TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Set Yourself Apart During Job Interview

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Focus on the strengths

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“Just take a chance on me.”

It was a common line in my cover letters a few years ago, when I was desperate to make the switch out of management and into marketing—without a related degree or experience. Even so, I was so sure that if the employer just gave me a chance, he or she wouldn’t regret it.

But when an employer has a pool of fully qualified candidates, why would he or she take a chance on someone who’s on the edge of meeting the job requirements?

I’ll tell you this much: It takes more than including a pretty unconvincing pick-up line in your cover letter. Here are a few tips to get your foot in the door.

Don’t Draw Attention to Your Lack of Skills or Experience

The key to this whole process isn’t necessarily to convince the hiring manager to take a chance on you, but to get him or her to actually think you’re a good fit for the role. So the very first thing you have to do is stop apologizing for your lack of skills or experience.

Whenever you include a sentence in your cover letter such as “While I’ve never been in a marketing role before…” or “Although I don’t have any management experience…” or even “If you would just take a chance on me…” all you’re doing is telling the hiring manager you can’t do the job.

“Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, a better way to move on to your qualifications is to state your skills and ability to contribute directly,” recommends career counselor Lily Zhang. “Stay positive, focus on your strengths, and immediately launch into your transferable skills and infectious enthusiasm for the position.”

Showcase What Sets You Apart

No matter what you’re transitioning from or to, you do have transferable skills.

For example, while my management roles didn’t involve any true marketing, they did require me to network and form relationships with other businesses in the community, manage multiple projects at a time, and communicate effectively with our customers—all of which would be helpful in a marketing role. (Here’s a great cover letter template that can help you show off your transferable skills.)

Even more important is demonstrating your additive skills, says career expert Sara McCord. That means fully embracing your career background and finding a way to express how that background will uniquely suit you for this job.

“Think about it: If you’re slightly underqualified, there’s a reason why,” she says. “If you spent the first two years of your career in a different sector, you bring experience from that industry.”

For example, when I first wanted to write for The Muse, I had absolutely no writing experience—but I did have management experience, which made me an ideal candidate to write management content.

Take a Risk

To get a hiring manager to choose you out of a sea of other applicants, especially when you may not be as qualified as the others, you might as well take a risk to stand out. Otherwise, you may simply pass under the radar. (And let’s be honest: What do you have to lose?)

For example, just take a look at some of the boldest applications we’ve seen around the web: an action figure resume, an interactive resume, and an infographic resume.

These types of applications certainly get the attention of the hiring manager, clearly conveying that the person just might have something the tips the scale in his or her favor. (Just make sure to follow these tips to make sure you’re not going too over the top.)

But maybe you don’t want (or don’t have the means) to be that bold. You can stand out in plenty of other ways, says counselor and Muse columnist Caris Thetford. For example, maybe you submit a project proposal with your application or compile your writing samples in an online profile. This can help you stand out from the other applicants just enough to show the hiring manager that you may deserve another look—and ideally, an interview.

Do Everything Else Right

You can’t afford to slip up when you think your resume might be on the bottom of the pile. That means sending every thank you note on time, following up in a timely (but not annoying) fashion, and proofreading your resume and cover letter a dozen times over to check for errors.

These may seem like small and insignificant gestures, but the smallest flaws can remove a candidate from the hiring process—and you don’t want that to be you.

By proving your worth in your application materials, you’ll have a much better chance of landing an interview—and then, you can showcase your cultural fit and passion face-to-face. Do that well, and you just may convince the hiring manager to take a chance on you.

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

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MONEY job search

3 Ways to Fire Up Your Job Search During the Summer Slowdown

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Summertime can be a great opportunity for the determined job seeker.

It’s a myth that people don’t get hired over the summer. Yes, people are on vacation, so hiring typically slows down as interviews are harder to schedule, but people do get hired. As a job seeker, this means that the summer is a great time to rev up your search – your competition may take time off, assuming a hiring slowdown. Your hard-to-reach networking contacts may have a lighter, summer schedule and actually be reachable. Depending on your search goals, you might even have new opportunities because of the summer season. Here are three ways to tailor your job search activity for the summer:

1) Make it easy to schedule time with you

Summer is already a scheduling nightmare on the employer side because multiple vacation demands need to be considered. Make yourself readily available. Always carry an updated calendar with you — sync your phone with your main computer if you keep calendars in different places; sync your family calendar with your business one. You might also try an online scheduler, like TimeTrade or ScheduleOnce, where you can provide a link for the other person to see your availability and schedule directly.

2) Incorporate summer’s unique value proposition into your search activity

Propose outdoor networking meetings to take advantage of the warm weather. Reconnect with lost networking contacts by asking about vacation plans or sharing exciting plans of your own – the conversation may turn back to business but in the meantime at least you’ve kept in touch. If you have kids at sleepaway camp, take advantage of the quiet time by adding evening networking events. Many people work better when it’s brighter so exploit the longer summer days and get up earlier to put in extra research time and stay out later to add in more networking.

3) Pitch for summer “internships”

Many companies offer a summer internship program to take advantage of the off season for students. But with more of the workforce now in freelance and temporary roles, experienced professionals should consider tapping into summer opportunities for their own employment prospects. After all a company might need vacation coverage for experienced employees that is beyond the scope of what an intern can provide. Or the company may want to get a jumpstart on a longer-term project during the lighter summer season and could use extra experienced hands to get started. If you have only been focused on permanent, full-time jobs, consider adding consulting services to your pitch.

If you’re just starting your search, don’t assume the summer is too slow to gain traction. Use the summer to research company targets, update your marketing material, and rekindle personal contacts so that when the busy fall season hits you’re ready to move quickly.

If you’re in the busy part of a search and the summer vacation scheduling has put a delay in otherwise fast-moving interviews, don’t get discouraged. Check in regularly with whomever is coordinating your interviews — HR and/or the hiring manager. Give them lots of availability, and keep them posted if other prospective employers are moving faster than they are (employers are competitive and will not want to lose you to their competitors).

Regardless of where you are in your job search, summer is still a good time to stay active and make progress.

TIME career

5 Ways to Work and Live Abroad

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Get your passport ready

If you’ve always dreamed of frolicking through the Jardin du Luxembourg or living near the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, perhaps now is a great time to explore jobs abroad. International work can round out your resume, not to mention provide invaluable cultural experiences. And what better time than when you’re young and free to feed your wanderlust? Here, we spoke with several women about the positive impact these five jobs abroad had on their lives. Get your passport ready!

1. Work for a study-abroad program.

For Kelly Garofalo, living abroad was a family tradition. Several of her aunts and uncles studied through the John Felice Rome Center, a campus of Loyola University Chicago in Rome, Italy. Following in their adventurous footsteps, Garofalo studied abroad there her senior year. But that wasn’t the end of her time in Europe; after graduation, she returned to work as a student life assistant. “I just had to go back,” she says. “I couldn’t tell you why, but the feeling was that I just had unfinished business there.” As a student life assistant, Garofalo was responsible for orientation, behavior monitoring and floor activities, among other duties.

One of the biggest takeaways from Garofalo’s travels was letting go of the “American” idea of success: Go to college, have an internship, get a job, get married, get a promotion, have kids. “Once I moved out of the U.S., I realized how American this is,” she says. “In Italy, it was totally OK to work in a pizzeria if it’s what you loved. That was just as successful as a lawyer. Once I realized that, I started exploring many different career paths that I never would have before.” Garofalo went on to get a masters degree in Sustainable Tourism Development and Destination Management and is currently working at a startup in the field.

How to apply for an RA/SLA position: Ask your school’s study-abroad office about opportunities for working in another country. If you’re a student at Loyola, visit the school’s SLA application site.

2. Teach English.

In 2009—four years after graduating college—Stormy Chapman was following a traditional career path, working at Dell in Oklahoma, making a good salary and loving her job. But an enlightening talk with a friend who was teaching English in South Korea prompted Chapman to drastically change her life’s course; within three weeks of their chat, she quit her job, packed her life in a couple suitcases and waved goodbye to the U.S.

While in South Korea, Chapman taught English to children and teens ages 5 to 16. She stayed for two years (the first time) and met the man who would become her husband. Chapman loved her time in South Korea so much that she and her husband returned for another year, where she taught kindergarten and after-school programs for 13- to 16-year-olds. As it turns out, Chapman discovered a real calling for teaching and went back to school for her U.S. teaching degree. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Chapman says of living abroad.

The same was true for Natalie Smith, whose time overseas led to a permanent career path. Smith worked for two years at the Global Vision Christian School in Eumseong, South Korea, and now teaches English as a second language in Texas. She advises those with an itch to go abroad: “Do it! You can always come home if it does not work out.”

How to apply for a teaching position: First, determine the country where you’d like to teach English, then research options online. Destinations such as France and South Korea have many programs from which to choose. Check out sites including Dave’s ESL Cafe (where Chapman found her job), or the Teaching Assistant Program in France. Be sure to check the requirements, but many times a bachelor’s degree in any subject is all that’s needed.

3. Board a cruise ship.

Post-graduation, Christina Chen found herself aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ship as a dancer and aerialist. During her time living on the ship (the entertainment crew spends six-plus months performing six shows a week) Chen had the opportunity to see places including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and many Caribbean islands. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Chen says. “I don’t even think I realized that I would get to see so much of the world, and I had no idea the richness that I would experience, meeting people from 60-plus different countries.”

And the experience had some serious resume perks, too: The aerial shows aboard Royal’s ships are choreographed, taught, and produced by a Chicago-based company called C5 Create With No Limits. After her most recent contract with Royal, C5 contacted Chen and asked if she would be interested in performing with them in Chicago. This led to other performing opportunities with C5, as well as a gig teaching an aerial show.

How to apply for a cruise ship staff position: Check out Royal Caribbean and All Cruise Jobs for a range of options (not just dancing).

4. Join the Peace Corps.

Lauren DeFino, who’s now a teacher in the Bronx, wanted to see the world and help others at the same time. From 2005 to 2007, DeFino worked with the Peace Corps in Jamaica, where she was assigned to the Montego Bay Marine Park, and also worked as an education officer performing outreach in schools. Like Chapman and Smith, DeFino says her job abroad led her to pursue teaching in the U.S. Not only has the Peace Corps been a great resume builder, DeFino says, but it also helped her make connections around the world.

How to apply for the Peace Corps: Visit the organization’s website here.

5. Become scuba certified.

DeFino traveled the world through other jobs, as well. Before joining the Peace Corps, she became a certified scuba instructor in Honduras, where she lived for six months. And after returning from her Peace Corps stint in Jamaica, she again turned to scuba instruction for a chance to live abroad—this time in St. Martin. “I lived on a catamaran and would sail to different countries,” she says. “It’s really a great job if you want to travel.” Of course, she says, scuba instruction isn’t for everyone—you must love the water.

How to get scuba certified: Check out the Professional Organization of Diving Instructors or Utila Dive Center.

Want to learn more about jobs abroad? We’re also digging this roundup from The Abroad Guide.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Ace Your Job Interview After a Long Employment Gap

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Expect the interviewer to ask about your unemployment

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After being unemployed for a while, you’ve (finally) landed a job interview. In addition to feeling excited, you may also be a little nervous. Especially since being out of work likely caused your confidence and general outlook on life to take a little dip.

Good news: You’re not alone. A study of German adults published in February in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that “mean levels of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness,” decreased over time in unemployed participants. However, your comeback interview isn’t the time to dwell on the challenges of being unemployed. After all, this opportunity means you’re back in the game.

Yes, this could be your big chance to return to work! So, shift your focus to acing the interview. Here are three tips that will help you do just that—even if you’re out of practice or lacking your old confidence.

1. Talk it Out

If it’s been a long time since your last interview, you’ll want to practice your conversation skills. Before the interview, chat with contacts in person or on the phone—rather than connecting via email or text. Meet an old colleague for lunch, call a family member, or ask your mentor to meet for coffee. If you practice talking about your experience and career goals, you’ll feel more confident heading into your interview.

Still unsure who to reach out to? Get in touch with your (potential) references. It’s important to connect with them right away and make sure you’re both on the same page as to how you’ll be presenting your unemployment. That way, there won’t be any conflicting accounts if the hiring manager follows up. Once you’ve sorted everything out, use them as interview sounding boards, too.

2. Prepare for the Expected

You know that question is coming. The interviewer will ask about your unemployment—so there’s no reason to be unprepared.

Instead, know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Be honest and focus on the positives. Center the conversation on what you’ve learned from your unemployment, the skills you worked on during your time off, the hobbies you picked up, or the volunteer work you did. Highlighting these experiences enthusiastically will make you more desirable to employers.

Remember this throughout the process: Your unemployment does not define you—you are a complex person with multiple skills and interests. Make sure your interview reflects that accurately.

3. Keep the Conversation Moving

Now that we’ve covered how to discuss your unemployment, you know the last thing I’d recommend is glossing over that resume gap. But, at the same time, it shouldn’t be the center of attention either (that honor belongs to you!). Say what you need to say about it, and then move on to discuss your skills and the position.

If you feel the conversation is lingering on the subject, redirect it. Connect your past experience to the current opportunity by discussing skills you acquired that would be applicable to the new role. Find a way to relate the old to the new.

Or, ask the interviewer questions about the position or the company. You can say something like, “I learned a lot from that experience, but I’m really looking toward my future and the opportunity with your company. Can you tell me a little more about X?”

Another great strategy is to follow up on your personal narrative with some facts about the industry. This is an easy way to show the hiring manager that you’re still on top of the latest news and trends. It sounds like this: “When I worked for X company, Y was a big issue. But recently, Z has been a major factor in the industry. How is the company prepared to deal with that?”

Remember, even if the interviewer doesn’t ask any further questions about your familiarity with the sector, knowing that you are prepared will help you feel knowledgeable, relevant, and ready to tackle the job.

Yes, your current situation may be a challenge—but it doesn’t have to be a setback. After all, it’s led you to this interview, which may just start your next chapter. Show the interviewer that you have a positive attitude and are focused on the future by coming to your interview fully prepared.

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

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3 Mistakes to Avoid for Your Next Job Interview

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Not giving specific examples

Humans are not perfect. We all make mistakes. This is why it is vital for candidates to acknowledge that errors will occur during an interview; trying to achieve a totally error free interview is both futile and counterproductive. If you are hyper-focused on a flawless delivery, you’ll be over stressed, unnecessarily nervy, and needlessly high-strung. The errorless interview is an impossible aim.

Rather than focus on perfection to a fault – potentially undermining your performance — focus on avoiding a smaller, more manageable shortlist of the most criminal interview mistakes. To start you off, here are three errors you should try never to make.

1. Not Providing Examples When Answering Questions

Research shows that the most reliable way to assess a candidate is by using behavioral interviewing techniques. Behavioral interview questions focus on past performance, e.g., “Give me an example of a time in your job when you faced this situation.” This question has a specific purpose: get you to provide concrete examples of how you have successfully managed the situation in question. Behavioral questions don’t want hypothetical answers; they want specific evidence of real performance.

Despite this, candidates still fail to respond to these questions correctly. That is, they don’t provide specific examples. According to a CareerBuilder study, failure to provide specific examples in answer to behavioral questions is one of the most common and detrimental mistakes candidates make. Make sure you prep for behavioral questions before the interview, so that you can give example-heavy, rather than hypothetical, answers.

2. Being Too Focused on Money and Not Focused Enough on Job Satisfaction

It’s right to be focused on money — in the right way at the right time. However, appearing fixated on money is a massive mistake often made by hungry candidates, and being so fixated can dent your chances of landing the job. Most good employers know that pay alone is not enough to get you excited about and engaged with your job — which is what employers want.

Research shows that what actually motivates workers, day in and day out, is a job that they find meaningful, empowering, career-nurturing, and fulfilling. This is why it’s a big mistake to be too fixated on money during the interview. Employers could see this as a sign that you are interested in the paycheck, not the job. People like that rarely make the best employees.

By all means, fight for the salary you deserve. At the same time, you need to demonstrate clearly that you find the job and the organizational culture to be meaningful and exciting. Make sure you prove to prospective employers that you are a perfect fit for the job. Ask pertinent questions and demonstrate your interest and curiosity.

Show the employer that the job/company itself is the main pull for you, and not the money. Failure to do this will seriously handicap your chances. Take heed of the fact that a CareerBuilder study found that the most detrimental interview mistake was appearing disinterested in the job.

3. Accepting the First Salary That Is Offered

This is not a ticket to be uncooperative and argumentative. If the employer has smashed the ball out of the park when it comes to their first amazing salary offer, it’s probably a mistake to contest it.

On the other hand, not negotiating a low-ball offer could mean you are leaving good money on the table, as84 percent of employers expect candidates to negotiate salary. Furthermore, 70 percent of employers make lowball offers on purpose, fully expecting to be negotiated upwards. By accepting the first salary offered, you could be leaving up to around $5,000 a year on the table, suggests a study from George Mason and Temple Universities.

A word of caution: if you are to negotiate, make sure you conduct a reasonable and fair negotiation; know when to accept what is being offered as final. Pushing beyond the point of reason could harm your employment prospects.

Our mission at Recruiter is to open doors for people. We help connect the next generation of job seekers with exciting, meaningful opportunities with top employers. We build technology, content and services that help take the pain out of job search.

This article originally appeared on Recruiter.com.

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This Is How Social Media Could Affect Your Job Search

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It can help you become memorable—or rather forgettable

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Everywhere you look, social media is filled with overused hyperbole.

I tripped on the way to the bathroom today, epic fail.

I am looking for the world’s best quiche recipe. Go!

My husband is the best ever <3


Hyperbole—exaggerated statements or claims not to be taken literally—can be a useful device to make a point, and it brings added spice to a conversations. Spice is good, but who wants to eat a spoonful of paprika? Right, me neither.

The Problem With Status Updates

Social media allows you to be more transparent and more connected than ever before, but it also encourages you to be more superficial, branding yourself in a certain way that hides your faults and gives your friends FOMO. Social media peer pressure subconsciously draws you to conform: You become addicted to likes—tempted to exaggerate further or put out a message people will respond to even if it’s not fully honest.

Many people use this strategy in their job search, unaware that it’s holding them back from being genuine and authentic. Have you ever used an absurd hashtag or related a regular difficulty as an epic fail? If so, you’re participating in social media norms that cause word-inflation—the process by which powerful words mean less and less over time from repetition (e.g., you’re not “dying” over fashion; your life isn’t “over” because you’re late to work; and your ex isn’t “the worst person who ever lived”).

When you post hyperbole as fact regularly, it becomes your standard method of expressing yourself, and it prevents you from learning how to describe—and maybe even assess—yourself and your reality. So while social media is poised to be an outlet where you can learn to be creative and uniquely expressive, it can entrench you in using over-the-top phrases, statements, and slang to convey your thoughts, feelings, and situation.

Social Media and Your Candidacy

When you look for a new job, whether it’s out of necessity or because you’re ready for the next thing, it’s usually a stressful time. When stressed, many people fall back on what they’re used to. And if you’re used to exaggerating on social media, you may not realize the extent to which this language bleeds onto your application, which can make you unlikable—or worse.

Hyperbolic buzzwords such as amazing team player, driven, out-of-the-box-thinker, and results-oriented appear on hundreds of resumes, but they’re never the reason someone is hired. Why? Because they don’t show your unique value. When the majority of the resumes that a hiring manager reviews contain the same buzzwords, how will she know you’re special? What does amazing team player even mean at that point? Nothing.

I have interviewed hundreds of people: There is a stark difference between those who rely on buzzwords because that’s what they think I want to hear and those who have a unique story to tell. One type is forgettable, the other memorable. I’ll let you choose which is which.

Of course, being an amazing team player is a positive and valuable thing to have in an employee. But, when thrown around without context, it actually makes it more difficult to connect with you. First, it throws you into the pool with all of the other “amazing team players,” and second, there are a hundred different ways of being an amazing team player, so without providing specifics, it doesn’t really tell me anything about you.

Are you the person in a group who can understand all of the different ideas being shared and combine them into an action plan? Or are you the person who doesn’t say much but works behind the scenes to make sure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted? Do you make sure others are heard? Are you a natural leader or a follower or both? You show your value not by using buzzwords, but by highlighting your specific accomplishments. Prove you are an amazing team player by relaying a story of a time you successfully worked as part of a team.

So, What’s the Solution?

The good news is: The problem is actually the key to the solution. Revitalize your current and future job search by avoiding catch phrases and hyperbole and practicing sincerity and accuracy in your language. Learn to use language creatively to describe or express your thoughts. In the words of Vince Lombardi, “…perfect practice makes perfect,” and social media is a platform on which you can master the use of words to sell yourself, your ideas, and your positions. This mastery will not only help you to better connect with your friends, family, and network, but it will also help you develop skills to describe your value to a new company that will set you apart from all the team players you’re competing against.

Besides, who wants to be a team player on a team of results oriented, outside-the-box thinking team players? I would rather be a member of a team where I can add unique value. Once you do get hired,then you can appropriately share: I got hired for my dream job! #Epic! Dave for the win!

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

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How to Talk to New Grads About Finding a Job

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Be there in a productive way

It can’t be easy watching your beloved, talented, educated money pit child walk off that graduation stage, diploma in hand…and move back home with no job prospects. Last summer when I graduated with a couple of freelance jobs but looking for something full-time, I was lucky that my parents mostly employed the strategy they had been using with me since the fourth grade: “She’s got it.” They were always supportive but never pestered me about what progress I had made that day, where I was applying, who I had reached out to, because they knew I was on top it. And guess what? Their trust in me gave me much more confidence in my job search than constant nagging would have.

Any expert and anyone who has been there can tell you that self-esteem is the thing that takes the biggest hit during unemployment. Trust me, your kids are just as eager to find a job as you are for them to have one. They know you’ve just spent thousands of dollars on their education, and (I hope) they are endlessly grateful. They desperately want to have an answer to the question, “Where are you working?” Social media is there with unrelenting reminders of what isn’t true but certainly feels like it is: “EVERYONE HAS A JOB EXCEPT YOU, LOSER.” In short, they’re downright terrified. (For confirmation on that, just read this piece I wrote last year, “Fears of a New Graduate.”) From talking to many friends who have been through this difficult situation with their parents in the past year, here is some friendly advice for being there for your child in a productive way during the job search.

1. Don’t micromanage.

You know your kid, and maybe he or she is someone who needs an extra push to get things done. But either way, trying to micromanage your adult child’s career is ill-advised. I just read a truly horrifying anecdote in Aliza Licht’s new book Leave Your Mark about an insistent mother who called DKNY repeatedly seeking a job for her daughter. She literally sent an email with the subject line, “A job for my daughter.” While I doubt that most parents reach that degree of desperation (God I hope), it is an extreme illustration of the difficulty in watching your college graduate look for a job, and your natural desire to help in any way possible. Don’t go down that path. At this point, the kids are officially raised—you have to trust they’re equipped to find a job on their own.

2. Trust their unconventional choices.

I have written about nine successful millennials who did something after graduation other than start a full-time job. Your child’s career path might not look like you expected it to. In fact it almost certainly won’t, given the rapidly changing job market. One of my friends said one of the things he appreciated most about his parents was that they never questioned his unusual career choices, in particular one summer when he took an internship at Sesame Street. This may have seemed crazy at the time, but the internship turned out to be an eye-opening experience that motivated him to go to law school. The paths to success are many, and multiplying every day.

3. Be realistic in your expectations.

When that same friend found himself applying to law schools two years later, his dad insisted that he apply to all of the Ivy Leagues, despite my friend explaining that his GPA was below the threshold they even considered. Not very productive. This goes double for your sons and daughters seeking jobs right now. Sure, it’s getting better, but it’s tough out there. You can’t expect them to send applications one week, have an interview the next, and be sitting down at their new desk the week after that. Asking, “have you heard anything yet?” every day will only make them frustrated and demoralized. You also can’t expect them to be searching for a job eight hours a day–yes finding a job is a full-time job, but other goals or even social events can be equally essential.

4. Don’t throw their financial status in their faces.

I’m not in a position to tell anyone how to parent, but I am in a position to determine whether someone is being rude. If you agreed to let your child live in your house and they are obeying the terms of that agreement, it is unfair and wrong to throw that fact back in their face if they are clearly making an effort to find a job. Yes, they live in your house again and you’re allowed to impose whatever rules you see fit. You can make them do the dishes every day, shovel the driveway, hand wash your unmentionables, whatever. But using “well you’re living here for free!” as an angry or passive aggressive jab is not only cruel but insanely counter-productive. (Pro tip: Making someone feel like a loser is not conducive to that person rocking an interview and landing a job).

5. Don’t make comparisons to “when I graduated.”

“When I graduated I had four six-figure offers…” Stop right there. You’re different people, you have different paths in life. But even if your child is in the exact same profession as you, that comparison is flat out untenable. Most millennials graduated during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and this year’s graduates are still feeling its effects. During our Great Recession, the unemployment rate for those over 34 peaked at about eight percent, but unemployment between the ages of 18 and 34 peaked at 14 percent in 2010 and remains elevated. According to Pew Research we are the first generation ever to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same age. We all know it’s not the same, so don’t make the mistake of acting like it is.

6. Support them, love them…

…in the same way you’ve been doing for the past 22 years. Thanks for that by the way. I hope that I speak for my generation when I say that we appreciate it more than you know.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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This Is What’s Really Killing Your Job Search

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ONOKY - Photononstop—Alamy

And here's the secret to fixing it

Looking for work is never fun, but a new study reveals that how successful you are depends a lot on the attitude you bring to the process. People who come into it with a know-it-all attitude are more likely to get discouraged and give up more easily than people who approach the whole job hunt saying, What can I learn from this?

“Emotions and job search intensity change during the job search process,” explains Serge da Motta Veiga, an assistant management professor at Lehigh University and the study’s lead author. “Job seekers experience ups and downs as they navigate this stressful process.” These fluctuating emotions affect your motivation and how hard you look for a job, the authors explain. A candidate who approaches their job search as an experience they can learn from — which the authors call “learning goal orientation” in the study — are better off.

While you might think that the rigors of looking for a job would be inherently demotivating, it turns out that it’s not the stress that gets you, but how you cope with it.

Taking on the potentially daunting process of landing a job with an attitude of being willing to learn from it insulates you from those emotional fluctuations that can derail you and make you more likely to slack off than send out that next batch of resumes or follow up on that promising lead. “We found that a learning orientation helped job seekers deal with the ups and downs of the job search, and maintain or even increase their job search intensity,” de Motta Veiga says. In fact, people who want to learn from their experiences — for better or for worse — actually become more motivated when facing stress.

On the flip side, the wrong attitude can leave you idling at the starting line.

“We believe that an attitude that you already know everything may be detrimental to the job search,” de Motta Veiga says. It also probably won’t do wonders for your career in general even if you manage to land a job, the authors point out, but it’s especially detrimental to the job search, which invariably involves having to shake off rejection. If you can’t see the silver lining and tell yourself, hey, at least I learned something, then you’re more likely to take that rejection personally. “Individuals who are oriented toward learning from experiences are more likely to learn and improve than those individuals who are not,” de Motta Veiga says.

So if your job search is stuck in a rut, try changing your attitude before you rewrite your resume one more time and get upset that nobody appreciates your talents. Go into each interaction with an open mind and tell yourself that, come what may, at least you’ll learn something from the experience. It just might change your luck.

MONEY Workplace

Break These 4 Resume Rules to Land a Job

man wearing fun dress socks amidst others wearing standard black dress socks
Noel Hendrickson—Getty Images

Ditch the traditional resume.

America is back, baby!

With more and more U.S. cities raising their minimum wages, job applicants are more excited about their employment prospects. Some people are even at looking at changing their careers to chase higher pay.

But before you start working on your CV, you should freshen up your resume. With the unemployment rate still at 5.4%, you’re likely to face strong competition, so you need to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd. (See also: 10 Resume Mistakes That Will Hurt Your Job Search)

To prevent your resume from landing in the HR black hole, here are four resume rules that you should be breaking.

1. One-Page Resume

Just like the objective statement, the one-page resume rule is a habit that you picked up way back in high school. The idea behind the one-page resume is that hiring managers have very little time to review applications so you need to be as succinct as possible.

However, forcing your resume into a single page ignores two key facts:

  • The typical U.S. worker changes jobs every 4.4 years. Assuming you land your first job at age 21, you would have switched jobs about five times by age 40.
  • 90% of companies use ATS programs as resume gatekeepers.

If you have solid and relevant work experience for the position that you’re applying for, feel free to showcase it using two pages. As long as you’re telling a compelling story about your employment history, the extra page will be welcomed. And it will provide extra space to include keywords directly connected the job description, effectively increasing your chances of passing the ATS test.

2. No Contact With Hiring Managers

HR professionals often feel overwhelmed. For example, Starbucks attracted 7.6 million job applicants for about 65,000 job openings and Procter & Gamble received close to one million applications for 2,000 job postings.

In hopes of keeping their sanity, hiring managers set up as many hurdles and obstacles between them and applicants. The idea is that hopefully only the “truly great candidates” will be left once the application-process dust settles. The reality is that’s very often not the case.

To circumvent this “resume black hole,” former Fortune 500 Human Resources SVP and current HR consultant, Liz Ryan recommends to craft a compelling pain letter to start a conversation directly with your target hiring manager.

Ryan breaks down the pain letter into four parts:

    • One to two sentence hook congratulating the hiring manager on a personal work-related achievement. For example, “I was lucky enough to catch the tail-end of your presentation last week at the Miami Retailers Association and I couldn’t agree more about your observation that…”
    • Discussion of a pain point that hiring manager is currently facing. For example, a payroll coordinator could be frustrated with improper tax deductions and reporting mistakes now that her department went from servicing 25 to 350 employees.
    • Your one to two sentence “dragon-slaying story” showing how you can alleviate that pain point. Ryan provides a specific example, “When I ran the payroll system at Angry Chocolates, I kept the payroll accurate and in compliance and answered dozens of employee questions every day while we grew from 15 to 650 staff members.” No jargon, no buzz words, just plain language showcasing results.
    • Short closing inviting hiring manager to set up a meeting time.

Hiring managers welcome messages, as long as they’re hyper-personalized. Remember the Google Job Experiment? Alec Brownstein created Google ads for top advertising creative directors, so that when they would google their own names, they would receive a message from Alec asking for a job interview. By reaching out directly to the hiring managers in a creative way, Alec impressed the ad execs and landed a job at Young and Rubicam. (See also: The 6 Craziest Things People Have Done to Land a Job)

3. List Unemployment Gaps

Unemployed job applicants seem to never get a break.

Whether employers do this intentionally or unintentionally, the reality is that listing yourself as unemployed may do more harm than good on you resume. However, this doesn’t mean that you should lie. Misrepresenting any information on your resume may bite you back and make you subject to immediate dismissal.

Functional resumes aren’t viable solutions, either. HR veterans see them as major red flags because resumes in that format often hide lack of experience and don’t provide enough information to employers.

Instead, a resume expert at Monster recommends that applicants leverage volunteer work on a resume. While you may not having gotten paid for making traditional and online media buys for your local Red Cross, or preparing taxes at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, you definitely gained and demonstrated expertise in skills that employers want. Even better, you may also have professional references ready for employers.

During unemployment periods, sign up for meaningful volunteer or internship opportunities so that you can prevent the employers’ bias towards unemployment. This is a helpful technique for recent grads to avoid the challenge of having no experience.

4. Relying on a Traditional Resume

As many as 58% of employers have caught a lie on a resume. That’s why more and more companies are ditching the idea of the traditional resume altogether.

  • A New York venture capital firm recruits investment analysts by asking applicants to include links to their web presences, such as Twitter account or Tumblr blog.
  • Instead of reading resumes, a bumper and marketing stickers company uses an online survey to help screen applicants.
  • By reviewing code posted on GitHub, a web-based repository for coders, an educational technology company looks for programming candidates that have completed public projects.
  • Teams of recruiters for a large online lender perform “road rallies” in which they scout for talent at carefully selected groups of shopping malls.

It goes to show that some resume rules are meant to be broken. If you believe that the hiring practices of your industry are outdated, there may be a company in yours or in another industry that agrees with you. That may very well be the key to landing your dream job!

After all, nobody wants to work with a company that is completely inflexible and that prefers to stick with outdated resume rules.


MONEY Workplace

How to Ensure Your Resume Gets Read

interviewers reading resume
Abel Mitja Varela—Getty Images

Get past the filters to the top of the pile

Job seekers fear the resume robots – the automatic filtering of resumes that prevents your application from even being read. First of all, the good news: I have recruited for brand-name companies and cutting edge start-ups, and I have never seen a filtering tool that is so good that recruiters rely on it 100%. Therefore, there is no one magic password that will get you past an auto resume screen, and you don’t have to worry about being left out while everyone else who knows the magic password skirts by you.

However, now for the bad news: recruiters don’t spend that much more time reviewing your resume than an automatic filter would. Given the pace of recruiting and how many searches a typical recruiter is inundated with, unsolicited resumes get seconds of attention, if any at all. Many times there are so many resumes coming in that a recruiter will prioritize the ones that get referred or that s/he filters out manually. To this end, you still need to get past these filters (albeit more likely a human filter, not a robot). Here are three ways to adapt your resume to get it to the top of the pile:

Include keywords

Whether it’s by automatic or human filter, if a job opening calls for a specific skill or experience that is easily summarized into a keyword, you better believe the recruiter will search by that keyword. When I did an animation search, I used “Aftereffects” as a filter because that was the software of choice and the candidate absolutely needed that skill. When I hired at the executive level for a cultural institution, I used the sector expertise (American art) as the basis for my keywords because, while the overall skill set would be quite varied, the ultimate hire needed a specialization that could be summarized in a few keywords.

Keyword searches are mostly relied on for those openings with narrowly defined criteria. To ensure your resume gets selected, include keywords that tightly describe your skills, expertise, and experience. All resumes can use specificity — technical skills, languages, industry buzzwords (e.g., Big Data), certifications (e.g., CPA), and sector expertise (e.g., American impressionism). Thus, keywords should be in all resumes, not just because they are searchable, but because they are descriptive and descriptive resumes attract human readers as well.

Put findings into context

Even when a keyword search is first used, the recruiter will then filter through the shortlist of those keyword-selected resumes. If it’s not apparent why the keyword appears – say you list Aftereffects as a skill but it doesn’t otherwise relate to anything else in your resume – you still may not get called in. As a recruiter, I would not only want a skill or buzzword listed but I would want to see how it is incorporated in your career to date. Are you just tech savvy in general, so picked up Aftereffects along with a bevy of other software? That type of diverse tech knowledge may be great for some jobs but not if I need an Aftereffects specialist.

You might think that getting noticed by a recruiter is always positive. But if you don’t want to be an Aftereffects specialist, or if your level of skill is not competitive to be a specialist, then it’s a waste of time for both you and me. You want to be called in for the right positions. Make sure that you include keywords for roles that you want and put such keywords into the broader context of your experience so that it’s clear what roles you want and are qualified for.

Make the resume easy to skim

You might think that all this talk about context means a recruiter is sitting with your resume and considering it at length. Whether by auto filter or human filter, resumes are read in seconds – there is just too much volume to do otherwise. Therefore, you want to make yours easy on the eyes of recruiters who will be reviewing dozens or hundreds of resumes in close succession.

  • Use at least 10-point font.
  • Use bold, italics and underlining to emphasize, but use these sparingly, or else everything runs together.
  • Keep the structure parallel – dates on the same side (left or right, just consistent); companies, geographies and titles in the same place and in the same format – so the eye can easily jump around as needed.
  • Prioritize white space and margins because it makes what information you do include easier to read. When resumes are too crowded, the reader might miss something or skip reading it altogether.

There is no one word that will ensure your resume gets read. That should be good news to you because it means that not everyone is right for every role and there is some method to the madness of hiring! So if you want to use one word to guide your resume writing, then think “keyword” or “context” or “readability”. If you can include the keywords that matter to the role you want in a context that shows you fit that role and in a readable manner that lets the recruiter discover your value in seconds, then you improve your chances of getting your resume to the top of the pile. Remember that an employee referral always helps, so don’t stop your networking in pursuit of the perfect resume.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with executives from American Express, Citigroup, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic, so she’s not your typical coach. Connect with Caroline on Google+.

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