TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Ways Gmail’s New Inbox Will Make Your Email Life Infinitely Better

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You’ll love the “pin” feature

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

We all love to hate on email. For good reason: It’s time-consuming, dull, and requires constant attention. But while email isn’t going to disappear in the foreseeable future, your worst email woes might.

Last month, Google rolled out Inbox, a new email interface. It’s like Gmail’s younger, hipper sister—clean, sleek, and loaded with lots of productivity-boosting features designed to help make dealing with email, well, suck less.

In other words, if you currently use Google products at work, your professional life is about to be changed. Here are just a few ways Inbox has answers for your biggest complaints about email.

1. If You’re Constantly Forgetting About Important Emails

You’ll love the “pin” feature. Just hover over an email, tap the push-pin icon, and voilà—the message is put front and center in your inbox until you un-pin it. You can even turn on a function that will only display pinned emails.

Put it to Work

Your boss sends you extremely detailed instructions for a project. Instead of having to do a search for the message each and every time you work on the task, just pin the email to your inbox. You’ll have it open in your browser within two seconds.

2. If You Hate Wasting Time Opening Messages Just to See the Attachments

You’ll love the “preview” future. With regular email, attachments are indicated by a little paperclip. But Inbox takes this way, way further by actually showing you what the attachments are and allowing you to open them without opening the email. This includes documents, pictures, Excel spreadsheets, videos—you name it.

Put it to Work

You’ve been waiting for your client to send you a revised contract, and you finally see her name in your inbox. Instead of spending time opening her email, scrolling all the way to the bottom to see if she’s attached it, and then downloading it, you can quickly pull up the contract and get to work.

3. If You Hate How Cluttered Your Inbox Gets

You’ll love the “bundle” feature. Bundling automatically sorts your email into categories—kind of like Gmail’s primary, social, and promotions tabs, but much more sophisticated (and easy to use). The built-in categories include travel, purchases, finance, and updates, and you can also add your own. Emails of the same category will appear together in your inbox.

Put it to Work

You’re planning your vacation, and you’re being flooded with ticket confirmations, tour reservations, hotel bookings, and so on. Meanwhile, your mom keeps sending you old pictures she’s found, and your boss has emailed you multiple spreadsheets to review. Instead of having all of those emails appear jumbled together—a one-way ticket to distraction city—they each show up in separate little boxes, making it easy to deal with each task one at a time.

4. If You Hate Clearing Out Your Inbox

You’ll love the “sweep” feature. This allows you to archive whole bundles at once: Just click the checkmark above a bundle, and it’ll be swooped out of sight, saving you the trouble of manually going through and archiving individual messages.

And don’t worry—if you’ve pinned a message, it’ll stick around in your inbox.

Put it to Work

You’ve just gone through scads of LinkedIn and Google+ invitations, and now you want to de-clutter your inbox. You scroll down the social bundle and click sweep. The bundle vanishes!

5. If You Hate Having to Remember to Answer Emails

You’ll love the “snooze” feature. If you get an email at an inconvenient time, Inbox lets you schedule it to come back later. Just click the clock icon and pick a time (from an exact day and hour to “someday”). It will disappear from your inbox until then, so you won’t have to keep reminding yourself you still need to answer.

Put it to Work

At 8 AM, your colleague shoots you an email asking for the latest sales numbers, but you won’t have them until the afternoon. You snooze his email to 3 PM so you remember to get back to him once you can.

Loving the sound of Inbox? Send an email to inbox@google.com to request an invitation. I got mine within a week, so yours should arrive shortly. Let me know what you think—and if I missed any cool ways to use it!

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5 Things You Seriously Need to Reconsider Emailing

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Your subject line is the caller ID of your email—it will determine whether it gets answered or ignored

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Let’s be real. The fact that Gmail allows you to divide your inbox into five sub-folders can only mean one thing: Most emails we receive are total crap. And when you’re sending a note to a colleague, your boss, or a hiring manager, it’s likely landing somewhere between something critical and Viagra spam or BuzzFeed GIFs.

So, how do you make sure your message gets noticed and—more importantly—read? Put yourself in your recipient’s shoes, and make sure any email you write answers these five questions.

1. Why Should I Open This?

Your subject line is the caller ID of your email—it will determine whether it gets answered or ignored. Make it specific and direct so that your recipient knows exactly what to expect from the message. If you’ll need your co-worker to give you feedback by Tuesday, don’t bury a note in the last line. Title your email “Reply by Tuesday: notes from today’s meeting” instead of “Hey” (which is the email equivalent of hearing “we need to talk”).

If you’re applying for a job, use key words like the name of the position or your experience to stand out. Writing “Community Manager With 4 Years of Experience” is a short and sweet way to offer your credentials up front.

2. Who Are You?

If you’re writing to someone for the first time—for instance, a hiring manager or someone you heard speak at an event but did not meet—you’ll want to establish rapport as quickly as possible. For example, before I wrote a cold email to a company about open freelance positions, I learned that the founder and I both attended the same college. I put “Yale alum” in both my subject and the first sentence of my email; I got a response and scheduled an interview within 48 hours.

Use whatever common ground you can find—schools, mutual friends or interests, professional associations—to let recipients know that you are worth connecting with. Or if you work in a large company and you’re contacting an executive whom you’ve met before, a quick reminder of when and where you last connected will help jog her memory.

3. What Do You Need?

This is why you’re writing in the first place! Now’s the time for the big explanation, right? Not yet. Aim to be clear and compelling in one or two sentences. At work, think of your email as just a brief initial contact that can set up a live conversation by phone or in person if more explanation is necessary.

This is especially true for cold emails when the recipient isn’t anticipating your message. If you are writing to request a coffee meeting, be specific but leave room for intrigue. For instance, write “I would love to share what I’ve learned on content marketing as well as learn how I can contribute to your current projects.” Remember: Busy people don’t want to have their brain “picked,” they want to get smarter by exchanging ideas.

4. What’s in it for Me?

Think of your email as a transaction: What you want from your recipient should benefit her as much as it benefits you. On the job, we are all seeking approval from our colleagues, managers, and customers. How can what you’re requesting help your recipient accomplish this? Be explicit with phrases like, “I can be an asset to your team,” “this may help present your ideas more clearly,” or even “customer feedback shows that they are looking for solutions like these.”

5. Will You Appreciate It?

With so many impersonal emails arriving in our inboxes each day, make yours stand out by showing a little humanity. Whether you’re addressing a colleague or a cold contact, you are requesting that person’s time to follow up thoughtfully to your email. Show that you appreciate the effort by signing off with “thank you” or “sincerely” (seriously, “best” is way too confusing). A little etiquette will go a long way to getting the response you want.

Keep these questions on a Post-it note and check your messages against them before you send. Not only will you master the email craft, you’ll be a damn good communicator in any professional setting.

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4 Resume ‘Tricks’ That Are Sure to Backfire Spectacularly

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Avoid these at all costs

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Bad job search advice. It’s everywhere.

Don’t shoot the messenger (even though she’s also a purveyor of job search advice).

It’s everywhere for a number of reasons, including:

  1. Those delivering it often have a bias that affects the nature of the counsel (e.g., husbands, parents, BFFs).
  2. There are no licenses or certifications that career coaches are required to carry (which results in a mixed bag of talent in the world of “experts”).
  3. Textbook advice—the kind that many of us have the most ready access to during our formative years—can be severely old school (or worse).

Unfortunately, if you don’t use care in choosing trusted sources for job search advice, you may run into resume advice that teaches you how to “trick” the applicant tracking system (ATS) or hiring managers. I’m not here to say that there are no effective “resume tricks,” but there are a few that could very well backfire on you.

Here are four of them.

1. “Borrowing” Entire Phrases Right out of the Job Description

Yes, yes, yes: You absolutely should study the job description for each job you plan to pursue, and you should mirror some of the keywords that describe the skills and qualifications on your resume. You should not, however, lift entire sentences or text blocks from that job description. This will put you on the express train from solid on-paper match to shyster who’s trying too hard.

2. Thinking a Functional Resume Will Serve as the Perfect Disguise

It’s so common for job seekers with career gaps to use the old “hide the gaps with a functional resume” trick that, every time I see one, I just assume there’s going to be a gap. And then I set out to find it. Functional resumes are almost never the right solution. Not only can it be difficult for an ATS to read and parse a functional resume into the electronic database, it also screams “I am hiding something!” Better to use a hybrid resume with a strong summary at the top of the page followed by career history (with details) in reverse chronological order.

3. Listing Completed College Coursework as a Degree

Oh, have I seen heartbreaks with this one. Among them, a job seeker who was about to be hired by one of my recruiting clients—a global manufacturing firm—for a field engineering role. He actually didn’t need the degree as a requirement for this job, but he still felt it necessary to list a bachelor’s degree on his resume. Unfortunately (for him, me, and the hiring manager, who loved the guy), he was a few credits short of having that degree. This little nugget of information came out when the firm’s HR department did a standard degree verification. He did not get the job.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or two credits away from earning the degree. If you didn’t finish it, you need to state “Coursework completed toward…,” not “Have degree.”

4. Fudging Dates (and Then Having Different Dates on Your Application)

Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s just easier to say that the job you stormed out on last July actually ended in November. Smooth over that gap, right?

Wrong. Fudging dates is not only called lying, it’s an easy way to land yourself in hot water with decision makers, especially if you accidentally list out different dates on the official job application. You can certainly strategize if you need to de-emphasize time gaps (for instance, use years instead of months and years), but fudging dates can be a true recipe for disaster.

Without a doubt, it can be confusing, overwhelming, and downright mind-numbing trying to figure out how to set up a resume that snags attention and positions you to sail through the hiring process. As you consider the “tricks,” always keep in mind that some are clearly better than others.

(Avoid these.)

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31 Job Search Ideas That Won’t Make You Miserable

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These tips will help you find a job without stressing you out

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

We know: It’s December. And even though you’re dying for a new gig, going to holiday parties, shopping for gifts, and drinking gallons of hot cocoa just seems like much more of a priority than writing cover letters and going to networking events.

Well, truth be told, tons of companies are hiring like crazy, so if you are on the hunt for your dream job, it doesn’t hurt to get started on a serious search now. But if you want to wait until January, we get it—so we’ve come up with 31 easy (and fun) little things you can do now so that you can hit the ground running in the new year.

Do one or do them all (one for each day of the month!), and you’ll be far more prepared than the rest of the bunch who are just getting started come 2015.

1. Mix and Mingle

Take advantage of all the mingling opportunities that December offers to freshen up your interviewing and networking skills. For example, your relatives who haven’t seen you in a year are probably going to ask, “What kind of job are you looking for?” But instead of brushing Grandma’s questions off, use this time to get comfortable talking about your goals, skills, and ideal jobs. Those same answers will come in handy when an interviewer asks you why you’re interested in a particular role or what your strengths are.

2. Boost Your Persuasion Skills

Got two minutes between meetings or while waiting for a train? Watch this two-minute video on how to be more persuasive—you’ll be totally prepared when you’re selling your skills to a hiring manager come January.

3. Create a List of Dream Companies

Browsing job openings (and thinking about all of those cover letters you’ll have to write) is bound to make your eyes glaze over. Instead, focus on putting together a list of dream companies. Look up one of your favorite companies on LinkedIn, then check out the “people also viewed” section to find more great workplaces. Then, get an inside view into 250 awesome companies in the profiles section of The Muse and save your favorites. When you do start job hunting, this will help keep you laser focused and actually get you excited (yes, it’s possible!) about landing a gig at one of your dream companies.

4. Set Career Resolutions

Making resolutions seems natural at the turn of the year, but let’s face it: Writing down “get a new job” isn’t the most helpful goal. So before January rolls around, write down a few more actionable (and less intimidating) benchmark goals, like “apply for three jobs per week” and “attend five networking events during the month and meet five new people at each.” By fulfilling these smaller goals, you’ll have a lot easier time accomplishing that overarching “new job” resolution, too.

5. Take Long Lunches

No one wants to be in the office this month (including, most likely, your boss), so taking a few coffee meetings or a long lunch here and there probably won’t hurt. Use this month to set up a couple of informational interviews with people who work in jobs or for companies you’re interested in. (And here’s how to turn those meetings into potential job opportunities.)

6. Join a Club

If you haven’t joined a professional organization or gotten involved with your alumni association yet, there’s no time like the present: Most groups have holiday parties in December, which is a great time to show up and get to know people.

7. Send Holiday Greetings

December is pretty much the only time of year you can reach out to people you haven’t talked to in forever and not have it feel random. So take advantage of that and reach out to your network. Send a holiday card to your email list on Paperless Post, create a brief “here’s what I’ve been up to this year” newsletter, or reach out directly with a personalized note to people you definitely want to reconnect with in the new year. It’s merry, it’s festive, and it gives you a head start on your 2015 networking!

8. Say Thanks

Another great way to reach out to your network? Send a thank you note to someone who has impacted your career, given you an opportunity, or introduced you to someone interesting this year. (Here’s how to write one that will really make an impact.)

9. Prep Your References

It’s not the most effective strategy to call up your references in the middle of the interview process to explain, “By the way, I listed you as a reference. They may be calling you, well, today.” To give your references enough notice—and to make sure they know what to say about you to tip the chances of getting the job in your favor—start reaching out to them now. A quick email with an updated copy of your resume and a few sentences about the type of role you’re looking for is perfect!

10. Update Your Resume (on the Couch, While Watching TV)

I know—updating your resume doesn’t sound very fun or easy. But while you’re cozy on the couch watching Home Alone, consider pulling out your laptop and making a change or two. This article has tons of ideas for tiny changes that’ll freshen up your resume in 15 minutes or less.

11. See What Message You’re Sending

Want a quick, fun way to see what hiring managers see when they read your cover letter or resume? Drop those documents into a word cloud generator and see which keywords are popping out. If the most prominent ones aren’t what you want to be remembered by, or if there are important words that aren’t present, think about how you can tweak your materials to make that more clear.

12. Do a Photo Shoot

Is your LinkedIn photo working for you? Find out at PhotoFeeler, which analyzes your photo based on how likeable, competent, and influential you seem. Not happy with the results? Have a friend or family member take a shot of you when you’re wearing your holiday best and pop your new photo up there ASAP. (Then make sure to update it on Twitter or any other sites you use professionally.)

13. Craft a New LinkedIn Headline

A super-simple—but super-effective—change you can make to your LinkedIn profile? Updating your headline. (No, the default of your current position at your current company isn’t always the way to go.) Watch this quick video to see what distinguishes an awesome headline from a mediocre one, then spend a few minutes crafting something compelling and new.

14. Get Started on Your Cover Letters

Writing a cover letter always seems like a simple task. It’s just a couple paragraphs, so shouldn’t take long, right? Four hours and a blank Word doc later, we all know how that story ends. To avoid the inevitable writer’s block, create some sample cover letter templates for yourself. Write a couple killer intros (here are a few examples), then create a list of standout projects and accomplishments that you could elaborate on. Next month, when you find a job that you want to apply for ASAP, all you’ll have to do is string together a pre-written intro, a few accomplishments, and a little research about the specific company and position, and you’ll be set—much easier than starting from scratch each time.

15. Read

Busy as they are, the holidays often come with lots of down time while you’re traveling (or trying to avoid helping your mom cook). Pick one or two books to read in December—here’s a great list of reads that will help point you in the direction of your dream job.

16. Order New Business Cards

To prepare for all of that networking you’ll be doing in the new year! Request a new set from your boss or company, or order some that fit your personal brand from a site like moo.com.

17. Shop for a New Suit

Yep, here’s your permission to online-shop the day away. A job search means interviewing, and interviewing means you’ll need a great new outfit, right? Head on over to the J.Crew sale (or your clothier of choice) and pick yourself out some new duds.

18. Tweet it Up

Every day, recruiters are tweeting jobs they need to interview candidates for—making Twitter a seriously untapped resource for job seekers. To make sure you’re in the know about these leads, create a Twitter job search list that includes recruiters, hiring managers, company hiring handles, and job search websites. Then, review their tweets daily for potential opportunities.

19. Play on Pinterest

Puppies and mason jar projects aside, Pinterest can actually be an invaluable tool for your career. Whether you’re looking for a new job, dreaming about your future company, or just looking for something to wear, try putting together one of these actually helpful Pinterest boards.

20. Plan a Party

We bet you’re not the only one who wants a new job come January. So start planning a “January Job Search” event now—like a networking party, resume workshop, or career-related book club—with some friends or professional contacts.

21. Get Started on a Personal Website

A personal website can be a great tool to show hiring managers who you are and what you’ve done. But putting one together isn’t a quick-and-easy process. So, get started now by browsing around and making a list of ones that inspire you. (Here are 35 amazing ones to get you started.) And when you’re ready to start building it? Here’s a seven-day plan for creating one from scratch.

22. Make a “To-Write” List

Being published in any capacity can be a great way to show off your writing in a job application and get your name out there to people who might be interested in hiring you. To get your creative juices flowing in January, brainstorm now and make a list of article or blog topics you could write.

23. Share Something

An even easier way to share great content with your network and show people what you’re passionate about? Share great things you’ve read on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Start making a running list of awesome articles, quotes, and blogs that you could get out there over the next few weeks and months.

24. Volunteer

’Tis the season for giving back, and volunteer opportunities in your community abound! So take a day (or even a couple of hours) and lend a hand to a cause you care about. You’ll have something new for your resume, meet some new contacts, and feel merry in the meantime!

25. Brush Up on Body Language

Whether you’re meeting with potential clients for the first time or negotiating an important business deal, small changes in body language can completely change the dynamic of the conversation. Watch this quick video to see how this plays out in conversations, and learn the other undercover nonverbal cues that can take your communication skills to a hiring manager or networking connection to the next level.

26. Sign Up for a Free Class

Browse our free, email-based classes at Muse University, like Management 101 or The Leadership Skills Every Professional Needs. Pop in your email address, and you’ll be signed up and good to go in less than five seconds.

27. Swipe Right

Looking for a super easy (almost mindless) way to browse open positions while you’re on the go and traveling for the holidays? Try the new app Switch, which is being described as “the Tinder for jobs” because it allows you to quickly sift through jobs listings—and allows hiring managers to quickly sift through candidate profiles—and then will connect you if there’s a match. It’ll make your job search feel almost like a game.

28. See How Your Family or Friends Can Help Your Job Search

Just because you’re not connected on LinkedIn doesn’t mean your close friends or family aren’t part of a network that can help you find opportunities. So while you’re catching up with family and old friends, tap into that! Let people know what you’re looking for and what you’ve done, and then ask if they have any connections who may be able to help you out. Remember, opportunities can be found in the unlikeliest of places—think your dad’s old college buddy who’s now pretty high up at a company you’d love to work for.

29. Try Out Some New Conversation Starters

Having to suffer through awkward conversations with your second cousin who you haven’t seen may seem like the worst, but think of it as stellar practice for your next kind of awkward networking event. Come up with a list of stellar conversation starters to try out when the dinner conversation starts to lull.

30. Look Through Your Old Facebook Posts

No, not to reminisce (though you can do that along the way): You want to sift through your social media to make sure there’s nothing that might be incriminating to a hiring manager. SimpleWash can help you catch any text that you wouldn’t want public any longer, but you’ll have to manually go through your old photos to remove anything embarrassing.

31. Dream Big

Here’s the easiest, most fun one of all: Treat yourself to a couple hours in a cozy cafe (or, hey, your couch). Get comfortable, relax, and then allow yourself to just daydream about where your career might take you—two, five, even 10 years from now. Don’t focus on what’s possible or what you might have to do to get there—just allow your mind to wander and dream about the stuff that you probably don’t get to in your day-to-day life. Do you want to be in a more creative role? Head up a new product or your department? Have a job that lets you travel? Start your own business? If you’d rather, you can jot down your thoughts in a notebook or share them with a friend.

Have something awesome in mind? Great. Now, think of just one thing you can do that’ll help you get there.

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10 Jobs for People Who Spend Way Too Much Time Online

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Check out a selection of jobs for people who spend more time online than offline—and love doing so

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Looking for a new job? Or, just want to do some window shopping? Check in every week for a hand-picked selection of awesome jobs from our partner companies.

It’s no secret that our world has been taken over by the recent explosion of online activity. This week, check out a selection of jobs for people who spend more time online than offline—and love doing so. Whether you’re enthralled by social media, fascinated by the potential of digital marketing, or love to engage with the online community through web design, these companies have the right position for you.

1. VP of Marketing

Nitro, San Francisco

Does your heart skip a beat when someone follows you on Twitter? Here’s a chance to experience that excitement every day. Nitro’s VP of Marketing manages new user and customer acquisition programs and must be passionate about engaging with a growing audience.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Nitro

2. Community Support Representative

Uber, Chicago

If you’re used to answering a crazy amount of emails every day, you’ve met the basic requirement of becoming Uber’s Community Support Representative. Seize this opportunity to join a fast-growing startup and connect virtually with Uber’s riders and drivers.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Uber

3. Director, Monetization Communications

Facebook, San Francisco

Can’t stop yourself from checking Facebook every 10 minutes and love the online platform a little too much? We’ve got exciting news for you—the company is hiring a professional to manage its monetization communications team and lead its marketing efforts that reach over a billion users.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Facebook

4. Customer Operations Templates and Design Specialist

Squarespace, New York

Have no shame if you’ve been living your social life online rather than offline, because Squarespace is hiring someone who thrives in virtual interactions. Providing quick and accurate responses to customers over live chat and email will be an integral part of your role.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Squarespace

5. Social Media Profile Manager

Main Street Hub, Austin

Are you slightly obsessed with perfecting your online profile? Main Street Hub has the perfect position for you. The company is looking for a social media evangelist who can make its customers look their best online and help them grow their brands.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Main Street Hub

6. Publisher Development Manager

Virool, New York

Want to change your passion for watching, making, or sharing online videos from a hobby to a job? This is your chance. Virool is looking for a digital advertising enthusiast who can lead its publisher acquisition strategy.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Virool

7. Front-End Developer

HomeAway, Australia

If you’re a programmer hoping to see your web design used across the world, don’t miss this chance. HomeAway’s Pyrmont location is seeking a Front-End Developer who loves great user experience and wants to build something amazing for the global online community.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at HomeAway

8. Presentation Designer

Praytell Strategy, New York

Do you hate looking at not-so-aesthetically-pleasing graphics on the web? As the Presentation Designer for Praytell Strategy, you can make sure that never happens for your company.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Praytell Strategy

9. Field Sales Executive

LivingSocial, London

LivingSocial’s is looking for someone to sell its daily deals to millions of socially active consumers through online channels, so if you have expertise in getting people to pay attention on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, this could be the ideal place for you.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at LivingSocial

10. Senior UX Designer

BrightRoll, San Francisco

Attention anyone with interaction design skills: Get excited, because BrightRoll is hiring a Senior UX Designer to manage its product design and make it coherent and cohesive. If you love making online users happy, then this job might be for you.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at BrightRoll

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30 Things You Should Never, Ever Say in an Interview

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Start by banning: “I just wanted to follow up—again”

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

In an interview, your primary goal is to get across to the hiring manager why you—above all the other candidates—are the right person for the job. That you have the right set of skills, a great personality, and the drive to really make things happen in your new role.

But as you’re preparing answers to interview questions that’ll let you do all of those things, it’s equally important to know what the hiring manager will consider a red flag. After all, a wrong move or two, and it won’t matter how great your sales numbers at your last job were.

To help you out, steer clear of these 30 messages. You’ll make sure that your awesome abilities and accomplishments—not a totally avoidable faux pas—will be what your interviewer remembers.

1. “So, tell me what you do around here.”

Rule #1 of interviewing: Do your research. You never want to walk into an interview knowing next to nothing about the position or company—you want to show that you’re excited enough that you’ve done some homework and thought about how you’d fit in. To get started, do some online research (here’s your game plan), and try to find a current or past employee you can talk to before the big day.

2. “Ugh, my last company…”

No matter how bad a job was, you never, ever want to badmouth a former employer in an interview. Keep your tone somewhere between neutral and positive, focusing on what you’ve learned from each experience and what you’re hoping to do in the future. This especially applies when you’re talking about why you’re leaving—here are a few tips on how to do it right.

3. “I didn’t get along with my boss.”

Similarly, you don’t want to speak negatively about anyone you’ve worked with in the past. Even if a previous manager could put the characters in Horrible Bossesto shame, your interviewer doesn’t know that—and could wonder whether you’re the difficult one to work with.

4. “I’m really nervous.”

Even if you’re more nervous than you’ve ever been, no company wants to hire someone who lacks confidence. “So, in this case, honesty is not the best policy,” says Amy Hoover, president of the job board TalentZoo. “Fake it ’til you make it!”(Via Business Insider)

5. “I’ll do whatever.”

Most hiring managers are looking for people who are incredibly passionate about the role they’re taking on. So when you say something to the effect of, “I don’t care what jobs you have available—I’ll do anything!” that’s a big red flag. Instead, target your search to a specific role at each company, and be ready to explain why it’s exactly what you’re looking for.

6. “I know I don’t have much experience, but…”

This mistake is easy to make, especially if you’re a recent grad or career changer. Problem is, when you apologize for experience you don’t have, you’re essentially saying that you’re not a great hire, that you’re not quite the right fit for the role, or even that you would be starting from square one. And that’s just not the case! Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, stay positive, focus on your strengths, and immediately launch into your transferable skills and infectious enthusiasm for the position. Here are a few better phrases to try instead.

7. “It’s on my resume.”

“Here’s the thing; I know it’s on your resume, but if I’m asking you about a particular job or experience, I want you to tell me more beyond a written word. I’m actually evaluating your communication and social skills. Are you articulate? Should you be client-facing, or are you someone we need to keep hidden in the basement next to the IT lending library?” says Nando Rodriguez, Head of Employment Branding at Ogilvy & Mather. “If a recruiter is asking you about a certain skill, don’t reference your resume, and instead use it as your moment to shine.”

8. “Yes! I have a great answer for that!”

Practiced your answers to some interview questions? Great. But don’t memorize them word for word. When you’re hyper-prepared and hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for certain questions for which you’ve prepared to be asked, you will likely have a very hard time engaging in genuine conversation with the interviewer. And interviewers don’t tend to hire detached people who can’t seem to have a genuine conversation. Certainly, walk in prepared, but force yourself to not memorize or over-rehearse the practice questions.

9. “Perfectionism is my greatest weakness.”

Here’s the thing: Chances are, telling a hiring manager that perfectionism is your greatest weakness won’t surprise him or her—and it might come off as sounding like an overly rehearsed cliché. It also doesn’t offer much of a true insight into your work style or personality (especially if half the other candidates are giving the same response). Try a more genuine response (here are some ideas)—and if perfectionism really is your greatest weakness? Use these tips to spin it right.

10. “I’m the top salesperson at the company—and I have two semesters worth of Spanish.”

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Heidi Grant Halvorson gives an excellent example of a case in which less is more: Instead of stopping after describing your degrees from Harvard, your relevant internships, and your technical expertise—you tack on your two semesters of college-level Spanish. Maybe Spanish is relevant to the job, but even so, according to the “Presenter’s Paradox,” rather than seeing that as a bonus, our minds tend to average out the impressiveness of the listed achievements. Try to keep any string of accomplishments you mention within the same range of impressiveness as others, and either leave out the outliers or wait for a better opportunity to talk about them (when they won’t be stacked against your highest achievements).

11. “I think outside the box.”

Resume buzzwords make hiring managers’ eyes glaze over, and similarly, using clichés in an interview won’t get you very far. Skip these overused business phrases, and describe your skills and abilities using stories about things you’ve actually done.

12. “I, like, increased our social following, like, 25%…”

Filler words like “like” and “um” can make you look like you lack confidence—or worse, the ability to communicate clearly on the job. Try these tips to erase “like” from your vocabulary for good.

13. “On my third goose-hunting trip to Canada…”

Stories are a great way to connect with the interviewer—they’re more memorable than facts, help you build rapport, and can help you to quite literally share an experience with your interviewer. But, as highlighted in this SlideShare (see Mistake #4), you need to tie that story back into what the company’s needs are, your interviewer’s experience, or, more specifically, to the position he or she is trying to fill, or you risk being forgotten (or looking a bit strange).

14. “I built a synergistic network of strategic alliances…”

If your interview answers sound a little too much like Weird Al’s song, “Mission Statement,” you’re probably not going to be the most memorable candidate. Turns out, listening to abstract words (think “strategic alliances” and “cutting-edge technology”) only activates areas of the brain related to language processing. Alternatively, concrete words like “carrot juice,” “smoking car engine,” and “stood in front of 150 people” are easier to picture, activate more areas of the brain, and are therefore more memorable. Pull in the five senses and describe actions taken. You’ll be remembered positively rather than for being a jargon bot.

15. “I pulled together the STF reports.”

Unless they’re absolutely industry-standard terms, don’t use acronyms or jargon when you’re describing your responsibilities. You’ll be much more compelling (not to mention interesting) using language that everyone gets right off the bat.

16. “Um, I don’t know.”

Even if you practice, and practice, and practice, you could still get a question that stumps you. But saying “I don’t know” is rarely the right approach. Two strategies that work well are repeating the question thoughtfully before answering or saying (slowly), “Now, that is a great question. I think I would have to say…” Still stumped? Ask for what you need—whether that’s a pen and paper, a glass of water, or a quick minute to think.

17. “How much vacation time do I get?”

When you bust out with an immediate litany of WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) questions, you look both arrogant and, frankly, unappealing. Guess what interviewers want to know when they meet with you? First and foremost, they want to know what you can do for them. What can you do to make that company money, improve businesses processes, grow the organization and, importantly, make their lives easier? Making you happy will be important if they want you, but you’re not even going to get to that stage if you make your list of demands clear too early.

18. “How soon do you promote employees?”

“An individual asking this question may come off as arrogant and entitled,” says recruiter Josh Tolan of SparkHire.com. A better way to ask this? “I’m really interested in staying at a place for a while. What do career paths within the company typically look like?”

19. “Nope—no questions.”

Not having any questions for the interviewer basically says that you’re not interested enough to learn any more. Have some thoughtful questions prepared (here are more than 50), and your interview will feel more like a conversation than a firing squad.

20. “Then, while I was at happy hour…”

Is your underwear riding up your rear end as you sit in that interview? Did you totally run a red light (and nearly sideswipe a school bus) so that you could be on time? Did your husband lose $15,000 at a craps table in Vegas last weekend? How interesting—yet all completely off-limits conversation topics while you’re in the interview. Even if you’re interviewing for a role within the most free-wheeling, fun-loving organization, the fact remains that you are in an interview. Never, ever get wooed into believing that the casual nature of the environment frees you to enter the TMI zone.

21. “I’ll have the steak and a glass of Cabernet.”

If your meeting takes place over a meal, take the lead from your interviewers. Casually ask if they’ve been to the restaurant before and what they think are good options—hopefully their recommendations will give you a sense of an appropriate price range. If not, try to have your interviewer order first and choose something at that price point (or less). And put down the drink menu—even if your interviewer imbibes, you should stay on your best behavior.

22. “I’d like to start my own business as soon as possible.”

Entrepreneurial ambitions are great—but if you’re applying for a job to work for someone else, you probably want to downplay the fact that you’re trying to get funding for your burgeoning startup. Most employers want to hire people who are going to be around for a while, and if there’s any suspicion that you’re just collecting a paycheck until you can do your own thing, you probably won’t get the job.

23. “What the hell!”

You’d think not swearing is Interviewing 101, but you’d be surprised how often people still do it. Even if your interviewer drops a few S- or F-bombs, you’re better off keeping your language PG.

24. “So, yeah…”

“Even with the most prepared interview candidates, I’ve found that a lot of people still make one critical mistake,” says career counselor Lily Zhang. “They’ll deliver absolutely fantastic and relevant stories, and I’ll be completely hooked—all the way up until they end with, ‘and… yeah’ or just an awkward pause.” Instead, try one of these three approaches to perfectly wrap up your answers.

25. “Do you know when we’ll be finished here?”

You should never give the impression that you’re in a hurry or have somewhere else to be. “What could be a 30-minute interview might turn into a 90-minute interview if all goes well, and if you seem like you have somewhere more important to be, the interviewer will definitely be turned off,” Hoover explains. (ViaBusiness Insider)

26. “I’m going through a tough time right now.”

Yes, most people would be incredibly sympathetic to someone who has been laid off, is going through a divorce, or is dealing with family drama. And even if your interviewer is, he or she may also wonder how your personal life will affect your performance on the job. So, keep your problems under wraps and keep the conversations focused on your professional life.

27. “Sorry I’m so late.”

Just be on time. Enough said.

28. “Sorry I’m so early.”

But don’t be too punctual. When you arrive more than five or 10 minutes before your meeting, you’re putting immediate pressure on the interviewer to drop whatever she may be wrapping up and deal with you. Or, she’s going to start the interview feeling guilty because she knows she just left you sitting in the lobby for 20 minutes.

29. “Would you like to see my references?”

“Interviewing is a lot like dating,” says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter of CareerTrend.net. “It’s important to entice with your value and attract them to call you for the next ‘date.’” Offering up your references too soon may hint at desperation. Plus, you don’t want to run the risk of overusing your references.(Via LearnVest)

30. “I just wanted to follow up—again.”

As with most relationships, looking interested is good, but looking too interested makes you less desirable. You may think you’re showing your future company that you’re ready to hit the ground running, but if you come on too strong post-interview (think “checking in” to restate your interest less than a week after the interview or double communicating—emailing and then emailing again without a response from the other party), you look less like a candidate they’d be lucky to hire and more like someone who’s anxious to leave your current role.

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10 Jobs for People With Little or No Experience

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These gems are rare

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for your first job or a working professional looking to change careers, we get that things are tough. After all, how do you get experience if nobody will hire you without experience?

Well, you’ve come to the right place, because we’ve put together a list of jobs for people with little or no relevant work experience. From college internships to entry-level jobs, we’re sure that you’re going to find a role that piques your interest.

1. Software Engineer

Birchbox, New York

To all college seniors graduating next spring (don’t be shy, we know there’s a bunch of you out there): We have exciting news! Birchbox is hiring class of 2015 graduates to join its rapidly growing tech team. While a solid educational foundation in software engineering is important, the company is especially looking for people with a passion for disrupting the beauty industry.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Birchbox

2. Enterprise Business Representative

Boost Media, San Francisco

Having no prior work experience should not discourage you from applying to Boost Media’s Enterprise Business Representative position. If you have a bachelor’s degree, a passion for technology, and a lively phone presence, then you’ve met half of the requirements for the position. Apply now before you miss this opportunity to seriously develop your sales skills.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Boost Media

3. Content Manager Co-Op

Comcast, Philadelphia

You know those huge firms that only take seniors as interns? Comcast isn’t one of them. The company is looking for college sophomores and juniors to apply to its six-month internship program based in Philadelphia. If you’re passionate about marketing, public relations, communications, or all of the above, check out the role and see how you can help manage the content of this Fortune 50 company.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Comcast

4. Executive Assistant to Managing Director

The Standard, Miami

If you have one year of experience in a hotel and in a HR role, then rejoice—you’re the perfect candidate for The Standard. And although it’s an entry level position, the Executive Assistant role will give you plenty of opportunities to impact the experiences of new hires who hop on board.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at The Standard

5. Art Production Intern

TED, New York

Are you as familiar with posting content on Instagram and Tumblr as you are with brushing your teeth? Great, because TED’s Art Production Intern position might just be your calling. The intern’s responsibilities include managing visuals for the company’s social media platforms and creating high-quality animated gifs.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at TED

6. Sales Development Representative

Swipely, Providence

Even if you don’t have much customer service experience, you have a shot at becoming Swipely’s Sales Development Representative. The company makes it very clear that enthusiasm and optimism are the most prized qualities in applicants. So, if the idea of instantly impacting the way restaurants do business sounds exciting, then be sure to apply for the position.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Swipely

7. Content Intelligence—Weapons Engineer

Tumblr, New York

As long as you’re well-versed in Javascript or PHP, work experience is not required to join Tumblr’s Content Intelligence team. In fact, instead of work experience, Tumblr is looking for an enthusiastic user who knows the site’s features a little too well.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Tumblr

8. Human Resources Coordinator

Quantcast, San Francisco

Don’t worry if you’re not too proud of the “Relevant Experiences” section of your resume, because passion trumps experiences when it comes to applying for Quantcast’s HR Coordinator position. The coordinator will take ownership of the company’s HR data administration, so if you genuinely enjoy problem-solving and dealing with data, click below to learn more about the role.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Quantcast

9. Engineering Intern

YPlan, London

Attention computer science majors who have yet to find a job: YPlan wants you. The startup’s engineering team manages all things code and is seeking graduates with a can-do attitude. While experience with Python and web development are nice-to-haves, the willingness to get stuck and learn things is a must.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at YPlan

10. Startup Partnership Associate

Venture for America, New York

Do you have a knack for making friends with strangers or for connecting with startup founders? If you do, then forget about what you’re lacking, and know that you have more than enough skills to apply for VFA’s Startup Partnership Associate position. Your job, apart from developing relationships with new startups in the city, will be to write, speak, and travel with passion and purpose.

Apply Now

See What it’s Like to Work at Venture For America

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5 Ways Your Thank You Note Could Lose You the Job

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You might think that going through the motions and sending a generic thank you note is better than sending nothing, but you’d be wrong

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Let’s be honest: When it comes to applying for jobs, the “it can’t hurt” benchmark is often the deciding factor over whether or not to do something. Sending a cover letter? It can’t hurt. Finding your interviewer on LinkedIn? It can’t hurt. Sending a thank you note? It can’t hurt.

Or can it?

Actually, yes, it absolutely can. Here are just a few scenarios in which sending a thank you note might hurt your chances of landing the job.

1. It’s Full of Typos

If you’re really serious about a job, you probably had your resume and cover letter reviewed by a couple other people before you hit submit. But, even the most careful job seeker can make mistakes during the high that comes after a successful interview. Don’t blow your carefully crafted image, and double check to make sure that your thank you note is typo-free. (Here are a few tips for editing your own work.)

2. It’s a Week Late

Another good impression killer is sending your note in late. Thank you notes are the most effective when you send them ASAP or at least within 48 hours of your interview. If you want to leave the impression that you’re only mildly interested in the position, then go ahead and take your time. If not, then send it immediately. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

3. It’s Generic

You might think that going through the motions and sending a generic thank you note is better than sending nothing, but you’d be wrong. Hiring managers get excited when they find exceptional candidates who are really excited about the job. And sending a boring thank you note that could have been addressed to anyone? That’s an easy way to shatter your image.

Oh, and don’t think you can just write one spectacular thank you note and send it to all the different people you interacted with during the interview. Many companies request that thank you notes get forwarded to HR so they can be attached to a candidate’s file. Having the same five notes on file probably won’t help you land the job, so take the time to actually personalize some aspects of your message. It’s worth it.

(For a truly exceptional thank you note, check out communication expert Alexandra Franzen’s method.)

4. It’s Just a Way to Talk About Yourself More

Did you forget to mention that one time you did something that was extremely relevant to the job you’re interviewing for now? Think the thank you note is the right place to share this relevant experience? It might be okay to mention it briefly, but it’s definitely a mistake for you to transform your thank you note into a take two of your interview. Thank you notes shouldn’t be long, so you don’t really have a lot of space to, you know, thank your interviewer—let alone share another story. If you must do it, make it brief.

5. It’s Inappropriate

You don’t have the job yet, so don’t get too chummy in your note. No matter how sure you are that you nailed the interview, your best bet is to remain professional throughout the process. (That means no nicknames, no sarcasm, and definitely no cursing.)

I’ve gone on and on about the various ways sending a thank you note can hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but naturally the biggest thank you note blunder would be to not send one. So, please send a thank you note after your interview—just make it great.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How a Little Gratitude Can Help You Get Ahead at Work

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I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate a donut or a cup of coffee

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Thanksgiving is just days away—and in between thoughts of casserole recipes and how to navigate your annual family dinner, you’re probably also thinking about all you have to be grateful for.

According to Alison Green from Ask a Manager, this is the perfect time to let your co-workers know how much you appreciate them—and why. “Showing gratitude to colleagues can build stronger relationships and help you get better results in your work,” Green writes.

Just think: When a co-worker has shown appreciation for something you’ve done to help him or her, you’ve probably been more likely to help that person again in the future. And when he or she hasn’t shown that gratitude, you probably haven’t gone out of your way to lend a hand again.

Plus, showing thankfulness helps improve the quality of the relationship as a whole. “People tend to feel warmly and positively toward people who appreciate them,” Green says, which can have a positive effect on future networking, references, and your interactions at work in general.

Feeling thankful for your cube mate or project partner? Try these four ideas to show your appreciation.

1. Give a Straightforward (and Specific) Compliment

A standard thank you may not be extraordinarily creative, but it works—and that’s the important thing.

You want to make sure your co-worker knows you appreciate her? Walk up to her desk or office and give her a genuine, straightforward thank you. To make the most impact, mention what you’re specifically grateful for (“Christine, thank you so much for jumping in and helping me with my presentation yesterday. I know it was a late night; I really appreciate you taking the extra time to make sure it was perfect. I couldn’t have done it without you!”).

Face-to-face, specific, and full of appreciation—it’s a thank you that anyone would want to hear.

2. Speak Up in a Team Meeting

An individual, face-to-face thank you is personal and effective, but there’s also room for more public appreciation—and a team meeting is the perfect place to recognize someone who’s helped you out recently.

It doesn’t have to be big and flashy. Try working it in naturally, like as part of a project update that you were going to give anyway: “The project is right on track, thanks to Joe, who reviewed it and helped me adjust the intro and conclusion—and I think it really hits the nail on the head now.”

The public (but not over-the-top) recognition will make your colleague feel extra special—and it’ll help boost his or her value within the team.

3. Bring in a Treat

I know. It seems a little silly—and perhaps a tad reminiscent of your elementary school birthdays when you brought in cupcakes for the class.

But then again, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate a donut or a cup of coffee that’s not from the lukewarm pot that’s been sitting idly on the break room counter for the past two hours. Simple as it may seem, a treat with a quick “Just wanted to say thanks for your help with the Smith account. I couldn’t have done it without you!” goes a long way to make a co-worker feel appreciated.

If that still seems a little awkward, swing for enough for the entire team, then throw in a personal note: “Hey everyone, I brought in some doughnuts to say thanks for your hard work this past week—especially Sarah, who really came through in the 11th hour for me on a big client account.”

4. Email the Boss

Part of your job as an employee is to make sure your boss knows how awesome you are—but it’s even better if your co-workers do that for you.

One of the most meaningful thank yous I’ve ever received came when a co-worker emailed my boss (and copied me), explaining how I’d been a huge help to him with a client situation over the past couple days and that he wanted to extend his gratitude. He forwarded it to his supervisor, and all of a sudden, my good dead was known throughout the department without me having to say a word.

So if you want to thank a co-worker, consider sending an email to his or her boss. The compliment on its own will make your colleague feel appreciated—but knowing that the boss also knows what he or she has done makes the gratitude even more meaningful.

A thank you to your colleagues doesn’t have to be a big show—but displaying your appreciation will help your relationships, your quality of life at the office, and your ability to continue receiving your co-workers’ help in the future.

TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Ways to Rock the Intro Call With a Recruiter

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You absolutely must show—early on—that you’re a strong cultural fit

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Congratulations. Your resume (or LinkedIn profile) just captured the attention of a recruiter. Take a moment to high-five yourself, for real. You done good.

Now what?

Now, you will likely be invited to participate in a screening interview—via phone, Skype, or Google Hangout or in-person—with the HR person or recruiter who just found you. Wowing this person is very important, because if you fail to, you’re not going to have the chance to dazzle the hiring manager with your mad skills at all. Your goose, as they say, will be cooked.

So, how do you stack the odds in your favor and ensure that you sail through this critical stage in the hiring process? By understanding what the recruiter’s role is, what he’s looking for, and what he stands to gain by finding the right candidate, and then strategizing accordingly.

Here are four ways to rock the screening call with a recruiter.

1. Demonstrate Quickly That You Cover the Basics

More often than not, HR people or recruiters aren’t going to be looking for nitty-gritty details about your technical aptitude. They’re more trying to see if you meet the baseline requirements for the job. That said, you should study the job description closely or talk with people working in the department, and then (before the interview) list out the things you think are the most important deliverables for the role. Be sure and touch on your strengths in these specific areas during the conversation.

2. Show That You’re Truly Interested (Assuming You Are)

Recruiters love when they realize a candidate is a strong match skills-wise for the role they’re attempting to fill. However, being a skills match means little if you give off the impression that you’re only so-so interested in the company or role. If they pass you through to the next stage of the interview process, recruiters want to feel confident that you’re enthusiastic and eager to learn more, not just wasting everyone’s time. And so, assuming you are reasonably interested in the opportunity, you’ve got to make that instantly clear to the recruiter during the screening call.

(Hint: Here are three steps to answering, “Why do you want this job?”)

3. Exude an Air of “Strong Culture Fit”

Companies hire candidates based on three things, not just one. Number one is the obvious, “Can she do the job?” This must be a “yes,” no matter what. But what typically clinches it for the candidate who lands the job is that she’s also a “yes” to these questions: “Do we like her?” and “Do we think she’s going to fit in around here?”

You absolutely must show—early on—that you’re a strong cultural fit. Thus, if you’re interviewing for a role within a company you know little about, you should study the organization’s online presence—the company website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, you get the picture—and figure out its brand personality, its tone, its vibe. And then, assuming you line up with that? Make it clear throughout the screening call.

4. Understand the Recruiter’s Role and Stake in This Process

By understanding the role of the recruiter in the hiring process, you will likely be better able to strategize this first interview. Most of these people are compensated—either entirely or partially—based on their ability to find and place people into open positions. That said, when they call you, they already want you to win. They want you to sail through the screening call because, if you win? They win. And if they fill this position quickly, they can also move on to another position (and make more money).

So, never be afraid to ask for the interviewer’s input on how you can put your best foot forward with the hiring manager or for clarification on any questions you don’t understand. Again, this person wants to send you through to the hiring manager. Make it easy to do so.

Interviewing is part art, part science. The art part requires you to bring forth your personality, enthusiasm, and interest. The science part? Requires you to study the process and the players and then strategize.

This article? Well, consider it your cheat sheet for getting to the “real interview.”

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