Hey graduates: You need to master these 15 simple skills

We know you probably have some mad skills now that you’re a college graduate. But, let’s face it, some of those skills (and you know which ones we’re thinking of) won’t help you in the future.

We came across these 15 simple skills that college graduate should have and wanted to share it with you. However, after reviewing the list, we realized that we all need to master these skills, whether we’ve just graduated or graduated several years ago.

The list come from Dave Kerpen, chief executive officer of Likeable, best-selling author and speaker.

Pursue your passions
Find out what you’re passionate about then find a business or industry where you can pursue them.

Learn how to use the phone to talk
We’ve become so accustomed to using our phones for other things that many of us can’t carry on an appropriate conversation using them. You gotta work on that.

Value every minute
So stay away from things that suck too much time out of your day, such as TV, meetings and email.

Be afraid, then take risks anyway
Many things are super-scary. But when you overcome your fears, the payoff is worth it.

Take care of yourself
Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. It’ll help you perform better and be a better person.

Work on your listening skills
We’ve mentioned this before. You need to listen. Really listen.

Reinvent yourself
Pursue your passions and you’ll have many opportunities to reinvent yourself.

Read
No matter what you read – fiction, nonfiction, poetry – you’ll be learning, and learning is good.

Write
No matter what your career, being able to write well will help you.

Avoid sensational TV news
This is a huge time suck.

Vote
Voting gives you a voice. Use it.

Love. Hard.
Loving someone can be hard and scary, but there is no greater reward.

Form a personal board of advisers
Find mentors and don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

Show your friendship first
Reach out to people without expecting anything in return.

Be honest and transparent
Lying and secrecy only make life harder. Remember what your mother told you: “Honesty is the best policy.”

6 ways you can find a summer job

KatelynMorrisAs the 2012-2013 school year comes to an end, the search for a summer job begins. It’s hard to find employers who are willing to hire people they know will be around for only three to four months, so it could be more difficult than one would think. Whether you a looking for a full-time or part-time job, U.S.News & World Report  offers some tips for a successful summer job search.

Contact past employers: If you left on good terms with a previous employer, why not check with him/her to see if there is an opening for you. Whether it’s the same job you had before, or a new position he/she needs to fill, if you were a good worker, the employer will find a place for you.

Check university job boards: If you’re willing to stick around campus for the summer, schools usually have summer positions available for students. Not only will you get paid, but sometimes schools will offer free housing to student employees.

Create a job: Baby-sitting, mowing lawns, housekeeping and walking dogs are business ventures that students can organize for themselves. You can have a little more control over the hours/ days you want to work, plus you can set your own hourly rate.

Consider a new market: If it’s difficult finding jobs in your hometown, think about looking for employment in your college town or in a friend’s hometown where employment opportunities are more abundant.

Use family and friends: Take advantage of your connections. Whether it’s asking a family friend to put in a good word for you or working for a family member, there is no shame in using who you know to get what you want.

Combine multiple positions: If a part-time job is all you can find, but you need the full-time paycheck, look for another job to meet your financial goals.

Along with these tips About.com recommends looking for Smart Summer Jobs and keeping these things in mind when you’re searching:

Get something in your field of study: By doing this you get experience, which not only enhances your knowledge but looks great to future employers.

Get a job at a company you want to work for after graduation: “It can be a great way to get your foot in the door and connect you with people so that when a position does open up they’ll already be familiar with you and your great work.” Plus, you’ll get a sense of whether you’d be happy working at the company when you do graduate.

Find something that teaches you the skills you want: Working at the local tasty freeze or life guarding at a swimming pool may be fun, but they won’t provide you with the opportunity to gain skills that will benefit your future career such as communications, marketing, or administrative skills.

Good luck in your search. A have a great summer.

10 things NOT to say to a recent college grad

KatelynMorrisAs a new graduate, I know it’s going to be difficult finding a job. It seems that everyone I talk to has words of encouragement or questions about my plans after college, and to be honest, some of the things they say stress me out. It’s a constant reminder that I’m really not all that prepared to tackle the next phase of my life, which is scary when if I dwell on it for too long.

So, whether you are a parent or close friend who is talking to a recent grad or soon-to-be grad, remember this is a scary time in their life. Especially if they are not as prepared as they would like to be, some questions or comments might stress them out or irritate them. Yourcollegekid.com gives parents a list of 10 things your recent college graduate doesn’t want to hear. Based on my experience, I’d have to agree with the list.

“You’ll find something!”
This comment, to me, is a sad attempt at trying to raise my spirits and keep me positive, but what it really does is make the me feel like I’ll never find a job that I want, and I’ll have to settle for a check-out girl position to pay off my loans. If you want to encourage me, try being a little less vague and a little more helpful. Tell me to look at online employment sites or bring home the recent newspaper.

“Tonight at 10 there’ll be a special on the most in-demand careers of the year on TV. Make sure you watch it.”
I can’t count the number of times my mom has told me to watch this or that on TV that related to possible career paths. It would get so irritating because I had already decided what I wanted to do, and it made me feel like she wasn’t satisfied with my choice.

“Maybe if you’d majored in (insert major) like I told you to, you wouldn’t be scrambling for work.”
I remember when I was a freshman and sophomore, my parents tried to sway my decisions in choosing a major; it was frustrating then. Now, if they were to say something like this it would just be hurtful. I would feel like they were discrediting my four years of hard work and didn’t have faith in my ability to be successful in the career field that I wanted to pursue.

Do you have a job lined up?”
This has happened to me countless times already. People I know will ask me this, and sometimes I feel embarrassed that the answer is no. I’m still trying to figure out what my next step is, which is hard enough to do without the nagging reminder that a choice has to be made sooner than later.

“(Insert name of restaurant) has a sign in the window—they’re hiring for summer. I picked up an application for you.”
As helpful as you think you’re being, you’re actually appearing as though you don’t think your new grad will find a full-time job. Don’t give your kid the impression that he or she has to settle for a part-time position as a waitress. They just graduated; give them time to adjust.

“What about your friend, (insert friend’s name)? She/he has a job.”
First off, it’s a bad idea to compare your grad to his or her peers. This will make him/her feel even worse about not having any luck. Not to mention, the comparison most likely isn’t fair to begin with; the friend’s geographical location, degree and number of connections may be the reason he or she has a job.

“My (insert relative’s name) just graduated, and she’s doing great!”
My response to this would be “cool,” and I would probably walk away feeling bad about the fact the I am struggling. So, unless his or her employment is beneficial to me in some way, I’d rather continue to think that most graduates are jobless like me.

“What can you do with that degree?”
I’ve had experience with this question. To me, it sounded like they thought my degree was a made up. A better question would be “Pardon my ignorance, but what types of jobs do people with that degree end up having?  What are you looking to get into?”

“If you can’t find a job, maybe you should go to grad school.”
As recent college grads, not only are we ready for a break from school, but the idea of accruing more debt doesn’t sound appealing to us at this point. Grads shouldn’t decide to go to grad school just because they can’t find a job. Grad school is for people who know that investing in furthering their education will be beneficial to their career.

“Why don’t you see if (insert company name) is hiring? I hear that’s a good place to work.”
This comment is much like #5. While you may think you’re helping, you have to realize that companies aren’t always hiring. If you know they are hiring for a position in your graduate’s field, then say something, otherwise, it’s not very helpful.

The moral of this post:
Think about the message you may be sending, unintentionally, that could be hurtful or stressful to this and all of the other fragile, unemployed grads. Be sure that you are being sensitive to the fact that they are probably bummed that they have yet to find a job in a field they have just spent the past four years preparing for. Encourage them without undermining their hard work. Most of all let them know that you are proud of their accomplishments thus far, and you are excited to see where their degree takes them.

Do put these 7 things in your cover letter

Last week, we shared with you 10 things you should not put in a cover letter. Today, we’re going to give you tips on what should go in it. Forbes.com offers some practical advice for what you should put in your cover letter.

Insert the name of a mutual contact
If you know someone at the company where you’re applying, put that person’s name in the first sentence of your cover letter. This will immediately set you apart from all of the other applicants.

Tell a story
OK, we don’t mean starting her letter with “Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away.” But, if you can relate your desire for this job to an experience, you should.

Briefly summarize your career
Describe your previous work experience in one or two sentences at the beginning.

Use examples
Give concrete examples of your achievements and how they can help you help the company or organization.

Add when you’ll be getting in touch
At the end, tell the employer when he/she can expect to hear from you. But remember, don’t be annoying.

Don’t cut and paste from the job description
If you’re applying to a job posting, keep the requirements in mind but don’t use the exact wording.

Don’t be casual
Most likely your cover letter will be in the form of an email. But, don’t think that means you can be informal or casual – unless you already know the person to whom you’re sending your email. You want to be business like.

Here are several other suggestions that will help you.

Good luck.

Don’t put these 10 things in your cover letter

Whether you’re graduating from college or high school or looking for a job partway through your education, you have to make sure that your cover letter is great. U.S.News  & World Report offers a list of 10 phrases that don’t belong in your cover letter.

“I meet the requirements for the position”
So do most of the other candidates. That sentence won’t make your cover letter stand heads and shoulders above the others. Instead, explain why you’re an excellent candidate.

“I’m hard-working and a great communicator.”
These are the kinds of clichés that potential employers tend to ignore, particularly because they’re not really saying anything.

“I’m a visionary leader.”
Remember when your composition teacher said “show don’t tell?”  That applies here as well. Don’t tell a potential employer you’re a visionary leader, show him or her through the accomplishments you’ve listed on your resume.

“You won’t find a candidate better qualified that me.”
Really? Do you want to sound that cocky? Probably not. Plus, if you truly stand out and are the very best qualified, the hiring manager should be able to figure that out on his/her own.

“I’ll call you in a week to schedule an interview.”
Yes, you want to show that you’re persistent, but this is just plain annoying.

“I’m willing to work for below the salary you’re offering.”
You may think this will get you an interview, particularly if your qualifications aren’t as strong. It won’t.

“I’ve attached my college transcripts, a list of references, a 15-page writing sample, and my last performance review.”
Unless you were specifically asked to provide these materials, don’t include them. You don’t want to overwhelm a potential employer.

“Please contact me if you’d like to see my resume.”
If you’re looking for a job, you must include your resume.  Enough said.

“I really need a job. I’m desperate.”
While this may make a hiring manager feel sorry for you, it won’t make them hire you.

Don Georgevich of jobinterviewtools.com explains more about what you shouldn’t put in a cover letter and how to make it better.

Good luck.

College grads gotta eat. Try these five quick and cheap meals

Now that you’ve graduated college, your eating habits may change. You won’t be able to pop into the campus dining hall and chow down. You will no longer be able to take advantage of your roommate who loved to cook. Or, if you lived at home while going to school, your mom or dad won’t be cooking for you. (Unless of course you’re still living at home, and there’s nothing wrong with that.)

However, if you’re on your own and a little short of cash, (or if you want to give your mom or dad a break from cooking, which is nice) you can still eat well and cheaply. Searchwarp.com offers five quick and cheap meals.

Jambalaya
For less than $10, you can purchase a box of Jambalaya rice, some sausage or chicken, and some canned corn. You can even add some frozen garlic bread — or make your own – and a bagged salad.

QuesadillasForMay13PostQuesadillas
Buy a can of refried beans, flour tortillas and grated cheese. (If you buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself it’s cheaper.) You can also add some precooked fajita chicken or make some chicken yourself to add to the quesadillas. If you add a box of Mexican rice, you’ll still be under $10.

Spaghetti
Oh, so simple. A box of pasta and a jar of pasta sauce. If you want to get a bit fancier, you can add a pound of ground meat to the sauce.

Chili
Again, easy and cheap. A pound of ground beef (or turkey or chicken), a packet of chili seasoning and a can of kidney beans. Adding some chopped onions and shredded cheese (you’ll probably have some left from the quesadillas) will make it taste even better. If you have any leftover flour tortillas, brush a little oil on them and bake them until crisp. You can put them on top of your chili.

Sloppy JoesSloppyJoeForMay13Post
You’ll need a pound of ground meat (beef, chicken or turkey), a can of ready-made canned sloppy Joe sauce and some buns. If you still have cheese left, sprinkle a little on top for extra flavor.

If you’re cooking just for yourself, you will likely have leftovers. Invest in some good plastic containers such as Tupperware or Rubbermaid.  Then, you’ll get two maybe three meals out of one recipe.

Happy eating.

You’ve graduated college. Now what?

PhotoForMay8PostSo, you’ve graduated … or you’ve almost graduated. Now what? On Monday, we told you about what some of our graduates are doing. But what about you? What are you going to do now that college classes are over, your friends have scattered to the four corners of the world and you’re faced with figuring out what you’re going to do with your future?

CollegeAftermath.com says now is the time to seize the day. See the world. Experience life. Do what you’ve wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t. Learn a new skill such as yoga.

LendingClub.com offers 21 practical tips on surviving the real world.   Here are some of those 21:

  • Don’t buy a new car
    Even if it’s shiny. If the car you have is falling apart, buy a used car.
  • Don’t get a fancy apartment
    Instead of using half of your paycheck for rent, consider renting a house with some friends and putting into a savings account what you saved by not getting  a fancy apartment. After a few years, you’ll have enough saved to get a fancy one.
  • Don’t go to happy hour every day
    You’re going to spend too much money.
  • Keep living like a student
    Continue the frugal habits you had when you were in college.
  • Find friends outside of your job
    It will keep you balanced.
  • Never stop learning
    Just because you’ve finished college doesn’t mean you’re finished with learning. Read a book for fun. Take an enrichment class such as a computer course or a tennis class.
  • Never stop dreaming
    Your best days are not behind you. Use your new freedom to accomplish what you’ve always wanted to.

Good luck, new grad or almost-new grad. Enjoy it.

By the way, that’s a photo of our wonderful intern, Katelyn. Even though she’s graduated, she’ll still have a couple more posts later this month, including one that details the 10 things you should never say to a new college graduate.