TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job (That No One Will Ever Tell You)

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The way you speak can, surprisingly, be a huge indicator to your interviewer about whether you’re the right fit for the position

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

You dressed the part. You told engaging stories. You asked insightful questions. Frankly, you nailed the interview, but you didn’t get the job. What gives?

You can certainly try to ask for feedback after receiving a rejection, but most employers probably won’t say much. If they do, it’ll be something fairly generic, along the lines of “other qualified candidates.” That, of course, isn’t always the real reason—it’s just that the real reason might be a little too awkward to actually say to someone’s face.

So, what are some of these uncomfortable reasons for not selecting a particular job candidate? Read on for a list of commonly cited deal breakers that are pretty difficult for hiring mangers to admit to.

1. You Spoke Funny

Do you have a habit of making your statements sound like questions? Tend to speak in an overly casual or formal tone?

The way you speak can, surprisingly, be a huge indicator to your interviewer about whether you’re the right fit for the position. Maybe you sound too meek to manage a team of 10 or too aggressive to handle customer complaints. This might not be a fair assessment, but it happens all the time—so it’s definitely worth thinking about and practicing for as you’re doing mock interviews to prepare.

2. You, Um, Smelled Funny

And I don’t just mean that you didn’t shower. That could be it—or it could be that you overdid it on the cologne. Either way, you don’t want to be that interview candidate who overpowered the conversation with your aroma rather than your charisma.

To combat this, lay off the perfume and make sure your personal hygiene is top notch. Seriously, please don’t let this be the reason you didn’t get the job.

3. You Were Too Eager

Did you show up 45 minutes early to the interview? Did you offer to do the internship unpaid without being prompted? It’s good to be enthusiastic during your interview, but be careful not to be over the top. It can come off as a little much and, like the first example, even inconvenient for the hiring manager. Instead, show your excitement by being exceptionally well versed about the company and position. Top it off with a thank you note, and you’re all set.

4. You Were Too Arrogant

Don’t get me wrong: Confidence in an interview is essential, and apparently it’s even good to be a little narcissistic. But don’t step over the line toward being arrogant. This can really rub people the wrong way and make you seem a little hard to manage.

To make sure you’re not overdoing it, back up your claims and your skills with concrete stories, and show an openness to learn by asking thoughtful questions. And even if you think you have it in the bag, think twice before letting that show.

5. You Didn’t Pass the Airport Test

This reason might be the most awkward of them all: It’s possible that your interviewer just didn’t click with you. You’re not going to get along swimmingly with everyone, and most people are too polite to tell you if you didn’t with him or her.

That’s okay. The most you can do is try to be yourself. Do some mindfulness exercises before you head over to the interview, take a deep breath before you walk into the building, and relax. Don’t let people judge you based just on your nerves. Try to let your interviewer actually get to know you a bit.

6. You Weren’t the Internal Candidate They Wanted All Along

It’s a sad truth of job hunting: At many companies, hiring managers are required to do a few interviews before making a decision, even if they have a strong internal candidate that they probably knew from day one that they were going to hire. There’s pretty much no way to know when you’re interviewing for a position like this and, unfortunately, there’s almost nothing you can do. So, if you didn’t get the job, it could also very well be because it was impossible to get in the first place. Don’t get too hung up on it.

At the end of the day, there are some things you can control about the interview process (like showering and doing your company research), and then there are some things you can’t do anything about (like knowing your interviewer’s pet peeves ahead of time). So, do what you can and understand that interviewing is an incredibly subjective way to evaluate whether someone is a good fit for a position.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Things That Drive Interviewers Totally Nuts

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When you’re hyper-prepared and hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for certain questions

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

Having spent the last decade recruiting, I’ve had many a conversation with hiring managers after a candidate exits the interview. And, while I always hope for exceptional feedback, sometimes the news is not so glowing.

Sometimes, the candidate has done something so annoying to the interviewer that, at best, she is now questioning her interest in keeping this person in the running.

What are the things that drive interviewers the most crazy? Listen and learn.

1. You Arrive Super Early

Everybody knows that you’re an idiot if you show up late for an interview. It’s completely disrespectful of the interviewer’s time.

But showing up insanely early is also going to make you look like a jerk. Why? Because, 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.

A secondary problem with showing up early is that it says, “Hi, I have absolutely nothing else going on in my life, so I’ll just park it here in your company lobby.” You don’t want that. If you arrive super early, hang in the parking lot or a nearby coffee shop until just a few minutes before your scheduled time.

2. You’re So Over-Rehearsed That You Act Like a Robot

Once again, we all know not to show up to an interview completely unprepared.

Fewer of us, however, realize that it’s entirely possible to arrive over-prepared. Are you someone who thinks through every possible question that you suspect might be asked, writes out verbatim “best answers,” and then practices them in the mirror (or with a friend) until you’re beyond exhausted?

You might think you’re doing yourself a solid, but what you’re actually doing is putting yourself at risk for coming across as robotic or, worse, disinterested. (More on that here.)

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.

3. You Head Into the TMI Zone

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.

Be friendly and conversational, for sure. You want this crew to feel that you’ll fit in around the joint. Just never, and I mean do not ever, cross the line into TMI. When in doubt, leave it out.

4. You’re a Clear and Obvious WIIFM

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?

That said, when you bust out with an immediate litany of WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) questions, you look both arrogant and, frankly, unappealing.

Of course you want to know what the benefits are, how much vacation you get, and if you get a cell phone, company car, and corner office. But in the early interview stages, all the hiring managers and HR people really care about is what you can do for them. This is a business they are running, not a club.

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.

5. You Don’t Say Thank You

I’m not just talking about the after-interview thank you note here. Surely, sending an immediate thank you out to each person with whom you’ve met is critical. But it’s also super important to thank the interviewer enthusiastically before you even part ways.

Certainly, it can be stressful and exhausting to shuttle through hours of interviewing at a company, to the point it all starts feeling like a bit of a blur. But if you really want this job, you need to stay focused and energized, and you absolutely must end strong. A strong, genuine, “Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me—it was great to meet you” will go a long way.

Interviewing can be among the most stressful things we do as adults, especially when we need the job badly. It’s definitely never a breeze. But keeping a cool head, arriving prepared to engage in conversation, and staying focused on the value you can bring to that organization is going to help you make it through with flying colors. People hire people, not robots, not jerks, and not people who don’t value their time.

Keep this top of mind as you march forth and conquer.

TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Changes That Will Make Your Resume Incredibly Powerful

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Little things that you do make the difference between being just another job candidate and one who actually makes a hiring manager smile

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

As a job seeker, it’s easy to see hiring managers as big, bad obstacles that need to be overcome. They’re the gatekeepers, after all. But, this kind of thinking actually leads to weaker job applications.

Think about it this way: Hiring managers read a ton of resumes—to the point at which their eyes cross. More importantly, hiring managers are just people. With this in mind, the only thing you really need to do to stand out is to have the one resume that actually lets them breathe a sigh of relief during this painful process. Here are four ways you can do just that.

1. Make the First Thing on Your Resume Immediately Relevant

There’s nothing worse for a hiring manager than having to dig through a resume to find what, exactly, an applicant’s relevant experience entails. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be for the person who will be reading your resume, and make sure the first thing on your resume is something you know he or she wants.

Are you applying to a sales position? Titling the first section of your resume “Sales Experience” might be a good way to start. Throwing your hat in for a position that requires specific training or certifications? Make that section number one. Go ahead. Make that hiring manager’s day, and actually start your resume with something that makes sense for the position.

2. Don’t Slap Your Reader in the Face With Text

So, you’ve managed to fit your resume all on one page with some efficient formatting and size eight font. Well, let me stop you right there. No hiring manager is going to see that resume and think, “Well, it’s still technically one page, so I better give it my full attention.” He or she will either read it while developing an impression that you’re already a burdensome job candidate, or he or she won’t even bother with the eye strain and just toss it.

Be kind to your resume reviewer. Leave plenty of white space on that page, and use a reasonable size font—even if it means you have to cut some details. No big blocks of text. Favor bullets that don’t exceed two lines of text over paragraphs when describing your experience. And, of course, think about what you can do to make your resume easier to skim overall. (These 12 little tricks will point you in the right direction.)

3. Cut the Resume Speak and Get to the Point

Does your resume have phrases like “utilized innovative social media techniques” to describe how you posted to the company’s Twitter account every once in awhile? If so, you might be guilty of resume speak. (For extreme—and extremely hilarious—examples of this, the Resume Speak Tumblr is worth a browse.) Not only can hiring managers usually see right through this, but worse, resume speak often obscures what your real experience actually is.

There is no way your resume can make a strong case for your skills and experiences if the language you use is imprecise, fluffy, or hard to comprehend. Be concise and specific when describing your past experience (in the example above, perhaps, “Posted weekly Twitter updates and grew followers by 200%”). The hiring manager will thank you—and maybe even call you.

4. Just Be Thoughtful

I can’t stress this point enough. The person who will (eventually) be reading your resume is a human being. If you’re thoughtful, it won’t go unnoticed.

What does that mean? To start, save your resume as your first and last name plus “resume,” make your job titles more descriptive for easier scanning (for example, “Viral Marketing Intern” instead of just “Intern”), and actually send a cover letter that’s tailored to the position.

Beyond that, put yourselves in the shoes of the hiring manager and consider what would make his or her job easier when it comes to evaluating job candidates. No need for gimmicks, inflated descriptions, or corporate jargon. Try to get your experiences across as precisely and succinctly as possible, and emphasize the parts that are the most relevant by pulling them out into their own section and placing that section at the top of your resume.

Yes, your resume might go through an applicant tracking system before it ever gets to a human being, but if you’re a good fit, it will eventually get in front of a hiring manager. When that happens, it’ll be these little things that you do that make the difference between being just another job candidate and one who actually makes a hiring manager smile.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Awesome Companies That Give You Unlimited Vacation

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Especially among the startup community, unlimited vacation policies are more common than you might think

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

It seems every time a new company announces that it’s switching to an unlimited vacation or “no vacation policy” policy, there’s a whole new flurry of media (and job-seeker) excitement. And while it is exciting to see companies rethinking how they approach work-life balance (and to imagine yourself working for a place where you can take time off without meticulously counting the days), we’ve got a secret for you.

There are plenty of companies already doing this.

Especially among the startup community, unlimited vacation policies are more common than you might think. If you’re looking for a workplace that gives you enough time off to take that two-week trip to Bali, look no further than these 10 workplaces already offering this highly desired perk.

Disclaimer: Unlimited vacation policies do not mean you can take half the year off (hardly). If you’re working for a company with a policy like this (or considering it), make sure to read our run down of how it actually works.

1. Factual

From mobile apps to social media sites, modern businesses need a way to get good data to optimize their products. At Factual, the team collects, structures, and organizes facts and information from many different sources to create very clean, high-value databases for all types of businesses—letting companies use the power of data without spending all of their time dealing with it.

Crunching numbers all day is hard work, so Factual gives employees plenty of ways to wind down when they need to, including enjoying a nice lunch or cup of tea with your co-workers, taking a break for an in-office yoga class, or, yes, using whatever time off you need.

See Open Jobs

2. Sailthru

Sailthru is an incredibly client-focused company. The team believes that every user is unique and does everything it can to help clients engage with their customers one-on-one, use data to generate and deliver the most highly personalized, connected digital experiences, and ultimately increase their revenue.

And while the client comes first, the culture at Sailthru is one where the company seriously invests in its employees. Professionally, this means offering talent development stipends to learn about topics you’re interested in, speaker series’ from industry experts, leadership training, and the like. But the company understands that it’s important to invest in the well-being of its employees, too; that’s why it also offers things like unlimited vacation, a flexible working policy, and regular company-sponsored lunches, happy hours, and chair massages.

See Open Jobs

3. Pocket

Pocket is revolutionizing the way customers interact with content online. Offering a beautiful desktop and app experience, Pocket gives users the ability to save articles, videos, or anything else they find online to view it later.

Pocket thinks the best teams are happy and healthy ones. All employees are given a membership to the Sports Club LA—conveniently located next door—and are encouraged to take a break and catch a yoga or spin class. There’s also an unlimited vacation policy, meaning employees can take time off and come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to keep redefining how people consume content online.

See Open Jobs

4. Umbel

Umbel is on a mission to take the world by storm (using data). The smart data company helps clients gain a deeper understanding of their target demographics by responsibly managing massive amounts of data through a beautiful and intuitive interface.

Like the company’s fictional Lucha Libre wrestler mascot El Umbel, each employee is eccentric, mysterious, technical, tactical, and hard-working. Still, even the best need a break, and that’s why you can take it when you need it at Umbel.

See Open Jobs

5. ZestFinance

ZestFinance’s goal? To help the 60 million Americans who aren’t supported by the traditional finance system get access to fair, transparent, and low-cost credit.

And while you’ll be working hard toward this lofty goal, life at ZestFinance is kind of like an eternal vacation. First, you’re based in sunny LA, you are encouraged to wear whatever makes you comfortable to the office (hello, t-shirt and jeans), and you get to enjoy daily catered lunches from a local restaurant. And when you need to escape this fantastic environment for some reason? Unlimited paid vacations should do the trick.

See Open Jobs

6. PaperG

The New York Times called PaperG “an ad engine to put Mad Men out of business.” The advertising technology company makes display advertising simple for any size business by automatically creating and distributing display ads across platforms and devices—thus drastically lowering the cost of online advertising for small- and medium-sized businesses.

It’s great for businesses—and great for employees. As senior account executive David Benitez says, “My favorite thing about working here is that PaperG takes care of me.” What excatly does that mean? Everything from buying employees breakfast and lunch to offering education credit for books, conferences, and courses to help employees expand their skills and enough vacation days to keep employees happy.

See Open Jobs

7. Prezi

Prezi is on a mission to make the world better by improving the way people communicate. How? By wiping out boring presentations. Prezi is a totally different kind of software that lets users engage their audiences and share their story in entirely new ways, far outside the confines of traditional slides.

Whether you’re working from the company’s San Francisco or Budapest office, you’ll be having fun while doing it. You’ll never have to look far to find a furious ping-pong battle, a chilled-out yoga session, or a silly word game in full swing. Prezi eats well, too—healthy and delicious. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to travel all around the world, either with the company or during your unlimited time off.

See Open Jobs

8. SoFi

SoFi wants to help save graduates from the rising problem of student debt. Focused on building a community around traditional financial products, SoFi connects students and recent graduates with alumni and other community investors through school-specific student loan funds, meaning a better deal for everyone.

In terms of office life, the SoFi team knows how to have a great time. Aside from fantastic events, SoFi also treats its employees to plenty of the standard startup perks, including gym benefits, a fully stocked cafeteria overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, and of course, unlimited time off.

See Open Jobs

9. Chegg

Chegg is an education hub that provides college students with the textbook rentals, eTextbooks, online homework help, course organization, scholarship tools, and more to take control of their educational experiences. With Chegg, students economize their time, save money, and get smarter all with the help of an online community that truly gets their needs.

While the company puts students first, the company has plenty of perks to make it worth its employees’ while. In addition to food, games, a gym, and great employees, the company offers plenty of time away from the office, including nine scheduled holidays, five days off to volunteer each year, and no set number on how many days you can take off for your own well being.

See Open Jobs

10. Crowdflower

CrowdFlower is changing the way work gets done. The company takes clients’ large data projects and breaks them into smaller, more manageable tasks that are then doled out to hundreds of thousands of contributors around the world, allowing clients to accomplish in hours tasks that would take their in-house staff weeks to finish.

CrowdFlower is all about making sure its team is as productive as possible, too, and understands that this often means letting people recharge so they can come back and do their best work possible. Whether that means enjoying free food in the kitchen, playing a quick game with your co-workers, or taking a nice vacation when you need it, you’ll come back more productive than ever.

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TIME Careers & Workplace

27 Pre-Written Templates for Your Toughest Work Emails

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

Communication is hard work. A 2012 survey by McKinsey found that highly skilled desk workers spent an average of 28% of their work weeks dealing with email—a number that is surely rising. And that doesn’t even take into account the stress involved in figuring out how to convey a potentially difficult message, like asking for help, saying no, or admitting you messed up.

(MORE: Answering Emails After Work Is Bad for Your Health)

To help make the most of your time and energy, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite scripts and templates for making email (and a few other things, like that pesky LinkedIn recommendation you need to write) much easier and less time consuming. Whether you’re job searching, networking, dealing with day-to-day work communications, or trying to be a better manager, find your situation below, tweak the template to your liking, and send it off!

(MORE: 9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt)

Job Search

1. You Need Your Network’s Help Finding a Job

Reaching out to your current network and letting them know you’re on the hunt is a surefire way to make your job search easier: Why search on your own when you could have a whole army of contacts keeping an eye out for opportunities, too? But, to make it more likely that they will help you, make it as easy as possible for them by sending an email like this.

See the Script

2. You Need a Referral at Your Dream Company

You’ve applied to a job at your dream company—and then noticed a friend is connected to someone there. Asking him or her to connect you and vouch for you can feel weird, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to do it the right way.

See the Script

3. You Want to Write the Perfect Cover Letter to Strut Your Skills

Your cover letter shouldn’t just walk through your job history (that’s your resume’s job). Highlighting your skills can be a great way to mix things up or show why you’d be an ideal candidate if you have a less traditional path. Try filling in this template, and see how impressive you sound.

See the Script

4. You Need to Write a Thank You Note for an Interview

Especially if you’re interviewing a lot, there’s no need to fret over each individual thank you note. For a basic note that gets the job done, start with this template, tweak it slightly for each company and role, and send it off by EOD after you’ve interviewed.

See the Script

5. You Want to Send a Thank You Note That Really Goes Above and Beyond

If you just interviewed for your absolute dream job, you may want to go a bit beyond the basic thank you note. Check out this template for an idea of how you can add value to the company before you’re even offered the job. With this approach, the hiring manager will have a hard time not bringing you on board.

See the Script

6. You Applied to a Job a Week or Two Ago—and Want to Check In

Haven’t heard back from your dream job? If you’ve been holding your breath for a few weeks, it doesn’t hurt to send a short, professional follow-up email, like this one.

See the Script

7. You Need to Turn Down a Job Offer

You interviewed, you’ve been given an offer—but you’ve decided you need to turn it down. Keep your message appreciative, give a brief explanation why, and make sure to keep the door open. These ideas should help craft your message.

See the Script

In the Office

8. You Don’t Really Know What the Sender is Asking For

You know the email: There are a lot of words, but nothing is really said, and you’re left wondering what the other person wants from you. It can seem like a tricky situation, but the solution is actually pretty simple: Punt it back to the sender nicely to ask for clarification.

See the Script

9. You Need to Say “No” to Something

Even if we need to do it (or really want to do it), we all have a hard time saying “no.” No matter the situation, these short and sweet scripts will make it much, much easier.

See the Scripts

10. You Need to Say “No” to Someone You ReallyWant to Help

Saying “no” is especially hard when it’s someone really want to help, you just don’t have the bandwidth: a friend, a close colleague, or someone who has given you support in the past. Use this template to make it easier and to let him or her down in the most caring way possible.

See the Script

11. You Receive a Complicated Laundry List of Thoughts, Ideas, and Tasks

This email is one full of action items, questions, thoughts, comments, tasks—the list goes on and on. It would take you forever just to weed through the message, let alone do the work. Your response will be a little different depending on if this is a boss or a colleague, but either way, you’ll need to ask for some help prioritizing.

See the Script

12. You Need More Information to Answer

Someone asks you a question out of the blue, and you have no idea what he or she is talking about. Or you have a sense, but know you need a little more information to answer well. Quickly email the sender back asking for context or the specific details you need.

See the Script

13. Your Colleague is Making a Project Too Difficult

Are you working with someone who is making something much (much) more difficult than it needs to be? It can be hard to suggest a better way without hurting somebody’s feelings, but by doing so you’re making everyone’s lives easier. Simply choose your words wisely and use phrases that remind your colleague that you’re working together collaboratively on this.

See the Script

14. You’ve Got a Workplace Conflict—and YouNeed to Tell Your Boss

Obviously, running to your boss shouldn’t be the first thing you do when you’re having problems with one of your co-workers; try working it out on your own first, before enlisting the higher-ups. But if the situation keeps coming up, it’s okay to go talk to your manager—as long as you follow this script to do it without sounding like you’re whining.

See the Script

15. You Need to Turn Down a Project

If you’ve been asked to do a project you really don’t want to do, you want to write a little more than “absolutely not” back. Whether it’s not part of your job or you just don’t think it’s worth your time, start with these scripts to nicely say “no.”

See the Script

16. You’re Quitting Your Job

Writing a resignation letter can be scary to say the least, but with this easy template you’ll have a great letter written and be out the door in no time.

See the Script

Management

17. You’re Inviting a Candidate in for an Interview

Whether you are interviewing someone for the first time or do this on the reg and are just tired of writing the email, we’ve got the perfect template for inviting a candidate in for an interview—full of all the details he or she needs to know.

See the Script

18. You’re Offering a Candidate a Job

You’ve interviewed someone who killed it, and you’re excited to invite him or her to the team! Use this easy template to get that offer out the door ASAP.

See the Script

19. You’re Turning a Candidate Down

This one can be tough, but the trick is to keep it short and to the point. Copying and pasting this template should make the job much easier.

See the Script

20. You Messed Up—and Need to Tell Your Customers

Delivering the news about a crisis or problem to your customers or clients can be hard, but it gives you the chance to show that you’re on top of it and working on the issue. This script should help get the message out fast—so you can spend more time fixing the problem.

See the Script

21. You Need to Write a LinkedIn Recommendation—Fast

Don’t hem and haw when you’ve been asked to write a recommendation for someone on LinkedIn. Fill in the blanks of this template, and you’ll have a stand-out recommendation done in less than five minutes.

See the Script

Networking

22. You Need an Introduction

You find out a friend or colleague knows somebody who would be perfect for you to know, whether it’s for your career growth, your job search, or your sales efforts. How can you ask your contact to introduce you—without sounding needy and annoying? This template should do the trick.

See the Script

23. You’ve Been Asked to Make an Introduction

If you’ve been asked by a colleague to introduce him or her to a contact. But you don’t just want to connect them right away—you want to make sure your contact is okay with being introduced, so as not to annoy him or make him uncomfortable. Here’s the email to send to get the OK.

See the Script

24. You’re Actually Making the Introduction

All is said and done, and your contact is happy to be introduced to your friend. Great! Use this short template to briefly remind each person why you’re introducing them, and then get this out of your hands!

See the Script

25. You Need to Explain What You Do

Whether in person at a networking event or over email with a new contact, it can be tricky to explain exactly what you do in a way that’s not totally boring. Hint: Don’t just tell your job title. Then look at this template to make your elevator pitch more memorable.

See the Script

26. You Want a Client to Recommend You to Others

Have some clients who love you—and hoping they will spread the word about how great your products or services are? This email will make it incredibly easy for anyone to help you out.

See the Script

27. You Have Way Too Many People Asking to “Pick Your Brain”

Don’t have time to answer all the emails asking for informational interviews, let alone actually going on them? Here are some strategies for making it work—or turning them down—with easy-to-email scripts for each.

See the Scripts

TIME Careers & Workplace

31 Secrets to Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

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Instead of just repeating yourself, use your cover letter to describe additional details that you weren’t able to squeeze onto your resume

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

Ah, the dreaded cover letter. Every time you sit down to write one, you probably browse cover letter examples online, get overwhelmed, and think something to the effect of: Does anyone really read these? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if I could just let my resume speak for itself?

First off: Yes, we can assure you that cover letters do, in fact, get read. In fact, to some hiring managers, they’re the most important part of your application. And yes, while it would be easier to let your resume speak for itself, if that was the case you’d completely miss the opportunity to tell prospective employers who you are, showcase why they should hire you, and stand out above all the other candidates.

Ready to get started? To make sure your cover letter is in amazing shape (and is as painless as possible to write), we’ve compiled our 31 best cover letter tips of all time into one place.

Read on—then get cover letter writing.

1. Don’t Regurgitate Your Resume

Instead of just repeating yourself (“I was in charge of reviewing invoice disputes”), use your cover letter to describe additional details that you weren’t able to squeeze onto the single page of your resume: “By resolving invoice disputes, I gained a deep analytical knowledge—but more importantly, I learned how to interact calmly and diplomatically with angry customers.” A cover letter gives you the freedom to use full sentences—instead of bullet points—so use them to expand upon your resume points and tell the story of why you’re the perfect fit for the company.

2. Think Not What the Company Can Do for You

A common cover letter mistake? Talking about how great the position would be for you and your resume. Frankly, hiring managers are aware of that—what they really want to know is what you’re going to bring to the position and company. On that note:

3. Clearly Show What You’re Capable Of

Beyond explaining what you’ve done in the past, show hiring managers what you can do in the future. “Determine the key requirements and priorities for this job, and make it instantly clear to the reviewer that you can deliver the goods on these key things,” says Jenny Foss, job search expert and founder of JobJenny.com. “Consider crafting a section within the letter that begins with, ‘Here’s what, specifically, I can deliver in this role.’ And then expound upon your strengths in a few of the priority requirements for that role.”

4. Showcase Your Skills

When you know you have the potential to do the job—but your past experience doesn’t totally sell you as the perfect one for the position—try focusing on your skills, instead. Here’s a template that helps you do just that.

5. …Not Necessarily Your Education

Many new grads make the mistake of over-focusing on their educational backgrounds. At the end of the day, what hiring managers care about most is your work experience (and yes, that can be volunteer or internship experience, too)—and what you can walk through the door and deliver on Day 1.

6. Don’t Apologize for Skills You Don’t Have

When you don’t meet all of the job requirements, it’s common for job seekers to use lines like, “Despite my limited experience with marketing…” or “While I only have work experience doing administrative tasks…” But why apologize? Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, try to focus on the skills you do have, says career expert Lily Zhang. “Stay positive, focus on your strengths, and immediately launch into your transferable skills and infectious enthusiasm for the position.”

7. Highlight the Right Experiences

Not sure what skills and experiences you should be featuring? Drop the text of the job description into a word cloud tool like Wordle, and see what stands out. That’s what the hiring manager is looking for most.

8. Tell a Story

What brings you to this company? Did you used to sing along to all of its commercials as a kid? Did the product make some incredible difference in your life? Do you sometimes pull into the parking lot and daydream about what it would feel like to work there? Stories bring your background and experiences to life, so feel free to tell them. (Just, you know, keep them short and to the point.)

9. Use a Few Numbers

When it comes to the job search, numbers often speak louder than words. “Offer stats to illustrate your impact on companies or associations you’ve worked for in the past,” suggests career expert and founder of ProfessionGal Megan Broussard. “Employers love to see numbers—it shows them that you speak their language and that you understand what they’re looking for in an employee: results.”

10. Consider Testimonials

If you have great feedback from old co-workers, bosses, or clients, don’t be afraid to use it! A seamless way to integrate a positive quote from a previous manager or client is to use it as evidence of your passion for your area of expertise. For example, “I have developed a keen interest in data science during my years working various political campaigns (as my past supervisor once said, I love Excel more than anyone she knows).”

11. Cut the Formality

“Don’t be overly formal (‘I wish to convey my interest in filling the open position at your fine establishment’),” writes career expert Mark Slack. “It makes you seem insincere and even robotic, not anything like the friendly, approachable, and awesome-to-work-with person you are.

12. Think Custom, Not Canned

Most companies want to see that you’re truly excited about the position and company, which means creating a custom letter for each position you apply for. “When a recruiter reads, ‘Dear Hiring Manager, I am so excited to apply for the open position at your company, where I hope to utilize my skills to progress in my career,’ he or she immediately recognizes it for what it is—a stock cover letter that you’ve mass-distributed to every place in town,” says Muse career expert Katie Douthwaite. And then probably throws it in the trash.

13. Start With a Template

That said, there’s nothing that says you can’t get a little help. Our easy, downloadable cover letter guide will walk you through, step-by-step, how to create a cover letter that rocks.

14. …Or Some Inspiration

Having trouble getting started? Check out 31 examples of how to start your cover letter in an engaging, attention-grabbing way or these eight examples of awesome cover letters that actually worked.

15. Be Open to Other Formats

If you’re applying to a more traditional company, then the tried-and-true three-to-five-paragraph format probably makes sense. However, if you’re gunning for a more creative or startup job—or need to explain to the hiring manager, say, how your career has taken you from teaching to business development, a different approach could be appropriate. Here at The Muse, we’ve seen cover letters use bullet points, tell stories, or showcase videos to (successfully) get their point across. This professional even turned hers into a BuzzFeed-style list!

16. But Don’t Go Too Far

Like this guy did. Just—don’t.

17. Consider Adding a Headline

One formatting idea from The Undercover Recruiter? Add an eye-catching headline to your letter, like “3 Reasons I’m an Excellent Fit for the Marketing Manager Position.” Again, no one says you have to follow the tried-and-true format, and this can be an easy way to catch the hiring manager’s eye quickly.

18. Be Real

“Honest, genuine writing always goes much, much further than sticking to every dumb rule you’ve ever read in stale, outdated career guides and college textbooks,” explains Foss.

19. …And Normal

We can’t tell you how many cover letters we’ve seen from people who are “absolutely thrilled for the opportunity” or “very excitedly applying!” Downplay the adverbs a bit, and just write like a normal person.

20. Cut the Fluff

Avoid, at all costs, describing yourself as a “team player” or a “people person,” says Broussard. “Instead, show off your skills with descriptive statements like ‘I’m an expert communicator with experience bringing together diverse departments to develop a cohesive program.’ It’s longer—but it’s also stronger.”

21. Write in the Company’s “Voice”

Cover letters are a great way to show that you understand the environment and culture of the company and industry and prove that you’ve got what they are looking for. So, always keep in mind who will be reading your cover letter, and tailor it to what you know will get them excited. Spending five or 10 minutes reading over the company website before you get started can be a great way to get in the right mindset—you’ll get a sense for the company’s tone, language, and culture, which are all things you’ll want to mirror as you’re writing.

22. Boost Your Confidence Before Writing

Writing guru Alexandra Franzen offers a simple mind trick that will dramatically change the way you write cover letters: Pretend. “Pretend that the person you’re writing to already loves and respects you. Pretend that the person you’re writing to already believes that you’re worthy and valuable. Pretend that the person you’re writing to doesn’t need a big sales pitch,” she explains. Then, write. Your words will come out so much easier. (Here’s more on how to do it.)

23. Have Some Fun With It

News flash: Cover letter writing doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, there are plenty of ways to spice it up! Hoping for a job at a startup? Making your cover letter more creative—whether you use a spunkier tone, play with the format, or make it more visual—will likely improve your chances of getting a call back. Applying for a corporate position? Stick with the traditional format, but make it more conversational, or include a story about how you first came in contact with the company or how much you love it. Much more fun, right? (Here are a few other ways to make cover letter writing suck less.)

24. Don’t Let Your Fear of Bragging Get in the Way

If you tend to have a hard time writing about yourself, here’s a quick trick: Imagine you’re someone else writing a letter about yourself. Think from the perspective of a friend, mentor, or previous employer—someone who would only sing your praises—and then write the letter from her point of view. If it helps, you can even write the letter in third person (i.e. “Erin would be a great fit for this position because…”). Just make sure you’re very careful about going back through and changing it to first person when you’re done!

25. Have Someone Gut Check It

Have a friend take a look at your cover letter, and ask him or her two questions: Does this sell me as the best person for the job? and Does it get you excited? If the answer to either is “no,” or even slight hesitation, go back for another pass.

26. Keep it Short and Sweet

There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, for resumes and cover letters alike, don’t go over a page. “According to the Orange County Resume Survey, almost 70% of employers either want a half page cover letter (250 words) or ‘the shorter the better,’ approach,” writes Slack.

27. Don’t Start With Your Name

Because, well, the hiring manager can see it already on your resume. Get right to the point with what you can bring to the job.

28. But Do Include the Hiring Manager’s Name

Use the person’s first and last name, including a “Mr.” or “Ms.” (e.g., Mr. Jack Smith). Never use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear or Sir or Madam”—nothing could be more generic (not to mention archaic).

29. Unless You Don’t Know It

OK, sometimes, even after hours of online searching (try these tips), you still might not be able to definitively figure out who exactly the hiring manager for the position you’re applying for is. If you can only find a list of executives and you’re not completely confident who the hiring manager is, use the head of the department for the position you’re applying for. If you really don’t have a name to use, try to still be as specific as possible in your greeting. Consider using “Senior Analyst Hiring Manager” or “Research Manager Search Committee”—something that shows that you’ve written this letter with a particular audience in mind.

30. Edit

We shouldn’t have to tell you to run your cover letter through spell-check, but here’s an even better step: Check out how the wording sounds to others using Hemingway. Drop your text onto the page, and the color-coded app will give your writing a once-over. Is a sentence too wordy, overly complex, or totally unreadable? It’ll be highlighted in red until you revise it. Tend to overuse the passive voice? Every instance of it will show up in green. The site will even recommend when you can use shorter or simpler words (Why take up precious resume space with “utilize” when you can say “use?”).

31. But Care Most About Standing Out

Perhaps the best piece of cover letter wisdom we can offer you comes from Foss: The most memorable cover letters are written by people who care less about the rules and more about standing out to the hiring manager. “Next time you sit down to write a cover letter, vow to not get uptight about all the tiny little ‘rules’ you’ve picked up along the way,” she writes. “Instead, buck convention. Be memorable. Nail the stuff that will make you a true standout.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Brilliant Books That Will Lead You to Your Dream Job

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The best place to start if you're thinking about getting a new (better) job

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

Okay, eight books is a lot to get through for one job search, but hear me out. I guarantee you the time it takes to do your job search right will be less than the time it takes you to do a job search wrong—or worse, do a job search again because you didn’t properly figure out what you wanted in the first place.

So, consider the time you put into reading these books an investment. (And, to be honest, you probably only need to read four or five.)

Job Search Basics

1. What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, by Richard N. Bolles

2. Knock ’em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide, by Martin Yate, CPC

If you’ve ever perused the job search section of a bookstore, you’ve probably seen some version of these two books. There is a new version of Bolles’Parachute book and Yate’s Knock ’em Dead every single year, and there is a good reason for that. Both books cover the gamut of job search basics, fromthinking about what you might want from your next job to the nuts and bolts of how to get it.

Reading both might be slightly overkill, so flip through the first chapter of both to find the voice and style you prefer—then read it cover to cover.

Career Exploration

3. How to Find Fulfilling Work, by Roman Krznaric

4. Life Reimagined: Discover Your New Life Possibilities, by Richard J. Leider and Alan M. Webber

To go a bit more in depth into what your next big career move should be, take some time to read Roman Krznaric’s How to Find Fulfilling Work. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, the self-reflection encouraged by this book will help you become more confident in your career decisions.

Life Reimagined by Leider and Webber is solidly for the more experienced, encore career crowd. If you’re ready for take two of your career but not sure what to do with it, this is the book for you.

Career Assessments

5. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type, by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron

6. The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, by Nicholas Lore

If you’re looking for a bit more structure in your career exploration, these two books make use of career assessments. Do What You Are relies on your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator results. Pathfinder, on the other hand, uses more personal, less formal career assessments. Both have their merits, so your choice will depend a bit on what you’re looking to get out of a career assessment.

Networking

7. 100 Conversations for Career Success: Learn to Network, Cold Call, and Tweet Your Way to Your Dream Job, by Laura M. Labovich and Miriam Salpeter

8. The 20-Minute Networking Meeting: How Little Meetings Can Lead to Your Next Big Job, by Marcia Ballinger and Nathan A. Perez

Whether you like it or not, almost all job searches have some component of networking. Get ready for those informational interviews and find out the best way to use social media to your advantage while networking by (ideally) reading both100 Conversations for Career Success and The 20-Minute Networking Meeting. Learn the tricks and nail all those awkward little interactions, and you’ll save yourself the trouble of stressing over networking.
Whenever I want to learn something new, my first instinct is to find a book about it. If you’re anything like me, hopefully this list will be helpful as you begin navigating your job search. Happy reading!

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Job Search Tricks That Will Change Everything You’ve Been Doing

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Invaluable advice from the pros

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

Finding the right job opportunities—and standing out in a competitive market—is tough. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and hacks out there that are built to help you find your dream job, more quickly and easily than ever.

From an app that helps you optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems to a site that’ll keep all your applications in order, here are 10 tools and tips you’ve probably never heard about that can give your job search a serious boost.

1. Create a Twitter Job Search List to Track Job Listings From Thousands of Sources

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.

2. Use JibberJobber to Keep Track of Information You Collect During Your Job Search

It’s easy to get disorganized during a job hunt. So, use a free tool such asJibberJobber to keep tabs on everything that’s going on. You can track the companies that you apply to, note each specific job that you apply for, and log the status of each application (date of first interview, date thank you letter sent, and so on).

3. Use LinkedIn Resume Builder to Create an Updated Resume Fast

If you’re like me, your LinkedIn profile is much more up to date than your actual resume. But if you need to update your resume fast for an available opportunity, don’t spend hours on your computer. Instead, export your LinkedIn profile into a classy looking resume using LinkedIn’s Resume Builder.

4. Put a Short and Unique LinkedIn URL on Your Resume to Stand Out to Recruiters

Instead of using the URL that LinkedIn assigns you with letters and numbers, customize it so it contains your name and the career field or job title you want to go into. (You can do this by clicking “edit profile” and clicking “edit” next to your LinkedIn URL.) This extra keyword will help when recruiters are searching for you, and sticking the URL on your resume will encourage recruiters to head to LinkedIn to learn more about you.

5. Use Resunate to See How Your Resume Scores on an Applicant Tracking System

Sick of not knowing if a human being is even reviewing the resume you worked so hard on? Resunate is web-based software that shows you how your resume would score on the applicant tracking system—and helps you improve it for every job you apply for.

6. Use SocialMention to Manage Your Online Reputation

While job searching, it’s important to keep your reputation crystal clear. To monitor what’s being said about you online, check out Social Mention, a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user-generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.

7. Use LinkedIn Groups to Contact Someone You Don’t Have an Email For

If you want to contact someone at your dream company but can’t find the right contact information anywhere, check out the person’s public LinkedIn profile and see what groups he or she is part of. Then, join the group where you share a mutual interest. Once you are in the same group, you can send a message through LinkedIn. Just make sure you include something about your common interest in your message—it’ll make you seem like a networker, not a stalker.

8. Use Insightly to Manage and Organize Business Cards You Collect

Insightly is a free CRM system that helps you manage your key contacts and relationships—and it’s a great tool for your job search. After you meet someone, put his or her contact information in this system, and write down important information you learned from your conversation. Then, create a reminder in the system to follow up on a certain date in the future.

9. Use Contactually to Create an Automatic Follow-up System

A big job search mistake is to only focus on meeting new people and forgetting about the people you already know. In fact, it’s extremely important to keep up with your current relationships! Contactually helps you consistently reengage with the most important people in your network by sending you automatic reminders to email people you haven’t talked to in a while.

10. Update Your LinkedIn Status Daily to Stay Top of Mind

This will make sure that you’ll stay on the radar of everyone you know—read: that they’ll remember you when an available opportunity opens up. How to do this without being annoying? Share an article, a quote, or a project you’re working on. Other ways of showing up in the LinkedIn news feed are by getting recommended, by adding a new connection, by joining a group, or by changing your photo.
Put these simple “hacks” into practice, and you’ll quickly see an improvement in your job search results. Meaning: You’ll land that dream job oh-so-much faster.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Hardest Job Interview Question—And How to Answer It

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Here's how to start dealing with the dreaded query

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

Like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is sure to come up in an interview.

And, even if it doesn’t, if you want the job you should get this sentiment across regardless. So, really, there’s no way around figuring out how to string together a coherent thought about why this being in this position makes sense for you (and for the company).

Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way to go about answering this question effectively without having to go through every big moment or transition in your life and career that’s brought you to this interview. Here’s a smart framework for how you should structure your answer.

Step 1: Express Enthusiasm for the Company

First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.

Say you’re interviewing for a small quantitative asset management company. The start of your answer might sound something like this:

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, the team is small, and you run a variety of long- and short-term strategies in the U.S. equities markets using a quantitative approach.

Especially with smaller companies, it’s always impressive when a candidate knows a thing or two about what goes on at the company. And the best thing about this is you rarely have to go beyond reviewing the company website or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee to learn enough to sound like you’ve been following the company for a while.

Step 2: Align Your Skills and Experiences With the Role

Next, you want to sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can do this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you to this point) or your skills (especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).

Try to pinpoint what the main part of the role entails, plus a couple of the “desired skills” in the job description, and make sure you speak to that. Follow up your introduction to how excited you are about the company with why you’re a good fit:

But the part that really spoke to me about this position was the chance to combine both the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer and my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that actively lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management.

Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills or relevant stories throughout the interview—and just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.

Step 3: Connect to Your Career Trajectory

Finally, you want to show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Show that you’ll be around for the long haul, and your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you:

I’ve been interested in switching to finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant shop makes sense to me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to use my technical skills and spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to learn more and see how I’ll be able to contribute the firm.

Of course, you don’t have to state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to how the job makes sense for you now and that it continues to make sense for the foreseeable future.
String these three components together, and you have a response that will impress on three fronts: your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company, your relevant skills, and your general fit with the position. Plus, this framework has the added benefit of not stopping the flow of the conversation the way going through your entire life story would.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Huge Resume Mistakes That Will Ruin You

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Avoid these at all costs if possible

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

Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, estimates that he’s personally reviewed more than 20,000 resumes over the course of his career.

First of all, we’re sorry for him.

But secondly, we’re pretty sure he knows a thing or two about what makes a resume shine and—perhaps more importantly—get tossed in the trash.

In fact, he shared his insights earlier this week in a LinkedIn Influencer post. Here’s what he had to say about the five biggest mistakes he sees candidates making, plus our expert tips for making sure your resume doesn’t include any of these blunders.

Mistake #1: Typos

We know—you’ve heard it. But while “this one seems obvious,” Bock writes, “…it happens again and again. A 2013 CareerBuilder survey found that 58% of resumes have typos.”

The Fix

Have someone else read your resume—often, other people can more easily spot errors because they haven’t been staring at the page for hours. If that’s really not possible, use Muse editor-in-chief Adrian Granzella Larssen’s tips for proofreading your own resume: “It’s helpful to temporarily change the font, or to read your resume from the bottom up—your eyes get used to reading a page one way and can often catch new errors when you mix the format up.”

Finally, once you’ve reviewed it, stop making those final tiny changes. “People who tweak their resumes the most carefully can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error,” explains Bock, “because they often result from going back again and again to fine tune your resume just one last time. And in doing so, a subject and verb suddenly don’t match up, or a period is left in the wrong place, or a set of dates gets knocked out of alignment.”

Mistake #2: Length

Thinking about letting your resume creep onto the next page? Think again. “A good rule of thumb is one page of resume for every 10 years of work experience,” says Bock. “A crisp, focused resume demonstrates an ability to synthesize, prioritize, and convey the most important information about you.”

The Fix

For most of us, Bock’s rule of thumb means one page—two, tops. If you’re having trouble squeezing all of your experience onto one page, remember that a resume doesn’t have to (in fact, shouldn’t) be a chronicle of your entire career history—it should be a marketing document that uses your relevant skills and experiences to illustrate to the hiring manager why you’re the one for the job. To hone in on what really matters and cut the fluff accordingly, try Liz Elfman’s tips for getting everything on one page.

Mistake #3: “Creative” Formatting

When it comes to resumes, Bock says, substance definitely matters more than style. He’d definitely prefer to see a simple, traditional, perfectly formatted resume than something creative that’s tough to read. “Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your resume clean and legible,” he writes.

The Fix

When in doubt, go simple and spend most of your time sharpening your bullet points rather than making them look great. (In fact, make your life really easy and download one of these resume templates.) Then, make sure the formatting looks great no matter what program it’s opened in. As Bock recommends, “If you can, look at it in both Google Docs and Word, and then attach it to an email and open it as a preview.” Saving your resume as a PDF rather than a .doc file should help alleviate any formatting problems in different programs.

Mistake #4: Confidential Information

In his post, Bock shares a story of candidate who worked for a top consulting firm with a strict confidentiality policy. So, when the candidate wrote on his resume that he “consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington”—a.k.a. Microsoft—he was immediately rejected. Sure, the candidate didn’t break the policy, per se—but he definitely didn’t inspire trust in his potential employer.

The Fix

For anything you put on your resume (or say in an interview, or publish on a blog, you get the picture, follow the New York Times test, says Bock: “if you wouldn’t want to see it on the home page of the NYT with your name attached (or if your boss wouldn’t!), don’t put it on your resume.”

Mistake #5: Lies

As Bock explains: “People lie about their degrees (three credits shy of a college degree is not a degree), GPAs (I’ve seen hundreds of people “accidentally” round their GPAs up)… and where they went to school (sorry, but employers don’t view a degree granted online for “life experience” as the same as UCLA or Seton Hall). People lie about how long they were at companies, how big their teams were, and their sales results, always goofing in their favor.”

And we probably don’t have to tell you what hiring managers think about that.

The Fix

Just remember what your mama told you: Honesty is always the best policy. If you feel like there’s part of your background that’s not quite up to snuff, your best bet is creative—but truthful—positioning. Career expert Kari Reston shares smart strategies to applying for a job you’re underqualified for, and Jenny Foss of jobjenny.com shares tips for crafting your education section when you don’t think your degree (or lack thereof) will impress.
These mistakes seem pretty basic, but if Google sees them all the time? You can bet every other employer does, too. The good news is, they’re all totally avoidable. Make sure your (one- to two-page) resume is squeaky clean, and you’re already ahead of the game.

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