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6 Career Tips for Recent Graduates

6 Career Tips for Recent Graduates

If your cap and gown are retired to the closet, your diploma is behind glass, and ramen noodles are no longer a viable meal option, then you must be a recent graduate. Once the post-graduation dust settles, the next step in life is starting a career. In order to get the real world ball rolling in the right direction, here are 6 career tips for recent graduates that’ll help you with everything it takes to land your first job.

1. Put Your Résumé to Work

That 8.5 by 11-inch document known as your résumé is probably one of the most important parts of landing your first job. Because your résumé is literally your first impression, it not only has to teeter on perfection—it needs to work for you. To accomplish this, think of that all-important document as an unfinished novel.

In other words, editing your résumé is a never-ending job, especially considering the fact that the professional world frowns upon grammatical errors. Once you ensure syntactic perfection, also make sure your résumé is up to date. This means keeping all your education, work experience, accomplishments, and the accompanying dates current. Remember, a good résumé is always read, but a great one will land you an interview.

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2. Get Social With Your Networking

Social media is a great way to network with friends and family, so it’s no wonder that social sites are also an effective approach when it comes to networking professionally. Get out there and let the social media world know you’re a recent college graduate who is ready for a new career.

With social media, you can advertise your skills sets for the job, qualifications, and even post a PDF of your flawless résumé for the entire digital world to see. Just remember, if you’re using existing social accounts, clean up your act. This means deleting any pictures or comments you might consider questionable. Better yet, just start new accounts from scratch and consider them your professional approach to social networking.

3. Interview Like a Pro

Did your perfectly written, up-to-date résumé land you an interview? Of course it did, so now it’s time to nail your interview and lock down the job that’ll inevitably lead to your long career. When it comes to interviewing advice, don’ts are sometimes just as important as the dos.

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With that in mind, the best advice for any inexperienced interviewee is to have a good answer for every potential question. Some answers will come easier than others, but anticipating questions before the interview will help you sound that much more prepared when the interview is in full swing.

4. Put Passion First and Money Second

It might not seem like the best approach to take in the short run, especially when you keep coming up dry with the job search. But, if you are looking to find jobs that will lead to a career, then do it for the love, not the cash. That is, don’t just settle for a high paying job that makes you miserable day after day.

Ask anyone with long-term experience in the work force and they’ll tell you: a job that makes you happy is worth more than a huge paycheck. Seek out jobs that you’re passionate about and choose a career path that enriches your life—you can’t go wrong.

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5. Make a Post-Grad Budget

One of the biggest stressors during your post-grad career search is staying afloat financially until you find your first job. That’s why coming up with a reasonable job-hunt budget is so important. Not only will a budget help you stretch your money while you’re searching for work, it’ll also take the desperation factor out of the equation.

Think about it. If you’re stressed about finding a job because of other financial obligations, that stress will filter down through everything, including your interviews. Keeping a reasonable budget during your job search will keep you calm and also give you the opportunity to turn down jobs that aren’t necessarily the right fit.

6. Be Patient

A final word of advice for all those post-grad wanderers in search of work is patience. Preparation in combination with experience and a modest living will eventually lead to the right job—it might just take a little longer than you think.

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By following the advice above, your post-grad job search will lead to a successful career.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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