TIME career

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding Between Two Jobs

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Thinking about your career path should stay priority

It’s something you never thought possible amidst all the job searching and résumé polishing you’ve been up to lately: You have not one, but two job offers. #Rockstar. Now, you’re no longer stressed about finding employment—on the contrary, you’re struggling over which opportunity is best for your career. These five questions should give you some serious clarity:

1. Which job most closely embodies your ideal career path?

This should be the main consideration when choosing between two job offers, says Maggie Mistal, a career coach based in New York City. After all, she says, long-term happiness doesn’t come from financial gains; it comes from following your passion. “You spend most of your waking hours at work, so what you do needs to be aligned with who you are,” she adds.

2. How do the benefits packages compare?

This includes everything from salary to health care to vacation days. When weighing two jobs, ask yourself how each benefits package fits your needs, given your life stage. If you’re planning to have a baby in the near future, what is the maternity leave policy? If you want to travel frequently, how many vacation days are available? (But if something is a deal-breaker for you, make sure you try negotiate for what you want before you make a decision one way or another, says Mistal.)

3. Which office culture is a better fit for your personality?

Are people communicating with each other in the office? Do they get up from their desks to collaborate, or do they mostly chat through a messaging service or email? If you’re the type who thrives on collaboration, a “keep to yourself” office culture may not be best for you. And vice versa—if you need a quiet space to focus or discuss confidential client matters, a loud, buzzy floor plan may not be to your advantage.

4. Is there opportunity for growth?

“Ask about the typical career track for this position,” Mistal says. “Is advancement all about management, or are there other ways for you to move forward, such as becoming an adviser or project manager?” Think about where each job may lead you, and how it aligns with your own goals.

5. After doing a quick “background check” on each company, do you see any red flags?

“This means talking to people who are at the company or in the industry,” says Mistal. (This is the fun part—where you get to ask questions!) Google the company to see if any big news has been reported lately, and research the CEO and other C-Suite execs on LinkedIn to gauge their interests and experience.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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MONEY Kids and Money

How New College Grads Can Beat the Tough Job Market

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The career expectations of college grads may be overoptimistic. But these strategies can boost their odds of landing a job.

As another crop of college graduates frame their diplomas, another dose of reality is about to set in. The financial crisis may be ancient history for this group, most of whom were still in middle school when the market began to plunge. But the effects linger—and new entrants to the job market may be surprised at how difficult it is, even now, to move ahead in this economy.

Eight in 10 new graduates expect to have a job in their field within a year, with more than half expecting to land one within two months, according to an analysis from Upromise.com, a college savings website. That jibes with research from Accenture, which found that 80% of the Class of 2015 say their education prepared them well for the workforce. Yet here’s the reality: 49% of graduates from 2014 and 41% from 2013 report being underemployed (having no job or one that does not require a college degree), Accenture found.

Meanwhile, just 15% of this year’s graduates expect to earn $25,000 or less in their first job. But almost three times that many from the classes of 2013 and 2014 report that level of income. So for entry-level job seekers, it’s still surprisingly tough out there.

Despite their upbeat expectations, most new grads do have a fallback plan: Mom and Dad. About half expect to be financially dependent on their parents for two years after graduation, and they are prepared to move back home and pay rent, Upromise found. This won’t surprise their parents. Nearly a quarter of 25- to 34-year-olds lives with parents or grandparents, up from 11% in 1980, Pew found. This failure to launch is so widespread psychologists have given it a name: emerging adulthood. The share of parents that expect to support their college graduates for two years or more doubled to 36% this year, according to the Upromise analysis.

Why, then, is this class of graduates so optimistic? First, optimism is rightfully a trait for the young, and Millennials possess it in staggering proportions—probably because they were raised by helicopter parents who constantly extolled their greatness and rewarded them with trophies for showing up. But more is at work here. The economy has been growing since 2009, when this class was taking the SATs. In their college years, this group has known only rising stock prices and an improving jobs and housing market. Consider: through four years of higher education the S&P 500 rose 2%, 16%, 32% and 13%. Even for the uninvested, that’s an encouraging backdrop.

This optimism may also spring from the Class of 2015’s improved career preparation. Accenture found that 82% considered the availability of jobs in their field before choosing a major. That’s up from 75% in the Class of 2014. To minimize student debt, more from this class also started at a community college. And—a crucial step—some 72% of this year’s class had an internship or apprenticeship while in school, up from 65% of graduates the year before.

This is all smart planning. More than half who took part in an internship said it led to a job, Accenture found. At the Intern Group, 88% of those who take part in an internship find work at a graduate level job within three months and 95% say the program was good for their career, says David Lloyd, the firm’s founder. Still, it seems we’ll be talking about the Great Recession a while longer.

Read next: The Costly Career Mistake Millennials Are Making

MONEY job search

Fortune 500 or Startup? How to Tell What Size Company is Right for You

what size company to work for
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These are the six factors to consider when looking for your next gig, says career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Size matters when it comes to finding a place to work that supports your career goals.

Of course, both big and small firms have advantages and disadvantages. A Fortune 500 company may have thousands of employees and monstrous bureaucracy, but great benefits and a lot of room for growth. On the other hand, at a start-up, the risks are higher, but the executive team knows the junior staff by name, you may have a chance to get a broader experience set, and you could be on the ground floor of tomorrow’s success story.

What’s tricky is that while company size does influence your career path, day-to-day role, and work environment, it isn’t the only factor.

And the generalizations above are not always true. A big company isn’t necessarily bureaucratic—it might have retained a collaborative, entrepreneurial culture. A small company isn’t inherently risky—maybe they offer you an upfront guarantee or they recently got funded.

Here are six career planning considerations that are influenced by size, and the pros and cons of small and large employers:

What Kinds of Resources Are Available

In general, big companies will have more resources.

This could mean more or better office supplies and equipment, professional development and training, benefits and pay, and a more comfortable work environment. This also means resources for your particular job—budget, direct reports, administrative support.

That said, it’s not necessarily true that small companies will have less (and big companies might be able to do more but be stingy), so try to get information about this during the hiring process. Ask pointed questions about, say, what your budget would be on certain projects, and do some research on sites like Glassdoor and using second- and third-degree LinkedIn connections who work or have worked at the company to find out the inside scoop.

What the Breadth of Your Responsibilities Will Be

Since big companies have more staff, it’s more likely the staff will have a more tightly defined (read: smaller) scope of responsibilities. This is a good thing if you want that structure.

But if you want variety and a chance to work across functions or touch a project from start to finish, a smaller company might be a better fit.

Again, size influences your scope but doesn’t determine it 100%. When you are interviewing, ask don’t assume what your responsibilities will be, whom you will be interacting with, and what decision-making authority you will have.

What Prospects for Advancement You’ll Have

Bigger companies have larger infrastructure, perhaps even more locations or industry areas where business is conducted. This typically means you have greater potential for internal mobility—the chance to move from the New York office to the London office, from serving financial services clients to media clients, from working in sales to working in marketing.

That said, small companies offer advancement via upward mobility. You take on more responsibility because you have to. While the small company may not have a London office to send you to, you may be asked to open one.

As you can see, big and small companies offer advancement opportunity. Ask about career growth specifically when you interview.

How Outsiders Will Perceive You

Small companies are typically less well-known than bigger companies. A brand name does convey advantages in introductions or on a résumé: When people glance at your C.V. and see you’re coming from Goldman Sachs (as opposed to Boutique Bank WHO?), they know what they’re dealing with.

That said, branding is more than a name. Some people hear big company and assume slow and not innovative.

And if your personal brand hinges on being seen as leading-edge or entrepreneurial, then a smaller company will be more consistent with your brand.

In addition, a company might be small but have big name clients. If you work for a small company that serves the Fortune 500 or other brand names, naming the clients is a way for you to get that pedigree on your résumé or in your pitch.

How Well You’ll Be Paid

Big companies can afford to pay more, but they might feel like they don’t have to because of their brand names and better resources.

Small companies might be limited on base salary but might offer equity participation or profit-sharing.

Compensation is tough to generalize. Don’t undersell yourself to a small company by assuming you need to take less. Don’t get overly aggressive with a big company and automatically negotiate for the top end of your range.

What Networking Opportunities You’ll Have

Big companies offer you more people to connect with, but those people are more dispersed, and you will have to be more proactive about reaching out.

Small companies offer fewer people to add to your network but it may be easier to get to know people and therefore build deeper connections.

As you interview, recognize there are advantages and disadvantages at both ends of the size spectrum. Focus on your day-to-day colleagues, senior leadership, and overall culture and how all of these fit with you, regardless of size.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Secrets That Will Enhance Your Cover Letter

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Pretend you are a stranger reading your cover letter

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You know that it’s beneficial to have a second set of eyes review your application materials. Someone who can tell you that your resume looks good—except for that part where you misspelled your own name (FYI, you can check that, too!). Or that your writing sample is impressive, but that it would be even better if you used the correct version of “their.”

But sometimes, no one is available. Maybe a contact said he would help but hasn’t replied since, and you don’t want to pester him. Or maybe you’re taking a chance in your letter and you’re afraid feedback from your stuck-in-the-mud roommate will make you lose your nerve and play it safe.

So what should you do? Write your very best letter, and then, before you hit send, try these three tips.

1. Pretend You’re a Stranger

You know why you’re perfect for this job. That’s great, but that context can prevent you from spotting what’s missing in your cover letter. In other words, you might know that you excel at building strong bonds with difficult clients or that you’re an ace public speaker, but if your cover letter uses bland language like “connect with stakeholders” and “has led multiple presentations,” the hiring manager will have no way to know the depth of your skills.

So, take the advice that you surely received from some English teacher at some point, and “Show, don’t tell.” If you led “record growth,” employ the same strategies you did on your resume to quantify your achievements. In lieu of saying I could “adapt to change,” I’ve written this: “I have routinely found myself in inaugural or transitioning roles, such as a first-time admin role that became a communications position, or taking a position once held by two people and rolling it into one.”

Ask yourself, if a stranger handed you your cover letter, what impression would it make? Would you think this person has achieved what you have achieved or could contribute what you know you can?

2. Make Yourself Take a Risk

You’ve probably seen some advice suggesting you step outside of the standard “My name is Sara and I’m applying for such-and-such position…” (If you haven’t, look here, here, and here). But even if you spice up the intro a bit, you might hold yourself back from getting too creative, because as Muse contributor Dave Meadows writes, “Spice is good, but who wants to eat a spoonful of paprika?”

Honestly, one of the best cover letters I ever wrote was also the riskiest. And how I got over my fear of writing something over the top is that I reminded myself that I didn’t have to submit it. I didn’t write it in one of those finicky, little, online application boxes. I didn’t write in the same document as my pristine, go-to letter. I saved it under a different name and gave myself an hour to write down stories I thought exemplified who I was as an applicant and why I was right for the open role. Another time, I applied for a freelance writing position by submitting my cover letter in the form of an article—and yes, I landed an interview.

So, make yourself take a risk. Fill a document with words you’d use to describe yourself or slightly wacky, attention-grabbing first lines and examples. Then compare each document, and see if pulling a line or two from your risky letter will make your go-to stronger and more memorable.

3. Get Old School

Step one: Run spell check. Do not skip this step!

Step two: Locate a printer. If you don’t have access to a printer, it’s time for a field trip. Because in order to truly edit a cover letter, you’ll have to proofread it, and the most effective way to do that is to get it off of your computer screen and out in front of you—on paper.

So, print your cover letter and then read it out loud. Don’t breeze through it. Go slow, maybe use different voices—a super impressive voice, or an “I can’t believe I’m doing this” voice, or whatever works. As an editor, I can tell you that you’ll be surprised how often this tactic will show you that you’re actually missing a “the” and that without that three-letter word, your big, powerful sentence doesn’t make sense.

Cover letters don’t exist simply to torture you. They’re there because hiring managers are hoping you can flesh out your resume and provide them with a bit more information about why you’re right for the job. So, don’t submit the very first thing you write just to get it over with. Take the time to check your letter over—because you (yes, you!) have what it takes to write an amazing cover letter.

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

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MONEY job search

6 Tips for Landing a Last-Minute Summer Internship

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Haven't started looking for an internship yet? These strategies will help you catch up in a hurry.

Summer is nearly here, and college students (along with some particularly ambitious high schoolers) who don’t already have plans are scrambling to snag a last-minute internship.

The reality is that by the time May comes around, many student-friendly jobs are already taken. “Organizations have been recruiting all year for internships,” says Philip D. Gardner, director of the College Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

Still, Gardner says, students who haven’t yet secured a spot shouldn’t give up hope. The internship market may not be as robust as it was in February, he tells MONEY, “but with some diligence, students should find them.”

Diligence, that is, combined with some smart searching skills. Keep these five tips in mind while on the hunt for the perfect summer job:

1. Ask the right questions

Summer positions aren’t beneficial for their own sake. The point of an internship is to give students real work experience that will eventually lead to a job in their chosen field, or help them decide whether that field is really where they want to work after graduation. So even last-minute job seekers shouldn’t leap at the first offer.

“Some offices offer internships to people trying to get cheap labor,” Gardner says. Students who coasted into positions with family friends or took the first offer “got an internship to put on their resume, but it didn’t get them where they wanted to go.”

According to Gardner, the key to finding a really useful internship is asking the right questions:

  • “What professional outcomes am I going to be able to obtain from this internship?”
  • “Will this allow me to develop teamwork skills or apply learning to problem-solving in this area?”
  • “Will I be able to obtain a good overview of potential careers in your organization, or have a chance to experience some of the basic fundamental responsibilities in this organization?”

Each industry has its own nuances that demand a unique set of queries, so Gardner advises students to talk to their college’s career services center to learn what they should be asking when meeting with potential employers. Plus, showing hiring managers that you’ve done some homework and are eager to learn about their field can only help your chances, especially at this late date.

2. Know where to look

It’s not enough to use the basic set of job search sites, like CareerSearch and O*Net, when hunting for an internship. Many industries also have their own niche job boards where positions that don’t appear elsewhere are posted. Check with your college’s career office, which often has knowledge of industry-specific job listings and connections with a variety of employers. He also recommends talking with professors, who might have tips on internships in their areas of expertise.

3. Give your resume a quick makeover

Hiring managers depend on your resume and cover letter when deciding who to interview for open positions, so it’s important to make sure yours is as perfect as it can be before you start sending out queries. Since time is of the essence, the fastest way to get your resume into shape is to solicit professional help.

Gardner recommends making an immediate appointment with one of your school’s career counselors. They’re a one-stop-shop for general advice—like what fonts to use, how much space each item deserves—and industry specific guidance, such as which achievements to highlight and which to leave out.

4. Become an interview expert

While a writing a good resume is essential, it’s difficult for any undergraduate to get a job based on solely on their past accomplishments. Students in their late teens or early 20s understandably tend to lack extensive work histories, meaning employers are usually going to value attitude and temperament over experience.

“Young people are going to be hired more often on personality traits than on knowledge or skills,” says Carol Christen, co-author of What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens, a career guide for young people. “Are you willing to show up on time? Are you willing to ask questions?”

According to Christen, interviews are the primary way to show employers you have the right personality for the position. Moreover, she says, it can take as many as nine interviews for students to get comfortable, making practice essential.

How does one get interview practice before actually interviewing for a job? Mock interviews with college career counselors are one option, but a more time-efficient idea, championed by Christen, is to ask people already employed in your field for an informational interview.

Reach out to people and request a brief chat about their day-to-day responsibilities, how they got their job, and other inside knowledge. These discussions won’t give you experience talking about your own accomplishments, but Christen says they should help build confidence, develop connections, and teach students how to hold a conversation entirely around work.

5. Design your own internship

If your applications go unanswered, don’t give up. Look into volunteering at a nonprofit organization or political campaign in an area that will give you some exposure to career skills. Another option is to design an independent project that could be useful to a business or nonprofit—such as doing market research or looking into various fundraising options—and then ask if anyone on staff will “sponsor” the program by acting as a supervisor or mentor.

6. Next time, get started sooner

It’s possible to get a summer job if you start searching in May, but waiting this long is far from ideal. In the future, Gardner recommends, start looking for an internship as soon as you get back from summer break. He says underclassmen should start particularly early since recruiters tend to hit campuses in the fall and early winter. Getting a head start on the process not only means a higher chance of landing an internship, it also means you’ll have more options to pick from when deciding which position fits you best.

Read next: How to convert a summer internship into a full-time job

TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Strategies All Job Seekers Should Keep in Mind

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Take these 3 tips as you are looking for your next move


A lot has been talked about regarding unemployment and the job search. With that said, there are several ways to improve your chances of getting back to work. First though, always keep in mind the basics of applying and interviewing.

For instance, you need a good resume; not too lengthy, but still informative. Having different variations is also helpful. We’re taught to have one resume and include everything, or to keep it short and concise. Having been a recruiter handling several candidates a day, and now as the vice president of a job board working with these issues, I suggest having one basic template but being prepared to adjust according to the specifics of the job. In today’s environment, it’s rare to find anyone who’s had just one role throughout their life.

I work with engineers every day and I can’t begin to list the similarities and differences that relate to this one degree. So assuming you will be using a resume template, here are the top three ways to improve your chances of getting hired.

Have an Open Mind and Be Flexible

The highest percentage of placements are those who are able to relocate. Let’s face it, if there’s a job within 50 miles of your home and you haven’t already applied, you should probably stop reading this. If they are spending money on job boards, employers have probably already recruited heavily around their office and haven’t found a candidate. Which brings us to the second point.

Search the Niche Job Boards First

Niche job boards are a fast-growing industry. Unlike large mega-boards, niche boards are industry specific. They are far less competitive in that only those with appropriate skill sets can search the posted jobs. On mega-boards, anyone can post their resume with a blend of keywords and have it automatically distributed to thousands of positions/companies. The posting gets so diluted by auto-responses that the employer eventually starts deleting resumes.

When you post your resume on mega-boards, it’s open to every industry. You will get calls for everything; frequently from staffing companies looking to fill undesirable temp positions. In most cases a simple Google search is your best way to locate an appropriate niche board. To use my own company as an example, CNCJobs.Net breaks down one of the largest industries in the world — manufacturing — into a specific, focused part.

Common sense would say to type in a key word like “manufacturing” or “medical” when searching, but you need to do more homework than that. Using generic phrases will take you back to the mega-boards, because these companies spend millions of dollars positioning themselves to rank first on Google. But if you break it down to your specific part of that group, such as “CNC” in manufacturing or “nursing” in medical, job boards such as CNCJobs.Net or NursingJobs.com will pop up.

Make Finding a Job Your Job

Now that you have found your niche board, you need to be proactive in landing a position. Even though you’ve targeted your job hunt, you need to exhibit your enthusiasm.

This is where the resume template comes into play. Your skill set will most likely cross over to more than one position. Although you may consider certain of your skills stronger than others, there’s no way to determine what every hiring manager is seeking. It’s a good idea to adjust your resume to show as much as possible that applies directly to the job description.

If an employer is interested in pursuing you they will probably reach out within the first week of application. If not, it’s possible that your resume didn’t go through. A successful technique is to send an email to the HR department with a polite and professional message, such as “I want to introduce myself as John/Jane Smith. I submitted a resume last week and wanted to follow up to make sure you had received it, and to see if you had any further questions.” This sets you apart by exhibiting that you’re willing to go above and beyond, and it will usually get a response.

These three simple points can tremendously increase your chances of being hired. You can gain a leg up on your competition by being flexible, specifically targeting industries and putting in some extra effort — rather than just sending out resumes to as many jobs as you can. Any time you can reduce the competition and improve the quality of what you are doing, you’re going to come out ahead. Never be afraid to take that extra step.

Blake Lawson is currently the Vice President and CMO of CNC Jobs Inc., the parent company of CNCJobs.Net. The CNCJobs.Net website is the only Video Supported Job Board specific to Manufacturing & Technology. CNCJobs.Net brings employers and job seekers together much quicker at a fraction of the cost.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.


This Is the Absolute Biggest Mistake You Can Make on Your Resume

resume mistake

If you haven't updated your résumé in ages, it probably contains this error

If you’re looking for a job and not paying attention to what font you use on your résumé, you’re making a big mistake. It’s true that most of us don’t go around thinking about fonts, which is the way it should be when it comes to showcasing your professional accomplishments. If a font gets noticed, it’s almost always in a bad way. Here are experts’ tips for avoiding this.

Here’s your best bet. You can’t go wrong with Helvetica, the experts say. “Helvetica is so no-fuss, it doesn’t really lean in one direction or another. It feels professional,” designer Brian Hoff tells Bloomberg in a recent article about résumé font dos and don’ts. “Helvetica is safe.” Also good options, experts say, are other straightforward sans-serif fonts like Calibri or Cambria.

Stick with what’s safe. “You’re always going to be OK with the default Microsoft Office font,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president at executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Just by virtue of the fact that everybody’s seen it a million times and is used to looking at it, the font will fade into the background and let the actual contents of your résumé stand out, as it should be.

But not too safe. It is possible to be too conservative, though. Times New Roman, for instance, can suggest to an interviewer that you’re stuck in your ways. “You’re not not going to get a job” if you use Times New Roman, Challenger says, but at the same time, it’s better to show that you’ve taken the initiative to keep up with the times. “These things change,” Challenger says. “If you haven’t updated your resume in five years, it’s probably in a font that’s no longer in favor.”

Hoff feels more strongly about this, telling Bloomberg, “It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected… It’s like putting on sweatpants.”

Skip script. “Basically anything that looks remotely like cursive is a surefire way to get your résumé thrown away right off the bat,” warns Will Wegert, president of resume-writing service Cold Caller, in a post on his company’s blog. “While you might be trying to make your résumé look fancy or artistic, it only serves to make your résumé more difficult to read,” he says. And not being able to quickly scan a résumé is the kiss of death.

Nix nostalgia. “Those typewriter type fonts like Courier, stay away from that,” Challenger says. There’s no place for stylized old-fashioned in today’s busy workplace environment, he said. “You’re not writing on a typewriter, so don’t do it.”

This is obvious, right? Don’t ever, ever use Comic Sans or other casual fonts on your résumé. And don’t even think about emojis. “It’s a categorical no,” Challenger says. “That is not presenting the right image.”


TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Ways to Have a Successful Career

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Try not to look sideways, but ahead

Our MOGUL team recently sat down to discuss the best advice we have ever received when it comes to career. Whether you are just getting out of college or looking to make a job switch in the new year, we’ve got you covered when it comes to tips you will want to know prior to submitting that application or heading to an interview.

1. Include the cover letter in the body of the email. Being in the midst of the digital age, the times of opening and printing an attachment are fading. Save HR’s time (and yours) by inserting the cover letter into your email and only attaching the resume.

2. Send thank you notes after an interview. Handwritten notes are dying and it says a lot to go the extra mile to thank someone for their time. The extra effort shows how much you care about the job in which you are applying for, and could help you get a second interview.

3. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. We love this quote because we all know that when you feel good about yourself, your confidence increases. This rule is a definite for when you are going to an interview and also applies for when you are seeking employment. If you are currently in a job that you dislike or are unemployed, it helps to dress in a way that will boost your self-esteem and keep you motivated to reach your goal of landing your ideal position.

4. If you do not get a job at your desired company, analyze why and keep trying. History is full of stories about people succeeding after trying multiple times. When not hearing back from a job, really examine the whys and figure out how you can improve your chances the next time you apply.

Is there a typo on your resume? Do you lack the appropriate experience? Did you apply to the position too late? Do all within your means to figure out how you can improve. For example, if you applied for a manager position and realize you might need a few more years of experience, try applying for a coordinator or assistant position to get your foot in the door. Chances are the company will notice your hard work and you will eventually get a promotion to a management position. When you are starting out, it is really about gaining experience and just getting within the company’s door. Whatever you do though, DO NOT GIVE UP, and just keep trying. A wonderful quote to live by — “Don’t get down. Get busy.”

5. If you are in college, apply for multiple internships. Yes, definitely target companies that you dream of being a part of someday, however, apply to a wide array of companies in the same way you did for colleges. While in an educational setting, it is key to gain some sort of work experience and it is a good idea, given how competitive internships are, to give yourself as good a chance as possible to lock in an opportunity that you can put on your resume. It might not be the top company you applied for, however, it is definitely better than being without a real world opportunity to develop your skills and build contacts.

6. When starting a job, do not be afraid to ask questions. There are no dumb questions and it is much better to ask for clarification on an assignment as opposed to making a mistake. Obviously, you do not want to be asking questions every minute, but there is no harm done in wanting to do your job in as clear a way as possible.

7. Maintain a positive attitude and look at every assignment as one of the most important in your career. Whether you are getting coffee for your supervisor or giving a presentation to the board, you never know where your actions will take you on your professional journey. Even if it is a task you are not thrilled about, such as making copies, remember to keep your goal in mind and trust that the task is a stepping stone to get you where you ultimately want to go.

8. Network, network, network. And network some more. Our team believes hugely in building your professional contacts through networking — and this starts in college, hence why internships and career fairs are very important. If there is someone you look up to within your desired industry, reach out to them and introduce yourself. LinkedIn is an invaluable tool to build your network, and there is no harm done in taking the initiative to make a connection. The only harm that can be done is to yourself if you do not take the step to try. Plus, you never know, the person you connect with might just be the one to help you land a job.

9. Do your research. Prior to an interview, be sure to have done your investigation work about the company and, if possible, who you will be interviewing with. Companies want to employ those who are passionate and knowledgeable about the company’s mission. Definitely have questions in your pocket as well, and make sure they are ones you genuinely want to ask, due to that HR can more than likely read if you are not being genuine.

10. Have a role model. Whether it be your mom, your cousin, Sheryl Sandberg or Oprah, have someone that you look up to and aspire to be like someday. Having someone in mind who can help you see a path to follow will bring clarification and guidance on how to make a career happen.

11. Try not to look sideways, but ahead. Lastly, it is very easy to get dragged down by peers who might be getting certain opportunities you want. However, firmly remember and trust that everyone is on their own path and things happen at different times for each individual. Turn the negative energy into positive and keep persevering forward. Your hard work will eventually pay off.

This article originally appeared on MOGUL.

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MONEY Workplace

9 Ways to Make More Money at Work

Jamie Kripke—Corbis

Career strategies for every stage.

Even if you’re not among the super-savers who are on their way to becoming 401(k) millionaires, there are plenty of ways to build wealth on the job. Whether you’re just starting out, in your peak earning years, or planning a career second act, here are 9 ways to fatten your paycheck.

1. Begin your career in a wealth-building city. To maximize your earning potential, minimize the amount you spend on housing—for most people the largest chunk of their monthly budget. According to Zillow.com, three metro areas where job growth exceeds the median 1.3% and housing costs are below the typical 2.9 times income are Dallas (job growth 3.3%, housing costs 2.5x income); Atlanta (job growth 2.4%, housing cost: 2.7x income), and Indianapolis (job growth 2%, housing costs 2.4x income). Plus, these are great places to live: Dallas suburb McKinney and metro Indianapolis both made it onto MONEY’s annual list of the best places to live, while Atlanta is home to the headquarters of Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and UPS.

2. Don’t wait for a performance review to ask for a raise. Most companies do performance reviews in February or March—but set budgets before the end of the prior year. If you can make the case for a raise, start the conversation no later than December.

3. Lead with the dollars. You are more likely to get a raise, and a higher one at that, when you say what you want first and explain why you deserve it second. “It sounds like a trivial difference, but it produces a significantly different outcome,” says negotiations expert Robin Pinkley of Southern Methodist University. You’ll also do better if you couch your request in a range. Asking for an extra $5,000 to $7,000 a year beats plain old $5,000. You’ll seem cooperative and flexible—and make it harder for the boss to return with a lowball counteroffer, according to a new study by Daniel Ames and Malia Mason of Columbia University.

4. Become a free agent. Workers may get 3% raises in 2015, but execs who jump ship can expect 15%, says the executive search firm Salveson-Stetson Group. A raise like that at the age of 40 can boost lifetime income by 9%.

5. Repackage yourself. When you were starting out, you may have played up your full work history. As you advance in your career, tailor your résumé to experiences that speak to a specific job—for instance, how you boosted sales at your last position, says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet. Also, put education credentials at the bottom, says professional résumé writer Dawn Bugni. That you got a bachelor’s degree 20 years ago doesn’t mean that much now.

6. Automate your job search. There are simple ways you can help prospective employers find you with little effort. For starters, make it easy for hiring managers to spot you by filling your LinkedIn profile with keywords associated with the type of job you want. The service will make suggestions for you, but look at job listings posted on the site by companies you want to work for to see what keywords they use as well. Also, sign up for the anonymous job site Poachable, and download the app Poacht.

7. Climb one more rung. After 45, only the top 2% of earners see real continued wage growth, on average. So it’s time to gun for one more big promotion. For example, while the median salary for a software engineer is $76,000, senior engineers can expect $101,000, according to payScale.com.

8. Switch ladders. Didn’t snag the pay you deserve? With the economy adding 266,000 jobs a month, you have options. After giving notice, arrange a friendly exit interview with the boss—her endorsement will be valuable in the next switch.

9. Have a Plan B. Your middle years are crucial savings years, but perilous careerwise. On average, unemployed Americans 55 to 64 have been jobless for 11 months. so lay the groundwork for a backup plan—whether it’s a short-term project, freelancing, or a business idea.

Adapted from “101 Ways to Build Wealth,” by Daniel Bortz, Kara Brandeisky, Paul J. Lim, and Taylor Tepper, which originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of MONEY magazine.

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