TIME

U.S. Women Leadership Ranking is Pathetic Compared to Other Countries

Democratic Women
House Democratic women of the 114th Congress including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, pose for a picture on the House steps of the Capitol, Jan. 7, 2015. Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

We're not even close to the top

When it comes to women in leadership roles, the U.S. isn’t cutting it.

According to a new comparison by Pew, the U.S. ranks 33rd out of 49 high-income countries when it comes to women in the national legislature (20% of the House and Senate are women). When they expanded the comparison to 137 countries, the U.S. dropped to 83rd (these calculations were made were using data from mid-2014, but even when the most recent Congressional elections are taken into consideration, the U.S. only rises to 75th place.)

We did a little better when it comes to women in cabinet or government managerial positions: the U.S. ranked 25th out of 141 countries, and when the pool was narrowed to high-income countries, we tied for 12th place with Canada.

Pew also tracked “legislators, senior officials, and managers,” a category which includes corporate leaders, heads of nonprofits or unions, and policymakers. Among high-income countries, the U.S. was tied with Barbados, Tobago, and Trinidad for fourth place, but when the comparison was expanded to 125 countries with data available, the U.S. dropped to 16th place.

In other words, for all our striving, we’re not being particularly effective at electing female leaders compared to other countries. Especially compared to Rwanda, where 64% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies are held by women.

[Pew]

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Inspiring Habits of Truly Remarkable Bosses

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Here's how to be the boss no employee will want to leave

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

Conventional wisdom—and a bunch of research—says people don’t quit their companies; they quit their bosses.

Of course that means the opposite must also be true: people who love their bosses should stay at that company even if they could find (within reason) better pay and benefits somewhere else.

So how can you be a boss everyone wants to work for? Start by realizing that the basics—professionalism, objectivity, ethical behavior, etc.—are a given. (As Chris Rock would say, those are things you’re supposed to do.)

You have to go further. You have to do things that don’t show up on paper, but definitely show up where it matters most: in the minds and even hearts of the people you lead.

You need to:

1. Take real, not fake risks.

Many bosses—like many people—try to stand out in superficial ways. Maybe they wear unusual clothing or pursue unusual interests or publicly support popular initiatives. They try to stand out—and they choose easy ways to do so.

Great bosses do it the hard way. They take unpopular stands, not because they hope to stand out, but because they want to do the right thing. They take unpopular steps. They’re willing to step outside business-as-usual to make things better.

They take real risks not for the sake of risk but for the sake of the reward they believe is possible. And by their example, they inspire others to take a risk to achieve what they believe is possible.

Great bosses inspire their employees to achieve their dreams: by words, by actions, and most important, by example.

Who doesn’t want to work with a leader like that?

2. See opportunity in instability and uncertainty.

Unexpected problems, unforeseen roadblocks, major crises—most bosses horde supplies, close the shutters, and try to wait out the storm.

Great bosses see a crisis as an opportunity. They know it’s extremely difficult to make major changes, even necessary ones, when things are going relatively smoothly. They know reorganizing an operations team is much easier when a major customer jumps ship. They know creating new sales channels is much easier when a major competitor enters the market.

Great bosses see instability and uncertainty not as a barrier but as an enabler. They reorganize, reshape, and re-engineer to reassure, motivate, and inspire—and in the process make the organization much stronger.

And that makes people want to stay, if only to see what tomorrow will bring.

3. Believe the unbelievable.

Most people try to achieve the achievable; that’s why most goals and targets are incremental rather than inconceivable.

Memorable bosses expect more—from themselves and from others. Then they show us how to get there. And they bring us along for what turns out to be an unbelievable ride.

No one is eager to step off of that kind of ride.

4. Wear your emotions on your sleeves.

Good bosses are professional. Great bosses are professional yet also openly human. They show sincere excitement when things go well. They show sincere appreciation for hard work and extra effort. They show sincere disappointment—not in others, but in themselves. They’re even willing to show a little anger.

In short, great bosses are people, and they treat their employees like people, too.

Treat me like a number and I’ll stay until a better number comes along. Treat me like a person and I’ll stay because, ultimately, that’s what we all really want.

5. Save others from onrushing buses.

Even good bosses sometimes throw employees under the bus.

Great bosses never throw employees under the bus.

Great bosses see the bus coming and pull their employees out of the way, often without the employee’s knowing until much, much later (if ever—because great bosses never seek to take credit).

When someone volunteers to take a bullet on our behalf they inspire incredible loyalty.

6. Go there, do that, and still do that.

Dues aren’t paid (past tense); dues get paid each and every day.

The true real measure of value is the tangible contribution a person makes on a daily basis.

That’s why, no matter what they may have accomplished in the past, great bosses are never too good to roll up their sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work. No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.

Who wants to leave a job where they feel everyone—including and especially their boss—is in it together?

7. Lead by permission, not authority.

Every boss has a title. That title gives them the authority to direct others, to make decisions, to organize and instruct and discipline.

Great bosses don’t lead because they have the authority to lead. They lead because their employees want them to lead. Their employees are motivated and inspired by the person, not the title.

Through their words and actions, they cause employees to feel they work with, notfor, their boss. Many bosses don’t even recognize there’s a difference, but great bosses do.

It’s easy to leave a boss we work under; it’s much harder to leave a boss we stand with side-by-side.

8. Embrace a larger purpose.

A good boss works to achieve company goals.

A great boss works to achieve company goals and to serve a larger purpose: to advance the careers of employees, to make a real difference in the community, to rescue struggling employees, to instill a sense of pride and self-worth in others.

Great bosses embrace a larger purpose—and help their employees embrace a larger purpose—because they know business isn’t just business.

Business is personal.

We all seek to find meaning in our personal and professional lives. Find that meaning, and it’s hard to leave. Money is important, but fulfillment and self-worth are priceless.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 14

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Boko Haram’s lethality is surging. The global public must take note and demand action from world leaders.

By Sophie Kleeman in Mic

2. Simple stop-and-go labels could train people to eat healthier.

By Tove Danovich in Civil Eats

3. Massive indoor farms use vastly less power and water than outdoor fields and could help address global food insecurity.

By Gloria Dickie in National Geographic

4. Military exoskeletons are becoming a reality, just not necessarily for combat.

By Patrick Tucker in Defense One

5. As U.S. retail transforms, urgent-care clinics are taking over mall real estate to meet growing demand.

By Doni Bloomfield in Bloomberg Businessweek

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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 leadership

Only 20% of Republican Women Call It Important to See a Female President in Their Lifetime

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Businesswoman looking out office window Hero Images—Getty Images/Hero Images

But most people think women are effective business and political leaders, says a new Pew study

Correction appended, Jan. 14

The glass ceiling may not have shattered, but it is a lot less invisible than it used to be. Women make up only 20% of the Senate, 10% of governors, and 5.2% of Fortune 500 Business leaders. But at least Americans are beginning to understand why: sexist doubts about women’s competence are being slowly replaced by acknowledgement of the tough hand dealt to women leaders.

Not everybody feels that situation should change: A new Pew study says only 20% of women who identify as Republican consider it “personally important” to see a female president in their lifetime.

Mostly, however, Americans attribute the gender gap in leadership roles to structural inequalities, and sexist perceptions of female performance are actually relatively uncommon, says the study: 43% said that double standards keep women from achieving top business positions, and 38% said that kept them from political office. Meanwhile, fewer than 10% of people think women aren’t achieving these positions because they’re not tough enough or they make bad managers.

When it comes to gender equality in the business world, there’s a wide perception that women perform just as well as men, if not better. Most people said they saw no difference between how men and women perform in top business positions, but those that did see a difference tended to give women the edge: 31% said they thought women were more ethical and 30% said women would give fairer pay (although 34% said they thought men would be more likely to take risks.) Respondents said they thought women would do a better job running a hospital, a retail chain, or a large bank, while men would have better skills for running a professional sports team, an energy company, or a tech company.

But “soft skills” aside, 52% of women say the reason there aren’t more women running companies is because female CEOs are held to to higher standards than men. And it’s unclear whether these standards will ever disappear completely: 53% of respondents said men will dominate corporate leadership forever, while 44% said the gender gap at the top will eventually close.

Politics is a little different. A full 73% of Americans expect to see a female president in their lifetime, and while most respondents still thought men and women would do equally well in top political positions, 34% say women are better at working out compromises and are more ethical than men. Yet the double standard persists—47% of women believe that women don’t achieve high political office because they’re held to higher standards than men.

Unsurprisingly, the political opinions break down among party lines as well. Democrats are consistently more likely to attribute positive leadership skills to women: 40% of Democrats said women politicians are more honest than men while only 31% of Republicans agreed.

In both business and politics, women seem to be much more aware of the challenges facing female leaders than men are. Almost three quarters of women think it’s easier for men to become CEOs, compared to 61% of men, and 73% of women think it’s easier for men to be elected to political office, compared to 58% of men. Women were also much more likely to recognize gender discrimination by almost a 2o point margin (65% of women, compared to 48% of men,) but of that group, only 15% of women said there was “a lot” of discrimination. Both men and women said they saw more discrimination against gay people, African-Americans, and Hispanics: 28% said there is “a lot” of discrimination against gays and lesbians.

When asked whether more women in leadership roles would approve the quality of life for all women, 38% of women said that more female politicians would help them “a lot.” Only half as many men agreed.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described one of the findings of the Pew study. It found that 20% of Republican women “personally hope” to see the United States elect a female president during their lifetime.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Most Important Thing You’re Not Doing at Work (and How to Get Started)

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Make a weekly appointment to go over your notes

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

“Write this down—it’s going to be on the final exam,” said no boss ever.

Note-taking is an unsung challenge of moving from school to the workplace—we’re in a completely new environment, with totally different reasons for note-taking and different needs for how we’ll use our notes later on, yet most of us are relying on the methods we used in our high school history class.

And while it’s rare that anyone will lose a job for not taking notes on something, the small, ongoing effect of bad notes (or skipping notes completely) can really hurt your career. How many times have you had to email your boss, a colleague, or a client asking a question about something she talked about in a meeting the other day because you forgot it? That’s hurting that relationship—not to mention everyone’s productivity. (Side note: Here are a few more things that bosses really don’t like.)

On the flip side, taking notes is an incredible way to show respect to people. It shows you’re listening and that you think what they are saying is important. Your notes serve as your guide to doing your job better, too; you can easily refer to the important information you need to succeed whenever you need it, without delay.

And a secret bonus, taking notes actually makes you smarter. When you have a collection of thorough, thoughtful notes all in one place (that you actually revisit from time to time), you start to see connections between things you otherwise wouldn’t have seen and have information that other people don’t retain. This is how you’ll get great ideas, form new connections, and become the kind of innovator and leader who makes things really happen on your team.

All in all, taking notes is a really subtle, but powerful, way to make yourself more successful—but very few of us get any guidance on how to transition our note-taking style to work at work. That’s why today I want to share with you a quick-start guide to taking amazing notes in your professional life.

1. Know When to Take Notes at Work

Not every situation at work calls for note-taking, but there are certainly times when I would highly recommend pulling out your pen and paper. In general, my advice is always to err on the side of taking notes and just decide later whether or not you need to keep them, but here are some of the key times when you’ll want to jot some things down:

One-on-One Meetings

Whether you’re the boss or the employee, taking notes shows you’re taking the time seriously. It’s also a good time to make note of personal details like your manager’s spouse’s name, which is good stuff to remember to help you form a more meaningful relationship with people at work.

Big Conversations

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in what’s going on during a big brainstorming or problem-solving session that you actually don’t retain anything when you walk out of the room. Make a point to take notes, even if you’re participating a lot, to ensure you hold on to critical information.

Client Meetings

Bringing a notebook is always a good idea so you can record every detail a client or customer needs. Better to have too much information and pare it down later than to miss out on something really important.

Meetings With Your Mentors or Contacts

Even a simple coffee meeting should be recorded. Show the person you value his or her time and expertise by writing it down; plus, if this is a rare meeting, you’ll want to make sure you remember everything since you might not get time with this person again soon. You can also use your notes to follow up in a more meaningful way—like sending a valuable link or article related to something you discussed in your meeting.

2. Find a Note-Taking Style You Love

There are no rules when it comes to how you take your notes. There’s no proof that any style works any better than another style—the best kind of notes are the ones that will make sense to you later, whatever they look like.

Here are a few of the most popular note-taking styles that you can try out to find what works for you.

Lists

This is the most traditional kind of note-taking. You start at the top of the page with the main meeting topic, and then continue your list down with sub-heads as other topics come up.

Leave space between sub-heads as you go, since the meeting may circle back to a topic (or you may have questions or new ideas you want to record), and you will want to have space to add information without making your list sloppy or confusing.

You can also create headings for things like action items, to-dos, decisions made, and any important resources or tools you need to hold onto, so you can have a really actionable list to refer to later on.

Mind Maps

If you’re a visual thinker, try a mind map. Start by writing the topic of the meeting at the center of the page. From there, draw branches out to every key topic discussed.

For example, you might write “Kickstarter launch” at the center of your page, and then draw branches out for topics like “press outreach” and “launch day timeline.” Continue drawing branches out for subtopics (getting increasingly detailed), and at the end you’ll have a visual representation of the meeting’s most important points.

A Trail of Breadcrumbs

This is the most intensive form of note-taking, but it’s incredibly effective. When you employ this strategy, take notes as if you are going to give them to someone who wasn’t there in the meeting.

Write down every topic as it comes up, and then record every point raised related to that topic. You don’t have to write every word that’s said; use short phrases, and pay special attention to things like specific tools or resources.

This is a great strategy for people who get anxious during meetings, since it’s keeps your hands busy. As long as you make eye contact from time to time, no one will mind you taking such thorough notes.

3. Organize Your Notes So You Can Revisit Them Later (and Become Amazing)

One of the biggest struggles people have with note-taking is keeping their notes organized in a way that they can actually revisit in a valuable way later. Note-taking on its own isn’t enough to improve retention or understanding—you have to actually revisit your notes and cement the information in your mind in order to make it valuable.

This means that if your notes are all over the place or completely disorganized, you might as well not be taking them at all. Here are some of the best ways to keep your notes organized and to make the time you spend with them truly valuable for moving your career forward.

Always Keep Your Notes in the Same Place

The easiest way to keep your notes organized is to keep them in one place. No more typing some things into a Google doc and keeping a random pile of sticky notes on your desk. While there are many options for this, paper is ideal so that you’re not keeping a screen in between you and the person you’re meeting with.Plus, actually writing things out with your hand helps with retention.

So, invest in a notebook—one that you love, that you’ll take with you everywhere, and that has the versatility you need for the many situations you’ll need to take notes in.

Keep the Same Format

Above, we went over three of the top note-taking styles that work well for professional settings. Find the style that works for you and stick with it; this will make skimming over your notes later much easier.

Whichever style you choose, write critical information at the top of every page—the date, meeting attendees, and meeting topic on every page of notes that relates to that meeting—so it’s easy to track.

Make a Weekly Appointment to Go Over Your Notes

It’s hard to find time to revisit your notes, even if you want to, with the constant stream of things that demand your attention and are a higher priority every week. So set a recurring meeting on your calendar to go over your notes once a week. Even 15 minutes is enough time to look at what you recorded.

When you go over your notes, write down any questions you have or any open issues that still need to be resolved. This is also a good time to prepare for any upcoming meetings you have. Write down questions you want to make sure get answered or any important information you think you’ll need to have on-hand.
How much more could you accomplish if you always had the right answer at your fingertips? Consistency is the key to success; the more small, good habits (like great note-taking) that you can develop, the more you’ll be able to grow every single day. This week, try taking notes in every meeting and see if it makes it any easier to have good ideas fast or to get more done.

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TIME Careers & Workplace

45 Quick Changes That Will Help Your Resume Get Noticed

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If you have gaps of a few months in your work history, swap out the usual start and end dates for each position with years only

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

There is certainly a time and a place for a resume overhaul. Taking a couple hours to really clean up your resume is worth doing before you start a job search, or even just once a year as a tune-up.

But sometimes, you don’t have that kind of time. Sometimes, you just have a few minutes, and you want to spend them giving your resume a quick polishing-up. And for those times, we made you this list of resume updates that only take a few minutes, but that can make a big difference in making your resume shine.

Choose how much time you have, pick a (mini) project, and get ready for your resume to be that much more eye-catching.

If You Have 2 Minutes

  1. If it’s not done already, switch the font of your resume to Helvetica, Arial, or Times New Roman—in other words, make sure it’s not hard to read (or stuck in Word’s standard Calibri). Using a common, clean font may not make your resume the prettiest out there, but it will make it more readable (and less likely to be rejected by applicant tracking systems).
  2. Remove “References Available Upon Request” (if they want references, they’ll ask for them!), and use the extra space to add a detail about your abilities or accomplishments.
  3. Delete the career objective. That boring boilerplate “I am a hard working professional who wants to work in [blank] industry” is a bit obvious—why else would you be submitting your resume?—and takes up valuable space.
  4. Spell check (fo’ serious), and correct any mistakes.
  5. Save your resume as a PDF if it’s in any other format. That way, the formatting won’t get messed up when your resume is opened on a different computer.
  6. Change the file name from “Resume” to “[First Name] [Last Name] Resume”—it makes things easier for hiring managers and ensures your resume doesn’t get lost in the crowd.
  7. Remove your address. If you’re not local, recruiters might not look any further. If you are, recruiters may take your commute time into account and turn you down if they think it would be too long.
  8. In its place, add a link to your LinkedIn profile, as well as any other relevant social media handles (Twitter if it’s professional, Instagram or Flickr if you’re applying to social media or creative positions). Caveat: Never include Facebook, no matter how clean you keep it.
  9. Don’t want to drop your whole ugly LinkedIn URL onto your resume? (Hint: You shouldn’t.) Create a custom URL to your public profile using simply /yourname (or some similar, simple variation if somebody already has your name). LinkedIn has instructions on its website.
  10. Make all of your hyperlinks live. Your resume is most likely going to be read on a computer, so making things like your email address, LinkedIn and other social profiles, and personal websites clickable makes it easier for the recruiter to learn more about you.
  11. Omit any references to your birthdate, marital status, or religion. Since it’s illegal for employers to consider this when looking at your application (at least in the U.S.), they can’t request it (and offering it makes you look a little clueless).
  12. If you’re more than three years out of college, remove your graduation year. Recruiters only really want to know that you got a degree, and you don’t want them to inadvertently discriminate based on your age.
  13. While you’re at it, do a little rearranging, and move education down below your experience. Unless you’re a recent graduate, chances are your last one or two jobs are more important and relevant to you getting the job.
  14. To improve readability, increase the line spacing (also called leading) to at least 120% of the font size. To do this in Word, go to Format and select Paragraph. In the pulldown under Line Spacing, choose Exactly and set the spacing to two points above the size of your font (so, 12 if your font is 10 point).
  15. Need a little more space to work with? Reduce your top and bottom margins to 0.5″ and your side margins to no less than 0.75″. This will keep your resume clean and readable but give you more room to talk about what you’ve got.

If You Have 5 Minutes

  1. Remove anything high school-related unless you’re a year out of college or need to bulk up your resume and did something highly relevant (and awesome) during your high school years.
  2. Update your skills section. Add any new skills you’ve gained, and remove anything that is a little dated (nobody wants to hear that you have Microsoft Word experience anymore—they expect it).
  3. If you have lots of skills related to a position—say, foreign language, software, and leadership skills—try breaking out one of those sections and listing it on its own (“Language Skills” or “Software Skills”).
  4. Double check that formatting is consistent across your resume. You want all headers to be in the same style, all indentations to line up, all bullet points to match, and the like. You don’t want the styling to look sloppy!
  5. Find any acronyms, and write out the full name of the title, certification, or organization. You should include both, at least the first time, to make sure the recruiter knows what you’re talking about and so an applicant tracking system will pick it up no matter which format it is looking for. For example: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
  6. Unless you are a designer or are submitting a (carefully crafted) creative resume, remove any photos or visual elements. On a more traditional resume, they generally just distract from the information at hand (and can confuse applicant tracking systems).
  7. If you have gaps of a few months in your work history, swap out the usual start and end dates for each position with years only (e.g., 2010-2012).
  8. Swap out a couple of your boring verbs for some more powerful (and interesting) ones (check out our list if you need inspiration).
  9. Swap out a couple of generic adjectives or titles (words like “detail-oriented” or “experienced” are overused and don’t tell a recruiter much) with stronger language that better describes your more unique strengths.
  10. Worked multiple jobs within the same organization? Learn how to list them right on your resume, then update it as such.
  11. As a rule, you should only show the most recent 10-15 years of your career history and only include the experience relevant to the positions to which you are applying. So if you have anything really dated or random, remove it and use the space to bulk up other sections or add something more relevant.
  12. Go through line by line and take note of any orphan words (single words left on a line by themselves). See how you can edit the previous line so they can fit—making your resume look cleaner and opening up extra lines for you to do other things with.
  13. Make your document easier to skim by adding divider lines between sections. Check out section three of this great guide to resume formatting from LifeClever for instructions.
  14. Include any numbers on your resume? Go through and change them all to numerical form, instead of written out (i.e., 30% instead of thirty percent). Even small numbers that are often spelled out should be written numerically—it makes them pop to the reviewer and saves space.
  15. Read your resume out loud. This will not only help you catch any spelling or grammar errors, but it will also help you notice any sentences that sound awkward or that are hard to understand.

If You Have 10-15 Minutes

  1. Look at your resume “above the fold.” In other words, take a close look at the top third of your resume—the part that will show up on the screen when the hiring manager clicks “open” on that PDF. That’s what’s going to make your first impression—so make sure it serves as a hook that makes the hiring manager eager to read more.
  2. Make sure you have no more than 6-7 bullet points for any given position. If you do? Cut and condense. No matter how long you’ve been in a job or how good your bullets are, the recruiter just isn’t going to get through them.
  3. Give your resume to someone who doesn’t know you well to look at for 30 seconds. Then ask: What are the three most memorable things? What’s the narrative? Take this feedback and think about how you can adjust your resume to get it closer to where you want.
  4. Similarly, drop your resume into a word cloud generator and see which keywords are popping out. If the most prominent ones aren’t what you want to be remembered by, or if there are important words that aren’t present, think about how you can tweak your resume to make that more clear.
  5. Go through your bullet points, and add as many numbers and percentages as you can to quantify your work. How many people were impacted? By what percentage did you exceed your goals? (And, yes, it’s OK to estimate as long as you can roughly prove it.)
  6. Pick a few statements to take one step further, and add in what the benefit was to your boss or your company. By doing this, you clearly communicate not only what you’re capable of, but also the direct benefit the employer will receive by hiring you.
  7. Consider adding a qualifications section. (Perhaps in lieu of your now-deleted “Career Objective?”) This should be a six-sentence (or bullet pointed) section that concisely presents the crème of the crop of your achievements, major skills, and important experiences. By doing this, you’re both appeasing any applicant tracking systems with keywords and giving the hiring manager the juicy, important bits right at the top.
  8. Update your resume header to make it pop. You don’t have to have a ton of design knowledge to make a header that looks sleek and catches a recruiter’s eye—check out this example for some simple, text-based inspiration. (Hint: Use this same header on your resume and cover letter to make your “personal brand” look really put together.)
  9. Need to fill up more space on your resume, or feel like you’re light on the experience? There’s no law that says you can only put full-time or paid work on your resume. So, if you’ve participated in a major volunteer role, worked part-time, freelanced, or blogged? Add a couple of these things as their own “jobs” within your career chronology.
  10. If you need more space on your resume, check and see if any of your formatting decisions are taking up unnecessary space. Does your header take up too much at the top? Do you have any extra line breaks that you don’t really need? Tinker around with the formatting and see how much space you can open up (without your resume looking crowded or messy).
  11. Look at each bullet point and make sure it’s understandable to the average person. Remember that the first person who sees your resume might be a recruiter, an assistant, or even a high-level executive—and you want to be sure that it is readable, relevant, and interesting to all of them.
  12. Make sure all of the experience on your resume is updated. Add any awards you’ve received, new skills you’ve taken on, articles you’ve published, or anything else awesome you’ve done.
  13. Hop over to your LinkedIn profile, and make any updates you’ve just made to your resume to your summary and experience sections there.
  14. Email three of your friends or professional contacts asking (nicely!) for a peek at their resumes. You might be able to get some inspiration for your own (or even help them out).
  15. Get that baby out there. Find an awesome job to apply to with one of our partner companies, then get started on your cover letter with our easy-to-follow guide.

More from the Muse:

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10 Ways to Write Better Emails (and Just Maybe Change the World)

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Try to include one “big idea” per email

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

Want to make a new year’s resolution that you can actually stick to?

One that will instantly improve your life and career, make your colleagues’ lives easier—and maybe change the world?

Commit to writing better, simpler, clearer emails.

The kinds of emails that people actually look forward to reading.

Chances are, you’re going to spend over a quarter of your workday dealing with emails, so if there’s one thing you choose to upgrade in the new year, you might as well start with your communication skills.

Here are 10 ways to take your emails from mediocre to majorly awesome—while inspiring other people to step it up, too:

1. Announce Your Intentions Upfront—and Get to the Point

“Hey! I know you’re busy getting ready for the conference, so I’ll get right to the point. I am writing today because…”

2. Try to Include One “Big Idea” Per Email

“The main thing to remember is…”

“The key takeaway from our conversation is…”

“The one thing I need from you, right now, is…”

3. Try to Use Statements, Not Open-Ended Questions

This: “I think launching the new campaign on Thursday is the best choice. If you agree, write back to say ‘yes,’ and I’ll proceed. If not, let’s talk.”

Not this: “So, what do you guys think? I’m open to everybody’s ideas!”

4. Be Surprisingly Generous

“Congratulations on your promotion. Very exciting. P.S. I left an inspiring book on your desk. Just a little something to usher in the next chapter. Enjoy…”

“I was thinking about your new project. Here’s a free resource that might help…”

“I’ve got a free guest pass for a local co-working space. I want you to have it. Enjoy…”

5. When Delivering Criticism, Be Respectful and Specific

“Thanks for all of your work. We’re getting closer, but the logo still isn’t feeling quite right. Here are three specific adjustments that I’d love for you to make.”

6. Show Your Humanity

“So sorry to hear that your dog passed away. Mine went to doggy-heaven last year. If you want to talk about it, I’m here. If you want to not talk about it (and go out for a coffee or do something fun), I’m here, too.”

7. Tell Your Reader What You Need—and When You Need It—Upfront

“Hey! Here’s a quick recap of our conversation—plus two questions for you at the end. I’d love to receive your responses by [date] so that we can keep moving forward on schedule.”

8. Occasionally, Send Emails That Include a Compliment, Not a Demand or Request

“Hey. You did a terrific job at the press conference. You were funnier than Ellen DeGeneres and totally nailed the message. Thanks for making our company look great!”

9. Whenever Possible, End With Some of the Most Beautiful Words on Earth

“No rush on this.”

“For your information, only. No action necessary.”

“No response required.”

10. Above All: Astonish People With Your Brevity

It’s not always possible, but try to express yourself in three sentences or less. Or as close as you can get. (Think haiku, not memoir.)

If you’re struggling to keep it brief, you might want to pick up the phone, have a face-to-face conversation, or spend a little more time thinking about what you really want to say. (My free workbook, Feel. Know. Do., can help you to organize your thoughts before you hit “send.”)

When you write better emails, you set a new barometer of excellence—inspiring everyone around you to communicate more clearly and effectively, too.

You might not be destined to be the next Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa, but helping to remove friction, irritation, and time-wasting misunderstandings from your workplace? That’s a big deal.

After all, one well-written email can change someone’s day, shift someone’s attitude, nudge a project into motion, or even change someone’s life. You never know what the ripple effects might be.

So, lead the charge. Be the change. Show your colleagues how awesome emails can be.

More from the Muse:

TIME Careers & Workplace

To Create a New Habit, First Know You’re Going to Break It

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One of the key parts of building habits might be to know that you will not flawlessly create your habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

I’ve been obsessed with thinking about, adjusting and building upon my habits for a long time now, and working on good habits is probably one of the things that’s helped me the most to make progress with my startup. In addition, it seems like habits are now becoming popular again. This is a great thing, and books like The Power of Habit are helping lots of people.

Perhaps one of the things that is rarely discussed with habits is failing with them. How do you keep going with building habits when you fail one day, or you have some kind of momentary setback?

I thought it might be useful for me to share my thoughts on habits, and particularly the aspect of failing with habits.

Building an awesome habit

There are the steps I’ve found that work best to create a new habit:

  1. Start so small you “can’t fail” (more on the reality of that later)
  2. Work on the small habit for as long as it takes to become a ritual (something you’re pulled towards rather than which requires willpower)
  3. Make a very small addition to the habit, ideally anchored to an existing ritual

creating-habits

How I built my most rewarding habit

The habit I’m happiest with is my morning routine. It gives me a fantastic start to the day and lots of energy. To build it, I took the approach above of starting small and building on top.

I started my habit a few years ago when I was based in Birmingham in the UK. The first thing I started with was to go to the gym 2-3 times per week. That’s all my routine was for a long time. Once I had that habit ingrained, I expanded on it so that I would go swimming the other two days of the week, essentially meaning that I went to the gym every day at the same time. I’d go around 7:30, which meant I awoke at around 7 a.m.

Next, I gradually woke up earlier, first waking up at 6:45 for several weeks, and then 6:30. At the same time, I put in place my evening ritual of going for a walk, which helped me wind down and get to sleep early enough to then awake early. Eventually, I achieved the ability to wake up at 6 a.m. and do an hour of productive work before the gym. This precious early morning time for work when I was the freshest was one of the things that helped me get Buffer off the ground in the early days.

The next thing I made a real habit was to have breakfast after I returned from the gym. I then worked on making this full routine a habit for a number of months. I had times when I moved to a different country and had to work hard to get back to the routine after the initial disruption of settling in. It was whilst in Hong Kong that I achieved being very disciplined with this routine and wrote about it.

My morning routine

Today, I’ve built on top of this habit even further. Here’s what my morning routine looks like now:

  • I awake at 5:05am.
  • At 5:10, I meditate for 6 minutes.
  • I spend until 5:30 having a first breakfast: a bagel and a protein shake.
  • I do 90 minutes of productive work on a most important task from 5:30 until 7am.
  • At 7 a.m., I go to the gym. I do a weights session every morning (different muscle group each day).
  • I arrive home from the gym at 8:30 a.m. and have a second breakfast: chicken, 2 eggs and cottage cheese.

It may seem extremely regimented, and I guess perhaps it is. However, the important thing is the approach. You can start with one simple thing and then work on it over time. I’m now working to build around this current habit even more.

Failing while building your awesome habit

One of the most popular and simultaneously most controversial articles I’ve ever written is probably The Exercise Habit. It’s one that has been mentioned to me many times by people I’ve met to help with their startup challenges. I’ve been humbled to find out that a number of people have been inspired by the article to start a habit of daily exercise.

Whilst in Tel Aviv, I met Eytan Levit, a great startup founder who has since become a good friend. He told me he had read my article and was immediately driven to start a habit of daily exercise. I sat down and had coffee with him while he told me about his experience, and it was fascinating.

He told me that he did daily exercise for four days in a row, and he felt fantastic. He said he felt like he had more energy than ever before, and was ready to conquer the world. Then, on the fifth day Eytan struggled to get to the gym for whatever reason, and essentially the chain was broken. The most revelatory thing he said to me was that the reason he didn’t start the habit again was not that he didn’t enjoy the exercise or benefit greatly from doing it. The reason he failed to create the exercise habit was the feeling of disappointment of not getting to the gym on that fifth day.

Get ready and expect to break your habit

“I deal with procrastination by scheduling for it. I allow it. I expect it.” – Tim Ferriss

What I’ve realized is that one of the key parts of building habits might be to know that you will not flawlessly create your habits. You are going to break your habit at some point. You are going to fail that next day or next gym session sooner or later. The important thing is to avoid a feeling of guilt and disappointment, because that is what will probably stop you from getting up the next day and continuing with the routine.

In a similar way to how Tim Ferriss deals with procrastination, I believe we should not try so hard to avoid breaking our habits. We should instead be calm and expect to break them sometime, let it happen, then regroup and get ready to continue with the habit.

Perhaps we took too much on, and we cut back a little or try to add one less thing to our habit. Or maybe we just had a bad day. That’s fine, and a single failure shouldn’t stop our long-term success with building amazing habits.

This article originally appeared on Buffer.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Most Overlooked Aspects of Creating a Lasting Morning Routine

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Waking up early sets the tone of “making a choice” for the day

“Those that get up at 5 a.m. rule the world.” – Robin Sharma

Those who know me, know that I love my morning routine. I’m always making adjustments to it, and at its core it revolves around waking up early (before sunrise), working on something important for 90 minutes, and then hitting the gym. I recently shared my most recent routine in a blog post about creating new habits.

Today, I want to share a couple of things about my routine that I’ve neglected to mention in previous articles. These two aspects have enabled me to create a morning routine that has lasted several months, and it’s through my morning routine truly becoming habitual that I’ve seen massive benefits. I hope that these two insights can help you, too.

Why wake up early in the first place?

Before I jump into those two key insights that helped me, I want to share some of my thoughts about why you might want to wake up early at all.

Firstly, I’ve observed that many of the most successful people wake up early. In fact, I don’t know anyone who consistently wakes up before 6 a.m. who isn’t doing something interesting with their life. Some of the top CEOs are well known for waking up super early, many of them at 4:30 a.m.

Additionally, I feel that waking up early sets the tone of “making a choice” for my day. If I leave it to fate as to when I roll out of bed, then I feel like that’s the outlook I’m taking in general. On the other hand, if I choose to get up early and do amazing things in those quiet hours, that’s when I feel like I’m grabbing hold of my life and controlling where I go. That’s the choice I want to make.

Finally, I’d like to ask you – are you working for someone else and have the desire to create your own startup? If that’s the case, then do you leave your “startup building time” to the evening? Why do it after 8 hours of work? You’re going to be exhausted and struggle to be motivated.

I advise you to think about what is a higher priority for you—your dream of a startup, or your work for someone else? Perhaps start working harder on yourself than on your job. When I started Buffer whilst working 5 days per week, it was the choice to work an hour first thing in the morning each day when I was freshest that made a huge difference.

So, if you’re thinking about starting an early morning routine, here are two things that took me a while to notice:

1. Craft your evening routine to get enough sleep

two-tips-evening-routine-simple

One of the most important things I’ve found when I have attempted to keep up an early morning routine for several days and weeks in a row is that if I let my daily sleep amount get much below 7 hours for too many consecutive days, I will burn out sooner or later.

The best way I have found to counteract this is to decide how much sleep I need (for me it’s about 7.5 hours a night) and then figure out the exact time I need to be in bed. Once I’ve done this, I set up a 30-minute winding down ritual (for me, it’s going for a walk) that allows me to disengage from the day’s work and not have work in my head when I hit the pillow.

The key thing I’ve found is that in order to wake up early over a sustained period of weeks, this evening ritual is just as important as how much I think about my morning routine.

2. Wake up early on weekends, too

two-tips-weekend-routine

Another key aspect I’ve found to having a consistent early morning routine over a long period of time is to pay particular attention to the weekend as well as the week. I certainly believe that allowing imperfection and some slack at the weekend is important, but I personally made the mistake of having a weekend wake-up time that was too divergent from my week day wake-up time. Only once I started to think about the weekend, I hit a chain of many days of early mornings.

Once you’ve decided when you want to wake up during the week, I recommend that you don’t wake up much more than 1 hour later at the weekend. This also probably means that you still need to go to bed quite early on Friday and Saturday night. The problem arises when you wake up several hours later on Saturday and Sunday, and then want to wake up super early again on Monday.

The most likely thing is that Monday will be a little later, and Tuesday too. Perhaps by Wednesday you are back to your early morning waking time, but you will not feel that magical state of gliding along, having several days in a row of early mornings and productive quiet hours.

If you don’t try to wake up at a similar time at the weekend, it is similar to giving yourself jet lag every weekend. By waking up at a similar time at the weekend, you don’t stretch your body, and therefore you can achieve long term consistency with your morning routine.

This article originally appeared on Buffer.

Read next: 5 Best Morning Rituals for a Super Productive Day

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TIME Careers & Workplace

185 Powerful Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Awesome

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Next time you update your resume, switch up a few of those common words and phrases

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

Led

Handled

Managed…

Responsible for

Most resume bullet points start with the same words. Frankly, the same tired old words hiring managers have heard over and over—to the point where they’ve lost a lot of their meaning and don’t do much to show off your awesome accomplishments.

So, let’s get a little more creative, shall we? Next time you update your resume, switch up a few of those common words and phrases with strong, compelling action verbs that will catch hiring managers’ eyes.

No matter what duty or accomplishment you’re trying to show off, we’ve got just the verb for you. Check out the list below, and get ready to make your resume way more exciting.

You Led a Project

If you were in charge of a project or initiative from start to finish, skip “led” and instead try:

1. Chaired

2. Controlled

3. Coordinated

4. Executed

5. Headed

6. Operated

7. Orchestrated

8. Organized

9. Oversaw

10. Planned

11. Produced

12. Programmed

You Envisioned and Brought to Life a Project

And if you actually developed, created, or introduced that project into your company? Try:

13. Administered

14. Built

15. Charted

16. Created

17. Designed

18. Developed

19. Devised

20. Founded

21. Engineered

22. Established

23. Formalized

24. Formed

25. Formulated

26. Implemented

27. Incorporated

28. Initiated

29. Instituted

30. Introduced

31. Launched

32. Pioneered

33. Spearheaded

You Saved the Company Time or Money

Hiring managers love candidates who’ve helped a team operate more efficiently or cost-effectively. To show just how much you saved, try:

34. Conserved

35. Consolidated

36. Decreased

37. Deducted

38. Diagnosed

39. Lessened

40. Reconciled

41. Reduced

42. Yielded

You Increased Efficiency, Sales, Revenue, or Customer Satisfaction

Along similar lines, if you can show that your work boosted the company’s numbers in some way, you’re bound to impress. In these cases, consider:

43. Accelerated

44. Achieved

45. Advanced

46. Amplified

47. Boosted

48. Capitalized

49. Delivered

50. Enhanced

51. Expanded

52. Expedited

53. Furthered

54. Gained

55. Generated

56. Improved

57. Lifted

58. Maximized

59. Outpaced

60. Stimulated

61. Sustained

You Changed or Improved Something

So, you brought your department’s invoicing system out of the Stone Age and onto the interwebs? Talk about the amazing changes you made at your office with these words:

62. Centralized

63. Clarified

64. Converted

65. Customized

66. Influenced

67. Integrated

68. Merged

69. Modified

70. Overhauled

71. Redesigned

72. Refined

73. Refocused

74. Rehabilitated

75. Remodeled

76. Reorganized

77. Replaced

78. Restructured

79. Revamped

80. Revitalized

81. Simplified

82. Standardized

83. Streamlined

84. Strengthened

85. Updated

86. Upgraded

87. Transformed

You Managed a Team

Instead of reciting your management duties, like “Led a team…” or “Managed employees…” show what an inspirational leader you were, with terms like:

88. Aligned

89. Cultivated

90. Directed

91. Enabled

92. Facilitated

93. Fostered

94. Guided

95. Hired

96. Inspired

97. Mentored

98. Mobilized

99. Motivated

100. Recruited

101. Regulated

102. Shaped

103. Supervised

104. Taught

105. Trained

106. Unified

107. United

You Brought in Partners, Funding, or Resources

Were you “responsible for” a great new partner, sponsor, or source of funding? Try:

108. Acquired

109. Forged

110. Navigated

111. Negotiated

112. Partnered

113. Secured

You Supported Customers

Because manning the phones or answering questions really means you’re advising customers and meeting their needs, use:

114. Advised

115. Advocated

116. Arbitrated

117. Coached

118. Consulted

119. Educated

120. Fielded

121. Informed

122. Resolved

You Were a Research Machine

Did your job include research, analysis, or fact-finding? Mix up your verbiage with these words:

123. Analyzed

124. Assembled

125. Assessed

126. Audited

127. Calculated

128. Discovered

129. Evaluated

130. Examined

131. Explored

132. Forecasted

133. Identified

134. Interpreted

135. Investigated

136. Mapped

137. Measured

138. Qualified

139. Quantified

140. Surveyed

141. Tested

142. Tracked

You Wrote or Communicated

Was writing, speaking, lobbying, or otherwise communicating part of your gig? You can explain just how compelling you were with words like:

143. Authored

144. Briefed

145. Campaigned

146. Co-authored

147. Composed

148. Conveyed

149. Convinced

150. Corresponded

151. Counseled

152. Critiqued

153. Defined

154. Documented

155. Edited

156. Illustrated

157. Lobbied

158. Persuaded

159. Promoted

160. Publicized

161. Reviewed

You Oversaw or Regulated

Whether you enforced protocol or managed your department’s requests, describe what you really did, better, with these words:

162. Authorized

163. Blocked

164. Delegated

165. Dispatched

166. Enforced

167. Ensured

168. Inspected

169. Itemized

170. Monitored

171. Screened

172. Scrutinized

173. Verified

You Achieved Something

Did you hit your goals? Win a coveted department award? Don’t forget to include that on your resume, with words like:

174. Attained

175. Awarded

176. Completed

177. Demonstrated

178. Earned

179. Exceeded

180. Outperformed

181. Reached

182. Showcased

183. Succeeded

184. Surpassed

185. Targeted

More from the Muse:

Read next: 4 Changes That Will Make Your Resume Incredibly Powerful

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