Getting a job in today’s market is tough. The United States unemployment rate is around 5.5 percent — so, on average, one in 20 of your friends is going to have a hard time finding work — and that doesn’t even mean the job they’re trying for will be a good one. It could be in a completely different field than they hoped, making as little as minimum wage.

If you are going to get the job you want, you need the right education, some type of experience (volunteer or paid), and impressive interview skills. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be sure to ace your next job interview:

Know What to Expect

Always remember that job interviews are not about showing that you are qualified for the job. Your dream employer has your resume and knows your experience. Instead, job interviews help potential employers determine whether you would be a good fit for the company, including both its goals and its culture.

Be Punctual

Showing up late is disrespectful to your would-be employer as well as other interviewees. Just don’t do it. Plan ahead and arrive early. If you are worried about finding adequate parking or public transportation, give yourself enough time to arrive early and relax with a coffee before your interview — just do not be late. Remember: in appointment time, early is on time, on time is late.

Look Your Best

If you are going to ace your interview, you have to look your best. Wearing casual or revealing clothing is never a good idea, but a suit may not be the appropriate either. Instead, choose an interview outfit that looks like you, expresses as much creativity as the position requires, and demonstrates that you tried to look nice. Polish your shoes, iron your shirt, and look like you came to work. When in doubt, dress up, not down.

How to Prepare

Never walk into an interview without being prepared. Research the company. Check the website, read up on the industry, the company’s competitors, and the buzz on social media. If possible, talk with people who work for the company and ask questions about the culture and challenges they are facing. Finally, prepare questions to ask in the interview that are specific to the company and position.

Plan Ahead

The key to acing your job interview is planning ahead. Bring extra copies of your resume as well as pen and paper for taking notes. Bring business cards if you have them, as well as a digital copy of your resume and portfolio that you can leave with the person who interviewed you. Be sure to also plan ahead for what happens after the interview. Make sure you have contact information for the person or people who interviewed you, as well as the correct spelling of their names, their positions, and the best way to reach them, so you can send a follow-up. And always thank them for their time in meeting you.

Bottom Line

The best way to ace your next job interview is through careful preparation, a personal touch, and lots of respect. Even if you’re not the right fit for the first position you interview for, if you make a good impression with the company, they may keep you in mind until they find the perfect job for you.

You probably think of your social media pages as your own little corner of the Web, but they also make up your personal brand. It’s not just your friends or family members taking notice of your posts either. Fifty-two percent of employers and 92 percent of recruiters say they check social media accounts before deciding whether to hire an applicant. Even more troubling, 48 percent of employers say what they found online made them pass on a candidate. What message do your social media pages send? And how can you use those pages to promote your career?

Get Active on LinkedIn

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram might be the most popular social media platforms for millennials, but when it comes to promoting your career, you’ll do it best on LinkedIn. Eighty-seven percent of recruiters say they use LinkedIn as part of their hiring processes — more than any other social network.

Think of your LinkedIn account like a digital resume, advertising your work experience and skills to potential employers. Just like a regular resume, it’ll make the best impression if it’s kept up to date. Like any other social media platform, you’ll get the most out of LinkedIn if you’re active. Join some industry groups and take an active role in their conversations.

Proofread Every Post

Grammar, spelling, and punctuation matter. According to The Hiring Site, 30 percent of employers say poor communication skills on social media are a real turnoff. Make sure your posts are free of typos, and use those common Internet acronyms sparingly, if at all. While poor communication reflects badly on all job candidates, it can be a deal-breaker for people entering fields where communication skills are prized, such as journalism and education.

When you’re proofreading your posts, also take note of the language you’re using. You might use foul language when you’re hanging out with your friends, but a prospective employer won’t be impressed.

Share the Right Content

The content you share says a lot about your interests and inspirations. Funny cat videos and the latest BuzzFeed list might be entertaining, but what do they really say about you and the type of employee you’d be? Ditto on political and religious opinions (you’re certain to offend someone so don’t take chances on it being a potential employer). Start following experts in your field and share posts from their feeds. Their influence will reflect positively on you.

Promote Any Work Experience

Sixty percent of employers are looking at your social media account for information that supports your qualifications for the job. While LinkedIn is an obvious place to showcase your talents, you can also promote your professional skills on other platforms. Share details of any work experience or volunteer work you’re doing. More than three-quarters of recruiters view these type of posts positively. Just make sure you are positive about the experience. If you badmouth the work or other employees. you’ll look unprofessional.

Your social media accounts can be much more than a way to connect with your peers. Use them wisely, and they can be a valuable way to promote your skills, build a compelling personal brand, and further your career.

Summer is the perfect time for relaxing on the beach or by the pool with a good book. Rather than reaching for a trashy romance novel or a schlocky thriller, why not select something that will broaden your mind and expand your perspective all while being enjoyable? These quality reads will keep your brain working during summer break.

The Women’s Room by Marilyn French: Feminist Tome Still Resonates

The Women’s Room by Marilyn French was penned in the 1970s and is set in the 1950s, but its themes still resonate today. Like French herself, the main character, Mira, is a suburban housewife who decides to expand her horizons and become a mature student at Harvard. As Mira discovers her identity and her place in the world, modern readers will marvel at the way its themes of slut shaming and societal expectations still resonate. The Women’s Room is bound to get you thinking about how far women have come and how they still fight for equality in the workplace and social sphere. Female students are likely to empathize with Mira’s struggles, but if you’re a man, you shouldn’t let the title put you off. There’s plenty here for you to enjoy, too.

Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace: Think Critically About Everything

Critical thinking is a key skill for college students of all disciplines. Few people were more adept at it than the late David Foster Wallace, who dissects everything from the literature of Dostoyevsky to the O.J. Simpson trial and even lobsters in this fascinating read. The varied subject matter he tackles here makes Consider the Lobster bags of fun. Hopefully by the end, David Foster Wallace’s critical-thinking talents will also rub off on you.

The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing: Political Activism Satire

Some say you haven’t really lived the life of a college student unless you’ve picketed or protested about a cause close to your heart. Alice, the main character in Doris Lessing’s novel, is an unemployed and naïve political-science and economics graduate from a middle-class family. She takes up residence with a group of like-minded revolutionaries determined to change the world, with devastating results. As funny as it is disturbing, The Good Terrorist will get you thinking about how personal causes can so easily become political and the way terrorism evolves. Reading it now in the wake of recent terror attacks on Paris and Brussels gives this 1985 novel extra weight.

The Turquoise Ledge by Leslie Marmon Silko: Powerful Memoir About Environment

Debates about climate change and planetary destruction often focus on science so it’s refreshing to read a more spiritual perspective about these issues in Leslie Marmon Silko’s The Turquoise Ledge. The author draws on her Cherokee, Laguna Pueblo, Mexican, and European ancestry in this memoir about life in the desert, her bonds with local animals, and the environmental decay she’s seen. This intimate novel reads like a diary, encouraging readers to think about their place in the world and what they want that world to be.

For some engrossing reads that will expand your perspective this summer, look no further than these quality books.

Graduation typically instills in students equal measures of elation, excitement, and anxiety. As a student, while you’re thrilled to move on to the next phase in your life, you might feel unprepared for the onslaught of decisions you must make. Creating a checklist of tasks to accomplish after the pomp and circumstance are over can ground you and ensure that you’re making the best use of your time.

Stop By Your School’s Career Center

A university career center or career services office contains a variety of free resources to help you land a post-collegiate job. Andrew Strieber of CareerCast recommends spending some time there before you say goodbye to school. Talk with a career counselor, and pore over the research materials.

You can also tap your professors for advice — especially those who teach courses related to your chosen profession. Ask to meet with them over coffee or during their office hours so that you can pick their brains about how best to proceed. Alternatively, shoot your professor an email asking a series of brief questions.

Customize Your Resume

These days, generic resumes and cover letters won’t land you a job. Customize each one to the company and position in question. Address key skills that will relate to your job performance in your resume, for instance, or mention some facet of the business you particularly like in your cover letter.

Collect a Few References

While personal references sometimes suffice for entry-level jobs, you’re better off providing professional references to potential employers. If you held an on-campus job, for example, ask your boss to write a quick reference letter. Request permission from anyone whose contact information you plan to supply to potential employers.

Other sources of references include supervisors of internships, managers for summer jobs, and even coaches or faculty advisors for extracurricular activities. If you worked on a special project at school, the professor in charge can also provide a reference. You might not use them all, but snag them before you leave school behind.

Diversify Your Job Search

Maybe you didn’t enjoy that composition class during freshman year, but you likely learned a few useful research skills. Give them some exercise now as you search for your first professional job. Don’t limit yourself to one online job board or a single classifieds forum.

Instead, visit as many job boards as possible to familiarize yourself with recent openings. Set up a LinkedIn account or use other social media platforms to learn about positions that might not have hit the boards yet. The more resources you use, the sooner you’ll secure a new position.

Set Broad Expectations

Many recent grads get their hopes up for landing their dream job. While it could happen, your first position out of college probably won’t resemble the caliber of job you’ll get when you’ve accrued a few years of experience. Shoot for getting a decent job now, but don’t stop looking for something better.

After graduation, you can go anywhere and do anything you want. Creating a plan will give your job search some direction and help you focus until you find a position that you’ll enjoy.

Graduation is an exciting time for any college student. You feel a sense of loss as you prepare to leave your college home but you’re also excited about what the future might hold. When you clear out your dorm room or off-campus apartment, consider tossing out (recycling, passing on to friends, or selling preferably) these unnecessary items to make room for the things you’ll need to start your professional career.

Plastic Furniture and Storage

While you’re in college, it’s perfectly acceptable to fashion a bookshelf out of milk crates or to use an empty ice chest as a coffee table. Now that you’re leaving undergrad life behind, however, it’s time to ditch the plastic furniture and storage in favor of more attractive (and sturdy) options. You don’t have to break the bank; consider a trip to Ikea or a local thrift store to find affordable alternatives.

Tacky Art

The Van Gogh calendar and edgy movie posters seemed cool when you first set up your dorm room four years ago, but they’re a little silly after you leave college life behind. The posters probably have torn edges anyway, or faded colors, so feel free to pass them down to a freshman without any art on his or her walls.


Not only are textbooks unnecessary after graduation, but they’re also heavy and they take up considerable space. Besides, selling back your textbooks will put some much-needed cash in your pocket. Consider sources other than the campus bookstore, such as online forums, if you want to maximize your profit.

Branded Swag

When you’re thoroughly enmeshed in the campus lifestyle, you start to collect swag that bears the university’s logo, mascot, and other symbols. Now that you’re heading into the real world, it’s best to leave behind the koozies, thermoses, hoodies, foam fingers, coasters, and other branded merchandise. Save a couple of your favorite items and find someone to take the rest off your hands.

Old Paperwork

You’re feeling nostalgic now, so you’ve convinced yourself you can’t throw away your freshman English syllabus because you’ll want to look upon it fondly for years to come. Resist the urge to keep every document your four years of academic study have generated. If you won’t use it for graduate school or to reference at work, recycle that paper!

Bath Tote

The days of padding down the hall to the communal bathroom are over, so you don’t need that bath tote anymore. You can also get rid of your backpack (unless it’s a neutral color and in good shape) and your miniature refrigerator (unless you want it for your next home).

Foam Mattress Topper

You bought it on sale because you were tired of the uncomfortable dorm room mattress. Over the years, the egg-crate surface has flattened and lost its poof. You’ve moved it in and out of campus housing for four years, so it’s time to kick it to the curb.

It’s sometimes hard to let go of your favorite college possessions. Ditching the above seven items, however, will free up space for your grownup apartment.