MONEY Jobs

Why The Lowest Paid Workers Are Getting a Raise—And The Middle Class Isn’t

"Save the Middle Class" on a sign
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Low-wage workers are making more money, but wages continue to stagnate for the middle-class. Here's why.

If you’re a working adult, you probably haven’t received much of a raise in recent years. Earnings growth has declined dramatically since 2007, and wages bounced back only 2% this year, barely keeping pace with inflation. In October, wage growth was essentially static.

But we may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, at least for some employees. Over the weekend, payroll processing firm ADP released data showing that the average hourly pay for low-wage workers — that is, those making less than $20,000 a year — increased by 5.4% in the last year, and that workers earning between $20,000 and $50,000 saw pay jump 4.9% on average.

As USA Today noted on Sunday, ADP’s methodology tends to overestimate earnings growth because it tracks only employees of businesses that can afford to contract with the company. The firm also reported that earnings for all Americans were up 4.5% in the third-quarter year-to-date; more than double the increase was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in October for 2014.

But while ADP may have overestimated earnings growth among low-wage Americans, that doesn’t mean that group isn’t getting better raises than the rest of the population. The paper also observed that data from the BLS showed the bottom 10% of earners received a 3% hike in wages for the year ending on September 30, compared to a 0.5% raise for the 90th percentile.

Why do low-wage workers seem to be getting raises when the middle-class is not? According to Eugenio Alemánm, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, the answer is employment polarization. As the St. Louis Federal Reserve explains, this phenomenon describes how the automation of many routine tasks has decreased demand for middle-skill, middle-income labor, while increasing demand for both low-skill, low-wage workers and high-skill, high-wage workers. This trend was exacerbated by the great recession, and resulted in a hollowing out of the American labor force.

Higher wages for low-skill workers simply reflects higher demand for that particular class of laborer. High-wage employees have also seen a disproportionate increase in earnings during the recession compared to the middle-class.

“One of the characteristics of the current economic recovery is that we are seeing a lot of jobs in the very, very low levels of income, very low paying jobs, and very strong movement in the high paying jobs,” said Alemánm. “Those are the two sectors that seeing some upwards pressure on wages and this data is a confirmation of that.”

“Middle income jobs are not being offered in this economic recovery, so there is no pressure on those salaries,” added Alemánm. “The type of jobs that are being offered today”—which he says mainly exist in the leisure, hospitality, and retail industries—”are not conducive to having middle-income earners.”

Will the middle-class ever see some relief? Alemánm says yes, recent job growth is likely to exert upward pressure on wages across the board — but it’s hard to tell when that will happen for the majority for workers. “At some point, it has to change,” he predicts. “You’ll see some spillovoer into middle-income wage earners. That is the third leg we are waiting for.”

TIME Economy

2 in 5 Young Americans Don’t Want a Job

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Analysis shows increase in the percentage of teenagers and twenty-somethings outside the labor force

Nearly 40% of people in the United States ages 16 to 24 say that they don’t want a job, accounting for a sizable portion of the 92 million Americans who are currently outside the labor force, according to a new analysis of labor statistics.

The figures do not include young people who aren’t working, but are actively seeking employment. About 10% of Americans aged 20 to 24 and 19% of those aged 16 to 19 are considered unemployed, which means they are actively seeking work.

According to Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 39.4% of men and women aged 16 to 24 are outside the labor force over the first 10 months of 2014. That’s up from 29.5% in 2000, the steepest rise of any age group and one that pre-dates the recent financial crisis.

The U.S. unemployment hit 5.8% last month, the lowest number since 2008.

MONEY Jobs

The U.S. Added 214,000 Jobs In October, Unemployment Down Slightly to 5.8%

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The results beat expectations, but didn't quite match September's employment growth.

The economy added 214,000 jobs in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meeting expectations of continued healthy job growth.

Today’s nonfarm payroll report also showed the unemployment rate declining slightly to 5.8%, down almost a full percentage point since the beginning of the year. That’s the lowest level since 2008, but is still well above its pre-crisis low of 4.4%.

The labor force participation rate — the percentage of the workforce that is either employed or actively looking for work — remained around 62.8%, reflecting older Americans dropping out of the workforce roughly as fast as new workers enter.

Once again, increased employment did not significantly raise average hourly earnings, which increased by three cents since last month’s report and by just 2% since the beginning of the year. Despite relatively stagnant wage growth, economists are optimistic the economic recovery will soon be felt in workers’ wallets. “If unemployment continues to fall, wage growth should pick up,” says Mark Hamrick, Washington bureau chief for Bankrate. “It’s like waiting for a bus that hasn’t arrived yet.”

While today’s news is good, it doesn’t quite match up with September’s employment growt, when the economy added almost 250,000 jobs.

This week’s midterm elections, in which Republicans took over both houses of Congress, could have an effect on future employment growth, but any impact won’t be immediate. The G.O.P. has been critical of the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates, and may now be more vocal its opposition to loose monetary policy. Fed chair Janet Yellen, however, a vocal supporter of using low interest rates to help promote job growth, acknowledged the improving labor market after the latest Fed meeting but indicated that she and her fellow Fed economists remained concerned about sluggish wage growth, low inflation, and the tenuous housing market recovery.

 

MONEY Jobs

Don’t Count on Raises Despite Friday’s Jobs Report

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Despite more Americans finding employment, workers shouldn't expect any big changes in their paychecks just yet.

Workers can be forgiven if they don’t rejoice in Friday’s jobs report.

Employers added 214,000 jobs in October, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.8%. This is another sign the U.S. economy is starting to get on a roll.

Businesses have added an average of around 230,000 jobs a month since January, when the unemployment started off at 6.6%. Stocks have been hitting all-time highs. And the Federal Reserve just announced that it was ending the third round of its stimulative bond-buying program thanks in part to the fact that the labor market has been improving.

Despite these positive trends, though, there still remains significant slack in the labor market. Millions of discouraged workers who want a job have given up looking — or are working part-time when they prefer full-time employment.

Moreover, the long-term unemployed are still much less likely to find a job now compared to before the 2007-2009 recession, and employees still don’t feel confident enough about their situation to quit their job in search of a high paying one. Meanwhile the unemployment rate lags the pre-recession low by more than a percentage point.

This might help to explain why Americans are still so pessimistic about their personal finances.

Almost three in four Americans think the economy was permanently damaged by the Great Recession, according to research by Rutgers University, which is actually more pessimistic than right after the recession. Moreover, only 37% say their finances are good or excellent shape, per recent Pew Research Center data.

Workers also understand that whatever raises they do get probably won’t outpace inflation. Take the Employment Cost Index, which measures workers salaries and benefits. Before the recession, the ECI rose at a year-over-year rate of more than 3% for about two years. Since 2009, though, the ECI hasn’t jumped above 2.2% (which, to be fair, was last quarter.)

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And while the Fed did decide to end its bond-buying — otherwise known as quantitative easing — short-term interest rates remain essentially at zero, with expectations of a small hike potentially put off until well into 2015. By keeping rates so low for so long, the Fed is essentially signaling that consumer demand just isn’t there. Yet consumer demand is an essential ingredient in the recipe for gaining raises.

“We didn’t hear anything that causes us to reconsider our outlook that the Fed will follow a ‘lower for longer’ course when it comes to interest rates,” wrote USAA’s John Toohey in a recent note. “The U.S. recovery from the 2008–09 financial crisis has been slow and at times fragile, so our thinking is that the Fed will not want to risk a setback by raising rates too quickly. What is ending now is the third round of QE since late 2008; after the first two wrapped up, economic gains soon stalled. The Fed has not forgotten this.”

This jobs report seems to be another brick in the slow rebuild of the U.S. economy following the disaster of six years ago. It is encouraging that the Fed feels the economy is strong enough to chug along without it pumping billions of dollars into the financial system each month.

But workers should remember how big a hole we’ve needed to climb out of. Millions are still struggling to get by, or even get a job. And without strong bargaining power, or full employment, workers shouldn’t expect a raise anytime soon.

MONEY College

One Type of College Education That Almost Never Pays Off

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Short-term college certificate programs seem like a good way to boost your earning power -- but new research suggests they don't produce results.

Short-term college certificate programs sound like a no-brainer. These community college programs, which are intended to take less than a year to complete, promise a meaningful credential with a fraction of the workload and price tag of a more conventional college degree.

But according to new research, published in the journal of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, these short-term certificates don’t actually make graduates more employable, or lead to a significant increase in earnings.

“While we find that earning associate degrees or long-term certificates is associated with increased wages, an increased likelihood of being employed, and increased hours worked, we find minimal or no positive effects for short-term certifications,” wrote Mina Dadgar and Madeline Trimble, who jointly authored the study. Long-term certificates are designed to be completed in at least one year.

Using a dataset containing information on students attending 34 Washington State technical and community colleges during the 2001-2002 academic year, the researchers found short-term certificates, on average, gave students lower returns than longer-term degrees, and even when returns are positive, the gains are minimal. Short-term degrees that did produce positive results generated an average earnings bump of just $300 per quarter, or $1,200 a year.

While short-term certificates didn’t yield worthwhile results, the authors say associate degrees and long-term certificates generally do give graduates a significant leg up in the labor market. A long-term certificate increased the chance of a woman being employed by 9%, and of men being employed by 11%. Associates degrees increased employment likelihood by 11% and 9% among women and men respectively. Women especially were found to receive significantly higher wages after completing a full-year program.

However, the authors caution, the value of a long-term or associates degree is heavily dependent on industry. An associate degree in nursing was found to boost the average woman’s wages by 37.7%, but an associate degree in humanities, social sciences, information science, communication, or design did not correlate with significantly higher wages.

The study’s findings are especially important because of the growing popularity of short-term certificate programs. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of students receiving these degrees increased by 151% nationwide. The study’s authors suggested state lawmakers should examine short-term certificates further, and called their skyrocketing popularity a matter of concern.

TIME

4 Ways to Go From Underemployed to Getting the Job You Want

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Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

What to do about America's employers eliminating, automating and offshoring jobs

Most of us have heard of:
  • College graduates doing menial work. A caller to my radio program last week graduated a year ago from the University of California, Berkeley, and the best job he’s been able to land is pizza delivery person. Alas, according to a report in The Atlantic, he’s far from alone; 53.6% of college graduates under 25 are doing work they could have done without college or are unemployed.
  • Middle-age professionals are losing their job: It was offshored, automated or, if s/he was lucky, it was converted to a “consultant” position in which they’re hired only for a project and with minimal benefits after which they’re back pounding the pavement. According to an AARP report, three years after the recession, 45% of the 50- to 64-year-olds surveyed reported a decline in income.
  • Itinerant professors. Colleges tout the importance of treating labor fairly, yet they don’t practice what they preach. Increasingly, they replace tenure-track faculty with people hired, without benefits, to teach just one or two courses at pittance pay. As a result, countless highly and expensively educated Ph.D.s must drive from university to university to cobble together a living smaller than they could have made without any degree, let alone a Ph.D. An Inside Higher Ed/Gallup poll found 65% of college provosts said their institution relies “significantly on non-tenure-track faculty for instruction.”

America’s employers–for-profit, non-profit, and government alike–are eliminating, automating and offshoring as many jobs as possible. And the remaining jobs are, ever more often, converted into part-time or temp work. This is the dejobbing of America

The broader picture

It’s tempting to feel things are better because the unemployment rate is down, but that masks the fact that many people have stopped looking for work. Those people aren’t counted in the unemployment rate. Nor does the unemployment rate consider people who are working but earning less income.

These statistics are more revealing: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate, the percentage of adults 16 to 64 that are employed or actively looking for work, is 62.7%, the lowest since early 1978.

And those who are working are, on average, making less. An analysis of government data on income and poverty last month found that, “After adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999.”

The numbers hide the human toll. Work is key to people’s psychological as well as financial well-being. Without work, in addition to not being able to pay for food, shelter, transportation and health care, you can feel useless.

Solutions for the individual

Personally, I love the liberal arts. I enjoy reading novels, looking at paintings, listening to classical music and contemplating life’s Big Questions. Alas, we’re living in times in which those seem less valued than they used to be. A report this month by the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that the four majors most in demand by employers at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level are business, engineering, computer and information sciences, and sciences, with liberal arts trailing badly—just above agriculture and natural resources. Another survey in that NACE report found that employers are demanding even more problem solving expertise and quantitative analysis skills.

So I bear the bad news that, to avoid long periods of un- and underemployment, you may have to ratchet up your game. And even if you do, you may need to use more aggressive techniques to land a job than not long ago. A pretty, hired-gun-written resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter may not cut it any more. But these things might help:

  • In answering ads, include a job sample: a proposal for what you might do if hired, a white-paper on a topic of compelling interest to the boss and/or a portfolio of relevant work.
  • Try to get in through the back door. The front door (answering want ads) has a long line of wannabes. So try to connect with people with the power to hire you when they’re not advertising a job. Write an email asking for advice. They may create a job or at least foot-in-the-door project for you. Ask for a job, they’ll feel pressured and just give you advice or ignore your request.
  • Make an offer they can’t refuse. Offer to volunteer for a fixed amount of time. If after that, they like you, they agree to hire you. If not, they got free labor with no strings attached.
  • Not for the faint-of-heart: Walk in. For example, a client wanted the security of a federal job. So at 8:00 AM, when all the federal workers were arriving, she asked a friendly looking one if she might get her through security by saying, “She’s with me.” Two said no but the third said yes. She then schmoozed her way around the building and got useful inside information, which enabled her to write a great application for a position, which she then got.

Macro solutions

  • Assistance Army. Companies, nonprofits, and government should collaborate in creating an “Assistance Army.” Each sector would create societally beneficial jobs that even many low-skilled workers could do: for example, student mentor, community garden raised-bed builder, health-care system docent and mural creator to brighten gritty neighborhoods. Additionally, the three sectors would develop a campaign to encourage individuals to hire personal aides: tutors for their children, housekeeper, personal assistant and technology explainer for themselves, elder companion for their older relative, etc.
  • A world-class K-16 entrepreneurship curriculum. Permanent jobs get created mainly by starting and expanding private-sector businesses. Government jobs require tax dollars, which thus reduce private-sector jobs. To increase business creation, we must go beyond the born entrepreneurs, hence the proposed entrepreneurship curriculum. That should consist heavily of students creating and running businesses, plus online simulations, in which students get instant feedback on their business decisions.
  • Expanded apprenticeship programs. Despite the rampant un- and underemployment among college graduates and the relative shortage of skilled (and offshore-proof) blue-collar jobs, we’re sending young people a message that everyone should go to college, even students that struggled in high school. In fact, according to Clifford Adelman, senior statistician at the U.S. Department of Education, if you graduated in the bottom 40% of your high school class, your chance of graduating college is less than one in four, even if given 8 ½ years. And if you graduate, it’s likely to be from a third-tier college with a major that is likely to make employers yawn, thus setting you up to be one of the aforementioned 53.6% of college graduates doing work they could have done without college or who are unemployed.

Instead, we need to expand our system of apprenticeships so it’s a major initiative, like that in Germany and in England: a partnership between the schools and employers that creates a high-quality experience for high-schoolers whose track record indicates they’re more likely to succeed in a practical curriculum than by calculating calculus integrals, deciphering the intricacies of Shakespeare and interpreting stochastic processes.

A perhaps hyperbolic call to action.

Good jobs are at the heart of a satisfied citizenry and viable society. Our rapidly dejobbing America is prioritizing short-term profit over long-term survival. Many people consider climate change our most urgent threat. I believe dejobbing is an even greater one.

Marty Nemko is an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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

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.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Job Skills You’ll Need in 2020

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Buena Vista Images—Getty Images

themuselogo

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

The world of work—and the world in general—is changing. People are living longer, new technologies are emerging, and we’ve never been more globally connected. That means the skills we use now in the workplace are not necessarily the skills we’ll need in the future.

To get a sense of what skills you might want to start investing your time into developing, check out the infographic below. (Note: It might sound like 2020 is really far into the future, but it’s actually only about five years away.)

Important Work Skills for 2020

Infographic courtesy of Top10OnlineColleges.org.

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