There are a lot of salary paycheck calculators available on the Internet that claim to determine what your paycheck will look like on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis if you’re a salaried employer. The accuracy of the results you will get using a salary paycheck calculator will depend on a number of issues, however, so do your homework before using one.
Accuracy Depends on Detailed Information
Simply plugging in your annual salary and how many pay periods you’ll have in a given year won’t get the results you seek. You’ll get a take-home figure that is overinflated because you haven’t included the many mandatory and optional deductions that can be taken out of each paycheck.
With incomplete information, you’ll get inaccurate results. For a truer picture of what your take-home pay will be, you’ll need to include the following information:
- Federal withholding allowance
- IRS tax filing status
- State and local tax withholding estimates
- Retirement contributions
- Health insurance deductions
- Court-ordered deductions for spousal or child support
If you have all of the information above and can input it into the calculator, you should get a fairly accurate result. In most cases, a reputable calculator can estimate your actual take-home pay within anywhere from $5 to $25 per pay period, although there are exceptions.
Gathering Needed Information for Your Salary Paycheck Calculator
You’ll need to gather the information listed above from a few different sources before you can fill out a salary calculator. You can try estimating the information based on past years’ salaries, but some information, like your federal withholding allowance, depends on a variety of factors, including recent changes in the tax code.
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Your Federal Withholding Allowance
Your federal withholding allowance refers to any exemptions that will reduce how much your employer will deduct from your pay in order to cover your anticipated tax responsibility. The best way to find out how many exemptions you can claim is to use the Internal Revenue Service’s Form W-4 to calculate your withholding allowance.
After you’ve filled out this form, be sure to submit it to your employer so the company takes out the appropriate amount. For even more accuracy, go to the IRS website and use the online withholding calculator, which will walk you through several questions in order to accurately calculate your withholding.
Your IRS Tax Filing Status
Your filing status depends on your marital status and whether you’re the head of household for your family. There are currently five filing statuses for federal income taxes. These are Single, Married Filing Separately, Married Filing Jointly, Head of Household and Qualified Widow(er) with Child.
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You should choose the appropriate category based on your marital status at the end of the tax year you’re filing. In some instances, you may qualify for two different statuses, such as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. In most cases, you’re better off filing jointly, but consult the IRS website or a federal income tax professional to determine which is the best choice for your family.
State and Local Tax Withholding Estimates
To determine how much your employer should withhold for state taxes, use one of the many online state tax withholding calculators. For an accurate figure, you’ll need to have your W-4 information and any other deductions you are aware of, including retirement benefits, childcare benefits, health insurance or supplemental insurance that are exempt from taxation in some states.
Certain retirement contributions automatically taken from your paycheck are tax-exempt. Contact your employer to find out how much they intend to deduct from each paycheck. You don’t have to pay income taxes on many forms of retirement, including 401(K) and 403(B) plans, but FICA and Medicare still have to be deducted for this portion of your salary.
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Health Insurance and HSA Deductions
If you have health insurance through your employer and your portion of the premiums are automatically deducted from your paychecks, talk to the Human Resources department to find out exactly how much will be coming out of your paychecks.
Also ask about any Health Savings Account contributions that will be taken from your paycheck. If you opt to contribute an additional amount to a Health Savings Account (HSA), be sure to subtract that amount from your pay as well.
Court-Ordered Support Payments
If there is a court order in place requiring that your employer automatically deduct spousal or child support from your paychecks, you will need to deduct this figure from your salary calculation as well.
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Our Top 4 Salary Paycheck Calculators Picks
If you have accurate information on all of these deductions, almost any online salary paycheck calculator should give you a relatively accurate snapshot of what your paychecks will look like.
There are some that are more accurate than others, and there are some that offer extra features such as allowances for bonuses or commissions. Some are so basic that they only take taxes into account and not any retirement or other deductions. Here are our top four choices for salary paycheck calculators:
ADP Salary Paycheck Calculator
ADP’s calculator gives you highly accurate figures for your paycheck after taxes. You’ll need a recent paystub so that you can fill out the information, as it works from your gross salary to determine what your after-tax salary should look like.
The calculator can consider not only state and federal taxes, but deductions such as retirement contributions, health insurance premiums and HSA contributions using a drop-down box. If there are other deductions that aren’t in the drop-down box, you can set up a custom section for those deductions.
Why We Like ADP’s Calculator
ADP’s system lets you print out either a detailed report or a replica of what your check stub should look like, including the deductions. They are currently the only salary paycheck calculator we’re familiar with that offers both options.
There are options for daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly pay schedules, so no matter what your schedule will be, you can get a clear idea of what to expect with each paycheck.
eSmart Paycheck Calculator
This salary paycheck calculator will provide you with accurate information based on your last paycheck, including not only your last pay figure, but your year-to-date income, taxes and withholding. All of this can be found on your most recent pay stub.
Why We Like the eSmart Calculator
The best feature of eSmart’s calculator is that it can be used for salaried employees as well as hourly employees. You can also enter overtime, so you can get an accurate picture of what your paycheck will be even if your pay sometimes fluctuates.
Because you need a bit more information for this calculator, it may not be the best choice if you don’t have access to a paystub for your current salary.
Sure Payroll Salary Paycheck Calculator
This salary paycheck calculator works similarly to the ADP calculator. You enter relevant information, and the calculator will quickly give you an accurate look at what to expect in your next paycheck.
Image via PCMag
There are several pre-set deductions, including HSA and 401K contributions, but for more specific deductions you’ll have to create a new deduction. Fortunately, this is fairly simple and allows you to customize the deductions based on an hourly rate, a percentage of your pay or a fixed amount.
Why We Like the Sure Calculator
This system doesn’t have quite as many customizable options, but it is accurate if you want a quick look at what your paycheck will look like. You get enough detail without having to fill out too many forms and without having to do as much research.
QuickBooks Free Hourly and Salary Paycheck Calculator
You can figure out your paycheck for either an hourly or a salaried position with this paycheck calculator by the designers of the payroll software QuickBooks. There are four separate sections to fill out in order to calculate an accurate estimate of your paycheck.
Image via Quickbooks Intuit
There are areas for commissions, bonuses and overtime as well. You don’t need as much information as some other calculators, but the results are still impressive.
Why We Like QuickBooks Salary Paycheck Calculator
You don’t have to have a recent pay stub or your year-to-date tax payments or withholding for an accurate calculation with QuickBooks’ calculator. It simply asks for your number of tax allowances, federal filing status and any extra deductions.
Although the report you’ll get doesn’t have the attractive presentation of other calculators, it will have all the information you need in a detailed report.
Salary Paycheck Calculators can help give you an idea of how a salary offer will translate into take-home pay so that you can make a better decision when you’ve been offered a new job that is salaried. These same calculators can also help you compare a salary offer to an hourly wage offer, taking into account considerations such as overtime potential.
Simply input your salary offer and use the calculator to determine your take-home pay, then use the calculator again to find out what a typical paycheck will be for hourly work. It makes it much easier to understand the relative advantages of each offer. Salary paycheck calculators are also a great way to establish a budget for day-to-day living and any long-term savings goals you may have.
Featured image via Pixabay
Learn how to be a better manager by being a great communicator, by being a strong leader, by maintaining a great team, by setting a good example, by expressing appreciation and more.
Managers should be leaders, and to be the most effective leader you can be, you should constantly be looking for ways to improve your management skills, such as the 26 skills discussed below. Mastering these skills is an excellent way to grow as a manager.
1. Communicate Your Vision
It is very important for you to have a clear vision of why your company exists and what you want to accomplish with the business. What is the mission? What is the purpose of the business? What are your business philosophies? These are some of the questions you should answer and communicate to your team.
2. Be A Strong Leader
Be a leader. Be respected by your staff. Value ideas from your team, and encourage them to be creative. Appreciate your employees, and provide room for them to grow in their jobs. Build a strong team.
3. Be A Positive Person
Present a positive attitude, and be a positive manager. Your words and actions set the tone for your team. If you are enthusiastic, your employees should reflect that enthusiastic attitude. Smile. Make eye contact with your staff and with everyone you encounter. Be pleasant, friendly, nice and kind. Speak with respect and encouragement.
Energy is contagious. Optimistic energy is necessary for the success of the business. Your attitude is extremely important in setting the work environment, so make it positive.
4. Maintain A Great Team
It is essential for a manager to hire the right people. People with the needed skills are vital, but managers must also find candidates who will fit with your company’s culture. Make the right hiring decisions, and then maintain a great team.
5. Practice Great Communications
Strong communications skills are regarded by many as the most important skill of a manager. Communicate well and often. Clear communications with your team are vital to maintaining a work environment that is positive. Ensure that you keep employees informed about developments in the business. Try to be transparent.
6. Show Your Trust
Micromanagers create an environment that is negative. Top employees want to be trusted to do the jobs they were hired to do. Show your team members that you believe in them. Let them do their jobs without micromanaging them. You can further show trust by letting your staff make decisions on matters that affect their responsibilities.
7. Show Your Appreciation
Show your appreciation for your staff members publicly. Positive reinforcement is an extremely powerful thing for a manager to do. Recognize employees when they have done a good job, and it will motivate them to keep it up. Hearing you express appreciation for the work of some will also prompt other employees to strive for recognition.
8. Listen To Your Employees
Listen to your staff, and hear what your fellow workers are saying. Your employees will be able to identify problems, weaknesses, strengths and opportunities that you may not know about. Encourage your team members to communicate their ideas.
Show each of your staff members that they are important. Establish an open door policy and welcome questions and ideas from your team members.
9. Resolve Conflicts
Resolve conflicts and tension as quickly as you can. Do your best to minimize problems between team members. Conflicts cause negativity, and you must strive to maintain a positive work environment for all employees.
10. Be Social
Get to know your team members on a social basis. Functions such as holiday parties, company picnics and sports events are an excellent way to do this. Celebrate birthdays and special occasions.
11. Make Work More Fun
Happy employees perform better. Find ways to have fun in the office, which comes naturally when there is a positive work environment. There are many ways to have fun. Use your imagination, and let your team members offer ideas.
12. Promote Education
Your team members are vital to the success of the business. It is crucial for you to take care of such an important asset. By providing education and training, you should have employees who are better-trained and who appreciate the benefits to them. In turn, they should be happier and more productive.
13. Say “Thank you.”
Some people underestimate the importance of gratitude. Saying “thank you” or expressing that a job was well done can be a powerful motivator for an employee.
14. Learn How To Retain Your Top-Performing Employees
Companies often lose their top employees. The cost of recruiting is high, and finding stars can be difficult. Keep your star employees by paying them what they deserve, by challenging them and by being a great leader.
15. Handle Problem Employees
Employees who do a bad job or who have a bad attitude can have a damaging effect on the good team members. If problems cannot be effectively addressed, replace problem employees before you lose good people. Always act quickly with problem employees.
16. Admit Your Mistakes
Admitting your mistakes will make you a better leader. It shows strength of character. It should generate respect from your team.
17. Improve Yourself
Never stop learning. Identify areas that need improvement, and work on them. It’s an excellent practice to read management books on a regular basis.
18. Be A Motivator
The best managers are strong motivators. They motivate their team to meet and exceed goals. To be more effective at motivating your staff, identify what each team member wants. Then figure out how you can give it to them for doing what you want them to do.
19. Become A Better Money Manager
Your company must make money to succeed and stay in business, which means bringing in more money than the business spends. You can help the company and your employees by improving at managing this money.
20. Improve Your Time Management
Excellent time management is being able to control how you spend your work hours to manage your team and accomplish your goals effectively. Procrastination and problems with self-control are time management challenges.
Improve your time management with better planning, setting goals, setting priorities and monitoring how you spend your time. When you become better at managing time, you will become more effective as a manager.
21. Take A Break
You will not be as effective as a manager when you are stressed. You will be less tolerant. You will snap at people. Your team members may not want to be around you. Take a break. Give yourself time to relax and recharge. Your increased productivity should more than compensate for the time off.
22. Be Clear About Accountability
Part of your role as a manager is to hold your team members accountable for results. Clearly communicate your expectations, and monitor your staff members periodically to ensure that they are getting the job done. Only hold employees responsible for things that really matter. It’s important for you to set an example as a role model for accountability.
23. Resolve Cross-Department Conflict
Every manager will face cross-department conflict from time to time. Work together with the other department, and focus on what’s best for the company. Put the integrity of the business before individual or department goals. Build rapport with the other team. Learn about their goals and challenges. See if you can help them, and ask them for help in return.
24. Learn The Names Of The Most Important People In The Lives Of Your Team Members
When you learn about the people who matter the most to each of your employees, you show that you care about them. Learn the names of these people, and be able to call them by name when you see them.
25. Learn The Resentment For Each Of Your Staff Members
What do your staff members resent? For some, it may be not getting home in time for dinner. For others, it may be not getting time to go to the gym. It will vary from one team member to the next, and it could change over time. When you know, you can strive to keep your staff members from feeling resentment due to the job.
26. Conduct Regular Performance Evaluations
Your team members want to know how their job performance is being perceived. Performance evaluations are an excellent way to meet this need. However, performance evaluations are just as important to you as a manager because you can use the process to counsel your staff members regarding ways to improve and grow.
Set action items during performance evaluations, and set goals for improvement. Discuss the results at the next performance evaluation.
Work To Be A Better Manager
You should strive to be the best manager you can possibly be. Continually look for ways to improve your management skills. Put these ideas to work for you, and never stop learning.
Pregnant women have a myriad of plans and choices to make. From choosing a name to the paint scheme and theme of the nursery, each option is carefully analyzed. The mother-to-be wants everything to be perfect.
When it comes to giving birth, women are encouraged to decide on a birth plan to sets forth their wishes for the labor and delivery experience. Who do you want to be by your side holding your hand, and who do want delivering your baby?
While most women opt for the traditional obstetrician, some choose to have a midwife. Midwives are valuable resources and caregivers during pregnancy and childbirth. What is a midwife? Below are some answers and specifications on what goes into becoming a midwife and what that function is.
What Is a Midwife?
A midwife is defined as a person who is educated to assist in childbirth. The practice goes back to ancient times when a woman who had given birth would attend to and help other women give birth. In Ancient Greece, a woman had to be a mother herself to help others deliver babies.
As the name implies, historically women have practiced midwifery. Men used to step in when surgery was needed. This is believed to be the how obstetrics first began. Men who were barbers, or rudimentary doctors, created instruments to help in childbirth and perform surgical intervention in times of distress and need.
Women were typically not barbers and therefore remained in the role of midwife. In the United States, modern medicine started in the late 19th century. It was about this same time that a general shift away from utilizing midwives for delivering babies began. What happened that a practice in use for hundreds of years suddenly started to die out?
Image via Cell Code
The overwhelming cause of this change was due to the advent of preventative medicine, which was obviously a good thing in general. It advocated that women should be followed by a doctor utilizing certain standard clinical practices before a crisis happened. It was also about this time anesthesia was invented.
Doctors began using drugs to ease the pain of labor and childbirth making women more comfortable and the experience less difficult. Twilight sleep became the standard in childbirth. Women would labor, and right before delivery, they would be put into a light sleep while doctors used tools such as forceps to deliver the baby.
It was at this time the episiotomy became a normal part of the delivery experience. It was one factor that made childbirth less dangerous for both mother and baby. Because midwives would typically deliver children in the home, which of course did not have these medical interventions, the entire process started becoming obsolete.
Image via Rost Therapy
Doctors reminded women of the risks associated with home births. As a result, women began flocking to hospitals to give birth. This became the standard birthing practice in America from that point on as women started seeing obstetricians before the baby was born to monitor the pregnancy.
Even though the government set forth guidelines for midwifery in the 1920s making it regulated and putting in place education and practice requirements, many women were already predisposed to utilizing obstetricians. Infant and mother mortality rates had fallen. People believed in the doctors and their methods more than ever. Midwives practiced far less, but still, they remained.
What Do Midwives Do Now?
As modern medicine has evolved, so too has the role and function of a midwife. The choice between using a midwife or an obstetrician comes down to the type of prenatal and birth experience a mother wants. Some women want a more personalized and natural birth.
Image via Clinica Casa Franca
Typically, midwives are still called upon in these instances. They bridge the gap between patient and doctor. In fact, these days some obstetrician-gynecologists also employ a midwife on staff, giving women the best of both worlds in the intimate pregnancy and birth experience while also having a licensed medical doctor on hand in case the situation calls for intervention.
Who Can Be a Midwife?
Now that midwifery is regulated throughout the country, there are two main options for becoming one:
The most common midwife is a registered nurse who becomes a certified midwife by exam, known as a CSM. A CSM is able to practice in all 50 states and provide preventative care for women, as well as prenatal and post-natal care.
Another path to midwifery is a non-nurse who has a bachelor's degree in a health-related field, has completed a midwifery program and has passed the certification exam, which will garner a certified midwife or CM designation. People who have the CM certification are not able to practice in every state.
What Can a Midwife Do?
The fundamentals of a midwife have not changed at all. They are present to deliver personal, hands-on care to mom and baby. Midwives typically practice by touch. Prenatally, they use basic hands-on techniques to monitor the baby, check fetal growth and perform pelvic exams to check the progress of dilation.
While many midwives now practice in doctor's offices and hospitals, they still try to utilize these basic practices when caring for a pregnant woman. This is not to say that a midwife could not or would not do an ultrasound to look in on baby from time to time.
An ultrasound is usually still performed, but it is limited as opposed to the number obstetricians perform. Of course, if the patient requests more than one ultrasound be performed, a midwife would most likely grant that request. The primary function of a midwife is to provide prenatal care through delivery with as little medical intervention as possible.
Image via Pixabay
Some women want a natural birth experience with no drugs, fetal monitoring or medical interference such as episiotomies. Midwives provide this and also give more personalized care leading up to birth and after. Many women feel like a midwife is a sister holding their hand throughout a complicated and trying process.
This isn't to say a doctor cannot do the same, but more often than not, doctors have a very rigid and clinical view on childbirth that includes precautionary measures, such as fetal monitoring, and delivery assistance, such as epidurals, episiotomies, forceps or vacuum extraction.
There is a general stigma surrounding midwives that they are free-spirited, anti-medicine charlatans who help women give birth in bathtubs or at home. While the latter is true (they can and do travel to help with homebirths), an overwhelming number of midwife-assisted births happen in a hospital or a birthing center.
Image via Pixabay
A birthing center is not as clinical as a hospital, yet has all the resources at hand to provide emergency intervention if necessary. Most birthing centers are set up to look and feel like homes. They center completely on strict adherence to the mother's birth plan.
Extended family involvement in labor and delivery is encouraged. Birthing centers advocate family support and participation to make the birthing process as intimate and unique as possible.
Who Can Use a Midwife?
Any woman who is considered "low risk" can utilize the services of a midwife. This usually involves women who have not had any issues in a previous pregnancy and delivery or first-time mothers who have demonstrated no medical history that would indicate complications during pregnancy and birth.
Of course, situations can and do arise that call for medical intervention during delivery. If a woman has labored too long and is not progressing, if there are signs of fetal distress, if the mother is showing signs of trouble herself, then it becomes necessary for a medical doctor to step in and perform a cesarean section.
Since these emergencies can happen with little or no warning, giving birth in a hospital or birthing center is vital. Women who opt to give birth at home run the risk of fetal or maternal death due to an inability to get to the hospital in the middle of a crisis.
Do Midwives Accept Insurance?
Most insurance companies do allow midwives to take insurance if he or she has the CSM and in some instances the CM designation. Your prenatal and birth are covered as long as you give birth in a hospital or birthing center.
Most insurance companies do not pay for home births because of the liability associated with them. If you are interested in utilizing a midwife and plan on using insurance, be sure to check your specific coverage to ensure you and your baby will be covered.
Are Midwives Only for Child Birth?
Midwives are not only available to women during pregnancy. They are also able to perform annual exams including pap smears and attend to reproductive health before and after pregnancy. They also monitor and address:
- Emotional and mental health
- Diet and nutrition
- Birth control
- STD prevention and education
Midwives perform all the services and tests obstetricians perform, they just usually do so in a more intimate and personalized setting. Childbirth is a natural, physiological process that has remained the same since the beginning of time.
What has changed is the medical care and support available throughout the pregnancy and through birth. When deciding what kind of birth you want to have, there are many options to consider. Midwives offer a more personalized birth experience, preferring natural methods of pain relief and fetal monitoring during labor and delivery.
A woman who is expected to have a healthy and low-risk pregnancy have the option to utilize a midwife to help her through this challenging, beautiful and life-changing experience.
Featured image via Vecernji
Hey there college grad! Are you ready for a new chapter in your life? Are you excited about getting your dream job? Do you have any questions about what it's like to embark on your new life.
You're probably looking for advice, and we get you. Every college grad has questions about what steps to take in their new life.
Luckily for you, we have the answers to some common questions you might have as you leave the comforts of college for the unknown working world.
This is the best time to set yourself up for success, and we all want to do our best not to blow it.
Life as a College Grad
Life as a college grad involves a lot of changes, some good, some not so good. When you finish college, it seems like you have to have everything figured out.
It's okay not to have all of the answers.
As a recent college grad, you shouldn't have to have a plan for your entire life. Life will throw a lot of curveballs at you, and you have to take them in stride.
Graduating from college is an amazing achievement, and it's worth celebrating!
You finished your education. Now you're ready for the next chapter.
Our first piece of advice:
Before you plunge into the "real world," enjoy your last moments as a student.
You're Not a Kid Anymore
Chances are, you've been a legal adult for a while now. That's not what we're talking about here.
In the US, college students can still be considered dependents. Now that you're a new college grad, you're no longer considered a dependent.
You have to find a job, pay bills, and manage your home and personal life. Not to mention chart your career course, and change it as you go.
It's a lot to handle, but you can do it!
There's truly been no better time to be a recent college grad than now. We have the internet, and you can figure out anything with a few clicks. You can learn about anything from how to cook a meal to how to change a tire.
For younger graduates, there are certainly plenty of things you need to know to be an independent adult. Even if you are 28 and have been living on your own for 10 years, life after college is way different.
Basic, practical advice is what you need.
One of the biggest hurdles you will face is getting your first position. Another big decision to make is where to live. Then there's managing your money.
We all dream of that "adult" life: a full-time job, living on your own, and saving for the future.
College Grad Reality
Even if you don't have a full-time job and your own place, don't stress. Plenty of students graduate, move back home, and work a series of part-time jobs before starting a "real" career.
Avoiding Failure to Launch
You're ready! You've worked hard for that degree and now, the job market is a wide open sea of possibility.
A sea, which like the real one, makes no guarantees you'll catch anything -- let alone what you want.
Here's what I mean:
Landing a job as a college grad can be difficult. Many jobs require experience, but not many college grads have experience.
But don't let your lack of experience keep you from applying for jobs! Not every position requires years of experience, so you can probably find something.
And, any experience is better than none. You may not be able to find a job in your dream office, or even in your own field.
That's ok, it's all steps towards getting where you want to be.
Keep in mind:
It might take time to find a job as a college grad, and it can take even longer to find your dream job. So the earlier you get started, the better your chance of finding a job within a reasonable amount of time.
There are a few things you can do to speed up the job hunt. Let's look at some ideas for how to land a job as a college grad.
Look at Your Phone for a Couple Hours...
We live in a digital age, so the first place to look is probably the first place you thought of. There are quite a few jobs online. There are many different job boards including Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.
Here's what you may not have realized:
One benefit of these websites is that you can create an account with your resume. When you apply for a job, the website can use your resume, and that will save you a lot of time.
Here are some other places to look online:
You can also find jobs through professional organizations and your university website.
If you can't find anything through those websites, you can also do a Google search. The best way to do that is to type in your desired position, followed by the word "jobs" to find a variety of open jobs.
The internet is an excellent place to find jobs, and you don't even have to leave the house.
job search statistic
Online job searching and applying have doubled since 2005.
Actually Talk to Human Beings
Seriously, ask around.
One of the most underused ways to get a job is to ask. Ask your current or past professors if they know of any openings. Reach out to family and friends, even if they're not in your industry.
This is also called "networking." And, yeah, there's a right way to do it.
It's pretty easy, really:
Just mentioning that you're looking for a job can be a great way to find a job you would never have found otherwise. People know people, and people will want to help you find the perfect job. Don't be afraid to take advantage of any connection you have.
If you're still on campus, you can stop in your school's career center.
Many schools have a place dedicated to finding jobs, preparing for interviews, and polishing your resume. Your college career center can be a great resource, and many of them are open to alumni.
Don't Wait, Start Early and Reap the Benefits
One mistake that too many college students make is waiting until they graduate to apply for jobs. Don't do this!
Even if you still have a few months left in school, start applying now.
Starting early will give you more time to apply to jobs. It will also give you enough time to go through the application and interview process before you have been out of school for long. That way, you can hit the ground running with a job soon after graduating.
If it's too late to start early, it's not the end of the world:
If you're out of school, it's not too late to apply for jobs, but the earlier you start applying, the better.
There is one positive to starting after you graduate:
When you're out of school, you have more time, so you can put more energy into your applications. Just don't put off job searching any longer.
Create a LinkedIn profile! It's an easy way to build your network and increase your exposure to potential jobs.
Control What You Can, Multiply Your Options
There's no way to guarantee you will get a job.
That's just part of life. And, it's not something you can control every aspect of.
But you can control how many jobs you apply for.
The more jobs you apply for, the better your odds of getting at least one of those jobs.
Here's the best way to multiply your options:
Set a goal for a number of applications per day or week. Or set aside a certain amount of time per day or week to apply for jobs.
Just as you scheduled in study time as a student, it will be easier to apply for jobs if you make time to do so.
How often should you be applying for jobs?
Companies list new jobs each day, so the job market won't be the same from day to day. If you apply to jobs every day, you will find new jobs with every search.
This leads into the next tip...
Don't Be So Stubborn!
When you first start applying for jobs, you will probably stick to jobs in your dream field. That's okay, but not everyone gets their dream job right out of school.
Of course, you should apply to jobs in your field. But you should also be open to other jobs. Unfortunately, it can be tough to get a job if you don't already have a job.
So, stop being so stubborn and be flexible.
If you don't find success with jobs in your industry, open your search to other jobs. Yes, it really stinks to have to apply for jobs you don't care about. However, you can't live off of student aid and savings for long.
You're not "too good" for any job.
No one likes it, but starting out is tough, and that can mean taking a job that doesn't match your industry or experience.
Around a third of college graduates are considered unemployed which means they work a job that doesn't pay as well or has as many hours as a "regular" job.
Don't have a skill? Don't list it on your resume.
When you start applying for jobs, be honest. Don't fill your resume with experience and skills you don't have. Some employers can see right through that.
And for the employers that don't?
Think about it:
You don't want to take a job and then, six months in, get assigned a translation project because your resume said you were fluent in Mandarin.
Or be handed a spreadsheet that you have no idea how to use with instructions that read like Greek.
They see through you then.
And it gets worse:
Explaining why you were fired from a job after a short amount of time, or moved to the mail room, to your next employer is going to suck.
Since you're a new college grad, many employers will understand why you don't have a ton of experience.
Yes! List every single experience and skill you have relevant to the job for which you are applying.
Just make sure you're truthful.
Take Advantage of Your Free Time
Speaking of experience and skills, you can use your free time to build your resume.
Remember all those clubs in highschool, and volunteer hours to use for your college applications? It works in the real world, too.
If you want to work with animals, volunteer at an animal shelter, or local rescue.
Future teachers can take on babysitting gigs, or work at a daycare, volunteer at summer camps or any position that works with kids.
That's not all:
You can also spend some time learning a foreign language or improving your writing skills.
Once you get a full-time job, you won't have as much time to pursue other interests. So even if your interests don't add to your resume, enjoy the time you have now.
A transferable skill is a skill that you can use in different jobs or fields. Some skills, like computer programming, are specific. But other skills, like writing and teamwork, apply to almost any job.
Warning: Read the Job Description, Seriously!
This should be obvious, but there are many reasons why you should read the entire description of every job you apply for.
Here are a few of those reasons.
- Know what you're getting yourself into
Job descriptions list all of the responsibilities for the job. If there's something you really don't want to do, you can pass on a job now instead of after getting hired.
- Hidden instructions
Many employers know that not everyone reads the job description. To see if you read through everything, some companies will include application instructions in the middle of the job description.
- Reading between the lines
Get a feel for the company's vibes. Some employers will add a bit of personality to their job description. This is a great way to see if you would work well with the company.
Don't weed yourself out of a job by skipping over the instructions hidden in the job description.
Here's another benefit from reading every word you may not have considered:
One of the best things you can do as a job seeker and new employee is read and follow the directions. Even if a job description doesn't have specific instructions, reading the description can tell you a lot about the company and the job.
Your Resume Needs Your Attention
If your resume isn't up to date, you need to change that before you start applying to jobs.
But, that's not all:
Make sure it fits the job you're applying for. If you want a job in marketing, highlight your marketing experience. Your summer job at the local juice bar shouldn't take center stage.
Your resume shouldn't be one-size-fits-all:
And if you have a couple of ideal job titles, create a resume for each of them. Fit each resume to the job, and that way, you don't have to constantly change your resume for each application you send.
If you've never created a resume before, start simple.
Yes, Your Cover Letter Can Hurt You
Your cover letter can make or break your application. The last thing you want is to submit a generic cover letter with every application.
Or, be lost in the sea of applicants that all used a generic cover letter.
Writing a cover letter for each application sounds like a lot, but it's an excellent way to personalize your application.
If you write a cover letter for each application, you can mention the specific job or company. That also allows you to relate your experience to the particular job.
There are plenty of cover letter templates you can follow, but you want to make your cover letter unique. Writing a unique cover letter not only helps you stand out, but it's also a great way to show a bit of your personality.
A cover letter is the perfect place to sell yourself. If you don't fulfill all of the requirements, you can include why you should get the job.
You Finally Landed an Interview! What Now!?!
Once you apply for a job, the next step is getting an interview. If you make it this far, you need to be prepared for the job interview.
First things first: Breathe!
Job interviews can be intimidating because you have to answer different questions. You don't always know what questions the interviewer will ask.
Not to mention, it feels like your whole future hinges on this single moment.
How can you prepare for the nerve-racking interview?
Here's what you need to do:
Do Your Homework! (Again...)
Once you schedule, it's time to do some homework.
You may be thinking, "but homework is for students!"
Yes, you probably had a lot of homework in college, but this homework is different. You want to prepare for your interview.
The first way to prepare is to research the company.
One of the most common interview questions asks why you want to work for that specific company.
You can't answer that question if you don't know anything about the company.
Even if you don't get that interview question, you should still know the basics of the company you are interviewing for.
You may be interviewing for an accounting position. Sure, accounting jobs don't vary too much, but the company could have an effect on the type of work you will do.
And, there's more:
Understanding the company's purpose or mission allows you to get a better understanding of the job. Understanding the culture of the company helps you in many ways, like, are they strictly dress-coded? Is your interview outfit way over-, or way under-dressed?
Know a Bit About the Job
Once you research the company, you can research the specific job. You should know what your day-to-day will look like.
If you know a bit about the job, you can go into the interview with more confidence because you aren't entirely clueless.
Yes, you want to get a job, but you don't want to waste your time interviewing for a job that might not be right for you.
It's better to realize a job isn't right for you now rather than after getting hired.
Job interviews can be scary, but you want to stay calm. The interviewer understands that you are probably nervous. If you can stay calm, the interview won't feel as stressful.
Nailing the Look
Where you have an interview might help you decide what to wear.
Here's the secret:
No matter what job you are applying for, you want to look nice.
As a college grad, you don't have to have a full professional wardrobe, yet. However, you should have a few nice pieces for an interview.
The Ground Rules
- Don't wear your tattered jeans or shorts
- Skip the graphic tees and the university spirit wear
- Put on a nice top and a nice pair of slacks
- Make sure you wear nice shoes
Make the Clock your Ally
No one likes an employee who arrives late. As we mentioned, the interview is your first chance to make an impression on the company.
And, you are going to make one, so enlist your clock as an ally to make a good one.
If you show up late to your interview, that can give the company a bad impression of you.
On the other hand, showing up early, indicates that you're interested in the position and you care about making a good impression.
Not to mention... traffic happens. Planning on being there early will allow you to avoid getting lost while trying to find the office.
And then, to park. And then, to find the right place in the building, and then...
It's just a really great idea -- planning to be on time may leave you late, sweaty, flustered and leaving a negative impression of yourself.
Put the Phone down
Your GPS is a great tool for finding a job interview. However, don't forget to focus on the road. If you get lost, pull over and then pull out your phone.
Be Prepared to Do More than Answer Questions
The interview is a two-way street. Not only is it the company's chance to learn about you, but it's your chance to learn about them.
We mentioned that you should know a bit about the company before the interview. That comes into play here, because you can narrow down your questions.
Here's the secret:
You won't have to ask basic questions about the company. That's because you did your homework and now know that basic stuff.
Instead, you can focus on more detailed questions like the hours, paid time off, and other benefits.
Having a few questions in mind can also show that you prepared for the interview since you want to know more about the job.
About that First Impression
We can't stress enough how important your first impression can be. For that reason, you want to be yourself.
Keep it real. Just don't be your "party" self.
You don't want to get a job for being fake. If you act fake, you might feel pressured to keep that up during your time working there, and that can get exhausting.
Not to mention, the employer is looking for a person that will fit in well with them. You want who you are to fit in well with your employment.
Of course, you shouldn't be rude or unprofessional. Be nice, and be yourself.
If a company doesn't want to hire you for you, then you don't want to work for that company.
The Interview isn't Over, Even When it is
Once you leave the interview, you don't want to leave it in the past. One of the best ways to make a great impression on a company is to follow up after your interview.
It's simple to do:
Within the next day, send an email or leave a voicemail for the person who interviewed you. Many interviewers will give you a business card, so don't throw it away.
Use your follow up to score some bonus points...
Address the person by name, and share something you enjoyed about the interview. Thank them for their time. One thing you don't want to forget to do...
Yes, while on the phone. A smile can be heard in the voice, it changes the shape of your mouth and thus how you sound. If you want to sound warm, smile while speaking.
Following up with a company will remind them that you're interested in the job, and it puts you back in their minds as an applicant.
Down the Road with Dollars and "Sense"
As a new college grad, you probably don't have a ton of money in the bank. And if you don't have a job, you will have to live off of what's left from your student loans, grants, and savings, until you get one.
If you are lucky enough to find a job right away, chances are it's not going to be at the top of your salary goals.
If you know how to manage your money, your life will be much less stressful.
Whether you have a job or not, there are a few things you can and should do to set yourself up for financial success from college grad to retiree.
First Consideration, What About Those Graduation Gifts?
As a college grad, you will probably receive some graduation gifts.
Some of those gifts will likely be cash or a check. If you're lucky enough to receive some money for graduating, save that money.
Don't spend it on the first thing you see. Especially if you don't have a job lined up, you never know when you will need that extra cash.
Even if you do have a job, that money can help you start saving money for the future.
It can also begin your first emergency fund.
Speaking of which:
Emergency Prep Starts in Your Wallet
This is another way you can use your graduation money. You never know when you will have an extra expense. That could be getting sick, losing a job, or getting into a car accident.
Here's the truth:
Emergencies will happen, eventually, to all of us. Hopefully, you will never have to use your emergency fund. But you want to make sure the money is there if you do.
Some important considerations:
Make sure you keep your emergency fund in a regular savings account where you can access the money at any time. Now, you shouldn't go into that account unless it's an actual emergency.
Pizza emergencies are not real emergencies.
Stuff happens, and you need to be prepared for whatever might come your way. An emergency fund is the perfect tool for saving for unexpected costs.
Ignore That 401(k) at Your Own Peril
Once you land your first full-time job, ask about investing in a 401(k). A 401(k) is a type of retirement savings account.
You may not want to think about retirement, but you should. It's never too early to start planning for retirement.
But, it does get too late to save enough really fast.
Any money you put into your 401(k) doesn't face taxes like your take home-pay. So a 401(k) is a great way to lower your taxes and save for your retirement.
Also, many employers will match your contributions to your 401(k).
That's basically free money...
So take advantage of that.
If you end up working for yourself, you can invest in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This is another type of retirement savings account for individuals.
You won't get employer matching, but you can take it with you no matter where you work.
Be Strategic About Where You Live
Not all cities and homes are created equal.
Before you choose where to live, there are a few things you should consider.
Home is... Your Decision
As a new college grad, you probably aren't tied down to any one city or town. You have the freedom to stay in your college town, move home, or move somewhere new.
You may also move back in with your parents.
So what should you do?
Consider your situation, and then take a look at when and where you should live as a college grad.
"Home" May be Your Best Bet, Here's When
Moving home can seem like a step back, but it can be an excellent option for some college grads. If you don't have a job lined up, you shouldn't be spending a ton of money on rent.
Moving in with your parents can allow you to save money even if you do have a job. You won't be spending a ton of money on rent, and you can split your food expenses with your parents.
If your hometown has a good job market, then you'll be in a great place to find a job.
You can move to your hometown without moving back home. If you find a place on your own, living near your parents can make life as a college grad a little easier since you can call them with any questions or problems you have.
When to Stay in Your College Town
If you live off campus, your apartment lease might not expire until the end of the summer. That's a great excuse to stay in your college town and look for local jobs.
And if your college town has a great job market for your field, then you should have no problems finding a job.
When to Move Somewhere New
You might be tired of your college town and equally tired of your hometown. Or maybe neither of them have a great job market for your industry.
Both of these things make great reasons for moving somewhere new after graduation. You can explore a new city, and hopefully find a job in your field. Just make sure you follow our previous tip about being strategic with your move.
Start Your Career and New Life Off Right!
As a college grad, you will get tons of questions on everything from your career to your living situation. And it's okay if you don't have all of the answers.
You don't need them all right now.
However, there are a few things you can do to make your transition from student to graduate go more smoothly.
Applying to jobs and preparing for interviews is a lot easier said than done. But if you do your research, you can set yourself up for success.
Then there's where to live. Your living situation will probably depend on your job prospects. If you're strategic about where to live, that can help your job search.
Of course, we can't forget managing your money. If you start saving for an emergency and for retirement now, you will be more prepared to tackle what life throws at you.
Whether you are a non-trad or traditional student, "adulting" doesn't have to be scary. A bit of preparation and planning can do a lot of good.
Get out there and make a future for yourself!
Meta Description: Before you choose between completing high school and obtaining a diploma or leaving school early and getting your GED, there are differences between the two you should be aware of.
High school can be a difficult place for some people. The social pressures, academic rigor and large class sizes can overwhelm even the most gifted student. Bullying is a real issue. The pressure to conform and fit in can take away from the primary objective of attending four years of school: an education. There are many reasons students consider dropping out ahead of obtaining their diploma. Some of these students do wish to continue their education and go on to successful careers. These students plan on earning their GED in place of graduating with a diploma. Getting a GED is the equivalent, right? Before deciding to drop out, it's a good idea to know the differences between a GED vs. a high school diploma.
What Is a GED?
The GED, or General Education Diploma (or General Education Development,) is an aptitude test that covers the essential elements learned in high school: math, social studies, science, reading aptitude, including literature and the arts, and writing ability. The test is multiple-choice except for the essay portion. Like other standardized tests, each of the five sections is scored separately, and the scores are combined to give an overall rating. There is a minimum cumulative score the test-taker must receive to pass it and obtain the GED. If passed, the GED certificate signifies that the student met high school graduation academic requirements. Only official testing center offer the test, and only on specific testing dates. Online testing is not an option, and any website purporting to do so is a scam. The only thing you can do online for a GED is study. Don't confuse those online prep courses with the actual GED.
How and Why Was the GED Created?
The history of the test goes all the way back to the 1940s. It was first created to provide an educational opportunity for returning World War II veterans. Many of them enlisted young and did not have the chance to go to school. Thus, the GED allowed them to get the necessary education requirements to continue forward to college. The basic premise was to give undereducated people a path to better themselves academically and eventually, vocationally. Through the first four decades of its existence, the GED served people who wanted to better their lives. While the test has evolved over the years, the fundamental principle behind taking the test has remained the same: self-improvement. That primary reason has continued for the last 80 plus years.
Who Can Get a GED?
There are some basic requirements to meet before obtaining a GED:
- Must take the GED test at a certified testing center and receive a minimum passing score
- Must not be enrolled in an educational program, such as high school
- Must not already possess a high school diploma
- Must be over the age of 16
If you meet these requirements, you will be able to get your GED. While there is an age requirement of 16 years old, there is no age limit. As long as you don't have a high school diploma, you are eligible to get a GED.
What Are the Limitations of a GED?
The leading thought may be that a GED and high school diploma mean the same thing While they both prove you have mastered necessary high school education requirements, they are not equal. Consider the following information before deciding to leave school early.
The purpose of the GED for many is to have a pathway to college. While this still holds true, certain things are limited if you have a GED. For starters, some of the more prestigious four-year colleges and universities place more weight on those who have obtained a high school diploma. It doesn't mean that you won't be able to get into one of these colleges, but you may need to take a different path. If you have a GED and want to attend a college that doesn't necessarily put much weight on your certificate, attending a community college and transferring to a university is probably your best option.
For those colleges that do accept the GED, know that you may have to get more private loans because financial aid options are limited for those who didn't graduate high school. While there is no exact reason for this, according to statistics compiled over the last two decades, people who enter college with a high school diploma account for 85 percent of all financial aid recipients. That leaves a measly 15 percent for those who have a GED or some other type of equivalent (more on that below.)
2. The Military
The military is a career route that many young men and women are starting to take. It offers opportunities for those who seek direction and purpose. It can also provide resources to further your academic career through the GI Bill. However, getting into the military is easier for those with a high school diploma vs. a GED. Why is this the case? The military requires you have one or the other. Upon application, candidates get sorted into entrance tiers based on specific fundamental requirements. Tier 1 recruits have a diploma. Tier 2 applicants have GEDs or certificates of completion. If there is ever a choice to be made between the two tiers, those who fall under the first will receive special entrance over the second. Some branches of the military are more stringent than others. Recruiting officers will place even more weight on those who have a diploma.
Career options may be significantly limited if you don't graduate high school. These days, even many basic entry-level jobs require some diploma or equivalent to be considered. In a recent study, employers almost overwhelmingly hired people with high school diplomas over those with GEDs. When it came to jobs that required a college degree, this number was much closer, but still, the diploma-holders won out. As stated above, if you want a career in the military, graduating high school gives you a definite advantage over others who did not.
Why the Inequity?
Now that you've seen there is a marked difference in the acceptance of a GED vs. a high school diploma, you probably want to know why. While it's true that a GED will open many more doors than not having anything at all, it opens just slightly less opportunity than a diploma. In today's world, which places so much emphasis on education and self-betterment, why then is someone who chose to get a GED not regarded as highly as a high school graduate?
There is a certain amount of reservation afforded to someone who did not finish high school. The general stigma attached lends itself to the notion that a person who could not stay in school for four years will not be able to perform at a higher level long-term. Colleges often believe that not following through with a high school curriculum puts students at a higher probability of doing the same at a college level, where class work and requirements are even more strict and critical.
In the military, those who finished high school get considered over those who didn't, because of the same idea. They believe, as a whole, if you drop out of school, you're more likely to withdraw from the armed services. In their eyes, as in the eyes of colleges, if you don't have the capability of completing a task as important as school, you may be less likely to finish the complex and critical functions of the military.
Another thing taken into consideration is the likelihood you are troubled in some way. Maybe the reason you dropped out was that you couldn't follow the basic rules set out in school. Did you skip classes? Were you a problem in the classroom for teachers? Beyond high school, colleges, employers and the military have no way of knowing if you will continue that poor behavior in their institution. Therefore, it is best to take someone who completed high school over someone who did not.
It is this mark against the GED and those who have obtained it that is the hardest to overcome. There is a myriad of reasons why someone chooses to leave school. Sure, some of them center on maturity issues. Others may be due to health issues, either of the student or a family member that causes too much classroom time to be missed. Maybe a person doesn't perform well in crowded situations, and the overcrowding of the school made a student feel lost among the masses. The best thing you can do if you opt to take your GED is to be prepared to explain why you left high school willingly. If you do well on the test and can demonstrate self-awareness in letting colleges and employers know the reason behind your discontinuation of high school, they will be more apt to accept you as an equal to someone who has a high school diploma. Whatever decision you come to, it is crucial that you continue with improving yourself. Having a GED is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it may just help pave the way for the future you want.