The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that more than 1.6 million students will graduate with bachelor's degrees this year, which means competition for entry-level interviews is fierce and candidates should welcome any advantage.

Enter your wardrobe. Brian Tracy, an internationally known leadership and training consultant, said, "Your clothes are responsible for 95% of your first impression." Get an edge on the competition by dressing the part of up and arriving professional, and you'll add to a favorable first impression with the interviewer (unlike our buddy here to the right).

Learn the dress code before the interview. Calm those butterflies in your stomach by doing your homework and preparing thoroughly for your interview. In addition to learning as much as you can about the company and position before meeting with the interviewer, call ahead and find out the company's dress code. Call the human resources department or to talk to a friend working at the company to learn what to wear to your interview.

Dress the part. "A first impression is formed within seven seconds--before you even present your resume or speak a word," said Colleen Hammond, founder of Total Image Institute and author of the internationally bestseller Dressing with Dignity. "Decision makers need to visualize you in the position they are trying to fill. So dress for the job you're applying for!"

For men, Hammond suggested:

  • suit jacket and slacks in a dark, neutral color, such as black, navy or gray, with an Oxford-type shirt and tie ( "A blue and red striped tie exudes confidence and professionalism," Hammond said.)

Women have more choices:

  • a pant suit with loose-fitting, pressed trousers, and black pumps
  • matching skirt and jacket suit with colorful, complimentary blouse
  • tailored, professional dress

What about piercings and tattoos? Most interviewers understand young people graduating from college are likely to have tattoos and piercings. That doesn't mean that you should flaunt your lip ring, however. A survey from TheVault.com states 60% of employers were less likely to hire a candidate with tattoos or piercings. While that may seem unfair, it's important to understand not everyone shares your love of ink. Before your interview and after you're employed, consider the following:

  • Remove piercings from the lips, face, eyebrows, and tongue.
  • Use clear retainer jewelry.
  • Wear long sleeves to cover large arm tattoos.

Nail casual office attire. If you choose to go more casual, business casual doesn't mean anything goes. Familiarize yourself with what others in the office wear on casual Fridays or throughout the workweek. Err on the side of dressing more formally.

In general, casual work attire for men means khaki or navy-colored slacks, a collared shirt of some type, and casual loafers or other leather shoes with matching socks.

Women can choose to wear slacks or a casual skirt, such as a pencil skirt, although Hammond said to choose a pencil skirt that's neither too tightly fitting nor too short. Adding a colorful blouse, black flats or ballet shoes, and a pretty cardigan lends a professional appearance to a woman's casual work attire.

Dress for success. Even if your resume or internship experience is outstanding, wearing too casual clothing, scuffed shoes, or even too much cologne or perfume can be a turn-off at work. Dress to impress, and dress for success for your first job out of college and beyond.

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Want to quit your job? Want to quit after only a day, a week, or a month?

Recently, I found myself in this situation. I was hired for a job that on paper seemed perfect for me, and I loved everything about it--my boss was amazing, my co-workers were friendly and helpful, the money was good, and I was using my degree.

However, there was a big problem. I hated the work itself. No matter how hard I tried to make the best of it, it just wasn't right for me. After the first week, I knew I had made a mistake in accepting the position. So, how did I quit a job I had only just started?

It was an awkward situation, but after a month, I managed to exit gracefully the job without burning any bridges. Take these step to evaluate the situation and take your exit.

Don't make any rash decisions. The first day, week or month of any new job is hard. You're going to feel overwhelmed, and you may decide you've made a mistake. However, don't give up too soon. Give yourself time to adjust and see how you feel after more time has passed. If you still want to leave, it may be best to move on.

Make sure you can afford to quit. Before making any final decisions, make sure you can afford to quit. This means both financially and professionally. Do you have enough money saved up to survive a few months of not working? How much will quitting affect your professional reputation? It may be best to stay until you've found a new position so you can make a seamless transition.

Tell your boss in person (no matter how scary that seems). It's much easier to send an email or write a memo telling your boss that you're done, but be respectful and tell them in person. Be honest about why you're leaving. They invested a lot of time and money into hiring and training you, and they chose you over others who also wanted the position. The least you can do is explain why you're leaving.

Offer to stay until they find someone new. This sacrifice can be hard because you want to be done. However, offering to stay until the organization finds a replacement will help them avoid stress from losing you and being short-handed. You could also consider offering to help train your replacement to help make the transition as smooth as possible and avoid hard feeling between you and the company.

Send a thank you note. Even though you only worked there a short time, take a minute to send your former employee a quick thank you for the opportunity. After all, they did give you a chance over other candidates. Let them know how much the opportunity meant to you, and, although it didn't work out, you valued the learning experience.

There's no easy way to quit a job, but by doing it the right way, you can minimize the damage to your professional reputation and avoid burning bridges.

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You said you wouldn't do it, but it happened anyway: You overspent on party attire and social events. You went way overboard on gifts. You tossed your budget out the window in favor of good times and holiday cheer.

Don't beat yourself up. It happens. And you surely wouldn't be the first person to bemoan the toll the holidays took on your wallet. But now that they're over, it's time to get back on track. Here are a few easy ways to begin the process of recovering financially.

Review your gift collection. Just as you gave during the holidays, you also probably received. But before you stash your gifts in the back of your closet, take inventory and figure out which items you really do and don't want. Go through the "don't want" pile to see if there's anything you can sell or exchange for things you'd normally spend money on. For example, if your grandmother got you a sweater you can only describe as "hideous," try returning it for store credit so the next time you need to replace a staple item, you won't have to shell out the money. You can also unload unwanted gift cards for cash online. There are numerous sites that allow you to sell or trade gift cards, and while you may not get full value, better to have some money in hand rather than a useless piece of plastic that takes up space in your wallet.

Cut back on nights out. Nothing zaps your financial resources like nightlife and dining out, and while it's normal to want to socialize and indulge, you're probably ready for a break anyway now that it's January and a new year. So rather than make big plans with your partner or friends, consider exploring the less exciting--but just as enjoyable--world of movie nights and potluck dinners. You'll save money and give your body a chance to recuperate from all the holiday madness.

Reexamine your budget. Now that the holidays are over, it's time to reevaluate your budget--especially if you're still paying off December's credit card bills. With your holiday spending spree fresh in your mind, take the time to review your finances so that you can better prepare for next December. You may find that to avoid racking up debt, you'll need to set aside extra money each month for your holiday gift fund. The sooner you realize this and start taking steps to create that financial buffer, the better off you'll be. Plus, with that nagging credit card balance hanging over your head, you'll be more motivated to get creative in terms of cutting corners.

Remember, recovering financially from the holidays doesn't have to be painful. Just take the opportunity to make some smart short-term decisions, and before you know it, you'll be back on track and in a better position to go all out next December.

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Though things seem to be picking up on the job front, plenty of people are still having difficulty getting hired. In fact, the average college graduate will spend anywhere from three to nine months looking for a job--which, for many, is far too long to go without work. As a result, many grads are turning to temporary jobs as a way to start working sooner and begin paying those mounting bills. In fact, temporary jobs have comprised 19% of all new jobs since the recession in 2009, according to U.S. News. While there are many benefits to temporary jobs, here are a few things you should know before taking a temp role:

Your company is not required to offer you benefits. Though some companies and temp agencies do provide certain benefits to temporary employees, they are not required by law to offer perks like paid time off, health insurance, or a 401k plan.

You won't be getting a break on taxes. Temps are subject to the same withholding rules that apply to permanent employees.

You still have rights. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, temporary employees are given the same rights as permanent ones with regard to factors such as minimum wage, discrimination, safety policies, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

If you're paid hourly, you're eligible for overtime. Hourly, or non-salaried, employees must be paid a minimum of time-and-a-half for excess hours when working more than 40 hours in a given workweek. If your regular hourly rate is $20 and you work 45 hours over the course of the same week, your company must pay you at least $30 per hour for those last five hours.

You can't be a temp forever. By law, a company can only retain you as a temporary employee for a certain amount of time. Actual limits vary by state, but the punchline is that your company can't allow you to temp indefinitely in the same role, nor can it easily get away with creating new but similar roles for the purpose of extending your temporary status. This law is actually designed to benefit you as an employee, as it prevents a company from taking advantage by repeatedly renewing your temporary contract instead of hiring you full-time and deeming you eligible for the benefits that come with permanent employment. But it also means you shouldn't get too settled in a temp role because your company may have no choice but to let you go if there's a freeze on permanent hiring when your contract expires.

You may make less money if you're hired through a temp agency. Most agencies typically charge clients 15 to 30% more than the amount their temps get paid. While a temp agency will advocate on your behalf and help you find employment, you may be better off financially if you manage to secure a temp job on your own. Some companies advertise temp positions directly, so it pays to look around.

You may or may not get hired permanently. According to 2014 staffing agency statistics, 35% of temps were offered permanent jobs by their employers.

A temporary job can relieve out of work graduates, but be smart, research the company and your rights, and use it to launch your career, not to get stuck.

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Most college students know that they need to get good grades to succeed in school and beyond. But what might be more important--especially in securing a job after college--is how they succeed outside of the classroom.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2015 survey found that employers rank involvement in extracurricular activities is as important as students' grades when looking at potential hires. Likewise, holding a leadership position related to their field is as important as what major they choose. In other words, a degree doesn't guarantee a job, and students who want to be competitive in the workforce need to think beyond their classes.

Students just starting out in their college career should consider joining a student organization or networking group related to their field of study. This provides a chance to learn about their field and get some initial experience that can prepare them for the next step: an internship.

The idea of working at an internship makes students groan--I'm taking classes, working a part-time job, racking up debt, and you want me to work for free? But the benefit--like real-world experience, contacts in the industry, and a leg up on other candidates when a job opens up--can be enormous. And what's more: Working in your field during college doesn't necessarily mean working for free.

The NACE's 2014 Internship and Co-Op Survey shows that employers made full-time offers to 64.8% of their interns, which includes both unpaid and paid positions--the latter of which can net students an average hourly wage of around $15-$18.

It's worth students' time to try for a paid position. While unpaid internships can provide valuable experience, paid internships, co-ops, and freelance work command more consideration from potential employers.

The NACE 2014 Student Survey shows that less than half of all college internships are unpaid, and 42% of students surveyed who held a paid internship during college received a full-time job offer. And, more importantly, those job offers tended to come with a higher starting salary than students with job offers resulting from unpaid positions.

Students should check with their school's internship or co-op office to see what positions they might be aware of. They can also search online to find opportunities in their area and around the world at Internships.com, which has an Internship Predictor Tool to help guide students' internship choices.

But traditional routes like internships and co-ops aren't the only options.
Professors may just be seen as teachers, but many do work outside of the classroom. Beyond getting good grades, students should take time to develop good relationships with their professors, who will keep their best students in mind for help with research projects or freelance work.

In any case with gaining job experience, students should remember that landing a job isn't the only goal.

Colleen Sabitano, an Intern Coach through Internships.com, says that students should realize employers "are trying to make their dollars go farther and their people produce more."

Students should think about what they can offer an employer, rather than what the employer can give them. And when they make themselves valuable, the jobs will come.

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If you've just landed an internship or started a new career, chances are you may just be the youngest person in your office, and sometimes by a lot. This may mean that the chances of making similar-aged office friends and finding someone to join you at an après-work happy hour are unfortunately slim to none. However, being the youngest in your office actually provides you with a host of benefits and lots of learning opportunities. If you haven't quite found the silver lining yet, read on to discover the advantages of being the youngest person in the office.

You will learn how to act like a professional
As a young professional, the learning curve is steep. Embrace it. Part of that includes honing a professional approach. More often than not to prove your worthiness for a raise or promotion, you need to be constantly professional. While this undoubtedly means acting way more mature than you actually are and suppressing your Netflix-loving, Snapchatting and Chipotle-bingeing twenty-something urges, you're in the best environment to help you do just that. By observing and emulating your older co-worker's work habits, attire and overall maturity, you will learn to become a more professional employee.

You can see the future
Being surrounded by co-workers who are parents--and some who are even old enough to be your parents--can make you feel like a child. However, observing your older co-workers will actually give you a great perspective for your future. You'll gain insight into how employees in your company climb the corporate ladder and an estimate of how long it could take you to reach your goals. Getting to know your older, successful co-workers who had a similar college major or career goal can also help to provide insight into your potential career path. However, if you're noticing unhappiness and dissatisfaction among your older office-mates, it may be a sign for you to start sending out resumes.

You're not too old to move on
If you're the youngest employee in your office, chances are you're one of the youngest employees in the entire workforce. This means that if you don't like your current job or even your current career path, you have all the time in the world to change that, by switching jobs or even going back to school. Also, keep in mind that as a member of Gen Y it's perfectly normal to have several career changes--as almost everyone in this generation will have 15 to 20 jobs over the course of their career.

You're doing just fine
As the youngest employee in your office, feeling insecure is completely normal. You may feel as though your lack of experience and years as a professional can cause your superiors not to take you seriously. However, remember you were hired because of your impressive skills, talent, and personality, and even if it doesn't feel like it, you and your job are important. As a young professional already climbing the career ladder, it's safe to say you're doing just fine.

If your office is filled with co-workers much older than you, office-life may feel daunting. However, being the youngest means you have the most potential career growth ahead. It also gives you the opportunities to learn about professionalism and even your own career path from your co-workers. Turn your age into your biggest asset on the way to career success.

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While the job market may be less bleak than it was several years ago, things are still far from easy for today's college grads, especially those falling into the often-dreaded "entry level" category. If you're at the point where you've pretty much given up on landing your dream job (or at least the entry level version of it), you may be considering a role as an administrative assistant, a position that's still fairly high in demand across a wide range of industries.

Of course, when you think about working as an admin assistant, it's hard not to imagine spending your days taking coffee orders, fetching lunch, and becoming a seemingly permanent fixture alongside the photocopy machine. And while it's true that some administrative assistant jobs consist mainly of what most college grads would consider menial tasks, in some industries, admin roles require a fair amount of intelligence and skill.

Real work, real opportunity
In the right environment, being an administrative assistant means gaining access to a host of opportunities. Think about it: As an administrative employee, you'll most likely be supporting at least one seasoned professional, and possibly more. This means that simply by showing up to work, you'll get to build relationships with people who may be able to help you advance your career—especially if you prove that you're dedicated, responsible, and good at what you do.

Plus, the work itself may end up being more challenging than you initially anticipated—and that's a good thing. Some admin assistants are responsible for making travel arrangements, planning meetings, and maintaining calendars for multiple executives. It may not be rocket science, but it's a far cry from spending hours alphabetizing the filing cabinet. And it's certainly not unheard of for skilled admin assistants to be tasked with creating reports, summarizing and analyzing data, or editing and proofreading presentations and memorandums. In fact, according to recent data, approximately 65% of job postings for administrative roles now include the requirement of having a bachelor's degree.

In other words, if you think being a college grad makes you automatically overqualified for an admin role, think again. According to Michelle Sarhis, an executive recruiter at Robert Walters, administrative roles are quite appealing to many job hunters and are no longer simply regarded as the fallback option for those who can't find better.

"Taking an admin assistant role early in one's career has become completely underrated," Sarhis said. "Administrative jobs not only lay the groundwork for skills such as organization, time management, and accountability--all of which are necessary for any job--but they can also provide exposure to a corporate environment with professionals who may even open future doors."

Competitive pay
Here's another plus to consider: In some industries, admin assistants are actually paid quite generously. In 2012, admin assistants made $32,000 on average, but those in higher-paying markets made as much as $48,000. Meanwhile, executive assistants took home a median salary of about $47,000, while those in higher-paying markets made as much as $73,000. By comparison, event planners made an average of $46,000, while graphic designers made an average of $44,000. Furthermore, according to a recent survey of over 2,000 administrative professionals, 50% felt they were being paid what they deserved.

While it may not be your dream job, an administrative assistant role may not be such a bad option if you're in need of employment. And in the right industry, it could be just the position to kick start a rewarding and lucrative career.

 Photo by Petras Gagilas via cc.

Being an introvert means so much more than being than shy, quiet, and self-reflective; it also means finding energy by being alone instead of by interacting with others. Sometimes, however, introverts face unique obstacles, especially when it comes to the workplace.

In today's market, “it's not what you know, but who you know” may ring truer than ever, and one smart and effective way to make connections and slip a foot in that increasingly harder to open door is networking.

Young professional groups and networking meetings are great resources when looking for job prospects or promoting your current position, but as an introvert this task can be intimidating and daunting. The following five networking tips may ease the comfort level for introverts and make the process more tolerable and maybe even fun.

Set a goal. Easing into the process can prove more beneficial than diving in head first trying to meet as many people as possible. Find an event that you feel comfortable attending and set simple goals in the beginning. The first goal may be just actually showing up and listening to the speakers or presentations. The second goal may be meeting one new person and giving them your business card. Be patient and realistic. As each goal is achieved you will be motivated to reach the next and eventually it may become second nature.

Have a purpose. Keep in mind why you are there. Be clear as to whether you are simply there to meet people in your industry or whether you are looking to recruit an investor or client. If you are wishy-washy in your objectives, people will not take you seriously. Outlining your purpose beforehand can help you keep focused.

Project confidence. Fake it until you make it. People want to feel that you know what you are talking about, even if you don't, and employers want to hire confident employees. Even if you are still feeling out what direction you want to go, portray to your prospects that you know that you are the best person for the job.

Show interest and listen to others. Many introverts don't like to talk incessantly about themselves and hate to have to “sell” themselves or their products. Luckily, another way to make a lasting impression is to connect with your prospect on their level. Even though you may not like talking about yourself, many other people love to, and they also love people who will listen to them. They will appreciate your interest and remember you for your curiosity. Ask questions and really listen to their answers.

Follow up. After a networking event, research the contacts you made. Send them an email the next day expressing how nice it was to meet them, and add a personal touch. Maybe even send a handwritten note on your letterhead. Even if you may not ever work with this person, you never know who they know and who they will pass your information to, oftentimes when it is least expected.

The truth is interacting with people can exhaust introverts, but future-proofing your career by building connections with headhunters and people who can open doors for you is worth the effort.

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Though the jobs outlook has improved in recent years, many college grads are still having trouble securing employment in their fields of choice. According to recent data, as of 2010, only 62% of employed grads had jobs that required a college degree, while a mere 27% had managed to find jobs in fields related to their areas of study. As a result, some job seekers have resorted to accepting volunteer opportunities or internships in the hopes of opening the door to long-term employment. While working for free has its advantages, it also has several drawbacks.

The pros

  • You’ll get hands-on experience in your industry of choice, which will increase your chances of getting hired for paid positions. The trend of hiring interns is especially strong in banking and finance, in which employers later offered 69% of summer interns full-time positions, according to recent data from the Graduate Management Admission Council. This figure is consistent with internship.com’s survey findings, which found that large companies with more than100 employees offered full-time job to more than two-thirds of interns in 2012.
  • You’ll get to build relationships within your company and gain networking opportunities within your industry.
  • You’ll have something substantial to add to your resume, especially if you participate in a successful endeavor or project.

The cons

  • You won’t be making money, which could impact more than just your ability to cover your bills or pay off your student loans; that lack of a salary could result in low self-esteem and job dissatisfaction. Even if you’re treated well and are given interesting projects to work on, your absent paycheck could cast a negative shadow on the whole experience.
  • You may wind up doing more grunt work than anticipated. According to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), unpaid interns spend a mere 30% of their time doing non-administrative tasks.
  • Your unpaid stint may not actually result in employment. According to NACE, in 2012, only 37% of unpaid interns actually received paying job offers when their arrangements came to a close.

Before signing up to work for free:

  • Do your research. Get stats on post-internship hiring rates in your field, and talk to people who got their start working without pay.
  • Don’t overcommit. Negotiate a short-term arrangement, especially if you’re skeptical about the chances of it turning into a paid job.
  • Discuss your goals and expectations openly with your employer. Explain that your ultimate objective is to get hired for pay, and clarify your on-the-job tasks up-front so that you don’t wind up spending your days filing reports and making photocopies.
  • Understand your rights. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has certain criteria that must be fulfilled for an internship to be established—namely, that the intern is not guaranteed a job at the conclusion of the internship, nor should the intern expect compensation. But some of the laws are designed to protect you as an intern. For example, an internship must be designed to benefit the intern, and it must offer training similar to what might be found in an educational environment. The FLSA has also established rules to protect volunteers. Individuals, for example, cannot work without pay for a for-profit, private sector employer. On the other hand, volunteering for a public sector employer such as a government agency is permissible, as is volunteering for a religious or humanitarian organization.

While clearly there are no guarantees, the right unpaid opportunity could wind up advancing your career much faster than months of fruitless job searching.

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Trade shows are where industry experts and professionals gather to network, show off their wares, and close business deals. Whether you have a great idea you're looking to introduce to the public or just want to break into the industry, trade shows are where to do it. However, trade shows can get expensive--preparation is the key to a productive event in which you maximize your return on investment.

Application and attendance
Trade show administrators sell tickets up to six months in advance, so start checking early. If you don't know what trade shows applies to your industry, check the U.S. Domestic Trade Show website. Tickets start around $100 per day for an attendee ticket, while booth spaces can cost between $5,000 and $50,000, depending on the size of the show and your exhibit size.

If you don't have a ticket, show up anyway. You can purchase tickets at the door, or, if you're really bootstrapping, you can simply network outside near the entrances and exits. You can also attempt to get a free admission by applying for a media analyst or press pass.

Promotional materials and product samples
To maximize the value of your trade show appearance, you'll need promotional materials. Large corporations often spend millions of dollars on giant statues, models, booklets, and product samples, which means you'll probably need your own bag creative and competitive swag, too. Everyone has a pitch, so you'll need to show and prove in order to backup any claims you make.

At a bare minimum, you'll need business cards, which you can purchase from companies like VistaPrint at $10–$20 per 500, depending on how many extras you add. We may live in a digital world, but nothing makes you look more unprofessional than lacking a business card. Without it, you risk not being remembered the next day.

Travel expenses
Once you have confirmation you can attend, don’t forget to budget for travel, food, and hotel expenses. Luckily the trade show hosts will have a hotel block with special pricing negotiated during the show. These discounted tickets must be booked through the trade show website.

If you miss the special booking, prices can skyrocket, even when booked through booking agent websites. It's not uncommon for attendees to simply camp outside of town or sleep in their car in the parking lot.

Attire
Another unexpected cost of attending trade shows is your trade show outfit. Determine the appropriate attire for a trade show by considering the show and industry you're interested in--business professional is a good place to start. The event may be a fun business trip, but it is still business, after all. You'll often only get one shot at making an impression, so you'll want to look your best and dress to impress.

After-parties and special events
Trade shows are known as much for the after-parties and private events as they are for the actual exhibitions and conferences. Consider after-hours events you're budgeting for your trip to avoid missing out on those opportunities. Maximize those events by accessing attendee lists early and preparing to make the right connections. Research who will be there and contact the PR reps for information about events they are hosting at the trade show.

While attending can be costly, the investment can be worth it. If you're interested in an industry, there's no better way to keep your ear to the streets than attending trade shows. Trade shows feature new products, industry information, business deals, and great networking opportunities. If you're looking to make a name for yourself in an industry, invest in your career and enjoy networking in the trade show circuit.

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