hours have been used to date, and how many hours are remaining for the calendar year.
    • Childcare Assistance: If offered by your employer, this amount may appear on each paycheck as a pre-tax benefit.
    • Year-to-date (for pay and deductions): The year-to-date fields on your paycheck stub show how much you have paid toward a particular withholding at any point in the calendar year.
    • Important Notices: Employers often use the paycheck stub to communicate important pieces of information to their employees, such as wage increases or notifications about tax filings.

    Related: How the new overtime laws will affect interns and recent college grads

    Understanding pre-tax contributions/savings
    In a 401(k), you contribute “pretax” dollars, which means your contributions are taken from your paycheck before your income is taxed. This matters because, with that contribution set aside from the total paycheck before taxes, a smaller amount is taxed thereafter. Depending on your tax bracket, this could lower your taxable income while simultaneously saving money for retirement.

    Suggestions for recent college grads

    • Have a conversation with your parents: Determine what your taxation status is. Based upon the timing of your job, you may still qualify as a dependent for their taxes. Have a conversation regarding the standard dependent deduction vs. filing on your own based on the timing of getting the job, says Michaud.
    • Review benefits: Along those same lines, make sure that you are reviewing benefit offerings with your parents.  If you are under 26 years old, compare the cost and benefits offered by your parent’s plan to your employer’s plan, and what is available on the public health care exchanges. You might qualify for a credit on the exchange, says Michaud.
    • Calculate withholdings: Make sure that you calculate appropriately for Federal, State and, if applicable, Local tax withholding. Review your taxation calculations and ensure that you don’t under or severely over withhold. Federal taxation and state taxation can have very different rules and rates.

    Many recent college grads are only concerned about the bottom line of their paycheck – the take home pay. But understanding where your hard-earned money goes, and how to maximize savings, is a good start for recent college grads planning for the present and future.

    “Knowing where your money is going can help you stay on top of your finances and make the most of your hard-earned paycheck,” says Michaud.

    Want to keep up on the latest career and job search tips and trends for recent college grads? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connecting with us on LinkedIn, TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Brian Michaud, Senior Vice President, ADP TotalSource®

    Brian Michaud, Senior Vice President, ADP TotalSource®

    About Brian Michaud, Senior Vice President, Client Service, ADP TotalSource®
    Brian Michaud is senior vice president of ADP TotalSource®, ADP’s Professional Employer Organization (PEO).  He and his team manage the company’s Human Resources Business Process Outsourcing (HRBPO) practice for small to midsized business owner clients, which delivers HR management, benefits administration, time and attendance, and payroll services as one Human Capital Management solution. Michaud started with ADP in 1991 as a sales representative for its Small Business Services business and joined the TotalSource business in 1999.

  • Limitless career opportunities: Indian Health Service

    June 30, 2016 by

    Opportunity. Adventure. Purpose.

    IHS_REC_Blog_730x150_GrtPlains_Horses_MAY_ColRecrThe Indian Health Service (IHS) Great Plains Area is one of the best-kept secrets in the world of health care employment opportunities today. With clinical opportunities in more than 15 health profession disciplines, the sky truly is the limit for clinicians hoping to practice in the Great Plains Area.

    Offering health professionals opportunities to provide comprehensive health care to more than 122,000 American Indians and Alaskan Natives in hospitals, clinics, and outreach programs throughout the Great Plains Area, Indian Health Service provides clinicians with three distinct career path options. Each option offers comprehensive salary and benefits. Indian health professionals are also eligible to apply for up to $20,000 per year in loan repayment of their qualified health profession education loans.

    That’s not all. An Indian health career within the Great Plains offers clinicians a unique work/life balance, including ample opportunity for recreational pursuits throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Known for its awe-inspiring natural attractions and landmarks, the Great Plains Area boasts world-class fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, and more.

    In addition to opportunities for health professionals, Indian Health Service lays the foundation for the education of future Indian Health Service leaders through three levels of scholarship assistance for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Since its inception in 1977, the IHS Scholarship Program has provided thousands of scholarship recipients with financial support in their educational pursuits leading to careers in health care.

    IHS_REC_Blog_300x200_GrtPlains_Phys_MAY_ColRecrWhat’s more, the IHS Extern Program allows health profession students a chance to receive hands-on instruction while working alongside Indian health professionals. Externships are available for 30 to 120 days during non-academic periods. Externs become familiar with Native communities as well; this cultural experience is invaluable in today’s diverse workplace.

    Visit ihs.gov/careeropps for more information about the limitless Indian health opportunities available for recent graduates and health profession students within the Great Plains Area.

    Want to learn more about other great employers and career options? Keep reading our blog and register to search College Recruiter’s website for great internship and job opportunities, and find the right fit for you. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

     

  • How new overtime laws will affect interns and recent grads

    May 27, 2016 by
    How the new overtime laws will affect recent college graduates

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    How will the new overtime laws affect interns and recent grads? A variety of experts weigh in on this hot topic.

    Changes to overtime laws

    The Department of Labor expects the new overtime laws to affect 4.2 million workers – many of whom are likely new college grads out on their first “real” job.  As of December 1, 2016, the days of working 50+ hours a week and earning $35,000 should be gone, says Kate Bischoff, a human resources professional and employment/labor law attorney with the Minneapolis office of Zelle LLP, an international litigation and dispute resolution law firm. Bischoff is co-leading a June 2, 2016, webinar titled Preparing for Changes to FLSA Overtime Regulations, discussing this topic and more.

    Salary versus hourly

    There’s one thing college graduates should keep in mind, says Bischoff, and that is that salary has nothing to do with status.

    “Being paid a salary doesn’t mean that an employee is more valuable to his or her employer than an hourly employee,” says Bischoff. “It is simply a different way of paying people for their work.”

    Those who are nonexempt – those eligible for overtime – may earn time and a half when they work long hours and may even earn more than their salaried brethren, points out Bischoff. Those who are exempt and earn more than $913 a week will not be compensated for their long hours in the office in the form of hourly payments. In fact, when some employees shift from salaried to hourly, many times, they earn more as an hourly employee.

    The other thing about being paid on an hourly basis is that employers need to know how much you work, says Bischoff. With apps on smartphones and smart watches, employees can now track their time easier than ever before. “If you track your steps, you can track your hours,” says Bischoff. “The fact that you have to punch in or clock out only means you need to capture your time to get paid the value of your work. That’s all.”

    Ask questions to clarify status

    So what should college grads do and consider before accepting a job, or if they have questions about their current and future employment status at their existing job? Ask questions such as these, says Bischoff:

    • What will their overtime status be?
    • Will this position be eligible for overtime?
    • Will I be paid a salary?

    “For many college grads, work-life balance is important, so ask if you will be able to make it to your volunteer activity every Thursday evening,” says Bischoff. “While asking if you will ‘have to’ work overtime may be a signal to an employer that you might not be a dedicated employee, you can ask about particular events or activities important to you. You may glean from the answer the amount of hours you will put in.”

    What do the new overtime laws mean for interns?

    Currently, the vast majority of interns earn less than the $23,660 DOL threshold and therefore are classified as non-exempt and qualify for overtime. When the new rules take effect on December 1, 2016, the threshold will almost double to $50,440. The number of interns who earn between $23,660 and $50,440 is miniscule and, therefore, the law will directly impact virtually no interns, says Steven Rothberg, founder of College Recruiter. That said, there could be a substantial impact on new grad hiring as virtually all new grads earn more than $23,660, the average is about $46,000, and a substantial minority earn more than the $50,440.

    “At College Recruiter, we believe that the law will have a substantial impact on the number of hours worked by management trainees and other such workers who have traditionally been paid as exempt, salaried employees with no ability to earn overtime pay yet who routinely work far more than the standard 40-hour work week,” says Rothberg. “Employers will likely instruct these employees not to work more than 40-hours per week, which will effectively increase the compensation paid to and reduce the return on investment generated from these employees. Yet with a tightening labor market, more Baby Boomers retiring, and fewer Millennials graduating, it is unlikely that there will be any noticeable change in the number of recent grads finding employment within their chosen career paths.”

    Manufacturing director: New OT laws could hurt interns and recent grads

    John Johnston is Director of Manufacturing at States Manufacturing, a Minneapolis-based custom electrical and precision fabricated metal company with 49 employees.

    He fears the new overtime laws will hurt interns and new hires, namely those graduating from college or technical schools.

    “I would expect the starting wage to decrease to compensate for the change in overtime rules,” says Johnston. “Also, I would tend to expect the opportunities to reduce as well as the patience of employers. If we are going to pay more, we are going to raise our expectations and be less patient with someone because of the wage they are earning. When we have had lower wage earners at the start of their career, we are able to be more patient in part because the issues are not as magnified with a lesser wage. Once that increases, we have no choice but to be tougher that much quicker.”

    Johnston said his company may avoid hiring interns in the future due to the increased costs and instead balance it with multiple part-time employees. The company currently does not have any interns, partly because they were sorting out the details of the new labor and overtime laws.

    “I see this as a trend to save on escalating costs since benefits would not be required with part-time employees,” says Johnston.

    A ripple effect for college grads

    Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in Rockville, Maryland and a Human Capital Consultant with Lasson Talent Solutions. Lasson regularly presents to students on behalf of college career centers.

    According to Lasson, the new overtime regulations will have ripple affects all around.

    “Students who are in college or right out of college want to gain meaningful experience,” he said. “They are not paying all that money to be flipping burgers or driving for Uber after graduation. The conventional wisdom is that internships are valuable. And they objectively are. However, many employers misappropriate that label to justify in order to get free labor from students who feel desperate for that experience. In many cases, internships play out in a way where the students are gaining only minimal exposure to the workplace and field, while at the same time are not getting paid.”

    The Department of Labor previously identified six conditions that must be met in order to permit unpaid internship scenarios. “Many employers play fast and loose with these under the pretense that the work environment itself is more important than it objectively is,” says Lasson. And now, this extends to graduate school as well. The grad students are still “students” and therefore unlike their undergraduate peers who are not in graduate school can still “qualify” to be unpaid interns while in graduate school.  So, there is additional abuse of the system here as well, says Lasson.

    “With the popularity of unpaid internships, many employers are inundated with requests and may just take advantage of students without having a handle on the DOL guidelines,” says Lasson.

    For more career tips, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

  • Working for a startup after college

    May 06, 2016 by
    Startup business people working at modern office courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    dotshock/Shutterstock.com

    Everyone is nervous heading into their last year of college (except for those going to grad school, that is). It’s time recent graduates prove to themselves, and probably to their parents, that all of this was worth it; they can get entry-level jobs, get out on their own, support themselves, and start on a career path. It is probably their family’s hope that grads will conduct their job search seriously, and look at companies/organizations that promise a bright future. They’ve attended their first job fair, passed out their resumes, spoken with corporate recruiters, and some seemed interested. But something doesn’t “feel” right in their gut. There’s no excitement about all of this.

    As recent graduates reflect on why they lack excitement, their minds go to the concept of a “corporate” environment with everyone playing their roles, a pretty large bureaucracy, policies, set work hours; “a single cog in a very large machine you will be,” as Yoda would say. Then there’s the office politics grads studied about in those business courses. Somehow, it doesn’t seem right. They’re thinking about their future success, which doesn’t include what the “big boys” offer. Recent grads need to look elsewhere.

    Graduates need to consider working for a startup. Now their parents and some of their friends might think they’re a bit nuts. There’s no job security, as 50% of all startups fail within five years, and then where will they be? Mom may be wringing her hands. However, this isn’t their parents’ world anymore, and there are large advantages to taking this path right now in their lives when they have no obligations other than to themselves.

    Flexibility and continuous learning

    Most start-ups do not have “pigeon-hole” jobs. They will demand everyone pitch in when and where it is needed. Graduates may have a “job title,” but that will not mean a great deal. They’ll have a skill others may not, but they will be required to learn everyone’s job and everyone will be required to learn some of their job. This environment means continuous learning.

    What’s the other great thing? Grads will be forced out of their “comfort zone” into exciting challenges; things can change on a dime, and they will need to change with them. If graduates really enjoy risks and challenges, they’ll love it.

    Discover new talents

    With all of the emphasis on pitching in, group decision-making, and problem-solving, recent grads may find they have creative talents and current skills they never knew or nurtured. They will be far more well-rounded in what they know and what they can do.

    Learn how to budget

    Pay is generally not the best for those who join startups. In fact, no one joins a startup for the salary. Graduates will often have to continue living like poor students, but they know how to do it. They’ll stretch those dollars, shop at thrift stores, and eat Ramen noodles sometimes. So what? Grads will also learn how to budget and be frugal.

    Business people cheering with arms raised courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    pikselstock/Shutterstock.com

    Work with passionate people

    Enthusiasm is contagious, and that is one of the great things about startups. Everyone comes to work excited about the day and their projects. Everyone shares in each other’s successes (and pumps each other up when there are failures). Grads, too, will be excited about getting up every morning and getting to work; many people in the corporate world would love to have that feeling.

    Learn entrepreneurship

    Forecasters predict small businesses will be more a wave of the future than large corporations. Why? First, corporations continue to expand globally and set up headquarters in other countries. Second, people no longer trust large corporations like they used to. These giants have taken big tumbles in recent years and no longer provide job security to their employees. It is the small business that is trending now. Working for a startup gives employees valuable experience in becoming small business owners at some point, if they should choose to head in that direction.

    Push through failure

    Most startups have their failures. The good ones with resilient employees move forward, learning from the failure but never losing the enthusiasm for what they are doing. It’s good to experience failure when young; it is a wonderful teacher. If that startup goes “belly up,” think of all the lessons employees have learned in the meantime.

    Potentially invest or be given a stake

    A lot of startups value their original people, and founders will give those people a stake in the company. Many people became millionaires because they started out with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg. Having a stake in a company at a young age is a great thing.

    Love the Culture

    Flexible hours are a big plus. Value is not based upon the number of hours worked. It is based on what employees produce. They may work several 18 hour-long days, only to sleep in late for several days after that and only put in four hours or so.

    Dress is a big factor for many job seekers. If they love a jeans and flip-flop environment, taking their dogs to work, letting their hair grow, or sporting a tattoo, they will find the startup environment is where they want to be.

    Choosing the right startup

    Startups come in all different stages of development. Choosing one should be based on job seekers’ level of risk tolerance, their investigation of the founder(s), and their passions for the product(s) or services being developed. Nothing is carved in stone; if one idea doesn’t work out, there are many others to try.

    Need career advice as a recent graduate? Go to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Rick Riddle, guest writer

    Rick Riddle, guest writer

    Rick Riddle is passionate about the self-development process and wants to share his experience with more people via his articles. He believes self-sufficiency and discipline lead to great results. Follow him on Twitter.

  • 3 employment options for recent grads

    April 30, 2016 by
    Graduation male student with different careers to choose courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Tom Wang/Shutterstock.com

    Considering the economy and technology are on the upswing, many recent grads start their careers while studying at college. And we are not talking about part-time at the campus café; college students often have jobs that bring them valuable professional experience, and ensure a tangible level of income. So when graduation day comes, college students are not a bunch of scared rookies but professionals with decent backgrounds in their fields. Nevertheless, there is still a question: what form of employment is worth the effort? Startups and freelancing look more attractive, yet they conceal many tricky pitfalls. As for good old full-time employment, it needs serious reshaping and improvement to attract young professionals. There are at least three employment options for recent grads, but which option is best?

    It is all in the mindset

    According to recent surveys, three out of five students expect they will be able to work remotely, and less than a half of 18-29 year olds employed are working full-time. It is not a crisis or an unexpected epidemic given that youth follow the elder generations; Gen Z (this is how sociologists and HR experts categorize people born in the mid to late 1990s through the 2010s) had a Millennials rise as a model to follow. The same surveys indicate about 30% of Gen Y started businesses while in college, and about 91% are considering changing their current jobs within three years. With this in mind, we can tell the younger generation has been raised in the spirit of freedom and solopreneurship, now demanding a different approach from HR departments and recruiters. Yet, the last say goes to employees, and here are things they should consider before accepting job offers and jump into their careers or solo businesses. Let’s take a look at each of the following three employment options for recent grads to consider.

    Start a company

    Starting your own company is rather challenging, though many examples have proven it to be successful. The idea is to push your passion into profit and convince others that your business is worth all the efforts.

    Startup advantages:

    – Working for yourself
    – Creating great financial opportunities
    – Implementing your own ideas
    – Great life experience

    Startup disadvantages:

    – Tough competition
    – Investments needed
    – Lack of “job security”
    – Startup is riskier and more costly

    Understand that starting your own business calls for an award-winning concept necessary to enter the entrepreneurial world. Those who choose to make such a living should be patient, as niche startups are likely to bear fruit no sooner than 12 months after launch.

    Freelancing

    Freelancing is actually quite similar to starting your own business. On the one hand, it comes rather risky though you do not have to invest. On the other hand, you are free to follow your commitments with passion and drive.

    Freelancing advantages:

    – Benefit from flexible hours (Sleep until noon, if you like. No one will ever bother you unless the project deadline is approaching)
    – Take control of your customers and tasks (Choose whom you are going to work with and opt for the most appealing tasks)
    – Keep all the profits (You are the boss. You don’t have to split the profit or pay salaries, yet be aware of taxation and other expenses)
    – Stay wherever you want (Freelancing is perfect for a travelling enthusiast)

    Freelancing disadvantages:

    – Lack of steady workloads (At some point, you can suffer from the lack of orders unless you’ve managed to create a solid customer base)
    – Insecurity (There are numerous occasions when freelancers are not paid or become victims of fraud)
    – You pay for yourself (No social package or any other benefits provided by the employer. You’re the boss, remember?)

    Full-time job

    The most influential thing about a full-time job is a contract and guaranteed salary in addition to employer’s benefits, a workplace provided, and more. However, the current economic situation will hardly provide you with total job and financial security, while being hopeless in enabling your professional development.

    Full-time advantages:

    – Steady salary (Your monthly payment is guaranteed)
    – Governmental and social securities (Your contact is protected by social and economic policies)
    – Constant workload (You will never witness a lack of tasks and duties)

    Full-time disadvantages:

    – Heavy workload (Too much work is not good for you. It results in stress and health problems in addition to a lack of personal time)
    – Lack of professional development (You can stick to a routine without the slightest chance to develop your skills)
    – Not enough salary (You will hardly find employees who are satisfied with their monthly salaries. Always keep in mind that every employer is eager to cut down on expenses. Salary is a key point in the list of expenses)

    Each working arrangement comes with pros and cons. The best way to make up your mind is to consider every point we have discussed. No matter what you choose, get pleasure from what you are doing and never hesitate to make a crucial step and change your life for the better.

    Need more advice regarding employment options? Search for jobs with College Recruiter and check out our blog. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Justine Thomas, guest writer

    Justine Thomas, guest writer

    Justine Thomas is a blogger and freelance writer. Her main interests are foreign languages, psychology, and fitness. Currently, she is working at educational company, Edubirdie.com, as a consulting editor.

  • 20 ways to rock your resume

    April 29, 2016 by
    Resume with pen on table closeup courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Casper1774 Studio/Shutterstock.com

    Another week without attention paid to your resume. You are applying for jobs that match your education and skills; you have a nicely formatted document; and you have outlined your work experience very well with bolded headings and bullet points like you were told to do. You’re qualified but just can’t manage to get that call for an interview. Could there be that many people more qualified than you? Maybe not. There may be some flaws in your resume you have not realized.

    Here are 20 tips that can improve your resume.

    Make sure you are emphasizing results, not responsibilities

    It’s a common error; job seekers are trying very hard to list all of their responsibilities for each position. Their thinking, of course, is the more responsibilities, the more qualified they will be. What is more important to employers is the results, what job seekers have actually accomplished.

    Take a look at the responsibilities you have listed for each position. Can you list any quantifiable results? Did your re-organization save the department $50,000 a year? Sometimes, you may think results will be hard to provide. For example, perhaps you took over a department that had no baseline data to work with to show improvement. And maybe the improvement was qualitative rather than quantitative. Take employee morale, for instance. You know you improved it when you took over that department. But how was the improvement measured? Maybe there was much lower turnover or maybe the rate of absenteeism dropped significantly. These are important figures to have. Never leave a position without gathering figures that support your results.

    A lot of space was spent on this item. Why? Because it is the one thing employers say is usually missing from a resume.

    Target skills/background for each position

    This is the primary reason why you need to tweak each resume for every job opening. If you have background in training, administration, HR, and sales/sales management, and are applying for jobs that focus on one of those, then focus your resume in that direction. Spend far more space on that focus area than on others. Generic resumes don’t really work anymore.

    Re-visit keywords for each position

    Change out your keywords based upon two things: the job description and the company’s website. Sometimes, reading through the company’s home page and the “about us” page will give you more keywords to include. And keywords that relate to the position should be placed as close to the top of the resume as possible and included in your cover letter.

    Include a summary section

    A statement of your career goals at the beginning of your resume is not advisable. Companies don’t care about your goals; they care about what you “bring to the table.” Switch that out for a short summary of your skills and experience that relate to the position, with four to five sentences only.

    Use standard software

    Microsoft Word or a PDF version of your resume should be the only programs used to submit resumes. Scanning will probably not recognize any other programs, and you will never know your resume was unreadable.

    Business woman unhappy with resumes of applicants and throwing them on the table courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Milles Studio/Shutterstock.com

    Aim for one page

    Edit, edit, edit. Take out anything superfluous, reduce sentences to phrases, and remove some of your contact information. Employers don’t need your address and don’t include references unless specifically asked to do so. If you are able to edit the resume to one page, that is ideal. But NEVER go beyond two pages unless you are preparing a CV.

    Do not lie

    Not about anything. Of course, you want to try to avoid resume mistakes, and of course you want to present yourself in the best light. Exaggerating or giving yourself a job title you did not actually have are big risks. These things can be discovered when references and/or social media are reviewed. Focus on your skills and qualifications completely but honestly.

    Use action verbs

    They are so much stronger. If you don’t know the difference, here is an example:

    1. Responsible for implementing budget reduction by 10% without loss of productivity

    2. Reduced budget by 10% without loss of productivity

    The second phrase is strong and active. (P.S.: Never use “I”)

    Visual appeal is a must

    You’ve seen enough resume templates to understand what visual appeal is. The best font now is probably Arial, 12-14 point. The reason for this is there’s good, natural spacing between lines that are not complete and enough white space between bulleted points. Your final resume should have sub-headings in bold (e.g., each position), and a larger font to separate sections of the document. The goal is to make it scannable, not just by a computer program (applicant tracking systems), but by humans, too. No one wants to search for your information.

    Be clear about job titles

    So long as you are not exaggerating, use a job title that will make clear what you did at a previous organization. Sometimes, organizations have internal titles that mean nothing on the outside. So, if you were a “Level II Tech Support,” change that out to “Systems Analyst,” if that was what your position really entailed.

    Be really brief

    Do not use full sentences unless you are crafting a CV (These are prose documents). Brief phrases only, please. Remember – scannable.

    Perfect grammar and spelling

    Don’t rely only on grammar and spell-check programs. They will not recognize incorrect numbers or words that are wrong but are still words. And, in some instances misspellings will not be caught either. If you are really good in this area, read your resume backwards, and you will catch misspellings; read it forward line-by-line. If you are not highly skilled, get someone who is.

    Avoid gimmicks

    Having your resume hand-delivered by FedEx or courier is not appreciated, and, in fact, is a bit of a turnoff. Just don’t do it. Submit your resume according to the instructions on the job posting.

    Graphics should fit the company culture

    It is more acceptable today to use some color and graphics than in the past, but these resumes are best suited for younger, more progressive organizations. Tailor color and graphics based upon the culture of the company. If you are not sure, check the website. As a general rule, banks, financial, and educational/scientific institutions are conservative; tech and marketing companies are more progressive. For creative positions, graphics are certainly suitable.

    Never state salary

    Never include past salaries in your work experience. And absolutely never include your salary or benefit requirements for a new position. Epic fail if you do.

    Don’t address negatives

    If you were fired or laid off, never state this in your resume. That is the stuff for discussion during an interview. And don’t lie about it either; be as honest as possible, and never “trash” a former boss or company.

    Add links

    Long before submitting resumes, it will be important to have a professional online presence. Include the link to your LinkedIn profile and, if warranted, a website with a portfolio of your work and/or accomplishments. If you have been a guest blogger on relevant sites, provide links to those posts too.

    Update consistently

    It is often advised when you start a new position, you begin updating your resume. This is because you want to be sure to remember all of your accomplishments if and when you decide to make another career move, or if, for any reason, your employment is terminated (companies do close). Keep your resume updated all the time.

    No tag lines

    Lines such as “References available upon request,” are not necessary and just take up space. Leave them out. If you are asked for references or links to things during an interview, you can provide them at that time.

    Do not abbreviate

    The only abbreviation you can use is “U.S.” Otherwise, spell everything out. Even abbreviations for schools attended may not be known by employers. The rule for acronyms is the same; spell them out.

    This article provides a good checklist for job seekers, whether they are crafting their first resumes ever or if they are veterans with several previous resumes under their belts. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make a difference.

    Need assistance with your resume for your job search? Get a free resume critique on College Recruiter. Also, come to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

    Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

    Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks everything we can imagine is real. To find more about Kerry, check her Twitter.

  • 10 job interview questions you shouldn’t ask

    April 11, 2016 by
    Bad job interview - concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Eviled/Shutterstock.com

    Congratulations! You’ve landed an entry-level job interview. Now, it is time to prepare for the big day, which includes creating some interview questions to ask if you get the chance. Keep in mind, though, there are questions college students and recent graduates should not ask their potential employers during interviews.

    1. How much does the job pay?

    Asking about salary in an interview tells the interviewer you’re more concerned with money than the actual job. I’m not saying money isn’t important, but save this discussion for after you have received a job offer.

    2. How many days of vacation do I get?

    It’s not wise for job seekers to ask about vacation time before landing entry-level jobs. Focusing on time off without a job offer leaves an impression that you lack commitment to work.

    3. Can I take time off during exams?

    This question might indicate to employers that college students have trouble handling multiple responsibilities, or that school is more important than work. Even though school work is a priority for students, employers are considering what is important to them.

    4. Can I use social media at work?

    It’s probably obvious to most (if not all) of you why job seekers shouldn’t ask this question. Interviewers would feel you’re more concerned with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers than succeeding at the position you’ve applied for.

    Businessman working from home on laptop courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

    5. Can I work from home?

    Asking this question can leave an interviewer wondering if you have an issue with coming to work regularly. Wait until proving yourself for a while on a new job before requesting to work from home.

    6. What kind of job is this?

    Please don’t ask this question. If you do, you might as well walk out of the interview. The interviewer expects you to know what kind of job you’ve applied for. You can find this information in the job posting and on the company website.

    7. When will I get promoted?

    Asking this question makes the assumption that a job seeker has won the position, which won’t impress the interviewer. Remember, you need to get the job first so concentrate on that. With a good attitude and hard work, you may eventually earn a promotion.

    8. Do you want my references?

    The interviewer is concerned about you, not anyone else. It’s great you have references but save them for later, and focus on nailing the interview.

    9. Are there any background checks?

    Asking potential employers about background checks raises a red flag in their minds that you have something to hide. If you’re sure of yourself as a job candidate, a background check or drug screen won’t bother you.

    10. Did I get the job?

    While I’m sure you can’t wait to find out if you got the job, avoid asking if you did in the interview. Unless you’re told otherwise, follow up to learn the employer’s decision. Don’t follow up too soon. It’s okay to ask the employer at the end of the interview about the timeline for filling the position—this lets you know how long to wait before calling to check on your status as an applicant.

    In a nutshell, job seekers should wait until after they receive employment offers before asking questions related to issues primarily benefiting themselves.

    Are you looking for more information to help you in your job search? Come over to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

  • Online portfolios: Using blogs to demonstrate college success

    March 26, 2016 by
    How to start a successful blog today note on laptop courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Aysezgicmeli/Shutterstock.com

    For some college students, graduation day is coming soon. Okay, there may be a few more months, but after Spring Break, graduation is just around the corner. Time flies when students are having fun with those studies, doesn’t it?

    The post-graduation period is a time for job searching, especially if college students have loans knocking at their doors. Today, we are going to discuss a tool (blog software) and method (blogging your portfolio) that should help students in the following ways:

    • Remind them of just how wonderful they are.

    • Remind them of what they have accomplished.

    • Remind college students of what they are capable of accomplishing.

    • Provide an online resource for future recruiters and hiring authorities to see the details of what students have done → their online portfolios. Provide them with an opportunity to start (or continue) networking. This may be students’ way “in” to the companies of their choices simply because someone who faithfully reads their blogs works at a company where they want to work.

    • Give students practice in many contemporary skills, like blogging, marketing, social media marketing, time management, team management, and many more. These skills may also be added to resumes, especially if they have been consistent with their portfolio blogs, over time, and built up a following (i.e. subscriber base).

    It is helpful to keep in mind many times the reason companies hire “entry-level” candidates is two-fold:

    • College students fill entry-level jobs, and the cost of employment (including salary) is lower than more experienced candidates; and

    • The company can train students into what they want them to be as their employees. Many times, more experienced candidates are less trainable and more “set in their ways.” Or, at least that may be the view of the human resources department and may thwart the hiring of more experienced employees. This is an advantage for students, as recent college graduates.

    Even though we are using the term “entry-level” and it may not sound glamorous, students are actually in an enviable position. There are many of us who are disqualified because we are “over-qualified,” even if we are willing to be trainable and moldable. So students are in an excellent position for their job search!

    What we are suggesting here is college students add a bit of an edge to their credentials. That is, building a blog that displays what they have accomplished in a contemporary manner. It is like a “living resume,” played out by way of bite-size blog posts pleasing to read and ingest.

    It may not be likely the CEO of the company where students want to work will look at the blog, but the idea is they are getting their names, credentials, and authority out there. They have a place to send people when they really want to get a feel for what students are about and more importantly, what they have accomplished.

    Starting the blogging process

    The thought of starting a blog can be both tempting and daunting. However, it is very doable, and after all the hard work college students have put into acquiring their degrees, it should appear very easy. Why? Students are accomplished, and the process is much easier when students know what they need to do.

    There is a helpful article on “onblastblog.com” that walks students through a day-by-day process, with the goal of helping them understand what to know before starting a blog. It is a helpful process, even if it isn’t college-centric. The article should help to take the “scary” part of starting a blog out of the equation. Also, since this article is more about the college portfolio portion, that resource may help students with the blogging basics, if they are not already familiar with the blogging process. I highly recommend they “study up” on that process so what I am sharing here makes more sense in the context of their online portfolios.

    Reminder: There are some basics to setting up a blog like choosing a domain, choosing the software (I recommend WordPress), going through the settings, etc. That is where the link above is helpful for going through those basics. There are also some wonderful articles on the Internet. Students can find them through a simple “Google Search.” We are going to move forward with the assumption they have the basics set up and are ready to move on with the content (blog posts).

    The graphics for a blog portfolio

    We wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk a little bit about the graphics for college students’ online blog portfolios. Of course, one of the key aspects is to include a nice headshot of themselves. Possibly, students want to include some action shots (i.e. graduation; working with something that fires up their passion; etc.). Be creative! Find high quality photos representing who they are and where they are going in life.

    In addition to the images of students, there is also a need for a graphic appeal to their sites. One possibility, especially if students want to develop the branding component of their portfolios (the brand of “you”), is to hire a professional. It can be expensive but is something they should consider if they want to ensure they are using the most effective graphics for their online portfolios.

    There is a new way of soliciting graphic design examples from the professionals. It is call crowd-sourcing, and it is done by groups like Designhill.com. The idea is to take the heavy lifting and hard work out of students’ efforts to come up with a description of what they are looking for in a design and sort of present it as a design contest to a bunch of professional designers.

    By doing it that way, the heavy lifting is done by the graphic designers, as they vie to get students’ attention with their wonderful design skills. They peruse all of the designs, and choose the one that appeals to students. That way, students are not spending all their time (and money) going through multiple iterations with one designer, only to possibly be disappointed with the final outcome.

    Fortunately, I had the opportunity to interview the co-founder of just such a company, and he explains it much better than me, in this interview. Watch as Rahul Aggarwal, co-founder of Designhill, explains the concept of crowd-sourcing the graphic design process:

    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    Turning a blog into a college portfolio blog

    Now it is time to discuss blogging in the context of being a recent graduate. Ideally, if college students are reading this, and they haven’t yet graduated, it is a great time to start the blogging process. Of course, they wouldn’t want the blogging to interfere with the time they need for their college studies (or social and relaxation time). The reason it is a great time is it 1) gives students time to network prior to graduation; and 2) gives them time to write articles about their experiences with their projects, while it is fresh in their minds.

    Fresh in your mind also creates that sense of “real person,” transparency, and engagement → all very popular in our culture.

    For college students who graduated some time ago, this doesn’t leave them out of the game. I have been blogging for years, and I am just now starting to re-purpose my essays into blog posts on my site at Tech-Audit.com. Many of the articles on that site were inspired by experiences in corporate America, but also, many of them were inspired by knowledge gained during my college studies. Now, the next step is to re-purpose my essays.

    Process overview

    Like I mentioned, I am getting ready to add some of my essays and papers to my blog. Students can set up their blogs to indicate (i.e. in the tag line) this is a portfolio. That way, readers will expect that is what they are reading, records of students’ projects and accomplishments from college. This gives an audience a chance to feel like they are being included in something special.

    In my case, I set up a professional blog on the topic of finance and technology and where they intersect. I am about to embark on including my essays into the blog. It is possible, since my current degree is I/O Psychology the blog will morph into a bit of a different topic. That is okay. Today, there are so many options to make modifications on our blogs; the sky is the limit.

    It may not be ideal to change the name or tagline, as it would be recommended we stick with the original intent of the blog (and that is what students are likely to read in the “how to blog” type articles), but in this case, we are sort of defining our path as we go. Also, loyal readers will become interested in what YOU have to say because this blog is more personal about students own paths and accomplishments, so an audience is less likely to care if they change the tagline later. When viewers get attached to a blog about a certain topic or company, it is a little different. In those cases, the audience may not be as attached to the person and may become be more bothered by a tag line change. Fortunately, this is a blog about and by students, so they have more leeway.

    So, here is my process, as an example for you…
    I’m looking through the essays I wrote in one of my favorite classes, “Social Psychology.” I found one titled “Group Cohesion.” Ok, that sounds interesting.

    Let’s take a look at this essay that earned a grade of 100%, and then you tell me:

    Group cohesion

    For research to have scientific merit, one of the components needs to be the analysis of future implications. In other words, what is the outcome of this research? As a part of that analysis, questions like, “How does this research affect the scientific community, or a specific group, or the subject of the research?” may be asked.

    Ok, I am yawning, even though I wrote it. It was great for the class, but will people read it on the blog? Honestly, I’m not sure I would read it! So, let’s revise it a bit:

    Why group cohesion is so important

    Research often plays an important part in understanding how we relate to one another, even how we relate to each other in social media. While we may not want to spend all of our time studying research expertly performed by scientists, it is helpful to consult what has been studied.

    One reason quality research is so important is it analyzes future implications. In other words, if done correctly, it helps to identify what the outcome of the research is. After all, how important is the research if it doesn’t help us to apply it to what we are doing and help us to improve our skills?

    Ok, it might still bore us a little, but college students can start to see how they can take their academic work and play with it, mold it, and make it into something interesting. It is possible, if students truly enjoy writing, they may end up with a completely different blog post when they are done.

    Remember those APA formatted references at the end? I suggest students find a link to the resource (journal), even if it is a link that requires payment and use that inside their articles (instead of the “References” section). Why do I suggest that? Many times readers are confused and steer away from their posts because they don’t know what to do with the “References” section. It is easier for readers to understand a link in the middle of the article and helps them feel more comfortable. Students can still write a final paragraph thanking the researchers of the journal articles they consulted, but they want to ensure it is written in a personable enough manner that readers are not scared off and away from their blogs.

    Don’t forget how to format those articles with proper APA formatting. College students never know when they will have the opportunity to be published in the peer-reviewed journal. That is worth retaining those skills they have learned in college!

    Note to the non-writers:
    If students detest blogging, there is still a place for them. What I described above was how to blog their essays. They are certainly welcome to just paste the essay “as is,” and let people know they are reading students’ essays (see note at the end of this article regarding the university and any policy concerns). That is ok. It is about managing expectations, and letting your readers know what they will find on the site/blog/portfolio.

    University student receiving award courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Volt Collection/Shutterstock.com

    Those accomplishments

    We didn’t forget about the accomplishments! Sometimes, those are the easiest because college students can insert an image of themselves receiving an award, or a snap of the award itself, or whatever the accomplishment is. Maybe they have a video. It can be uploaded to YouTube and inserted into a blog post with a description of the accomplishment. Again, don’t forget to consult the “how to blog” expert articles for more details and tips on how to do this.

    After blogging everything possible about the portfolio

    Yay! Congrats to you!

    Keep in mind college students may feel like they have blogged everything they can think of as far as accomplishments and school papers, essays, etc., but… They are accomplishing things every day! The path of accomplishment is not over yet. So, there is no reason why students cannot continue to write about their current accomplishments and insights as they come to them. In fact, I dare say they have become experts in other areas, even beyond what they learned in college by the time they’ve reached this point.

    Granted, students may not feel like they are writers, and they have had it with writing. I can’t assume just because I love writing that means students love writing, now can I? That is ok, too. In that case, they want to package up their blogs as if they are literally that online portfolio of what they have accomplished in their degrees.

    Promoting a portfolio

    College students will want to include the link on their LinkedIn profiles. There are options to insert external links, and that is a great place to insert the link to their blogs/portfolios. If students have opted to keep it as just a portfolio, then list it as a portfolio. If they have opted for it to be a continuing blog, then list it as a professional blog.

    Now it’s time to get started

    Do students have ideas coming to mind? Initially, they can almost copy/paste their work from college. Please do keep in mind any plagiarism rules that may exist in college. If they are currently attending college that may be a concern; ensure writing on students’ blogs doesn’t flag a “TurnItIn” alert that affects their current studies. Students will definitely want to check with their universities if they are current students and have these concerns.

    I hope college students have seen this is not the impossible task. If they start something like the blog set-up, and are not entirely sure they “did it right” or they want their portfolios to always look that way, they do have the option to change it easily without impacting the content they have entered. This allows students to get started today and tweak it as they go.

    Isn’t that really the way life works? We have to get off our duff to get going and get it done, but we can fine-tune our process as we experience more life lessons along the way. It doesn’t stop at college graduation. We have the opportunity to continue the learning process and impart that to others, as we go through life. Now, let’s share it, shall we?

    Looking for additional job search tips for college students and recent graduates? Go to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Photo of Deborah Anderson

    Deborah Anderson, guest writer

    By Deborah Anderson

    http://www.Tech-Audit.com

    @techauditcom and @socialwebcafe

    Deborah Anderson is on her way to finishing her doctorate in I/O Psychology. Along the way, she has served as Chief Technology Officer in the financial industry (in Beverly Hills), Director of Marketing in the health industry, Host of an iHeart Radio marketing talk show, and even a #1 Jazz Singer (Deborah E). From this background, she shares insights to help others overcome their challenges and succeed in their personal and professional lives.

  • NACE 2016: Benchmarks in college recruiting

    March 03, 2016 by

    At the 2016 National Association of Colleges and Employers Conference & Expo June 7-10 in Chicago, College Recruiter’s President and Founder Steven Rothberg will present a session for employers entitled “How to Benchmark Your University Relations Program in the Absence of Benchmarks.”

    In this brief video hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, Rothberg explains why clear benchmarks in college recruiting do not often exist and helps define some potential solutions to this problem.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    Rothberg mentions that in the field of college recruiting, until recently, very few college recruiting programs had benchmarks. As a result, many college recruiting programs did not know if they were operating effectively. Some college recruiting programs are beginning to share their operations data and establish benchmarks, but there is still a lack of continuity across the industry.

    For example, not all organizations define cost per hire the same way. If a recruiter travels, and the company does not factor in all travel costs and salary costs, as well as fees charged by the university, then the cost per hire estimate is inaccurate. Failure to accurately estimate costs affects overall budget estimates.

    It’s also important to use benchmarks accurately in order to measure success in college recruiting and to give credit where credit is due. Rothberg cites his work with a client recently who was able to pinpoint the exact number of candidates who’d been hired as a result of working with the college recruiting team.

    Benchmarking is not just about measuring your own success, Rothberg notes, but also about comparing your achievements to those of others in the field whose organizations are similar to yours and who are hiring similar types of candidates. Cooperating with other employers by sharing benchmarking data can help you reach goals. This is what Rothberg’s session at the 2016 NACE Conference & Expo will focus on.

    Don’t forget to register for the 2016 NACE Conference & Expo. Follow College Recruiter’s blog for more information about best practices in college recruiting, and follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

    At College Recruiter, we believe every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. We are committed to creating a quality candidate and recruiter experience. Our interactive media solutions connect students and graduates to excellent entry-level jobs and internships. Why not let College Recruiter assist you in the recruiting process?

  • 10 reasons to reject job offers

    February 29, 2016 by
    Woman tears agreement documents before an agent who wants to get a signature courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Bacho/Shutterstock.com

    Deciding whether or not to accept job offers could be challenging for college students and recent graduates. When considering a position, there are certain factors that might lead students and grads to turn it down. Here are 10 good reasons to reject job offers.

    1. Job seekers should reject job offers if they don’t line-up with their competencies, interests, and values. College students and recent graduates should ask themselves whether they’re good at what they’ll be expected to do if hired, if the work will excite them, and if the work is consistent with their morals. If not, pass on the offer. A job needs to be more than a paycheck.

    2. The job doesn’t offer career advancement. Can employees grow within the company? If job offers do not mention anything about advancement, workers will be stuck in a job without the chance for a potential career.

    3. Opportunities are sacrificed. Depending on the job, college students and recent graduates may or may not meet a people who have the right contacts. Without networking opportunities, they might miss out on their dream jobs.

    4. Reputation is damaged professionally. There is no shame in working somewhere to make ends meet, even if it’s not the job you want. However, a bad work experience can damage one’s reputation with recruiters and hiring managers. Students and grads should find jobs highlighting their skills en route to better career opportunities.

    5. The job affects your spirit negatively. College students and graduates need to think about how they would feel in the job. If it does not satisfy them for whatever reason, they will be unhappy and won’t perform well. This creates a negative spirit in people and in the workplace.

    Balancing work and life, and busy businessman in concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Crystal Eye Studio/Shutterstock.com

    6. Hurts work/life balance. Work is important, but family is more important. If a new job will take too much time away from your loved ones, consider other options offering more flexibility for work/life balance.

    7. Salary falls short. Students and grads should do their homework on how much money a job pays, and then compare the salary to the job offer. If the money isn’t what they’re quite hoping for and they believe they can get more, they shouldn’t accept the offer.

    8. Money overtakes dreams. In contrast to the previous reason, the pay can be so good and becomes a bigger priority than pursuing your dreams. If students and graduates are tempted by money more than their dreams, they may regret accepting a new job later in life and wonder what could have been.

    9. The hiring process isn’t structured. College students and recent grads should consider how they’re treated during the hiring process. Anything that seems questionable is a red flag and is not worth their time.

    10. Bad timing. Even when great job offers come along, sometimes the timing isn’t right. While rejecting offers may seem crazy, don’t beat yourself up. A better offer could be waiting down the road.

    Need more tips related to your job search? Follow our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube for career tips and motivation.

    At College Recruiter, we believe every student and recent grad deserves a great career. We work to create a quality candidate and recruiter experience. Our interactive media solutions connect students and grads to great careers.