TIME Careers & Workplace

The Tried-and-True Guide to Surviving a Layoff

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First, give yourself the space to feel what you feel, in solitude

Losing your job can be one of the most unexpected and confidence-crushing experiences you’ll have in your working life. But, going through it doesn’t have to dampen your spirit—or ruin your career.

“Everyone I know who has ever been laid off ended up in a better place because of it,” says career expert Suz O’Donnell, director of client services and lead coach at Thrivatize. “Some of them stayed in the same role, but went to a company they liked better and others completely recreated themselves by finding something they found more meaningful.”

Of course, before you can find the unseen benefits to a layoff, you first have to get through it in one piece. Here’s what you should do from the moment you get the news.


Within the First Hour

Let yourself cry/scream/laugh…alone. You’re going to have a lot of emotions after you get the news, whether it’s through a face-to-face meeting with your boss or via email. As soon as you can, find a place you can be alone (your car or an uninhabited office without windows) and give yourself the space to feel what you feel, in solitude.

Put the news in perspective to keep yourself from panicking. After your initial reaction, resist wallowing in how this layoff will reflect on you, especially now that you have to find a new job. In short, try not to take it personally. “A layoff is only a black-eye on your resume if you treat it that way,” O’Donnell says. “Layoffs reflect more poorly on company performance than your personal performance so be sure not to let it get you down.”

Tell your work BFF, significant other, or parents. It may help to talk to someone you trust right away about what happened—this can give you an even better perspective on what a layoff means for you and help your feel better in general.


Within the First Week

Meet with a career services coach. “Layoffs often come with some sort of career services, so be sure to take advantage of those free tools and coaches,” O’Donnell says. “The agency your company uses will mostly likely have self-assessments to investigate your passions and strengths, career coaches to help you build your resume and translate it for new opportunities, and special access to recruiters who look at resumes they submit first.”

Network and fortify connections at your current company. Before you make your final exit, be sure to chat with those whom you have good relationships with at your current company to let them know your situation and that you’d like to stay connected in the future. Make sure these people have your personal email so they can reach out to you after you’re gone.

Pack your desk and clear your hard drive. Before you leave, if you can, clear out all personal items from your work space, as well as wipe everything off your work computer. (Different types of computers and operating systems have different instructions for doing a reset.) If you have files at work that you want to keep for the future, bring your own external hard drive so you can grab those. Also, as tempted as you might be, don’t steal office supplies on your way out. Keep things professional, despite how you feel about the situation.


Within the First Month

Brainstorm new positions and job roles for yourself. O’Donnell says your layoff can be a great opportunity to consider tweaks in your role that suit your strengths and passions better. Make a list of all the skills you have and tasks you handled in your previous role. Ask yourself: Which responsibilities did you enjoy the most? Which ones would you like to not do again? Now’s the time to redefine what job role you’d like to fill in the future.

Research dream companies and locations. Getting laid off is also an opportunity to find a better, stronger company with greater upward mobility, O’Donnell says. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to work in another city, or even abroad. Now that you’re not tied down to your job, the world really could be your oyster.

Go on vacation. It might seem crazy to spend money on a trip right now, but if you were offered a healthy severance, take advantage of it. You don’t need to go on a pricey or long vacation—just get out of town and allow yourself to recharge. A change of scenery can give you a change in perspective and offer you some time to think.


Within the First 3 Months

Send out resumes and cover letters, and perfect your interview skills. Apply to any and all jobs that interest you. The more resumes you send out, the more inquiries you’ll get from potential employers wanting to see you or talk over the phone. Go on as many interviews as you can to flex your Q-and-A skills and to explore multiple opportunities.

Interview and follow-up. After you meet with new potential employers, send thank you notes and follow-up with every person you spoke to. This is not only courteous, it also ensures you’ll be remembered. Also keep in mind that some interview processes can take months—be patient and the right role will be yours.

Take up a hobby. To keep yourself from going stir crazy, make sure you have a creative outlet or activity you can pursue in tandem with your job search. Either revisit a hobby you didn’t have time for when you were working or try something new. Plus, you never know how something you do “just for fun” can lead to a job or business idea in the future.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com

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5 Lines to Avoid in Your Follow-Up Email After Job Interview

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Take the time to focus on what you say and how you say it

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I think we can all agree that waiting to hear back about a job isn’t topping anyone’s list of favorite hobbies. Every time your phone rings or your email dings, you stop what you’re doing just in case it’s news on the job front. Will you get an interview? Will you get an offer? Maybe you even pick up one of those automated scam calls, just on the off chance that the hiring manager is suddenly calling you from a blocked number or remote location.

So, more power to you if you decide to take matters into your own hands and write a note. That said, as with everything else, you need to find a way to phrase what you’re really thinking (i.e., “Hire me!”) in the best way possible.

Read on for five lines you want to be sure to avoid, as well as better options.

1. “You Said You’d Get Back to Me on Monday, and It’s Tuesday.”

Yes, you get points for paying close attention. Except: You only get them with yourself. When you write a line like this, it feels accusatory. Suddenly the hiring manager is on the defensive, feeling like you’re a candidate who doesn’t understand that some times things take more time than anticipated.

In this instance, your best bet is to give it some more time (a.k.a., until Friday) and then say you’re “looking forward to learning about potential next steps.” Don’t worry—waiting a few extra days won’t make you look like you lack attention to detail or weren’t listening closely. Rather, it will make you look patient and understanding of a modern hiring process.

2. “Why Haven’t You Gotten Back to Me?”

You have to be extra bold on job search—get out there and network, sell your abilities, and follow up! And while a can-do attitude is a must, you don’t want to feel so emboldened that your emails sound, um, threatening. Another variant on this line—“Where are you?”—can read as either angry or confused, but it’s still best avoided.

A better option than either of these is a line that inquires if there’s anything tangible that you can do to make it easier for the other person to reach back. If you submitted an application and haven’t heard back in 10 days, you could try, “I’m very excited about the open position and I’d like to confirm receipt of my application materials. Please let me know if I may send anything else along.” Alternatively, if an interviewer said he or she would be in touch and you never received a response to your thank you note, you could follow up a week later to ask if you “could provide any additional information or assistance.”

This approach is nice because it shifts your tone from “Don’t make me hunt you down” to “Just a reminder that I’m happy to do what I can to continue the conversation.”

3. “I’d Really Appreciate Any Response Whatsoever.”

Let’s be real: You don’t actually want any response whatsoever. Ideally, you want to hear that you’re moving forward in the hiring process. If that’s not possible, you want a general status update (e.g., applications are under review or all final candidates have been contacted).

This line comes off a little desperate. It sounds like you’re waiting by your phone and like you’ll jump off the treadmill or out the shower if it rings—and the hiring manager doesn’t need to know that!

So, if you’re itching to know how things are going with your application, try: “Would it be possible to get an update on the status of the hiring process?” It’s concise and it doesn’t tip your hand.

4. “I Have Another Offer. Do You Have a Decision Yet?”

Sometimes you’re really excited about a certain company, but sadly, the hiring process is dragging on so long that you’d have to (essentially) commit before you get an offer (very risky!) or bow out. Thankfully, there’s another option whereby you let them in on your predicament—delicately.

First, don’t put the cart before the horse. If the company has rescheduled your interview three times, they may be trying to let you down easy—or too disorganized to get back to you within your parameters anyhow. On the other hand, if you’ve interviewed and think things went well, it’s worth letting them know that you’re interested, but that external factors may force your hand.

Try this: “I’m really excited about this position, and it’s my first choice. So, I wanted to let you know that I have another offer that I have to respond to by Friday. Do you know when you’ll be making a decision?”

If you don’t want to share news of your offer—say you’re applying to closely connected firms—you could simply say: “Could you share the projected timeline for the remainder of the hiring process?” This way, you’ll know if you’ll magically hear in a matter of days—or not.

5. “I’m Disappointed You Never Wrote Me Back.”

We’ve all been there. It’s upsetting when an interviewer you thought you hit it off with goes radio silent. And there might be a part of you that wants to write something like you would in a break up text about how you’re better than this anyhow, and you’ll get through it and find what’s right for you.

However, an angry response makes you look like you’re someone who doesn’t understand how to communicate professionally. It’s annoying, but it’s a fact that some companies, per protocol, don’t reach back to candidates—even finalists—once they’ve filled a post.

As far as what to write instead, you have a few options. If you’re dying to write something back, you can say you “enjoyed learning more about the company and would love to be kept in mind for any roles you might be a better fit for in the future” or that you “would like to stay in touch.”

That said, I prefer to say nothing. You can always reach out at a later date. In the meantime, you can focus your energies on the companies that are getting back to you.

It’s important to follow up on job opportunities. So take the time to focus on what you say and how you say it.

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

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What I Learned From Going On More Than 100 Job Interviews in 8 Months

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Be specific and adamant about what you’re looking for in a job

“I am a warrior with a warrior spirit!” This is the phrase I repeated to myself over and over again after I heard my pastor say it one Sunday morning. I quickly rushed home so I could jot it down and hang it up on my wall. Those seven words helped me stay encouraged through 8 months of unemployment—yes, that’s 243 frustrating, resume-writing, tear-filled days. And in that period, I went on more than 100 interviews, from the traditional, in-person sit-down to nerve wracking phone calls and dozens of video chats. There is so much that I learned about myself and the job search during that time that has made me a wiser woman and a more confident job candidate. I hope you’re never in my shoes, but if you are, keep these six things in mind:

1. Don’t give up on finding the perfect fit.

When looking to begin a career, you should not only be a good fit for the company, but it should be a good fit for you, too. When I graduated from college all I wanted was to live in New York City and work in consumer PR full-time. I didn’t have a specific firm that I wanted to work for, but I knew that I wanted an opportunity to get my feet wet. Companies are looking for candidates that they feel will adapt well with their teams and their corporate culture. There were times I would pretend to be a good fit for a team out of desperation, when I knew in my heart that the job or the company wasn’t right. Don’t do this. Be specific about what you’re looking for in a job—and consider asking for an informational interview before you send in an official application somewhere. Either way, decide it’s a fit before applying for the gig.

2. Avoid the job board black hole by doing your research.

Most job postings will take you down the road of an online application. Indeed, MediaBistro, LinkedIn, and other job boards are great tools that I used during my job hunt. However, I also went the extra mile to land my interviews by finding a contact at the companies where I applied. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with current employees to inquire about a position. If you use Craigslist as a job tool, make sure you look up the company before you interview. One time, I was asked to come to Atlanta for an interview, but after thorough research on Glassdoor, the company turned out to be a call center and not a marketing firm. I saved myself time and money on a flight by doing preliminary research first.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

As I watched my classmates land exciting jobs, I grew more and more embarrassed to still be unemployed. I was tight-lipped about my job search challenges, but then I remembered a line from one of my favorite movies: “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” And its true. Your professional and personal relationships can greatly improve your job search. My mentors, alumni network and my colleagues helped me refine my pitch and sent along listings. They also offered to look over my resume, set up meetings with hiring managers, and even gave me mock interviews.

4. Life is so much more than a Valencia filter.

We have to remember not to live life through a Valencia filter—you know, that perfectly smooth photo effect on Instagram. We have to trust the process and be mindful that our journey is uniquely ours to take. My social media feeds began to affect me negatively during my job search. Although I was ecstatic to read job announcements from my colleagues, I was wondering when I would get to share mynew job status. I decided to take a break from social media to focus on me. Take breaks from your social media accounts to help you stay positive. Start off slow with a weekend hiatus and then progress to a week of newsfeed-free living. Like me, you’ll probably notice how much more you’re able to accomplish (and how much less bummed you feel) by taking a break.

5. When you open your mind, you open your world.

In the midst of my search slump, I began to see people turn their degrees and internships into transferrable skills that helped them land jobs outside of their fields. I decided to do the very same thing. I had tunnel vision when I started my job hunt and that was to land a PR job in New York City. I was not interested in anything else or living anywhere else. Once I realized that art and psychology majors were getting the PR jobs that I interviewed for, I decided to open myself up to other opportunities. From there I started applying to jobs all over the United States and in different industries. Be open when job-hunting, you never know where new doors will lead and you may just discover hidden talents.

6. Stay positive by finding a “pump you up” anthem.

Keeping a positive mind can change your circumstances. Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” was my theme song during my job hunt. Even though it took me a while to find a job, it made me “a little bit stronger” and “a little wiser” each time I had an interview. I learned to train my mind to think positive by taking negative thoughts and turning them into hopeful statements. Instead of saying “I had a horrible interview,” try saying “I did the best I could during that interview.” Instead of saying “I’m a complete failure for not landing the job,” think, “ I may not have landed this job—but I have what it takes to get the next one.”

Once I opened my mind, I reached out to a relative that worked at the number one hospital in New York City. Equipped with the lessons I learned and utilizing her connections, I was able to get a job as an office assistant. After that short stint, I finally reached my goal and got a full time job in public relations. Be resilient and keep working towards your dreams, when the timing is right everything you wished for will happen for you.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com

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7 Interview Questions to Help You Assess Emotional Intelligence

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Who inspires you and why?

Determining who you hire for a job plays a big part in forming your company’s culture and ensuring its future success. Selecting informative interview questions can be a key factor in finding the right employees — as well as weeding out the ones that won’t fit. A candidate’s answers can be telling.

While different companies embody various values and cultures, success in the workplace is strongly influenced by a person’s emotional intelligence, a quality that should be a non-negotiable when vetting job candidates, says Mariah DeLeon, vice-president of people at workplace ratings and review site Glassdoor.

Here are seven interview questions that can draw revealing answers from the job candidates you interview — and get you on your way to finding employees with stellar emotional intelligence.

1. Who inspires you and why?

The job candidate’s answer often gives the interviewer a peek into who the interviewee models him or herself after. The response can also highlight the sorts of behavioral patterns the interviewee respects, says Craig Cincotta, chief of staff and vice-president of communications at online home improvement marketplace Porch, where he’s heavily involved in team expansion and hiring.

2. If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would be its top three values?

Every good relationship starts with trust and aligned values. Insight into a person’s priorities — as well as honesty and integrity — can emerge in the candidate’s answer, explains Robert Alvarez, the CFO of e-commerce platform Bigcommerce.

3. If business priorities change, describe how you would help your team understand and carry out the shifted goals?

Shifting priorities happen in every company, and every job, so look for candidates who are flexible and possess the skills to help carry out change. Hire employees who are self-aware, motivated and display empathy advises DeLeon. “These skills will help employees better work in teams.”

4. Did you build lasting friendships while working at another job?

It takes a while for people to build relationships — and being able to do so is a sign of solid emotional intelligence, Alvarez says. “[A lasting friendship] tells you that relationships and caring about people are important to the person.”

5. What skill or expertise do you feel like you’re still missing?

Curiosity and the desire to learn are vital signs that a prospective employee wants to get better at something. “People who struggle with this question are the people who think they already know it all,” warns Alvarez. “These are the people you want to steer away from.”

6. Can you teach me something, as if I’ve never heard of it before? (It can be anything: A skill, a lesson or a puzzle.)

A job candidate’s answer to this question can reveal several qualities:

  • Whether the person is willing to take the time to think before speaking.
  • If the candidate has the technical ability to explain something to a person who is less knowledgeable in the subject.
  • Whether the candidate asks empathetic questions to the person being taught, such as, “Is this making sense?”

7. What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?

The answer to this question can determine whether a person is selfless or selfish, Alvarez says. “When people talk about their own success, listen to whether someone talks about ‘me-me-me’ or ‘I-I-I.’ Or whether they talk about ‘the team,’ ‘we’ or ‘us.’”

“Look for a team player who brings something positive to the company,” Cincotta shares. “Someone can be the smartest person in the room, but if they are not someone you enjoy working with — because they are more concerned with their own success over that of the company — they won’t be a fit.”

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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8 Unspoken Messages From Interviewer to Interviewee

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We love when you bring a 'project'

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Naturally, job candidates talk a lot during an interview. So does the interviewer (though in that case, less should be more.)

But there are a number of things interviewers wish they could say to job candidates before the interview ever takes place.

See if you agree:

1. We really want to like you.

Obvious, sure, but also critical. We all want to work with people we like and who like us.

So, we want you to smile. We want you to make eye contact, sit forward in your chair, and be enthusiastic. The employer-employee relationship truly is a relationship — and that relationship starts with the interview (if not before).

A candidate who makes a great first impression and sparks a real connection instantly becomes a big fish in a very small short-list pond.

You may have solid qualifications, but if we don’t think we’ll enjoy working with you, we’re probably not going to hire you.

Life is too short.

2. We want you to stand out…

A sad truth of interviewing is that later I often didn’t recall, unless I referred to my notes, a significant amount about some of the candidates. (Unfair? Sure. Reality? Absolutely.)

The more people I interviewed for a job and the more spread out those interviews got, the more likely I was to remember a candidate by impressions rather than by a long list of facts.

So when I met with staff to discuss potential candidates, I might initially refer to someone as, “the guy with the handcuff-ready stainless steel briefcase,” or “the woman who does triathlons,” or “the guy who grew up in Romania.”

In short, interviewers may have remembered you by “hooks” — whether flattering or unflattering — so use that to your advantage. Your hook could be your clothing, or an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career.

Better yet, your hook could be the project you pulled off in half the expected time, or the huge sale you made.

Instead of letting us choose, give us one or two notable ways to remember you.

3. …But not for being negative.

There’s no way we can remember everything you say. But we will remember sound bites, especially negative ones.

Some candidates complain, without prompting, about their current employer, their co-workers, their customers.

So if, for example, you hate being micromanaged, instead say you’re eager to earn more responsibility and authority. We get there are reasons you want a new job but we want to hear why you want this job instead of why you’re desperate to escape your old job.

And keep in mind, we’re well aware our interview is like a first date. We know we’re getting the best possible version of you. So if you whine and complain and grumble now… we know you’ll be a bummer to be around in a few months.

4. We want you to ask lots of questions about what matters to you…

We need to know whether we should hire you, but just as important, we need you to make sure this job is a good fit for you.

So we want you to ask lots of questions: What we expect you to accomplish early on, what attributes make our top performers so outstanding, what you can do to truly drive results, how you’ll be evaluated –all the things that matter to you and to us and our businesses.

You know what makes work meaningful and enjoyable to you. We don’t. There’s no other way to really know whether you want the job unless you ask questions.

5. …But only if the majority of those questions relate to work.

We know you want a positive work-life balance. Still, save all those questions about vacation sign-up policies, and whether it’s okay to take an extra half hour at lunch every day if you also stay a half hour late, or whether we’ve considered setting up an in-house childcare facility because that would be awesome for you and your family.

First let’s find out if you’re the right person for the job, and whether the tasks, responsibilities, duties, etc., are right for you.

Then we can talk about the rest.

6. We love when you bring a “project.”

We expect you to do a little research about the company. That’s not impressive; that’s a given.

To really impress us, tell us how you will hit the ground running and contribute right away — the bigger the impact the better. If you bring a specific skill, show how we can leverage that skill immediately.

Remember how we see it: We have to pay you starting day one, so we’d love to see an immediate return.

7. We want you to ask for the job… and we want to know why.

By the end of the interview you should have a good sense of whether you want the job. If you need more information, say so. Let’s figure out how to get you what you need to make a decision.

If you don’t need more information, do what great salespeople do and ask for the job. We’ll like the fact you asked. We want you to really want the job — but we also want to know why you want the job.

So tell us why. Maybe you thrive in an unsupervised role, or you love working with multiple teams, or you like frequent travel. Ask for the job and prove, objectively, that it’s a great fit for you.

8. We want you to follow up… especially if it’s genuine.

Every interviewer appreciates a brief follow-up note. If nothing else, saying you enjoyed meeting us and are happy to answer any other questions is nice.

But “nice” may not separate you from the pack.

What we really like is when you follow up based on something we discussed. Maybe we talked about data collection techniques, so you send me information about a set of tools you strongly recommend. Maybe we talked about quality, so you send me a process checklist you developed that I could adapt to use in my company.

Or maybe we both like cycling, so you send me a photo of you on your bike in front of the sign at the top of the Col du Tourmalet(and at least I’m totally jealous).

The more closely you listened during the interview, the easier it is to think of ways to follow up in a natural and unforced way.

Remember, we’re starting a relationship — and even the most professional of relationships are based on genuine interactions.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com

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5 Things You Need to Know Before Changing Jobs

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

5 insights with links to the research backing them up:

For more on how to find the perfect career for you, click here.

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How Minority Job Seekers Battle Bias in the Hiring Process

The job search process plays an important role in shaping, reinforcing and sometimes counteracting inequality in the labor market

Discrimination in the hiring process has limited the opportunities available to both racial minorities – such as African Americans – and women, with important consequences for their well-being and careers.

For example, research has shown that white job applicants receive 50% more callbacks for interviews than equally qualified African American applicants. And, in the low-wage labor market, scholars have found that African American men without criminal records receive similar callback rates for interviews as white men just released from prison. Researchers have also documented discrimination in hiring against women, with particularly strong penalties against mothers.

But how does this reality affect these groups – African Americans and women – as they hunt for jobs? Do they tailor their searches narrowly to help them avoid discrimination, sticking to job opportunities deemed “appropriate” for them? Or do they cast a wider net with the hopes of maximizing their chances of finding a job that does not discriminate?

Until now, we have known little about this issue, largely because no existing data source has closely followed individuals through their job search.

New research that we recently published in the American Journal of Sociology attempts to address this limitation by drawing on two original datasets that track job seekers and the positions to which they apply.

The results of our study point to three general conclusions about the job search process:

  1. African Americans cast a wider net than whites while searching for work.
  2. Women tend to apply to a narrower set of job types than men, often targeting roles that have historically been dominated by women.
  3. Past experiences of discrimination appear to drive, at least in part, the broader job search patterns of African Americans.

On an important side note, these racial differences exist for both men and women and these gender differences exist for both whites and African Americans.

Let’s go into a little more detail on these three main findings.

Casting a wide net

Our analysis shows that African Americans apply to a greater range of job types with a broader range of occupational characteristics than similar whites.

For example, one of our survey respondents was previously employed as a “material moving worker.” Over the course of the survey, this respondent applied for jobs consistent with his prior work experience, such as “material handler” and “warehouse worker.”

However, the respondent also reported applying for jobs in retail sales, as an IT technician, a delivery driver, a security guard, a mail-room clerk and a short order cook. This respondent applied to jobs in a total of seven distinct occupations over the course of the survey, which represents a fairly broad approach to job search.

While this is just one example, it was typical. In both of the datasets we examined, African Americans systematically applied to a larger number of distinct job types than whites with similar levels of education and work experience.

Women and self-selection

Our study demonstrates that women pursued a search strategy very different than that of African Americans.

Women appeared to self-select into distinctive occupational categories consistent with historically gendered job types, such as office and administrative support positions.

During their job search, women also applied to a narrower range of occupations than men with similar education and work experience.

For example, women wanting to work in retail sales were more likely to apply strictly for that type of position during their job search. Men with similar aspirations, on the other hand, were more likely to branch out and apply to adjacent job types, such as wholesale, advertising or insurance sales.

Past discrimination drives blacks’ behavior

So what accounts for these race and gender differences in how people search for a job?

For African American job seekers, we found that perceptions of or experiences with racial discrimination played an important role in explaining their greater search breadth.

In one of the surveys we conducted, we asked job seekers about their experiences with racial discrimination at work. In our analysis, we found that individuals who reported that they had previously observed or experienced racial discrimination in the workplace were more likely to cast a wide net in their job search compared with those without such experience.

A gender-segregated workforce

But if discrimination, in part, drives the search behavior of African Americans, why do we not see similar adaptations by women, who also undoubtedly face employment discrimination?

We suspect the answer is related to the deeper and more explicit nature of gender inequality in the labor market. Occupations remain highly segregated by gender, and individuals from an early age can identify male- and female-typed jobs.

This reality affects women’s occupational aspirations as well as perceptions of the constraints they may encounter when deviating from gendered patterns. In either scenario, women’s self-selection into female-typed occupations may allow them to avoid jobs where they are more likely to experience discrimination. At the same time, this strategy likely reproduces gender segregation at work, which is an important source of gender inequality.

For African Americans, things are quite different. There are far fewer readily identifiable “black” or “white” jobs. The barriers facing African American job seekers can pop up across the labor market. Thus, it is more difficult for African Americans to target jobs where they will be able to avoid discrimination.

But a broad job search allows black job seekers to reach otherwise difficult-to-identify job opportunities in which racial discrimination is less prevalent. Given the challenges of anticipating where and when discrimination is likely to occur, applying to a broad set of job types raises the probability that an African American job seeker will apply to a job that does not discriminate.

Key consequences and takeaways

Job search strategies matter and can make a big difference in everything from lifetime earnings to potential career opportunities.

We find that broad search is associated with being more likely to receive a job offer, but also with receiving lower wage offers. Thus, job seekers appear to face a trade-off between the goals of finding any job and finding a good job. The broader search patterns among African Americans, therefore, may reduce some of the employment gap but contribute to the long-standing racial disparity in wages.

Second, to the extent that broad search leads job seekers to occupations that are different from their past work experiences, this strategy may limit African Americans’ ability to build coherent careers that are consistent with their experience and aspirations. Given significant racial differences in search breadth, these dynamics are likely to contribute to persistent racial inequalities in labor market outcomes.

In the case of women, limiting the scope of their search likely reinforces existing patterns of occupational segregation, which has consequences for the gender earnings gap and implications for other forms of persistent gender inequality.

Where does this leave us?

Together, the findings from our study suggest that the job search process plays an important role in shaping, reinforcing and sometimes counteracting inequality in the labor market.

At the same time, discrimination and other barriers to employment must be considered to fully understand how labor market inequality is generated.

And, as the comparison of race and gender suggests, how individuals adapt to workplace barriers can take different forms and have distinct consequences.

Our research points to the importance of systematically examining both job search processes as well as discriminatory behavior and other constraints in the workplace if we hope to fully understand and rectify persistent racial and gender inequalities in the labor market.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

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

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Common Mistakes to Avoid on Your Resume

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Be cautious to list skills or acronyms that you may not be familiar with

1. Lack of Clarity

If a potential employer cannot understand your work history, skills, or any other portion of the resume clearly and easily, you have already lost the job. They will not take the time to figure it out. They have tens or even hundreds of other candidates, and your resume goes in the trash. — Scott Kennard, 911 Restoration

2. Cramming Too Much Information Onto the Page

Resumes that include too-small font, dense paragraphs, etc., can be overwhelming and unappealing to employers. If you make it too hard for them to read your resume, they simply won’t, and they will move on to the next candidate. Use the appropriate font size, and break up information by using appropriate headings, bullet points, and bold font (sparingly). Use white space to direct the eyes and make your resume easier to read and more aesthetically appealing. — Cachet Prescott, Career Coach and Consultant

3. Not Using the Right Key Words

Many candidates do not use the correct SEO word choices that will aid in the applicant tracking system’s (ATS) selection of the resume. These systems search for key words based on the job description. An example could be the use of the term ‘recruiter,’ versus ‘talent acquisitor’ — depending on the industry, either term may be used. Reflect on the wording in the job posting — that is how the resume should be worded. — Lisa Chenofsky Singer, Chenofsky Singer and Associates

4. Taking a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

If you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to a variety of employers, you will most likely end up with your resume tossed in the wastebasket. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization. If you’re simply sending out the same resume to each employer, it shows potential hiring managers that you’re not interested in the particular job they’re offering. If you’re not willing to read the job description and tailor your resume for the job, they think you don’t care enough about the job to do it, and they won’t think it’s worth their time to give you a chance. — Jennifer Magas, Magas Media Consultants, LLC

5. Making It All About You

Another common mistake is writing a resume as though it is all about you. It really is not: it is about the prospective employer. Having objective statements and detailing what you are looking for is of no interest the employer. Their biggest question is, What can you do for me? The mistake is in not answering that question.

In that top quarter of your resume, you will be lucky to get a 3-10 second review, and therefore, it is critical to answer this question to ensure the reader continues to evaluate your resume. Start with the most important skill sets, abilities, accomplishments or attributes — most important to the employer — that you bring to the table. Set the stage for them to see you in the role that you are pursuing. Align your resume with the prospective employer and position, allowing the reader to easily identify you in that position. — Lisa K. McDonald, Career Polish

6. Using an Inappropriate Email Address

Don’t use a personal email address geared more for playtime than work. If you use an email address which references your partying or intimate behaviors — such as ‘wildwoman’ or ‘drunknhorny’ — I question your judgment. It is too easy to get a generic, free email account from Gmail or Yahoo for your interview correspondence to represent yourself in such a manner. Keep the other address for communicating with your friends — not potential employers. — Cassie Dennis, SocialRaise

7. Focusing on Tasks Instead of Results

Future behavior can be predicted by past behavior, so use those bullets under each job to showcase your accomplishments, not the tasks assigned to the role. Did you standardize a set of processes? Develop industry knowledge? Save time or other resources? Use the bullets to describe your achievements using the skills the employer seeks. — Marilyn Santiesteban, Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M University

8. Listing Skills They Don’t Really Have

One of the most common resume mistakes I have seen is when candidates list skills they don’t actually have. Remember: anything that is listed on your resume is fair game for an interview. Candidates should be cautious to list skills or acronyms when they really have no understanding of or experience with that skill or technology. — Nick Santora, Curricula

9. Not Providing Enough Context

It’s great to list your day-to-day responsibilities, but unless we know what your company does, your goals within your department, or what you’ve accomplished in your role, these tasks come across as relatively meaningless. — Sarah Dabby, ClickTime

10. Forgetting to Be Themselves

I’ve seen many resumes that do not sound or look like the person I’m sitting across from. In some cases, professional resume writers craft the resume’s content to the point where the candidate cannot speak to the experience listed.

Be sure you will feel proud and focused when you hand over your resume. Can you speak to every job, result, and accomplishment listed? Does your resume reflect your humor, energy, passion, and confidence? If your resume looks sophisticated and professional, yet you are relaxed and casual, it will be a challenge to get a hiring manager to see that you are the same person listed on the pages. — Lida Citroen, LIDA360

This article originally appeared on Recruiter.com

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Finally, Some Better News For Job Seekers

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There are more jobs, and they're paying better

If you’ve looked for work within the past several years, you know the job market offers pretty slim pickings, even more so if you’re not in a highly-sought-after field like technology. There finally seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, though: A new survey of employers finds that more of them are optimistic about the future and plan to grow their head count. Even better is the news that a substantial number of them are willing to pay more to do so.

CareerBuilder released its mid-year jobs forecast Thursday, and it definitely paints a sunnier picture than we’ve seen in a long time. For starters, roughly half of the 2,300 HR and hiring managers surveyed say they plan to hire full-time workers in the second half of 2015, an increase over 2014. Just over a third plan to hire temps, and 28% will add part-time workers, both increases from a year ago.

What’s even better news is that more HR departments are willing to pay to attract this new talent. Almost half of respondents say they’ll raise starting salaries in the next year, an increase of four percentage points in a year, and about one in six say they’ll hike what they pay new hires by more than 5%.

“This is the best forecast from our survey since the recession,” says CareerBuilder spokeswoman Jennifer Grasz. “Companies are hiring across industries, company sizes and geographies.”

The industries that plan to pick up the pace the most are a diverse lot: IT and healthcare are at the top of the heap, but not all of the fast-growing fields are just for high-skill workers. Hospitality and retail are also outperforming the average. Even embattled industries like financial services and manufacturing are enjoying better-than-average hiring rates.

Hiring is expected to be especially strong at small businesses and tech companies, the survey finds. Although 62% of big companies will add workers, compared with 37% of businesses with fewer than 250 workers, the increase in hiring is rising faster at smaller firms. “Enterprise organizations bounced back first and are considerably more likely to hire, but what’s encouraging is that small businesses have gained confidence every year, and that’s translating into more robust job creation,” Grasz says.

And while the picture is pretty good across the U.S., the Northeast has the biggest uptick: 52% of companies say they plan to add people in the second half of 2015, up from 48% last year. Grasz says the growing investment in technology in this part of the country is one reason for the acceleration, along with other regionally strong industries like healthcare and financial services continuing to rebound.

“This is a very different scenario for the labor market than four or five years ago,” Grasz says. It’s definitely a market job seekers of all types are likely to greet with a sigh of relief.

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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