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Ching! Ching! The graduation cashola is flowing in! Relatives, neighbors, and friends show up en masse to congratulate you on the achievement of your recent graduation. It can be a heady time….that lull between the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. At this point, many new college grads aren’t yet saddled with the responsibilities of a mortgage and mouths to feed, so the influx of so much dough seems like a windfall and money for the spending.

So what to do with all that bacon sizzling in your sock drawer?

A vacation with the crew? A new Xbox? The latest iPhone? Treating your friends that didn’t fare so well in the cash grab game? No! No! and No! Put the money to work for you by helping you get to work!

Here are a few suggestions about how to INVEST rather than spend the money to ensure a successful transition into the ranks of the working professional:

A professional résumé – not the one that you received from the college career center on your way out the door that looks like the other 2.8M people graduating this year but one that reflects your unique promise of value and separates you from the crowd by focusing on your accomplishments and contributions.  Engage a certified professional résumé writer, get it done right, and make an impactful first impression.

Formal headshots – not selfies in your car, but professional pictures taken in studio by a professional photographer that brings out the best in your personality that you can use for your LinkedIn profile picture, business cards, or networking opportunities.

Reliable transportation – not the muscle head car you’ve been working on with your buddies that you scooped up for a sweet steal and will (in reality) take years (if ever) to restore.  You’ll need a car that doesn’t get its jollies out of teasing you into guessing if it will or will not start each time you hit the ignition. Remember that your car reflects your personal brand, so even if it is an older model, make sure you can count on it to get you to job interviews and that you keep it clean, inside and out.

A suit – to be clear….a suit that fits like it was made for you (even though it does not need to be) – not a hand-me-down or suit you wore to your high school graduation. This applies to both women and men. Even if the company you eventually join has a business casual dress policy or dress down Fridays, dress for success anyway and dress for respect.

✅   A portfolio or briefcase  – to carry your job search-related documents in to and from interviews and to the office once you land that great new job. Dress the part. Look the part. Allow the interviewer to see you as a representative of their company. This is the big league. Keep it neat and keep it professional!

Of course, there are many other beneficial ways of investing graduation money vs. blowing it before your official diploma arrives in the mail: pay down student loan debt, begin a retirement account, travel, etc., however, those options assume you have a job already. If you are still searching for that first job out of college, then my list addresses your immediate need of generating a paycheck; the others are secondary. Spend wisely and congratulations. Now get  your tools together, get out there, and get hired!

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