MONEY job search

4 Job Interview Takeaways From College Senior’s Facebook Rant

Elizabeth Bentivegna
Elizabeth Bentivegna in the outfit she wore to an interview at a Cleveland tech company. She says a recruiter told her it looked like she was ready to go "clubbing."

An Oberlin College student's Facebook post about the reason she believes a tech company cut her from its job applicant pool has ignited a firestorm of comment about proper interview attire and etiquette. Here's what you can learn from the incident.

An Oberlin College senior named Elizabeth Bentivegna recently vented in a Facebook post about being rejected for a programming job at a Cleveland software company. Specifically, she was outraged by what she feels is sexism in the tech industry, and her post has sparked fierce debate online about whether there are different standards for men and women and just what is appropriate conduct during and after a job interview.

As reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bentivegna said that a recruiter contacted her for the position, and after she interviewed with the tech company, passed along the feedback that she didn’t appear “put-together.”

“She said they’d love to hire me based on my technical ability and my personality, but were not going to because A: I looked like I was about to go clubbing and not be on an interview, B: I had a huge run in my tights and C: I was late. And I told them I was going to be late,” Bentivegna told the Plain Dealer.

The company said in prepared statement that Bentivegna was passed over for the job because they had more qualified applicants, not because of her appearance.

Regardless of gender—or your opinion on Bentivegna’s choice of interview outfit—there are a couple things every young person entering the job market can learn from this incident, says New York career coach Roy Cohen. Here are some takeaways.

1. Plan Your Outfit Carefully

Rather than going with your gut or an outfit that has worked for previous summer job interviews, research what type of interview attire is considered standard for the industry you’re looking to break into. Even if you know your industry or this company is more jeans and T-shirt than suit and tie, err on the conservative side with your fashion picks.

If you are working with a recruiter, ask for her advice. “Say: ‘I’m excited for the chance to interview and want to make the best possible impression, do you have any recommendations on interview attire?'” Cohen suggests. Alternatively, you can always seek guidance from your college’s career services center on how to prepare. You can even wear the outfit you’ve got in mind to your meeting with career services as a way of vetting it beforehand.

(For more tips on how to avoid making work-wear mistakes, see our summertime office ensemble guide.)

2. Be On Time

Just because a recruiter or company suggests an interview time does not mean you are beholden to it. If other engagements, say class or another job, conflict or overlap with the time they’ve slotted, simply explain why that time will not work and suggest an alternate time during typical business hours, Cohen recommends. Don’t hurt your prospects unnecessarily by scheduling the interview too closely to other engagements either. Give yourself space to deal with a traffic jam or whatever else life may throw at you.

3. Stay Off Social Media

It’s OK to post in celebration of landing a new gig. But ranting about a rejection or unfairness could lead you to make a career-destroying blunder as these social media users did.

If an interview experience goes poorly or you receive criticism from an employer or recruiter, keep your venting offline. Tell it to a friend. Write it in a journal. “No matter how the interview goes, if you post about an organization, you need to keep it positive. If you have nothing nice to say, it’s better to say nothing at all,” says Cohen. “Venting in that kind of public way could easily tarnish your reputation and raises issues concerning your temper, judgment, and loyalty in the eyes of future employers who fear a similar treatment.”

If you’ve already posted such a rant, purge it from your history. Hiring managers and the Internet have a way of uncovering your entire online identity, even those stupid offhand comments you may have made six years ago. If you don’t remember whether your web history includes such a venting session or something more offensive, a new app called Clear promises to search your social media accounts and flag anything questionable, then delete it.

4. Bounce Back from Rejection

“Feedback is always valuable. We can use it to become smarter interviewers and gain insight into how we are being perceived,” says Cohen. “We can’t personalize every rejection, it would distort our own value. After all, companies have to reject someone.”

But if you do feel the company misjudged you, maybe because of an outfit or a timing issue beyond your control, respond by sending the appropriate person at the company a thoughtful note expressing your disappointment at not being selected. Don’t challenge them on the reasons they or the recruiter might have given for the decision. Instead, outline the value you can add to the company once more and request another interview opportunity. You can also always ask to be kept in mind for any future openings.

Read Next: 5 Ways Women in Tech Can Beat the Odds

 

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Ways to Keep Going When the Job Search is Getting You Down

woman-computer-rear-view
Getty Images

The Muse logo

Looking for a new job is filled with constant emotional highs and lows. Battling the fear of the unknown (will you ever find a job?) is enough to make anyone feel frustrated, anxious, and downright bummed.

Job hunting is an intense process that can seriously mess with your mood. For most people, your career is closely linked to your identity, so you may feel like searching for a job is like searching for a piece of yourself—and until that piece is in place, you can feel unsettled and incomplete.

Or, you may feel that by being unemployed, you’re letting others down—like your parents, mentor, or significant other—which only exacerbates the roller coaster of emotions you’re on.

And to add to all that, looking for a new job is a constant lesson in dealing with rejection. No matter how many people tell you not to take it personally, rejection stings every time and can take a major toll on your motivation to move forward with your job hunt. You can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with you that’s preventing you from getting hired.

It’s normal to feel additional stress and anxiety during the job search process—but it’s also a difficult cycle to break. So when you’re feeling down about your job search, how can you cope? The good news is there are proven ways to better manage your mood during your job search, so you can rock your interviews and land a new role you love.

1. Create Structure

As humans, we naturally crave order and control, so it’s no wonder why the uncertainty associated with job searching can make us feel uneasy.

Creating a schedule and boundaries for your job search can help add that sense of control to your life, which can sustain your motivation and keep you thinking positively. For example, you might set aside one hour each morning specifically to work on updating your resume or set a goal to attend three networking events per month.

By incorporating structure into your daily job search, you’ll accomplish small wins each day, which helps foster positive feelings of self-efficacy—that is, a sense that you are capable of finding a new job. Knowing that you’re able to accomplish goals you set for yourself can help revive your waning motivation and flip your mindset around.

2. Stay Organized

The more organized you are, the less likely you are to become overwhelmed and fall victim to worst-case scenario or defeatist thinking (e.g., “They’ll take one look at my resume and laugh me out of the room” or “Why bother, I won’t get this job anyway”). So, create step-by-step plans for tackling each piece of the job search like it’s any other work assignment.

For example, for one opportunity, you may need to find contact information for setting up an informational interview and then draft an email to send. For another opportunity, you may have already landed an interview, so your next tasks would be to research the company, organize your notes, and lay out your interview outfit.

Breaking down the job search into smaller, more manageable tasks can help a big, daunting process feel less overwhelming and more within your control.

3. Take a Hiatus

Lining up as many interviews as you can fit into a short period of time may seem like the best strategy to land a role quickly, but when you’re feeling unmotivated and burnt out, it’s important to pace yourself.

In fact, you may even want to take a break from interviewing or job searching altogether. The length of your recovery will vary depending on your individual circumstances, but generally, the more detached and listless you feel, the more time you’ll need to disconnect and recoup. By taking occasional breaks, you’ll give yourself time to do an internal audit of your physical and emotional well-being and replenish your reserves as needed.

Use this time to physically rest and work on other priorities that may be tangential (but still beneficial) to your job search, such as setting up coffee dates to deepen networking connections or investing effort in finding a mentor who can support you when you pick your search back up again. While getting a job is important, keeping yourself healthy in the process is also an essential long-term investment.

4. Seek Out Emotional Support

The job search can stir up challenging emotions, fears, and limiting beliefs that can keep you up at night. If you bottle up those reactions, you’ll perpetuate the production of stress hormones throughout your entire body, which will continue to bring you down.

Instead, take these emotions as a signal to make a change in your behavior or outlook. A great way to do this is to turn to a friend or family member, who can provide a helpful reminder that you are loved, cared for, and a person of tremendous value despite the challenges you’re currently facing.

Simply talking through your emotions with another person can be an effective way of processing messy, challenging emotions. Engaging with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can also help you uncover limiting beliefs that are holding you back and learn how to turn those around.

5. Know Your Triggers

Ask yourself: What situations make you feel the most bummed out or trigger stress? For example, maybe you’re sent into a tailspin of uncertainty when you don’t hear back right away after an interview. The longer you experience the silence, the less motivation you have to continue your search—and you might even self-sabotage by canceling other interviews.

If you can identify situations or people that trigger your frustration, you can anticipate your reaction and create emotional buffers to help you cope better. For instance, you could ask your interviewer directly when you can expect to hear back—which can lessen the impact of that trigger.

The road to landing a job can seem endless and can take a major toll on your emotional well-being. But just like you wouldn’t go into work if you had the flu, you can’t go through the interview process without caring for your physical, mental, and emotional health. By following these tips, you can weather the storm and expedite your path to employment and happiness.

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

More from The Muse:

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Words to Avoid Using to Describe Yourself in an Interview

speech-bubbles-blackboard
Getty Images

Go for words that sound more like facts and less like judgments

The Muse logo

Hiring managers all have their favorite interview questions, but they’re typically some variation of the common ones. For example, you might get, “How would your colleagues describe you?” or “Use three words to describe yourself.” Either way, your overall approach would likely be the same. The thing you need to be mindful of, then, is what words you actually use.

Or, to put it in another way, there are words that you should never, ever use.

1. Intelligent

You know you’re intelligent, and you know the hiring manager is looking for someone who is intelligent, but please don’t describe yourself as such. This is one of those words that you want people to say about you, but that you don’t want to say about yourself. Whether or not someone is intelligent is a judgment call, and you want to shy away from words like that.

What to Do Instead

Talk about the way you think, and use words like, “logical,” “quantitative,” “fast learner,” or “big-picture thinker.” You’re going for words that sound more like facts and less like judgments.

2. Likable

For the same reason you don’t want to describe yourself as intelligent, you want to avoid words like “likable.” That, plus it’s tricky to find supporting examples of why you’re likable without sounding weirdly desperate. (“Everyone says hi to me, laughs at my jokes, and misses me when I’m out sick?” Um, no.)

What to Do Instead

Use words that you can back up, like “team player,” “outgoing,” “enthusiastic,” or “caring,” and back them up with examples of how you pitched in, spoke up in meetings, or threw an office holiday party. It’s much more palatable when the evidence you give involves actions you took rather than the actions or reactions of others.

3. Successful

You can successfully do something, but you can’t just call yourself successful. It’s like saying in an interview that you’re rich and good-looking. Do you really think that’s a good idea?

What to Do Instead

Narrow the focus down from success on a global scale to success on a more specific skill. You can absolutely say that you’re good at what you do. In fact, you should. The difference is saying that you’re successful in all realms of your life and pointing out your relevant skills and experiences for the job. The first is annoying; the latter is necessary.

4. Obsessive

Even if you’re immensely passionate about your work, you still want to avoid describing this trait or any trait with words that have a negative connotation. Having to explain yourself means that you and the interviewer are not on the same page, and ideally, you could avoid all that.

What to Do Instead

There are plenty of words you can use to get across how invested you are in your work that probably are more specific and don’t require some awkward explanation. Words like “focused,” “detail-oriented,” “hard working,” or “dedicated” all work well.

5. Humble

It’s weird to brag about how humble you are. It just doesn’t work. Don’t walk into this unfortunate contradiction and try to talk your way out of it. The more you try to explain this, the more you wear down your interviewer’s trust.

What to Do Instead

If this is really something you want to get across in an interview, go with the “show don’t tell” strategy. Each time you need to brag about yourself during the interview (which will be often, since it’s an interview), only state the facts. Talk about what you did, what the result was, and what others thought, and leave the judging to your interviewer.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and perhaps you can pull off describing yourself as intelligent, likable, successful, obsessive, and humble without cutting your interview short. But know that there are other ways to get your point across without causing your interviewer to spend too much energy trying not to roll his or her eyes.

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

More from The Muse:

TIME

Secrets to Answering the World’s Hardest Interview Questions

job-interview
Getty Images

Here's what the interviewer really wants to know

Interview questions that throw candidates for a loop like, “Why are manholes round?” have become the stuff of job-hunting legend, with stories from super-competitive tech companies like Google bringing the brainteaser question into the mainstream. Today, a much wider variety of companies use oddball or offbeat questions to try to find out something about a candidate — but if you’re sitting across the desk from a hiring manager, it can be hard to figure out why they’re actually asking about manholes, golf balls or some other puzzling riddle.

CareerBuilder asked hiring managers to spill the craziest question they’ve ever asked in an interview, they asked them to explain what they’re really interested in finding out. Here’s your peek behind the crazy-interview-question curtain— insight that just might be enough to get you hired.

“Define ‘Jell-O’ without using any form of the word ‘gelatin.’” Rather than being about jiggly desserts, this question gives the interviewer a window into your creative problem-solving skills.

“How would you wrangle a herd of cats?” Obviously, cats aren’t cattle. What an interviewer wants to hear when they ask a question like this is what kind of strategic thinking you use to organize and lead.

“Do you believe in life on other planets?” This isn’t the time to talk about your vast knowledge of Star Trek trivia. In this case, an interview is curious to find out whether or not you have an open-minded, “anything is possible” attitude.

“If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?” Please don’t say “sleep in” here. This reveals to an interviewer what really motivates you and what you’re passionate about outside of your 9-5 existence.

“If you were CEO at your last company, what would you change?” This one can seem tricky, because you don’t want to come off sounding like you’re bad-mouthing an employer. The aim of this question is most likely to ascertain how well you can take a step back and look objectively at situations or challenges, and what tactics you would use to improve or solve them.

“If you were a share of stock, why should a company buy you?” This one isn’t really a trick question so much as another way to ask, “Why should we hire you?”

“What superpower would you like to have?” How you answer this one gives the hiring manager a peek into how you view your own strengths, and your weaknesses.

“If you could be a Disney character, which one would you be and why?” This is another one that tips your hand a bit and tells the interviewer how you see yourself. It’s also not a bad way to assess a job-seeker’s sense of humor.

“If you were stranded on an island, which two items would you like to have with you?” Your answer here tells the hiring manager how you prioritize resources and what strategies you use to cope with limited resources.

“If you were trapped in a blender, what would you do to get out?” This question is a multi-tasker. It shows the interviewer how you think on your feet, and demonstrates your creativity as well as your problem-solving skills.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Job Search Like a Recruiting Pro

hands-typing-laptop
Getty Images

Study the job description first

startupcollective

One of life’s greatest pains is when you apply for a job while simultaneously realizing that your odds of getting that job are equal to winning the lottery by picking up rubbed-off tickets from the sidewalk. Prayer feels a lot more practical.

After you hit apply, here’s what happens: you become a number in an often vast and opaque database. The applicant databases of large companies might even contain millions of candidates. The chances of your resume ever seeing the light of day and getting noticed by a corporate recruiter are slim. So that feels like where your story ends.

If you’re lucky, someone is monitoring that database in between their coffee breaks. They might look at the new resumes that came in or use “smart” software to find resumes that match the assortment of keywords in the job description. Your experience, tenure and achievements are often not seen, much less considered. When it comes to job search, it’s like the old saying goes: “It’s better to be lucky than good.”

But if you have a few extra minutes, you can act like a recruiting pro and be smarter and more proactive about your job search. As the founder and CEO of Recruiter.com, I can help offer some insider insight. Here are four things to do AFTER applying:

  1. Study the job description. Most of these jobs are posted by busy people using stock templates given to them by HR organizations, or as parts of bundles that their companies pay for. So look for words that stick out — words that would never be part of a template. These are the parts added by the job poster to make the stock description look a little prettier.
  2. Grab unique phrases. Search for out-of-place words. Look for company-specific projects, technology terms unique to the company, descriptions of individual teams, mentions of particular products, etc. Forget “software engineer” and “design and development.” Hunt for phrases like “part of our e-platform component group,” “FIDO method” and “works with our Wind II series engineers.” Find anything that pinpoints the actual team inside the company to which you are applying.
  3. Find the team on LinkedIn. Unique phrases in hand, head on over to LinkedIn and do an advanced people search. Enter the company you’re looking for in the company field. Then in the keywords field, enter those unique phrases with quotations around them, like “e-platform component group” from our example above. In the title field, experiment with queries — like Manager OR Director OR VP OR Vice — to find key managers. This helps you pinpoint the exact team of people that are hiring for the position. Think about the org chart: who’s hiring? It’s your job to find them.
  4. Contact the managers. You might find 10 people who seem to be working on that project team — this is where you can pick how aggressive to be. You can contact the management of that team (or reach out to a peer in the group), describe your background and make your pitch. If you’re reaching out to a non-management employee, you might reference the exact job that you’re interested in and ask if they know who manages the hiring for the position. Include any descriptive internal tracking numbers that they used in the job description.

These are the kind of common sense techniques professional recruiters use to land new clients and find candidates for jobs. They work for job seekers too — good luck out there!

Miles Jennings is the founder and CEO of Recruiter.com, the next generation of recruiting.

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.

MONEY job search

This Common Résumé Mistake Could Cost You a Job

resume mistake
iStock

Be careful of how you represent your experiences.

Back when I worked in HR, a candidate I wanted to hire had listed a bachelor’s degree on her résumé. Come to find out through the background check, she’d never actually received it. She had completed all of the credits but was denied the degree due to outstanding library fines!

Had she listed her credits rather than the degree—e.g., completed all 120 credits towards a bachelor’s—that would have matched the check done by the employer, and she would have been fine.

Instead her exaggeration cost her the job.

A résumé often serves as the outline to a background check: Your employer may check employment dates, job titles, and academic degrees, among other things. So you should assume that everything that can be verified will be verified.

Even if you’d never outright lie, perhaps you’ve stretched the truth just a bit?

Many people have, including some famous ones. It’s easy enough to exaggerate, especially since some of the facts on a resume are open to interpretation. BackgroundChecks.org has produced a fascinating infographic on which parts of the resume tend to contain the most lies; Skills and responsibilities take the top two spots, and these are indeed two of the more subjective areas.

Overstatements can get you into just as much trouble as lies—just ask Brian Williams. Stick to these three guidelines to ensure that résumé inflation doesn’t burst your shot at the job:

Show Clear Examples

If you claim you can do something in the Skills section of your resume, include an example of when you’ve used it.

For example, if you list HTML programming, include a reference to it in the job where you used it most substantively. If you claim a responsibility, such as management, specify the size of the team or the budget or the project scope that you managed. If you claim a result, such as increasing revenue or decreasing costs, include a specific percentage or dollar amount—but only if you know it—and explain how you got that result.

The details will give the reader context in which to evaluate your claims and will enable you to keep track of the same supporting details you’ll need in the interview process anyway.

And if you can’t think of an example? You may want to cut it from your resume since it may not be verifiable to a hiring manager.

Beware of Giving Yourself a Title

I once interviewed a non-profit candidate who listed no title at her current job but included responsibilities commensurate with a director of development. As it turns out, she wasn’t the director of development; the director had left and she had assumed the role but without the title. She was correct to omit the title; had she put director of development and I called her HR office to verify, it would show as a mismatch.

Take a lesson from her and steer clear of using a title you don’t formally have.

But at the same time, don’t undersell yourself because of your lack of title. In the aforementioned case, she could have used a very specific description in lieu of a generic title: “Development team of one, in charge of $500k fundraising target.”

The point is to capture the responsibilities and accomplishments that you rightfully earned, but to be truthful about it.

Line Up Your Back Up

Another check and balance against resume inflation is to collect references and samples that confirm your claims.

If you’re going to say you led a a team, project, or some other substantive body of work, then line up a senior person in the department who can describe your contributions and verify that you accomplished what you said you did.

If you list HTML as a skill, share a sample of your code.

Your prospective employers may never verify that specific claim, but you’ll bes prepared if they do, and the act of thinking about who could confirm these facts keeps you from inflating your skills and experience.

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:

MONEY job search

This is How You Write a Perfect Post-Interview Thank You

Thank You Note
Janice Richard—Getty Images

Make sure it includes these 4 things

In my recruiting experience, I came across very few thank you notes—which is a shame.

A thank you note is one more opportunity for candidates to stay front of mind with employers. Sending a timely thank you note shows professional courtesy and follow-through (one hiring manager I worked with knocked out candidates who didn’t send a thank you!). Plus, a well-crafted thank you note is a marketing tool that can promote your candidacy after memories of your interview have faded.

The best thank you notes go beyond simple gratitude. Here’s what a productive thank you note includes:

1. Personalization by Name and Quote

Don’t just write to HR or your immediate hiring contact.

If you have met several people, write an individual letter to each and every interviewer, and quote or paraphrase something specific they said. “Dear Alan, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I particularly enjoyed hearing about your upcoming project with Really Cool Builders…” If you have a panel interview and meet several people all at once, still write individual notes.

A personalized thank you deepens your relationship with that person and enables you to maintain that relationship separately long after the hiring process plays out.

2. Reiteration of Your Strengths

If a particular interview response seemed to resonate or there was something you discussed that elicited strong interest, build on these items in your thank you note.

You might share another related example or point to additional ideas along the theme of what you discussed. This reminds the interviewer(s) why they liked you. “My experience working with creative at Really Funky Advertising seemed to dovetail exactly with what you need for your designers. In another role at Really Inventive Copy, I supported the creative team….”

3. Shoring Up of Your Weaknesses

At the same time, if there was a hiccup in the interview—a question you stumbled on or a strength you failed to highlight—address this in the thank you.

Let’s say you were asked for an example of when you worked with finance and operations, as opposed to creative, and you didn’t think of anything or you gave one example but thought of a better one after the fact. Include the additional information in the thank you: “I’m excited that the opportunity gives me the chance to work with creative, finance and operations. At Really Stylish Retail, my role as the planning analyst meant I supported our finance team on forecasting, budgeting and trend analysis. This also involved the operations team as I reviewed inventory levels and logistics…”

4. A Suggestion to Meet Again

When you’re introducing new information, include enough so that they realize you have more to say, then invite yourself to a future meeting so they can hear more about it: “As you can see from these additional roles we didn’t get to discuss, I have more to share and would love to schedule another meeting to go into detail.…”

In addition to more of your own experience, you might add an idea you have or point to a relevant article and suggest you discuss these further.

One final note: People often ask me whether to send the note via mail or e-mail. I say the latter. E-mail ensures that the note will reach recipients in a timely manner.

If you’d prefer to mail a note—to use nice stationary or to include additional material—I’d still send a quick e-mail first, alluding to the upcoming material then follow up with the hard copy.

Snail mail can take a really long time to wind its way through large corporate entities. One time, a thank you card I’d sent to a mentor arrived months after I’d mailed it—and right before our next scheduled lunch!

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. This column appears weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

MONEY job hunting

10 Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You a Job

150309_CAR_ResumeMistakes
iStock

Here's how to make the right impression with your resume.

The U.S. job outlook is looking much improved for 2015, and most economic indicators suggest a continued, healthy pace of hiring in the year ahead.

If you’re still job hunting, it’s time to polish your resume to ensure it stands out from the competition. While it can be tempting to pull outlandish stunts to convince employers to hire you, we don’t recommend them as a prudent job search strategy. Instead, stick to what works — like having a crisp, error-free CV. (See also: The 6 Craziest Things People Have Done to Land a Job).

To make your resume really stand out from the competition, here are 10 mistakes that will hurt your job search.

1. It Starts With a Career Objective Statement

Sometime back in high school, one of your instructors forced you to write a resume that included a career objective statement. Since habits die hard, you probably still include a career objective statement on your resume today.

Career objective statements are dated and don’t belong in the modern business world. Hiring managers recommend leaving objective statements off your resume because they’re irrelevant for the initial screening process. It’s all about what the company wants, not the other way around. If you make it past the screening process, then you will have a chance to talk about your objective(s).

2. It Features Quirky Job Titles

While TeaEO may have worked for the founder and CEO of Honest Tea, quirky job titles are often a bad idea.

There are three reasons why quirky job titles do more harm than good on your resume.

Quirky Job Titles Lack Context

If you’re a “Marketing Ninja”, what happens when you request or get a promotion? Do you become a “Marketing Jōnin“? Also, are you above a samurai? Did you report to a shogun?

Applicant Tracking Systems Search for Specific Keywords

Your “Word Guru” title will leave you out from an “associate editor” query.

Great Performances Trump Job Titles

Any customer would still prefer to be taken care of by an effective, yet boringly named “customer service representative,” than by a happy but hopeless “happiness advocate.”

3. It Includes Too Much Work History

A recent study found that recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing a resume. This means that most of the time your resume should be no longer than a single page, especially if you’re just starting your career. If you include pages and pages of work history, then you’re more likely to go over the one-page limit.

Unless it is 100% relevant, nobody wants to hear about your first job selling lemonade on your street or being a “sandwich artist” in college. Keep your job history relevant to the position that you’re applying to.

4. It Has Big, Unexplained Gaps in Employment

If you experienced a layoff, decided to take a long leave to raise your children, or took a year off to travel around Latin America, you will have a big gap in employment. Life happens and recruiters are fine with that. What they’re not okay with is that you leave them wondering about those gaps.

Include a single line description, such as “Family Care” or “Volunteer for Red Cross,” that helps your potential employer to review your job history, and then move on.

5. It Lacks Specifics

Focus on accomplishment, not job duties. Recruiters don’t want to hear about menial tasks and duties. Anybody in that job would have done those. Instead, recruiters would like to read about what you got done.

Here are three tips on how to provide specifics in your job history.

Avoid “I” Phrases

Resumes are never written in the first person. Use dynamic verbs instead.

Leverage Numbers to Provide Context

For example, “redesigned a trading platform used by 2,500 investment managers” or “launched a grassroots email marketing campaign that grew sales 25% to $500,000 the next quarter.”

Provide Specific Dates

“White lies” about length of employment are still lies.

6. It Contains Misspellings and Grammar Mistakes

Misspellings and grammar mistakes are the easiest ways to get your resume ignored. Use your word processor’s spell check, take advantage of online grammar checkers, and have at least two people proofread your resume before you deliver it. (See also: 12 Grammar Mistakes That Are Making You Look Stupid and 12 More Grammar Mistakes That Are Making You Look Stupid)

By taking the time to proofread your resume, you will stand apart from the 58% of resumes that have typos.

7. It’s in the Wrong Format

As many as 75% of qualified applicants are rejected by ATS programs because they submitted resumes can’t be read correctly, or at all. Avoid rejection with some simple steps.

  • Use .doc or .txt format instead of .pdf or image formats.
  • Avoid graphics and tables that may confuse an ATS.
  • List the name of your employer, then the dates of employment.
  • Upload your resume, instead of typing it out, because ATS prefers the first.
  • Include relevant keywords from the job posting contextually throughout your resume.

8. It Shares Confidential Information

This is a big no-no and is never okay By disclosing confidential details to a potential employer, you’re telling them that they should never hire you, unless they want their own trade secrets revealed to their competitors.

When in doubt about whether or not to include something in your resume, use the New York Times test: if you wouldn’t want to see it on the cover on the New York Times with your name attached, leave it off your resume.

9. It Promises “References Upon Request”

Don’t waste space on your resume to state the obvious. Remember that you only have about a page worth of resume real estate to impress your potential employer.

10. It Ignores Specific Requests From the Posting

Consider these surprising statistics about recruitment:

  • First applications are received 200 seconds after a job goes online; and
  • An average of 250 resumes are received for each job position.

To avoid drowning in a sea of resumes, on top of leveraging an ATS, recruiters include special requests on job postings. For example, an employer may ask you to include a specific phrase on your email subject line or cover letter.

If you ignore specific requests from a job posting, you’re never giving your resume a fighting chance.

Read more articles from Wise Bread:

What You Should Do If You’re Stumped During an Interview
How To Write A Resume: 12 Steps To Your Next Job
7 Job Search Stunts to Get You Noticed by Employers

TIME Careers & Workplace

How Not to Answer ‘Why Are You Interested in This Position?’

businesswoman-job-interview
Getty Images

Maintain a good balance between talking about yourself and relating to the company

The Muse logo

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

Hiring managers don’t always say what’s on their minds, and sometimes this results in a less effective interviewing experience for you, the job candidate. But, regardless of how good or bad your interviewer is, you’ll very likely still get this question: “Why are you interested in this position?”

The reason for that is because your answer says a lot about all of the most important things the interviewer will be evaluating: your skills, your cultural fit, and your interest. In other words, this is definitely not a question you want to screw up. Here are four common mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. You Never Talk About the Company

I recently had a conversation with a recruiter, and she shared this great tidbit with me about what she considers to be the kiss of death for interviews. When people answer, “Why are you interested in this position?” with something about being passionate about programming, writing, or some other skill with no mention at all about the actual company, it’s immediately a red flag. Think about it this way: You can bring your skills anywhere. The trick is explaining why you want to use them for this particular company.

2. You Only Say What’s in it for You

This mistake is particularly common because, well, this is what the question is asking for, isn’t it? Maybe this job would give you the chance to learn a lot about marketing, or it’s an opportunity to grow your quantitative analysis skills—that’s great, but it’s not what your interviewer really wants to hear. At the moment, the hiring manager isn’t the most invested in what’s in it for you; he or she wants to know what’s in it for the company. The solution? Align your interests and say something about your enthusiasm for using your skills to contribute to the company’s greater goal.

3. You Bring Up Points That Aren’t Relevant

In the heat of the moment, it can be really tempting to reveal that the office is actually quite close to your daughter’s school or how the company’s flexible hours policy would make it easier to carpool with your roommate, but don’t give in. These are nice perks, but (hopefully) they’re not the only reason why this position is exciting for you. Plus, you’ll be giving up an opportunity to share the more relevant ones.

4. You Answer the Wrong Question

Have you ever gone on a date with someone who wouldn’t stop talking about his or her ex? Well, turns out this happens during job interviews, too. Don’t be that person who can’t shut up about why you need to leave your old job, stat. Even if the reason you’re job searching is directly related to your previous position, focus on the future. Bring up the skills you’ve developed for sure, but no need to dive into the history of how you acquired them.

This seemly innocuous question is a surprisingly tricky one, especially if you try to answer it without first thinking about your audience. Read this to learn more about how to answer this question strategically. Then, get your story straight, and remember who you’re talking to. It’s just one question, but it can completely shape the way an interviewer views your candidacy.

More from The Muse:

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com