Category Added in a WPeMatico Campaign

4 Things Your Resume Can’t Do

A great resume can further your career. The stronger it is, the more interviews you’ll land. An excellent resume can even get you headhunted!

However, no matter how good your resume is, it can’t do all of the heavy lifting in the job search process. While it can make a fantastic first impression and provide employers with a detailed account of your career history, here are four things your resume can’t do:

1. It Can’t Showcase Your Level of Motivation

While many people write “highly motivated” on their resumes, it is much harder for your resume to prove that is true. Furthermore, because so many people include this generic statement on their resumes, many recruiters dismiss it altogether.

When it comes to proving your motivation, actions speak louder than words. Instead of saying that you are motivated, show it. Start by writing a strong, tailored cover letter —  personally addressed to the hiring manager — to show off your commitment to the role. After submitting your application, call, email, or send a LinkedIn message to the recruiter to follow up. This simple act will show the employer you are highly interested in the role and keen to join the company.

2. It Can’t Fully Convey Your Personality

More and more businesses are hiring people based on personality and culture fit rather than technical skill sets. While a resume can explain your career history, goals, and past experience, it is not an ideal medium for getting your personality across while remaining professional.

The best way to show recruiters and hiring managers your personality is to speak to them. Push for a call or face-to-face meeting with the recruiter and/or hiring manager. This will give you an opportunity to convey your personality and passion through your tone of voice, body language, and verbal communication. As recruiters and hiring managers get to know you, they’ll get a better feel for the kind of person you are and what you can bring to the team.

3. It Can’t Explain What You Want From a New Role

Everyone has their own reasons for applying for a position. However, your resume is not the place to explain what you want for the future. Instead, your resume should focus on what you can bring to the organization and what you have done for previous organizations.

Still, the hiring manager will want to know why you want to work for their company. Your cover letter is the place to share those reasons. Similarly, you can join networking groups related to the organization and its industry, which will show recruiters you are genuinely interested in the role as a vital piece of your career.

4. It Can’t Explain Why You’re Leaving Your Current Role

On your resume, you only have a limited amount of space to sell yourself. You don’t want to use any of that space to detail why you can’t wait to get away from your current position.

Once again, this is a scenario in which your cover letter is the better bet. Here, you have room to explain why you are leaving your current role. Remember: Your reasons should be positive ones. Rather than complaining about your current employer, focus on seeking new challenges and outgrowing your position.

It can also help to pick up the phone and talk to the recruiter or hiring manager. That way, you can demonstrate your passion for the new role while explaining why it represents a positive progression from your existing position.

Andrew Fennell is a former recruiter and founder of StandOut CV.

4 Tips for Your Small Business Job Interview

Believe it or not, small businesses accounted for two-thirds of all net new jobs in the US last year, according to data from the Small Business Administration. Working at a small business can provide numerous benefits, from the chance to take on a wider scope of projects to the opportunity to establish closer relationships with clients and vendors.

If that sounds exciting, there is something you should know before you try to land a job with a small business: The interview process may be very different from the process at a large corporation. Insight into these difference could help you set yourself apart from other applicants.

Here are four tips to keep in mind when interviewing for a position at a small business:

1. Demonstrate That You’re Used to Wearing Multiple Hats

Working at a small business means you have to be willing and able to take on whatever task or project comes your way. During your interview, be sure to mention how skilled you are at juggling multiple tasks.

You should also emphasize your excitement at the prospect of contributing to the company in multiple ways, says Rob Sullivan, a career coach and the author of Getting Your Foot in the Door When You Don’t Have a Leg to Stand On.

“You’re going to be wearing a lot of different hats,” Sullivan says. “You want to give people a reason to believe that not only are you open to that and comfortable with that, but that when there are things you’re going to be asked to do, you’re able to pick them up quickly.”

2. Explain Why Working at a Small Business Appeals to You

If your previous work experience has primarily been at larger companies, talk about why you think a small business would be a better fit. Perhaps the tight-knit culture appeals to you. Maybe you’re looking for a role with more responsibility. Whatever the case may be, it is wise to explain why you’re looking for a role at a small business now.

Sullivan advises you maintain a tone of gratitude when discussing your previous work at a larger corporation: “It’s okay to say, ‘I’m super grateful for the opportunity to work at that large company. Here’s what I loved about it, [and] here’s what I learned.’”

You can then explain what was missing from your prior experience. Maybe you wanted to have more input on areas that were siloed, or you saw opportunities and were told, “That’s not your job.”

If your previous experience has primarily been at other small businesses, be sure to explain what you have loved about working at smaller operations. Why do you want to stay at one? What do you think small businesses offer that large corporations don’t? Be sure to follow up with ideas about how you’ll promote small-business culture if you’re hired.

3. Speak About Your Past Experience Wisely

When interviewing at a small business, it is important to know how to position your past experience. If you’re moving from one small business to another, be sure to talk about your professional strengths and how they fit in well with the new company.

If you previously worked at a large corporation, make sure the small business hiring manager sees what is in it for them if they hire you. If you’re comfortable managing large budgets, for example, you’ll likely be able to manage the company’s smaller budget. Or, if you’re used to managing a team of 10, Sullivan says, you’ll likely be able to manage a team of two.

4. Know Your Interviewer Might Not Be a Talent Acquisition Expert

The person you interview with at a small business may very well be inexperienced at hiring. According to Sullivan, this is actually something you can use to your advantage: “They’re not necessarily going to ask you the strategic questions. They might ask you the top 10 questions that they just pulled off Google.”

Sullivan suggests you use this as an opportunity to demonstrate how you can play a leadership role at the company. During the conversation, try to emphasize the three, four, or five qualities you can bring to the organization.

“Have an agenda of your own that you want to get across no matter what, because you can’t count on them to ask you the questions that would lead you to share the information,” Sullivan says.

If you know how to effectively talk about your past experience, emphasize your excitement about the role, and position yourself appropriately, you’ll be able to nail your small business interview. Good luck!

Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer and editor who covers personal finance and entrepreneurship, among other topics.

How to Create a Bulletproof Morning Routine

Article by Michael Pietrzak

I woke at noon and saw no reason to get out of bed. It was a Wednesday, and I had been drinking wine until 5 a.m. that morning at a publishing industry living room party — a weekly occurrence for me. Eventually, I shuffled to the kitchen, made a little coffee, and then sat on the couch. My roommate had already been at work for three hours.

“How did I fall into this horrible routine?” I asked the walls. Then I had a nap.

In 2012, I had quit my day job to give this “being a writer-entrepreneur thing” a shot, but without the structure of a 9-5 job, I had started behaving badly.

Flash forward to yesterday, when I got up at 6 a.m., ran three miles to the beach, lifted weights, and meditated with the sunrise. After that, I ran home, devoured a healthy breakfast, scribbled a few journal pages, and made a list of what I would accomplish that day. By 9 a.m., I got down to writing this article. A fairly standard morning for me these days.

I was a Lebowskian wreck in 2012, one step away from writing 69 cent checks in my bathrobe at the supermarket. How did I turn myself into a predawn Zen master in seven short years? I’ll share my secrets, but let’s start with a more interesting question:

Why Bother Starting the Day Strong?

Getting up early can seem as fun as chewing glass, so why do it? My simple answer was that I was tired of feeling low. Our quality of life is determined not by the things we collect or even our day-to-day exploits, but by the feelings we experience. In 2012, I was unhappy enough to try anything.

Rising early with strong habits unlocks a kind of joy that has to be experienced to be believed, and it is only when we live with joy that we can become our best selves.

The greatest people throughout history were early risers, too. Ben Franklin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Ernest Hemingway, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, The Rock, and Gary Vaynerchuk were or are down with the early bird hustle. Sure, there are outliers who buck the trend, but are you really one of them? Do you really get much done on days you sleep in?

So … How Do I Do It?

Life hacks have started to fall out of fashion. “There are no shortcuts, man, you just gotta do the work,” people now say.

That is dumb. What’s right is what works, so here are some miraculous shortcuts that will help you become an early riser:

1. Start the Night Before

• Set a wind-down alarm: Mine goes off at 10 p.m. to let me know it’s time to cut screen time and stimulation. This alarm is a “zeitgeber,” an environmental cue that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm.

• Cut screen time: The blue light from our devices disrupts sleep akin to the way caffeine does. Cut it out before bed.

• Decide why you’re excited to wake up early: Having a compelling reason to put feet to floor is the best motivator.

• Read in bed: I’ve always got a good book on the nightstand; voracious reading is a killer habit in itself. After only 20 minutes of this calming activity, I’m ready to saw logs.

2. Buy a Wake-Up Light

Traditional alarms use obnoxious noise to jolt you awake, whereas a wake-up light simulates sunrise over 30-60 minutes, activating your circadian responses. As a result, your body naturally and peacefully wakes up. By the time the soothing fake birds start chirping, you’re wide awake. I swear by this model.

3. Use Mel Robbins’s 5-Second Rule

When you find yourself ready to reach for the snooze button, count down from five instead. By the time you hit one, you’ll be upright. Robbins stumbled onto this technique, but it is grounded in science. Counting backward activates your prefrontal cortex, the brain area that regulates behavior and attention, not to mention your will to live.

4. Coffee

Sometimes caffeine is the best medicine. Set up your coffee maker the night before and let it percolate while you meditate or hit the shower.

5. Cold Showers

They’re cruel, but they work. Cold water on your skin can increase production of norepinephrine — a neurotransmitter that “mobilize[s] the brain and body for action” — by more than 500 percent.

My Personal Recipe for a Bulletproof Morning

Like I said, the purpose of a powerful morning routine is the joy it brings. You unlock that feeling by investing in four areas of your life, all before 9 in the morning: the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realms.

1. Physical Activity

I’ve always loved exercise, but until recently, I never enjoyed doing it in the morning. When I read Robin Sharma’s book, The 5 AM Club, that changed. Sharma suggests spending the first 20 minutes of your day sweating. It hadn’t occurred to me that a workout didn’t have to mean trudging through February snow to the gym for an hour of weights. Light bodyweight exercise like squats, push-ups, and planks works for me, and I still get to the gym when I can.

Sharma explains that exercising for just 20 minutes first thing in the morning will “significantly lower your cortisol” (which is highest in the morning), the hormone of fear that hurts your cognitive performance. It will also release brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supercharges your brain (that’s not the technical language, but you get the picture). As if that weren’t enough, morning exercise also releases dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters of drive and happiness.

2. Emotional Work

Meditation: After working out, I open my heart and meditate for 10-20 minutes. I list this under emotional work, but it also has positive effects on your physical health and deepens your spiritual connection to, well, everything. I’ve shown elsewhere that more than 3,000 scientific studies have hammered home the benefits of this powerful practice. In my experience, regular meditation improves all the feels, gives you more happiness and joy, and washes away anxiety and depression.

Gratitude: Like most people, I’ve spent a whole lot of my life focusing on what was missing. “The human brain isn’t designed to make us happy and fulfilled. It’s designed to make us survive,” says Tony Robbins. It takes conscious effort to appreciate what you have, and that’s why I spend five minutes after my meditation thinking about what I’m grateful for. Feeling gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus and ventral tegmental areas in our brains, reducing stress and producing pleasure.

3. Mental Exercise

• Journaling: After I meditate, I write. I once spent two years writing three pages every morning, and this practice unlocked new levels of creativity and productivity while improving my relationships. Science has my back on this one, too: Studies show that daily writing helps fight depression, keeps you healthier, and pushes you the reach your goals more quickly.

Goal Setting: Like showering, goal-setting is most effective when done daily. How else will you know what you want out of your day? When you write down your goals and action items, even if they are the same as yesterday’s, you prime your brain to look out for opportunities to achieve them. Inside your brain is a bundle of nerves called the reticular activating system (RAS), which helps you home in on important information — like the car hurtling toward you — and block out the irrelevant. Writing your goals every morning sends a clear signal to your RAS to watch for opportunities to go after them.

4. Spiritual Practice

• Walking: For me, the practice of walking, especially before my neighborhood is awake, is sacred. It does provide physical benefits, but I don’t do it for exercise. I do it to see the glint of the streetlight off a frozen puddle, to feel the wind rustle through the pines and savor the silence of my quiet mind.

Inspiring Reading: Open a book that lifts up your soul and read a few pages, or even a line or two. I’m a recent convert to the philosophy of Stoicism, so my current morning spirit-booster is The Daily Stoic. Each reflection takes about three minutes. I can also recommend the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and Rob Bell’s podcast, the RobCast.

My morning routine is still far from perfect. I realize there is no finish line, but I will continue to practice five days a week because I now know starting your day with a strong morning brings abundant joy and allows you to do your best work.

Is this a lot of work? Maybe. Most days I do all of this between 6 and 9 a.m., and some days I do most of it in an hour. You could benefit from just 15 minutes’ worth of these habits every day. Take from my experience what works for you and leave the rest.

And one last piece of advice: Building these habits takes time. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process.

A version of this article originally appeared on

Michael Pietrzak is the founder of So You Want to Write? Inc., which helps writers improve their writing and get published. He’s passionate about personal development, CrossFit, and playing guitar.

5 Things to Know Before You Make a Career Change

A successful career transition takes planning. You’ll need to prove to an employer you have transferable skills that will help you be effective in a new role outside your previous career path. You’ll also need to communicate why a career transition makes sense for you.

If you’re planning to make a transition soon or are in the middle of one now, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Know Your Why

You’ve probably heard of Simon Sinek and his wildly popular book, Start With WhyThe book is based on the notion that people aren’t influenced by what you do; rather, they care about why you do it.

In any job interview, you must clearly articulate your why. When making a career transition, it’s even more important. If you can’t share a compelling reason why you want to change careers, a prospective employer won’t be convinced that your decision to make a change is a meaningful one.

If you’ve ever interviewed nannies for your children, you’ll understand the importance of a good why. Imagine you have two candidates. One tells you they are nannying because it is the best way to pay for their college education. The other candidate is also paying for school, but she tells you she loves kids. She believes childhood is the most impactful time in a person’s life, and she wants to make a difference for the kids in her care. Both candidates have the same needs, but their whys are very different. Which candidate would you want taking care of your child?

2. Know Your Strengths and Skills

If you’re making a career transition, certain skills may be transferable from your old career to your knew one. However, other skills required in your new role may need to be learned or developed through nontraditional avenues — for example, through volunteer work.

Knowing your strengths also ties back to your why. Let’s say that, through volunteer work, you found opportunities to uitilize skills you don’t get to utilize in your current job. Using these skills may bring you more joy than your job does, and this may lead to the realization that you’re not truly maximizing your personal strengths in your current position. As a result, you may choose to make a career transition that allows you to take advantage of these neglected strengths.

Whatever the case, be prepared to articulate your strengths and skills as clearly as your why to a prospective employer. The goal is to show that even though this career path is new to you, you are still positioned to deliver value to the employer through your current skill set.

3. Do Your Research

People who are frustrated in their current roles can make decisions in haste. The grass always looks greener elsewhere.

However, even people who hold the most glamorous of roles will tell you their jobs are not as perfect as they look. Before making a career decision based on the emotion of the moment, start networking. Talk to people in positions you want to learn more about. Dig deep to evaluate whether a career transition is really the right move for you.

4. Surround Yourself With Support

A successful career transition can be a long process, and you want to be sure you are surrounded by people who understand your situation and empathize with you. Because so much of our self-worth is tied up in our jobs — even though it shouldn’t be — it can be fiercely demoralizing to be stuck between a job you hate and a new career you haven’t established yet. Working with a career coach may be a great way to keep yourself motivated, and they can also serve as a sounding board for frustrations and a guide when you feel lost.

5. It’s Okay to Mourn Your Old Job

If you really can’t stand your current job, you may feel like you’ll never look back once you’ve left. However, even making a transition from a role you hate to a dream career can be challenging.

Leaving a familiar situation to walk into the unknown is unsettling. You likely feel a certain amount of comfort in your current role, and your new position may bring more pressure to perform and a new set of expectations to meet. Until you find your footing, you may second-guess your decision. Be kind to yourself, and take it one step at a time.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.

12 Ways to Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter

1. Alignment With Cultural Values

Especially on the cover letter, we need to see that candidates understand and relate to our core values. Passion for the product certainly matters, and of course so do skills, but a poor culture fit is bad for everyone. The more confident we are that a candidate will fit our culture, the more likely we are to move forward with them.

Matt Hunckler, Powderkeg

2. Your Background and Goals

An applicant’s prior work history should be tailored to fit the position they are applying for. They should also tailor their goals and what they want to accomplish to match the initiatives or services the company offerings.

Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting

3. Details That Demonstrate Your Learning Aptitude, Initiative, and Independence

The goal of a resume is to get the interview, and most hiring managers are looking for somebody who learns fast, takes initiative, and does not need supervision. Resumes are usually generic, so sharing your background with specific attention to those three elements should get you an interview.

Michael Hsu, DeepSky

4. Knowledge About the Position and Company

Take the time to research the company, its products, and its culture. When possible, address the letter to the appropriate individual, as opposed to “Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Say something about why you want to work for the company and how you can make a valuable contribution.

Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

5. Technical Skills

We are experiencing such gaps in technical talent. The more descriptive about your technical skills you can be in both the cover letter and resume, the more attractive you’ll be.

Serenity Gibbons, NAACP

6. Your Obsession With the Company

Show the company what you know about its work, its leaders, and its wins. Employers will take an engaged employee who wants nothing more than to grind for them over a talented, agnostic employee any day. Get obsessed. Obsessed people win.

Codie Sanchez, Codie Ventures

7. How You’ll Fit With the Team

When an applicant goes out of their way to show that they’ve done some research about my company and how they might fit in, I’m much more likely to call them for an interview. Their attention to detail and willingness to put in the effort are very enticing.

Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost

8. Keywords From the Job Posting

Candidates often reuse a standard cover letter and resume for efficiency’s sake. While they normally update these documents with the job title they are applying for, they tend to forget to also update the keywords.

Use some of the same keywords the job ad uses. These words appear in the ad because they mean something to the role. You application will likely be filtered by an applicant tracking system based on those words, so it is a good idea to make sure you include them.

David Ciccarelli,

9. Your Personal Mission Statement

When I review a cover letter or resume, the most important thing I want to see is a well-written mission statement. It gives me a sense of who the person is before I delve into their work experience and history. A poorly written mission statement is a non-starter, because our business relies on being able to communicate clearly via email.

Jared Weitz, United Capital Source

10. How the Role Would Fit Into Your Life Story

Your resume and cover letter are the composite novel of your work life. In your cover letter, save a short paragraph to explore how this new position will contribute to your life story. Don’t just focus on what you’ll do in this new position. What will you have accomplished by the time you leave this new position? What will you do next?

Matthew Manos, verynice

11. Quantitative Results

Most of us tend to get caught up in the tasks, but it is all about results and what you have achieved. When you focus on the results, you will see a different reaction from the employers who interview you. They will see what you are capable of, and they will focus less on your effort and more on what you can contribute to the company as a whole.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

12. Offers Insights Into Your Personality

I’ve read a lot of really bad cover letters, ones where it is painfully obvious the candidate simply copied and pasted a generic letter. To catch my eye, a cover letter should clearly indicate the candidate is interested in a specific role at our company, and it should offer some insight into the candidate’s personality.

Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group

3 Things to Do During Your First Few Months on the Job

Starting a new job is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. You have to learn the ropes of a brand new company and position; if you had to relocate for the job, you’re also juggling the added stress of unpacking and navigating a brand new community.

However, no matter what else is going on, you need to make time for yourself and your career. Here are three things you should be doing when you start a new job to ensure your continued success, both in your current position and in the future:

1. Keep Track of Your Accomplishments

At the end of each week, record what you have learned, what duties you have performed, what things you have accomplished, and any words of praise you have received in your new role. Try to quantify the results of your actions whenever possible. All of this information will be used to update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

You will also want to review your job description to ensure you are completing your listed job duties. If you see something listed in your job description you are not yet doing, you will want to bring this up when you meet with your supervisor (see tip No. 3 below).

2. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

I know you just started a new job, but your memory will fade over time. That’s why I recommend updating your documents now instead of waiting until you’re on the job hunt again. Put your duties and accomplishments in writing today so that you don’t forget any of them later.

If you fear your employer will take an update to your LinkedIn profile as a sign you are looking for a new job, be prepared to explain that you are only keeping your profile updated so you can represent the company online in a positive manner.

3. Meet With Your Supervisor

After you have been on the job for 60-90 days, ask your supervisor for a meeting. If your supervisor seems dismissive, try to explain why you’re interested in a meeting. If your request is denied entirely, document the date and time of the denial, and then send your supervisor the list of questions you would have asked during your meeting.

Your intent for this meeting is to ensure you are meeting or exceeding the company’s expectations. You do not want to wait until it is performance review time to find out there is a list of things your boss wishes you had done differently. Instead, you need to be proactive and seek out feedback yourself, especially if your boss is not forthcoming with it on their own.

Prepare for the meeting by writing down a list of very specific questions you’d like to ask. When the day of the meeting arrives, be open to constructive feedback. Enter the meeting with a smile on your face and thank your supervisor for their time. Don’t forget to bring a pen and paper so you can take notes! You will want to also bring your written diary of accomplishments and results to highlight your achievements so far. Keep the meeting as short as possible while still getting answers to your questions.

Your first 60-90 days on the job can be critical for both you and your employer. Each of you is formulating an opinion about the other. You want to be able to squash any unfavorable views of yourself and your work before they get out of hand. Your intent is to work in harmony with your fellow employees and supervisor, and this 60-90 day meeting shows your employer that you are committed to doing the best job possible.

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.

3 Ways to Make Your Professional Reference’s Job Easier

I recently received a phone call asking if I would provide a professional reference for someone named Margaret. I racked my brain, trying to remember a student, client, or someone I worked with in the Marine Corps by that name — but I came up empty. I even tried thinking of a Marge or a Maggie or some other variation of the name, but I had no luck.

Therefore, I did not call back.

However, after receiving two more calls asking for a reference, I decided to return the call — but only to let the employer know I didn’t know anyone by that name.

Don’t be like Margaret. Don’t jeopardize your job search by failing to have enthusiastic and reliable references on your side. Make it easy for your references to speak highly about you, your employment, and your accomplishments by providing them with as much information as possible before they are called.

Here is some practical advice to follow the next time you’re asked for references:

1. Ask Permission First

Contact your potential references and ask if you have their permission to use them as references. If they say yes, ask for their preferred email address and phone number by which to be contacted.

If you are not sure if the person will remember you, prepare to provide some brief background on your relationship. Maybe you worked together on a committee or the person was your college professor. Whatever the case, provide a few details to jog their memory.

If a person does not respond promptly to your request, I recommend finding another reference. Do not beg someone to be a reference. If they seem uninterested, they are unlikely to sell you to your new employer.

2. Keep Them Updated

After you have applied for a position, alert your references. Tell them a little about the job and organization. I recommend providing them with a copy of the job ad, as this will help them anticipate questions and formulate answers in advance.

If the job or industry you are pursuing has its own specific set of buzzwords and jargon — and your reference doesn’t work in the field — I also recommend supplying your reference with a list of relevant keywords. This will help them understand the job better while also tailoring their answers to the industry.

Finally, you should also give an up-to-date copy of your resume to your references so they can speak knowledgeably about your key accomplishments as a professional.

3. Prepare a List of Questions

In addition to giving your reference information about the job and your career to date, you may also want to help them prepare for the reference check itself. Consider giving them a list of questions they can rehearse in advance. Some of the most common questions your references are likely to be asked include:

  1. When did [name] work for your company? Can you provide a start and end date?
  2. What was their salary when they left?
  3. What was their position?
  4. Did this person miss a lot of work?
  5. Did they get along well with others?
  6. What was their biggest accomplishment while working at your company?
  7. How do you know this person?
  8. How long did this person work for you?
  9. What are their strengths?
  10. What is their main weakness?
  11. Would you hire this person again?
  12. Do you think this person can perform the duties outlined in the job description?
  13. Is there anything else you would like to add that may help us with our hiring decision?

Your references matter — perhaps even more than you realize. According to an OfficeTeam survey of hiring managers, about 21 percent of candidates are removed from consideration after their references are checked. My advice: Only use enthusiastic references who will speak positively about you. Don’t make Margaret’s mistake.

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.

Job Search Rejection: It’s Not Personal, But It Sure Feels Like It Is

The job search is perhaps the most personal impersonal experience there is.

As a job seeker, you pour your heart into your cover letter. You customize your resume. You agonize your way through every step of the process, which can drag out for many months. Along the way, you may encounter many tests of your abilities: phone screens, in-person interviews, panel interviews — and perhaps even more. You may be asked to take a personality test to assess your cultural fit. You may need to take an IQ test to evaluate your intellect. You might be tasked with delivering a presentation or crafting a 90-day plan for your first few months on the job. Sample assignments, background checks, reference checks, and drug tests are also common.

As if that weren’t enough, you’ll be doing all of these things just under the radar of your current boss. You know you could be putting your entire career on the line if your boss were to notice what you were up to, but you do it anyway because it’s the only way to truly advance your career and grow as a professional.

After all of this work and all of this risk, the potential employer may very well decide you’re not the right candidate. Even though you brought your whole self to the table, the company may not return the favor. They may not even call to let you know you’ve been rejected. If you hear anything at all, it may come in the form of an automated email light on details and devoid of any personal touch.

It’s not personal, right? It’s not supposed to be, but it definitely burns. Still, you need to maintain the right attitude and outlook. You need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. That may include keeping an eye out to see if the company has any additional job openings for which you could be a fit.

The job search is a massive personal investment for you, but you can’t let the impersonal nature of the process get to you. Job searching is, at its core, a numbers game. If you really want to score something new, you have to apply in bulk. You have to interview at more than one company and not put all your eggs in one basket.

This is how you turn the tables. Imagine it: Instead of giving your all to one job, you invest yourself in a number of openings. You find success at two or three of them, and you receive multiple job offers at once. Suddenly, you’re calling the shots.

Interestingly, companies can take rejection just as personally as job seekers do. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to feel they’ve invested all their time in a candidate only to have that candidate walk away from them. The hiring manager or HR rep may even respond to your decision to decline the offer to let you know they’re disappointed.

Just remember: It’s not personal. Both sides are investing their time in the process. Both sides can walk away at any point. The employer expects you not to take their rejection so personally, so why should they take yours so personally?

A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at Copeland Coaching.

14 Quotes to Inspire You to Reach Even Your Most Seemingly Impossible Goals

Article by Megan Nicole O’Neal

You may have set some lofty goals for yourself this year. Perhaps you want to run a marathon, or land a promotion, or finally complete a passion project that has been patiently waiting to see the light of day for years.

Regardless of the resolutions you’ve made (and perhaps have already given up), this will be your year — that is, if you choose it to be.

Our successes ultimately boil down to our daily choices. You won’t be able to run that marathon without dedicating time each day to ramping up your miles, hydrating, stretching, etc. It’s the small choices we make, consciously or subconsciously, that build on top of one another and prepare us for success.

I know that sounds overwhelming, but if you take a bird’s-eye view, it can actually seem quite comforting: You don’t need to accomplish your goals in one day; you just need to keeping putting one foot in front of the other. Here are some quotes to keep you inspired every step along the way:

When You’re Afraid to Fail

Depending on whom you ask, failure can either be a blessing or a curse. I’m personally an advocate of the struggle — of taking risks and doing things you know you’re bad at. Even if the worst happens and you fall short, the experience can open doors for you to new skills and new perspectives. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll trust these folks:

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter defeats so we can know who the hell we are.” – Maya Angelou

“I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

When You’re Unmotivated

Some days you just can’t even — and that’s okay! Checking in with yourself emotionally is an important part of the process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your goals be accomplished in a day. These quotes can get you back on track once you’ve made some time for self-care:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” – Will Durant

“There is no passion to be found in playing small — in settling for a life that is less than what you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

“There is something to be said for keeping at a thing, isn’t there?” – Frank Sinatra

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  – Anonymous

When You Question Whether You Can Do It

Impostor syndrome — the belief that you’ve only succeeded due to luck and not because of your talent or qualifications — is real, and it can plague your efforts as you strive to reach your goals. The key to overcoming this type of self-doubt lies in refusing to listen to that inner voice which says things like, “I’m sure other people are more qualified” or “I’ve never done this before, so I shouldn’t try.”

It is estimated 70 percent of people have experienced impostor syndrome at some point, and I include myself among them. If you need help putting that nagging voice to rest, try these quotes:

“I’ve never been afraid of big moments. I get butterflies. I get nervous and anxious, but I think those are all good signs that I’m ready for the moment.” – Stephen Curry

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It is vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.” – Michelle Obama

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. … We must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

When Nothing Is Going According to Plan

What can go wrong will go wrong, according to Murphy’s law. When the inevitable occurs, may these quotes encourage you to drive past the speed bumps and keep pushing toward your goal:

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

“We are meant to live in joy. This does not mean that life will be easy or painless. It means that we can turn our faces to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Wisdom is like rainwater; both gather in low places.” – Anonymous

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Anonymous

A version of this article originally appeared on

Megan Nicole O’Neal is a UCLA alum and public relations specialist with a passion for storytelling and a firm belief that only the right photo is worth 1,000 words. An avid adventurist, she has traveled to five different continents, all on an endless quest to find the world’s greatest cup of coffee. Megan currently works at Havas Formula in sunny San Diego and volunteers for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, freelancing for the PR department.

5 Things to Cut From Your Cover Letter Now

If you want recruiters to read your resume, then you’ll need an enticing cover letter to convince them. Your cover letter is your introduction to a new recruiter or hiring manager, and it can be the difference between a potential employer opening your resume or clicking “delete.”

The aim of a cover letter is simple: to persuade a recruiter to give your resume a chance. Unfortunately, many job seekers’ cover letters fail to do just that.

What’s holding your cover letter back? It could be one of these five things — which you should cut immediately:

1. ‘Dear Sir/Madam’

A generic, non-personal introduction evidences your lack of research. By starting your cover letter with “Dear Sir/Madam,” you give recruiters the message that you’re sending the same blanket emails to everyone.

Instead, you need to take time to personalize your cover letter. Use the name of the recruiter or HR rep you are contacting. This will create an immediate connection, making your recipient much more likely to keep reading.

Lack of information is no excuse. If the contact’s name is not included in the job advertisement, a quick search on LinkedIn should be enough to uncover it.

2. The Extra 500 Words

Having a lot to say is fantastic — but save it for the interview, not your cover letter.

Your cover letter is best thought of as a quick, concise note. Recruiters are busy. They do not have time to read an essay on why you are the ideal candidate. Just a couple of punchy paragraphs will quickly get the message across and persuade a recruiter to open your resume.

3. The Separate Attachment

You have to send your resume as a separate attachment. That’s the only way to preserve the format. However, there’s no need to make a recruiter open two separate attachments.

Instead, your cover letter should have pride of place in the body of your email. Not only does this save the recruiter the hassle of toggling back and forth between multiple attachments, but it is also much more effective. A blank email — or one simply stating “Please find attached my cover letter and resume” — hardly entices anyone to keep reading.

4. Granular Detail

Your cover letter should not repeat your resume; it should only lead recruiters to your resume.

Remember, you only have a few paragraphs to capture and keep a recruiter’s attention. There’s no room in your cover letter for the granular details of your employment history and skill set. Besides, that information is already in your resume.

Approach your cover letter as a high-level summary. Give just enough information to make the recruiter eager to learn more.

5. The Formal Tone

Recruiters want to know that your skills and experience are up to snuff, but they also want to ensure you are the right fit for the organization. Most recruiters are looking for an approachable and personable human being. If your cover letter is rigorously formal, you may come across as cold and uncaring. Instead, use a warm, friendly tone to convey a bit of personality. Give recruiters the sense that you are someone they’d enjoy chatting with.

Andrew Fennell is a former recruiter and founder of StandOut CV.