Tips for Jazzing Up Your Resume Job Descriptions


When it comes to applying for jobs, looking good on paper is important. After all, you’ll only get to the next step—an interview—if your resume grabs the attention of hiring managers. If you’ve already done the basics of crafting your resume, it’s time to move on to the next phase: making each individual position shine with the work experience section.

But how? We’ve rounded up tips and tricks that’ll help make jobs sound impressive on your resume—without going too far, and making yourself appear boastful or silly.

Which sounds better? Option 1: “Served tables at busy restaurant” or Option 2: “Served 15 tables simultaneously at a busy restaurant.”

You’ll probably pick option number two, which is just a bit more descriptive thanks to the use of numbers. It’s surprising how meaningful metrics can be—and that’s true even for positions that are English-major friendly. If your position is a staff writer, your resume can list how many articles you write each month or how many page views you receive online, for instance.

Go ahead and quantify your job descriptions with numbers, whether it’s tables served, customers helped, or percent of growth in sales.  

Prioritize Readability

You probably thought about formatting, from font choice to margin size, at some point during your resume creation. But take a second look at each job description that you have listed, with an eye toward how easily each description can be absorbed.

Consider the readability from both a copy and a design perspective.

If it’s a bit too take in, consider cutting some copy or using less jargon. (Some jargon is good, but using all buzzwords and acronyms can make a resume hard to read.) And, make sure there’s plenty of white space—you can add this by using bullet points or paragraph breaks.

Of course, it goes without saying that having typos or grammatical errors in your job description is detrimental to their readability. Use this resume proofreading checklist to help guarantee your document is error-free.

Talk Accomplishments, Not Tasks

It’s tempting when describing a job on your resume to create a bulleted list of tasks, essentially writing down your day (or week’s) to do list when you were on the job. But most likely, that’s information that hiring managers already know from looking at the job title. Instead of a to-do list, share accomplishments and achievements.

Rather than write, “Designed window display on monthly basis,” you might write, “Increased customer walk-in rate by 10% with themed window displays, updated on monthly basis.”  

If you led a meeting, talk about what happened during that meeting, how you steered it, or what got done as a result of your leadership. Or, if you create a monthly report, talk about why the report matter—did it help keep the budget on track, prioritize sales efforts, or engage customers? See more tips for sharing accomplishments on your resume.

Choose Powerful Words

A caution: Don’t go over the top with your word choice. No need to break out the thesaurus on a hunt for zany, unusual words!

Review your job descriptions for words that get re-used throughout the document. Try to vary them more. Instead of “managed,” for instance, try “supervised” or “coordinated.”

There are some words that often come up on resumes. Think: “team player” or “detail oriented.” These words and phrases can feel stale to hiring managers. Consider ways you can show off that you have these skills rather than stating you possess them. For instance, instead of saying “detail-oriented” maybe you can have a bullet point about “Releasing clean code and helping others track down small code errors.”

One cautionary note: There’s making your job sound impressive and meaningful—and then there’s boasting.

If you puff up recognizable positions with over-the-top language, it can really backfire and make you seem silly. The hiring manager will know what it means if your job title is “assistant” or “manager” and aggrandizing the position’s responsibilities with inflated language won’t help you land an interview.

And definitely do not be deceitful or dishonest. Lying on your resume can cost you a job opportunity and is even grounds for dismissal if the lie is discovered after you’re hired on—here’s more on why it’s important to keep your resume honest.


But viewed another way, rejection can also be considered a very effective sifting mechanism. It keeps companies from hiring candidates who wouldn’t make a great fit, and it also keeps candidates from stepping into jobs that just aren’t right for them, allowing them to move one step closer to the jobs that are.

Here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you spring back and move forward quickly each time you face this challenging aspect of the job search process.

1. It’s not you.

This may sound palliative or patronizing, but 99.9 percent of the time, it’s also true. You are a fine candidate and a fine person, but somebody else just happened to have one quality or one skill set that made them an even better fit. More likely, your credentials were similar—the other person just got there first.

2. Some resumes stand out more.

And it isn’t only because they’re “better.” Sometimes it boils down to the fact that they happened to land in front of a person who happened to be in a good mood at that moment, and who happened to connect with a single statement in the summary. At the right time and in the right place, an especially grabbing detail in the cover letter gave the application just the right amount of dimension and memorability.

3. The faster you recover, the faster you’ll reach your goals.

Two candidates receive the same disappointing rejection on the same day. They don’t know it yet, but they both have 50 more resumes to submit and three more interviews to attend before they each land the job they need. The first candidate takes a few days to brood, sulk, and putter around before getting back to business. The second candidate doesn’t have to “get back” to anything because she never paused and never stopped submitting resumes for even a minute. By the end of his month, one will be working, and the other will still be on the market.

4. Put your ego on hold…forever.

Try an experiment: take your “sense of self” (those unanswerable questions about whether or not you’re smart, whether you’re a good person, or whether your life has any value) and put them on hold. Tell them you’ll get right back to them and then put down the phone, turn on the hold music, and walk away. Forever. Go take care of your business. Do something for someone else. Spend time with the people you love. Watch what happens.

5. Make a few changes.

If you’re being rejected more often than you’d like,  try changing your resume. Note that we didn’t say “improve,” since your document is probably already polished and carefully edited. But try taking one statement and rephrasing it, or adding one additional detail, or taking out one less than a perfectly relevant claim. See if your results change. Use this version of the scientific method with every new submission as you move forward. Draw conclusions from your results.

Move Forward, No Matter What It Takes

Finding a job is a lot like finding true love; if you stay in motion and in circulation, good things will eventually happen. If you don’t, they won’t.  Visit LiveCareer for resume building tools and guidelines that can ward off discouragement and help you reach your destination faster. 

  Liz Ryan, 
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

If you want one thing to focus on in your next job interview (and every job interview you attend in the future) here it is: focus on the person sitting across the desk from you.

It is normal and natural to focus on yourself in a job interview. You want to put your best foot forward. You can’t wait to talk about your career, your accomplishments, and your skills.

We’ve been taught to talk about ourselves at a job interview, but it’s not an effective strategy.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that people love to talk about themselves. They love to have other people listen to while they talk about what they’ve done, what they’re working on and what’s in their way.

We are all more focused on ourselves than on other people. Your hiring manager — the person who will interview you and hire you for your next job — is also focused more on him- or herself than anything else.

That doesn’t make your future boss a bad person. It makes them human!

Imagine how painful it is for your hiring manager to interview candidate after candidate, listening to each person’s long life and career story. They don’t really care about all these career stories but they have to listen. They have to try to attend to the candidate sitting in front of them, but it’s not easy.

We can brush off your hiring manager’s burden by saying, “Too bad! If they have to interview a lot of candidates and listen to a lot of stories they don’t care about, that’s their problem. They shouldn’t have become a manager if they weren’t ready to do that.”

You could say that and you’d be right, but being right about that won’t help you get hired. You have to be smart, rather than right. Think about your hiring manager’s mindset. They are only interviewing candidates right now because they have pain.

They have a problem! If they didn’t have a problem, they wouldn’t be interviewing anyone.

They have a problem, and they’re as easily distracted as anyone else is. Their mind will wander during your interview — especially if you are rambling on about your story and your trophies.

Your hiring manager may be trying their best to stay focused and attend to your story — but they can’t. Their mind will intrude. They have many other, more interesting things to think about than whatever you are saying.

Mentally, they will leave the interview room and start thinking about other things. If you pay attention, you can see it in their eyes. You are still talking, but they are a million miles away.

You can surmount this obstacle, stay very large in your hiring manager’s mind and get the job. Here’s how!

The simple interview trick that will get you hired is to focus all of your attention on your hiring manager, instead of yourself. Get them off the interview script by asking them to tell you the real reason they need to hire someone right now:

Manager: Can you walk me through your resume, starting at the beginning of your career?
You: Sure! My first job was with Acme Explosives. I learned about Inventory Management there, and then I moved to Wiggly Devices in a Marketing role. Say — I don’t want to bore you to death with my story. Can I ask you a quick question about the job — to make sure I understand what you’re looking for?
Manager: Sure.
You: The ad says you’re looking to hire a Product Manager. I’m guessing you need someone to manage the new line of wireless products you’ve announced for 2010 – is that in the ballpark?
Manager: Yes, we need someone to manage that development project and we also need help on some of our existing products. We’re looking at cutting some of our less-profitable products to make room for new models.
You: I’d love to hear the story.
Manager: Well, our flagship product is the X-15. It was released in 2012. It’s been a  great seller since then, but recently it’s not selling as well and it’s also not as profitable.
You: Thanks. I’ve got a few questions for you about that…

Now the interview script is forgotten. If you keep your manager talking about his or her pain, they will not go back to the script — and that’s exactly what you want.

There are three things you must do in the interview in order to get hired.

First, you have to capture your hiring manager’s attention. That is not trivial. You won’t capture their attention by answering their questions the way they expect you to.

Secondly, you have to let your hiring manager know that you understand what they’re up against, and know enough about the subject matter to ask intelligent questions.  You won’t be able to demonstrate your insight until you get your hiring manager off the interview script.

That’s why you turned the open-ended question, “Can you walk me through your resume?” into a discussion about the role — and specifically about what isn’t working perfectly right now.

If you get out of the interview without discovering the hiring manager’s pain, you are much less likely to get the job. You have to ask probing questions to understand what’s keeping your hiring manager up at night.

The minute you take the conversation up to a higher level — where your manager is really engaged because the subjects you’re discussing the matter more to him or her than almost anything else — you become a very important person to your manager.

The third thing you have to do in order to get hired is that you have to give the hiring manager confidence that you can solve his or her greatest problem. You won’t do that by spitting out the answer to the problem, which will not be a well-informed answer because you are not walking in the hiring manager’s shoes.

Any magic bullet you suggest at the interview can only be stolen or dismissed as impractical. Don’t give away the “right answer” to the manager’s pain at the interview — but use the interview to let the manager know that you offer his or her best hope for finding that answer, and putting it into practice.


Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.Liz’s book Reinvention Roadmap is here.

Natalie Severt

Natalie SevertResume Expert at Uptowork

Maybe you’ve finished writing your resume, maybe you’re just starting. 

Either way, you could probably use some quick resume tips. 

What are the best tips for writing a resume?

It’s easy to overlook things when you’re worried about finding a job. The best tips help you remember the smallest details of resume writing. 

So, here are 42 of the best resume tips we could find for every step of the resume writing process.

For your convenience, we’ve divided the tips into twofive, and thirty-minute tips.

Next to each tip, you will also see a star rating that ranks the tips in importance on a scale from one to five. 

Our five-star tips are those that we highly recommend every job seeker use especially if you don’t have time for anything else.

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get resume tips, advice, and right vs. wrong examples while writing your resume.  See +20 resume templates and create your resume here.


 See more resume tips and create your resume here. 

These Resume Tips Will Take Two Minutes Tops  

1. Create a professional email address.    

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Out of all of the resume tips listed, this may seem too obvious. 

But it’s worth mentioning because the use of an unprofessional email address will get you rejected 76% of the time. 

So, if you haven’t already done so, ditch that email address you’ve been using since high school. Choose a professional email provider like Gmail or Outlook. Use your name. 



2. Update your contact information.

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After you change your email address, make sure the rest of your contact information is up to date.

You don’t want to miss an interview because you put the wrong phone number on your resume.

Also, exclude information like your birth date or marital status. You do not have to respond to questions about religion, race, or gender on an application. US employers cannot take these aspects into consideration when accessing you.

If you’re applying for a job out of state or country, also consider omitting your current address. That way a hiring manager won’t think you’re confused about the location of the job.

3. Set your font size to 10-12 points.

Importance: ✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

While choosing a font is important, making sure that it is the right size is paramount.

Keep your resume font sizebetween 10-12 points so that a hiring manager can easily read it without squinting.

4. Use reverse-chronological order.

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

For your education section, put your highest degree first.

For your experience section, put your current job first.

5. Align your content to the left to make it skimmable.

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The first thing a hiring manager is going to do is skim your resume for relevant keywords from the job description.

Aligning your text to the left makes this easier for them to do. 

6. Make strategic use of bold, caps, and italics.

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

Be consistent with your choices. If you’ve made one of your subheadings bold – make them all bold. Try not to overuse anything. The point is to make important information easier to find. 

7. Choose an attractive and readable font.

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ 

You may think fonts are trivial in the larger scheme of things, but the right font is going to do a lot for your resume. 


Stick to fonts that sound like the names of hipster children: 

  • Verdana 
  • Arial
  • Helvetica 


If you choose a font that is hard to read or childish, a hiring manager might toss your resume in the trash.

  • Comic Sans
  • Papyrus
  • Curlz MT

Want to make sure your resume will hook every recruiter and get you that interview? Get our free checklist and learn what makes a job-winning resume: 46 Things You Need to Do Before You Send Your Resume

8. Only add jobs you’ve had in the past 10-15 years.

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You do not need to list every job you’ve ever had on your resume. Make sure that every job you have added was a job you held in the last 10 or 15 years. 

9. Give your sections simple subheadings.

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Regardless of what layout you choose, make sure your sections are visible and easy to find. 

You can do that by giving them simple subheadings.

For example: 


  • Resume Summary
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Skills

You’ll want to write simple subheadings for all sections. That way Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software can find them. 


  • About Me
  • Accreditations
  • Professional Background and Work History

 Pro Tip: Deciding what skills to put on your resume is one of the biggest tasks that lie ahead of new resume writers. Make sure that they are easy to find and easy to skim as well.

10. Include URLs to social media profiles, personal websites, and your blog.

Importance✸ ✸

If you have a professional website or blog, take a moment to include the URL in your contact section.

Add any relevant social media handles as well. For most professionals, that will include your LinkedIn URL and your Twitter handle. 

Creative professionals could also consider adding relevant links to Instagram, Youtube, or Pinterest profiles.

Take an extra couple of minutes to make sure that your URLs are live and to hyperlink them in the text so they are accessible.

11. Choose a resume format that works for you. 


What are the best formats for a resume? Well, that depends.

There are three types of resume formats: 

  • Reverse-chronological
  • Combination
  • Functional or Skills-based

Decidingwhat resume format to choose will be one of the first things you do. 


Most of you will opt for the     reverse-chronological format    . It’s the most common and you can play with the layout. 


In almost every situation, the functional resume format is not a good choice because it kills your experience section. And even if you don’t have experience, that’s not the best way to handle it.

Pro Tip: Consider a format that gets your strongest information closest to the top of your resume where hiring managers will be sure to see it right away.

12. Consider using a professionally designed template. 


Templates can save you a lot of time and effort. Imagine not having to fool around with margins in Word. Pick one out, and you’re ready to go. 

quick resume tips

13. Consider putting your education section first. 


Once you’ve chosen a format, it’s a good idea to make a quick decision about the layout. 

How do you build a strong resume?

After your contact information, start your resume with either a resume summary or a resume objective. More on that later.

But what should come next? Your education or your experience section? 

If you’re a professional with tons of experience, your experience should come first. 

But let’s say you’re a student and your educational background is your strongest selling point. In that case,consider putting your education section first

14. Lose the phrase “References Available Upon Request.” 


It is no longer necessary to place this phrase at the bottom of your resume, as hiring managers know that they can request your list of references.

Adding it only takes up valuable space that you could use for something else.

Our builder (you can create your resume here) will give you resume tips and examples while you’re writing your resume. You can easily copy them straight into your resume – it will save you a ton of time.

 cover letter and resume tips and advice

Inside the Uptowork resume builder   , you will find easy-to-use resume tips and examples. 

Only Have Five Minutes? Here are the Best Resume Tips

15. Read the job description and then read it again. 

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Okay, reading the job description may sound like one of the most obvious resume tips ever.

Of course, you’ve read the job description. Right?

In fact, most people spend an average of 76 secondsreading a job description. And that’s why hiring managers find that 50% of applicants are unqualified for the job. 

You’ve got to make sure you have the skills necessary for the job in the first place.


Read the job description. Make sure you’re qualified. Read it again. Mine it for keywords. Put it through a cloud generator. Take it on a date. Buy it Tiffany’s. Get married to it. 

Because that job description is your best friend when it comes to building a great resume. 


Seeing a job title that sounds right, and sending your resume immediately. 

Reading a job description is as close as you’re going to get to reading the recruiter’s mind.

Pro Tip: If you want to save time and find out how to write a resume for your profession,take a look at our guides and resume examples.

16. Make sure you’ve created margins. 

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Margins are important. That’s because resumes with text crammed edge to edge look messy and unprofessional.

Do you know where messy resumes go? You know.

If you do need a little more space, it’s okay to drop your bottom and top margins to 0.5” and your side margins to 0.75”. Anymore and you’re resume will suffer.

17. Balance your text and white space. 

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Balancing your text and white space is the same thing as adding margins. It makes your resume aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. 

Do not sacrifice white space in the name of fitting everything onto one page. There are other ways.

18. Consider adding a coursework description. 

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This is one of the best resume tips for students. If you’re learning how to make a student resume, adding a coursework description is a good start. 

Your education is still your strongest asset. Listing or describing courses can show recruiters that you have skills related to the job. 

Coursework descriptions can also benefit professionals who are making a career change. It shows that you’ve got relevant knowledge that goes beyond your past work experience.

19. Name your files properly. 

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It is important to name your files properly. 





Your resume could end up in an inbox with hundreds of other resumes. 

And if they’re all named “resume,” then the chance of your resume standing out is slim to none.

20. Match your cover letter to your resume. 

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The two best cover letter tips are:

  • Write a cover letter. 
  • Match the content of your cover letter to your resume. 

Yes, you still need to write cover letters. And yes, they need to match your resume so that you’re telling the hiring manager one cohesive story.

If there was something you feel needs an explanation, write about it in your cover letter—see our great guide on how to write the perfect cover letter.

21. Draw attention to your promotions. 

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Make sure you’ve mentioned any promotions you’ve received. 

You don’t have to list the name of the company more than once in the case of internal promotions. 

Write the name of the company once. Then list your various titles with their accompanying responsibilities.


Company ABC

Marketing Manager

  • Responsibilities.

Marketing Assistant

  • Responsibilities.

22. Cut the fluff in your experience section. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ 

Is your resume is a bit longer than the ideal length for resumes (one to two pages)?

Then an easy way to cut fluff is to start by deleting bullet points in your experience section. Limit yourself to around six bullet points.


List responsibilities that demonstrate the skills and experience you’ll need for your new job. Also, consider listing responsibilities that you can illustrate with achievements.


Don’t list every responsibility you had at previous jobs. 

23. Write explanations for large gaps in your career history. 

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Address significant gaps in your career history by writing brief explanations next to the jobs where the gaps occur. 

Gaps can happen for all sorts of reasons.

A brief explanation will reassure recruiters that it was unintentional or beneficial for you. As in the case of a layoff or a break to have a child or go back to school. 

24. Insert action verbs wherever possible. 

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Take a quick glance at your resume.

How many times have you used the phrase “responsible for?”

A million? It’s not uncommon.

The good news is that it only takes five minutes to replace that sad phrase with action-packed verbs.

Using action verbs and avoiding resume buzzwords is one of the best resume tips out there.

Remember, not all verbs are action verbs. Try to avoid weak verbs like “managed” or “communicated.

Here are some alternatives:

Wrong: Managed  

Right: Orchestrated

Wrong: Communicated 

Right: Persuaded

25. Get rid of nonsensical jargon. 

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The person interviewing you may not be familiar with the technical jargon that goes with your territory. 

Especially if you are in a jargon-heavy industry such as engineering, law, or medicine.

Try to use layman’s terms or simplified equivalents wherever possible.

Wrong: Dramatically cloudify viral innovation.

Right: Create digital backups for popular campaigns.

26. Run your job description and resume through a cloud generator. 

Importance✸ ✸ 

Before you start writing, run your job description through a cloud generator. Which words are the most prominent? 

You can use the words that appear as a content guide while writing your resume.

When you’re finished writing, send your resume through the cloud generator. Do the same words appear? 

A cloud generator is a quick way to check that you’ve tailored your resume to meet the needs of the hiring manager.

27. Consider saving a copy of your resume as a PDF. 

Importance✸ ✸

Saving your resume as a PDF is one of those resume tips that might not work for everyone.


The benefit of saving  your resume as a PDF is that the formatting will not change when it’s opened. 


The downside is that if a company is using ATS, a PDF might not be the best format for your resume.

Pro Tip: It’s often best to save your resume in a couple of file formats so you can send whatever is more suitable. It’s up to you to decide.

These Resume Tips Take 30 Minutes, But They’re So Worth It

28. Tailor your resume to the job description. 

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Tailoring your resume is probably the king of resume tips. If you do nothing else,  tailor your resume to the job description. 

You do that by identifying keyword skills in the offer and then add these skills throughout your resume. It sounds like a lot of work, but these keywords are what  you should put on your resumeabove all else. 

That’s because keywords are what hiring managers are looking for when they scan your resume. 

29. Add achievements to your experience section. 

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If tailoring your resume to the job description is the king, adding achievements is the queen of resume tips.

Illustrating a skill or responsibility with an achievement puts you five steps ahead of candidates with the same skill set. 

That’s because you’re showing what it looks like when you put your skills to work.

When adding achievements to your resume, use the X, YZ approach.

In situation X I did Y, which resulted in Z


To generate user engagement, I performed multiple A/B tests, resulting in a 20% decrease in bounce rates and a 15% increase in sales conversions.


I won an employee of the year award.

30. Add numbers and details where possible. 

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Adding numbers and details to emphasize skills is by far one of the best resume tips you can follow. Anytime you can illustrate an achievement or skill with numbers or details – do it. 


Increased sales by 12% over a 5 month period.


Responsible for sales.

Numbers draw the eye of the recruiter and details give them a tangible sense of what it looks like when you use a skill. 

Maybe you increased sales, efficiency, or user engagement. Maybe you slashed costs. Whatever it is that you’ve achieved try to make it quantifiable.

31. Make good use of the top third of your resume. 

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Think of the top third of your resume and “the penthouse.” It’s here that you want your best skills, experience, and achievements to appear.

Try to put the best stuff at the top. 


Because when a recruiter scans your resume, they will focus on the top third of the document.

resume tips for freshers examples


If they don’t find what they’re looking for in a few seconds of scanning, they will reject your resume as irrelevant. Read more with our guide on how to start writing a resume.

32. Include a resume summary or objective. 

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So, how do you get your best information in the top third of your resume?

Include a resume summary or a resume objective. 

It’s three sentences of who you are, where you’re going, and why you’ll bring value to the company.

When considering how to write a resume summary or how to write a resume objective, keep in mind that the old school way is dead.

Wrong – What You Want

Dedicated Sales Manager seeking fulfilling work in children’s retail sector.

Right – What They Want

Dedicated Sales Manager with 5+ years of experience in the retail industry. Wishing to decrease returns for PeaPod Babywear by 15%.

33. Use a proofreading tool like Grammarly. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

You cannot afford to have typos or grammar errors in your resume. The majority (61%) of recruiters will throw out a resume immediately if they see typos. 

Microsoft Word or Google Docs will do a good job of detecting spelling errors, but the  Grammarly app or Language Tool will catch grammar mistakes and typos. 

You need to proofread your resume before sending your resume, and an app will help you catch things you can’t see. 

34. Have a human proofread your resume. 

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Apps are great for catching mistakes, but another human being is priceless.

Grab whoever you can find with the patience to read through your resume.

They can also give you feedback about your tone and how you’re selling yourself.

35. Write a thank-you email. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

Knowing how to write a thank you email after an interview is priceless.

It’s not always enough to write a great resume and ace an interview. The show isn’t over until you’ve also written a thoughtful thank-you email.

36. Clean up your online presence. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

When you’re just learning how to create a resume, you may forget that hiring managers also search for you online. 

Be sure to optimize your LinkedIn profile so that it resonates with your resume.

Make sure that you’ve cleaned up “public” information on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Change your Facebook privacy settings to “Friends” to keep future posts from becoming public.

And do a quick sweep to make sure nothing else unsavory is lurking out there on the Internet. Enter your name into Google and see what turns up in the results. 

You can ask Google to remove sensitive or sexual content from the web.

37. Create a professional persona for yourself. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

A professional persona is a two or three-word description of yourself that should stick in the head of the recruiter when your name doesn’t. 

It’s like when you try to describe someone from last night’s party.

Remember the girl who graduated from Harvard and talked about goat cheese for an hour?

It’s like that except less goat cheese. 

38. Reinforce your professional titles by showing career progression. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ 

Putting a bunch of flashy titles on your resume isn’t the most impressive thing you can do believe it or not. 

What is impressive is the telling the story of your career progression.

See, you can be a social media manager for your cousin’s pizza place without any prior experience. 

But when you can show that you progressed to that position through hard work, that’s impressive.

The trick is trying to make each past role reinforce your place in the next one.


Marketing Manager

  • Manage a team of 10+ employees.
  • Prepare annual marketing plans.

Marketing Specialist

  • Planned and implemented promotional campaigns.
  • Cooperated with interactive agencies.

Marketing Intern

  • Conducted market research.
  • Assisted during promotional campaigns.

39. Consider adding a Hobbies and Interest section to your resume. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸ 

If you have space,  hobbies and interests can be great additions to your resume.

That’s because companies are beginning to emphasize work culture. Which makes finding a candidate with a  fitting personality increasingly important.

Just be sure to research your company. Choosing hobbies and interests that match the company’s culture is a good strategy. 


Work Culture: Corporation participates in charity marathons.

Hobbies and Interests: Volunteer Work and Athletics


Religious, political, or sexual hobbies. 

If the person reading your resume has an opposite opinion, it could hurt your chances of getting an interview.

40. Trim any unnecessary fat from your resume. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸

Having problems keeping the length of your resume in check? 

You will want to trim the fat:

  • Make sure every word you’ve used is necessary. 
  • Keep your bullet points to six at most. 
  • Trim your resume summary or your skills section without killing the value. 
  • And kill any extra sections that aren’t mandatory.

41. Try to find the personal email address of the hiring manager. 

Importance✸ ✸ ✸

You can always attach your resume to a generic email and send it to a generic inbox.

Or you can attach your resume to a personalized email and send it to your hiring manager.

Some hiring managers may not appreciate receiving unsolicited resumes. 

At the same time, if you know how to send an email to a hiring manager you know that you aren’t sending it unannounced. 


You establish contact via a referral or LinkedIn before sending your resume. 


Sending a cold-call email to an unknown hiring manager.

42. Track your resume. 

Importance✸ ✸ 

Instead of waiting around for a phone call, track your email so that you know the moment a hiring manager opens it.

You can use a free tool like Mixmax to see if a hiring manager has read your resume. That gives you a better idea of when to send follow-up or thank you emails.

Key Takeaway

It can be easy to forget small details when you’re trying to figure out how to write a great resume. But if you follow these resume tips and tricks you can rest assured that you’re on the right track.

Always take the time to check your resume. Can you think of any more quick resume writing tips that we forgot? What are some little-known resume tips you can share? Let us know in the comments.

RATE MY ARTICLE: Average: 4.6 (70 votes) 


May 23, 2018


It’s not uncommon for young professionals to tread water for a bit after college, working at a coffee shop or in retail until something more permanent comes along.

But this temporary period of floating can reverberate throughout a person’s career — and cause some serious damage.

Researchers from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass Technologies recently parsed through 4 million resumes to understand the career trajectories of college graduates. “Underemployment,” that middling state of workforce participation that lands grads in jobs they’re overqualified for, snares 43% of first-time job seekers, they found.

It gets worse: Two-thirds of those job seekers are still underemployed five years later, and 74% of those underemployed at the five-year mark are still underemployed 10 years after graduating, according to the study.

“We tend to rationalize this experience as a rite of passage in moving towards a career,” says Michelle Weise, Strada’s chief innovation officer. “But underemployment is not at all a short-term problem. Once you start out behind you stay behind.”

The trap of underemployment has serious financial implications: Underemployed graduates earn about $10,000 less per year than those in jobs that match their credentials,  according to the study. Over time, that gap can widen even further; if you’re serving drinks at the local bar instead of chipping away at the career you went to school for, you’re not getting the raises, promotions, and networking opportunities that your peers are.

For women, who already make an average  20% less than their male colleagues, the threat of underemployment looms even larger. Nearly half of all female college graduates are underemployed in their first jobs, compared to 37% of male graduates, according to the study. This is significant, Weise says because it strikes down the notion that motherhood, the so-called “mommy track,” is responsible for the persisting gender pay gap. In reality, “women are set back from the beginning,” she says.

By Paul Igasaki, Featured EEO Columnist

You feel you were wronged. You believe you were denied a promotion due to your age or were harassed because of your religion. You were fired due to your race or were denied an accommodation for your disability. Perhaps you weren’t discriminated against, but you are considering being a witness for someone who was sexually harassed. Whatever the claim, you believe your case is strong. What weighs in the minds of many in your situation is, “Is it worth the risk?”

You may win or lose your claim. Whether they file it with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a state civil rights commission most people are concerned that if their employer would go so far as to discriminate or to allow discrimination, it might seek retribution thereafter. You could be fired, given poor assignments or, as in one case involving a police agency, placed in dangerous situations by your coworkers. More subtly, harassment by coworkers could be overlooked. Even small slights could pile up to make one’s life miserable.

It is true that some people are “serial complainers,” filing complaints repetitively and based upon slights that are short of a real violation. But even such complainers may face real discrimination. And even they have a right to be free of retaliation. In fact, most workers don’t want to take the initiative of taking on the boss or management. After all, the employer has more power, usually controls the records, and will be able to control your work life unless you were dismissed. Consequently, most workers are reluctant to file a claim even if they feel they were wronged.

The law prohibits retaliation. It is a high priority for the EEOC, or other civil rights enforcement agencies, to protect the integrity of the process. Therefore, if a company seeks retribution against someone who files a claim, even if the claim itself fails, it may be successfully prosecuted for retaliation afterward. This protection is equally available to someone who serves as a witness in another person’s case. Without this protection, few would take the risk of challenging the company or, in many cases, their coworkers as well. The system would invite intimidation without this protection.

Retaliation is relatively rarely done in the open. It is usually masked by a pretext that sounds valid. For example, where a worker has won a discrimination complaint that he or she was passed over for a promotion because of gender, a company may (usually after some time has passed) act on some apparent violation of company rules, demoting or dismissing the worker. The closer its connection to the complaint, the more suspicious the action may be. First, the pretext could be trumped up, so the validity of the claim needs to be investigated. Even if valid, the infraction could be behavior accepted by other workers without similar action being taken. The firing may be due to routine lateness, for example. This sounds valid, but if other employees also came late without being fired, the reason seems pretextual. It could be found to be retaliation and illegal.

From the company’s point of view, where a worker stays in the company, it isn’t fair that the person should be shielded from future discipline properly applied just because she or he filed a discrimination complaint, win or lose. Concern over possible retaliation will cause some managers to be overly-cautious about applying the rules to someone who could claim retaliation. But failure to be fair could result in valid complaints from other workers.

People who have filed a discrimination complaint should be careful not to change their behavior, figuring that employers might now be “afraid of them” and taking this as an opportunity to get away with longer lunches, for example. In the aftermath of a complaint, both sides will monitor behavior more closely and actions will be more carefully documented before.


Even Winning Can Come at a Cost

Why do many who believe that they were discriminated against fail to file complaints? Here are a few frequently heard explanations:

“It takes too much time.”
It does take time. Backlogs exist in some cases, but in some jurisdictions, a response is required by an administrative agency in a matter of a few months. If a case is hard fought and ends up in federal court, even on appeal, it can even take years, though few cases run that course. Given convincing proof, cases often get resolved early in the process. Government agencies such as the EEOC will move faster if the proof is strong. Internal or government-sponsored mediation often takes place. Company and complainant alike have an interest in resolving a case sooner rather than later.

“I don’t want to be seen as a whiner.”
Inevitably, those who don’t believe in the anti-discrimination laws will see complainants that way. Unless you have complained a lot before, though, many will take you seriously if your complaint sounds credible.

“Even after what I’ve been through, I don’t want to hurt my boss.”
If managers violated your rights, and you have suffered a loss because of it, they will lose less than you have. If the misconduct is serious enough, they should be held accountable.

“I don’t want to be disloyal to my company.”
The law requires following an employer’s grievance process so long as it is fair. Management will have had a chance to fix any problems before the case goes farther. Correcting unfairness ultimately will make an employer more effective by ending a bad corporate practice.

“I don’t have, or can’t afford, a lawyer.”
Lawyers are not necessarily required for internal grievances or even with federal or state agencies. While the courts allow personal representation also, I wouldn’t recommend it. Some cases are strong enough for a law firm to represent someone for a contingency fee to be collected out of damages won in the case. While not conclusive, one’s ability to find a lawyer will provide some feedback on the legal strength of the case.

“I don’t know how to do it.”
Companies protect themselves by providing objective, well-publicized grievance systems. State and federal agencies should provide guidance on the process. It’s important to note that you may need to file a government complaint by a certain date from the point of alleged discrimination (300 days in most EEOC matters, varying standards for state laws).

“I’m afraid that the company, or my boss, will get back at me if I complain.”
I hope this article has explained that they are taking serious risks if they do and the law protects against such retaliation.

“I think I lost that promotion because of my race or gender, but I can’t be sure.”
It makes sense to try to figure out what the employer’s explanation is, but just because they say it isn’t discrimination doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. Given the facts, who is most credible? Does your story make sense?

“I don’t trust the government to treat me fairly.”
Most anti-discrimination agencies are fair and dedicated to enforcing the law, but don’t expect them to make your case for you. They are required to investigate if you’ve given enough credible information to go on. But remember: these agencies are often terribly under-funded and they may miss things. Anything you can or your coworkers can do to back up your story helps.

“Although I know I was harassed, there weren’t any witnesses.”
Certain kinds of discrimination, sexual harassment for example, often involve only two witnesses with conflicting versions of what happened. Credibility decisions still need to be made. Witnesses that support your story make a great difference. The sort of witness that is most persuasive in such matters would be one who can corroborate by providing testimony as to similar behavior with other people previously.

Many who have prevailed in a discrimination matter find the workplace atmosphere has become so uncomfortable that they don’t want to stay with the employer afterward. Also, many who file do so only after they’ve lost their jobs. Retaliation is harder in these cases. Yet, if a company provides negative references or otherwise acts to hurt one’s employability, retaliation claims could still be pursued. Claims other than discrimination may apply here, such as defamation, and most well-advised employers are pretty careful to avoid this.

As a former executive of the federal EEOC, I want people to come forward if they face illegal discrimination, both because I believe in the laws we enforced and because unfair situations will not be corrected for future generations unless people come forward in the present.

Some groups appear even more cautious than others. Immigrant groups, or others such as Asian Pacific Americans, file discrimination complaints at a lower rate than other groups. It has not been my experience that they suffer discrimination less, but rather that they are unaware of their rights or more cautious in exercising them for a variety of reasons. This is true for other groups as well. While a few are quick to complain, most people let the situations get pretty bad before taking action.

Because of this, I often would remind people that democracy, or at least the American version of it, requires that we stand up for our rights on an individual basis if the system is to work. We can’t rely on others, whether it be our employers, our unions or our coworkers, at least initially. It all comes down to us to let the system know that we haven’t been fairly treated. Speaking up against injustice — or put more crassly, complaining — is the American way. “Speaking up” could range from voting and writing one’s Senator to filing an EEOC complaint or providing testimony to someone else as a witness. In any case, it is a matter of civic responsibility.

Intimidating one from using the systems that protect our rights is unlawful and must be taken seriously.

That being said, one does have to be realistic. Win or lose, filing a complaint will result in at least a less comfortable environment. A little discomfort is worth it if one’s rights have been taken away, but there are degrees of discomfort and some could be more than one would want to bear. The difficulty of prevailing — given whether there is corroboration for one’s complaint and whether the employer intends to fight hard — are real considerations. When deciding whether to take the risk, one should consider how much one has lost in terms of career advancement, compensation or personal well being, and how hard it will be to win. Consider what you are likely to gain if you are successful and then how likely winning is given what you can prove to a decision-maker. The burden of establishing evidence to make a successful case in on the complainant who is accusing an employer of discrimination. It is sad but true that either party’s chances of winning are a lot better if they are represented by a lawyer. Willingness to negotiate from both sides indicates that things might work out. Increasingly, beyond federal agencies and courtrooms, mediation or, in some cases, arbitration may have different dynamics.


A Serious System

Usually one doesn’t pursue a case unless something significant, ranging from the job itself to one’s mental health, are at stake. But I have seen cases over whether one’s desk is smaller in size than those of colleagues of equal grade, or whether a conference folder is nicer for some others at a work meeting. I remind people that the process can take a great deal of time, energy and sometimes money. More importantly, I strongly urge folks who have serious doubts about whether their case involves discrimination to proceed cautiously. While individuals should report discrimination, those who are too quick to complain too frequently may appear as the “boy who cried wolf,” which can be ultimately damaging both for themselves or others when truly serious grievances arise.

The equal employment opportunity system is not a good forum for working out one’s anger or to fill one’s time. It might be the right place if you want discrimination dealt with, however. Even discrimination that doesn’t seem worth pursuing initially could pile up to produce a genuinely hostile environment. Standing up for your rights is not selfish. Discrimination is wrong. Unless Rosa Parks decided that this time she wasn’t going to give up her seat on the bus, America would be a different place.


Do You Have a Question about EEO?

  • Email Your Question!
    The editors invite you to send in questions or suggestions for diversity or workplace EEO-related topics that Paul Igasaki can address in future features.


Lida Citroën/May 17, 2018

Stand strong in your values and hold your head high.

Some 29 percent of Americans have experienced workplace bullying or mobbing — 37 percent if we include witnesses — according to  2017 data from the Workplace Bullying Institute, a leading nonprofit. I’ve seen it in my own practice and community. Bullying happens everywhere, and if you haven’t personally become a target, you probably know someone who has.

Despite the growth of workplace bullying, many of us aren’t sure what constitutes bullying/mobbing, as opposed to harassment or workplace discipline. Few know the powerful and liberating truth that we can repair our brand and reputation after workplace bullying. We can restore our confidence, too.


I define bullying as an inappropriate form and use of power and aggressive behavior that unfairly singles someone out. Bullying serves no purpose other than to demean, strip away confidence or humiliate. Bullying takes place privately or publicly. Workplace mobbing takes bullying to a higher level and includes multiple parties. When a target gets bullied, and a group follows with ridiculing, slandering, undermining and heckling the person, we see mobbing. Not defending the target — during and after the act and if they leave the company — also serves as mobbing behavior.

As a specialist in managing reputations and personal branding, I routinely hear from clients all over the world seeking help in repairing their brand after becoming a target of extreme bullying or mobbing. Some work for well-known companies. Some are high-profile professionals in their community. Sometimes, the bullying against them winds up in the news. In all cases, big and small, and in every region, here are the steps I take to help the targets of workplace bullying repair their precious self-esteem, livelihood and reputation.


When you become the target of bullying or mobbing, you feel everyone around you sees everything. Many of my clients feel like they’re under a microscope and that everyone believes the untruths the bully or mob says about them. To counter this feeling and distinguish any reputational damage, separate the inevitable feelings of shame, self-doubt, and lack of confidence from the actual impact to your career. When looking at workplace bullying through a reputational lens, ask yourself, “Has this experience impacted my ability to secure desired opportunities? Am I being shortchanged on key opportunities?” To me, that’s what reputation is about.


If you’re in the thick of the bullying, consider whether to step up your game to avoid getting fired. If you gave 100 percent before, then maybe give 150 percent after. Be sure your work product does not get called into question.

At the same time, when coaching clients who have been the targets of workplace bullying, I caution them to ensure they don’t permit any firable offenses to happen. I’ve seen clients, subjected to terrible bullying, want to pull back and do less to “show the employer a thing or two.” But if you then leave the company, you’ve provided the bully/team justified evidence that you weren’t up to par.


When someone is bullied, and their reputation is damaged, often they’ve not provided an adequate context of their values and goals to help them rebound. Ideally, having a strong personal brand protects us from bullying and mobbing. Being perceived as valuable — and building a strong brand around that — can deflect negativity and help remind our audience that we all make mistakes sometimes. We’re human.

Whether your bullying takes place online or in person, focus on what you can influence —  your reputation. You’ll feel empowered and deflect the impact on your confidence and brand.


Hopefully, we learned to stand up to bullies in the schoolyard. Yet, when it comes to our workplace, we believe it can’t actually be happening.

As adults, we must remember that we can’t change another person. We can influence and inspire them, but we shouldn’t set out to change them. One client of mine faced the option of fighting back, staying quiet or leaving after workplace bullying, which lasted a few years. Even though I knew, for him, it felt like quitting, I suggested leaving the company. In his case, the bullying was deep and entrenched in the company culture, and he wasn’t motivated to make it his mission to remove toxicity from that organization. In his case, leaving best protected his happiness, confidence, and reputation. I am certainly not saying to lie down if you’re a target of a hate crime. In those cases, don’t walk away. Explore legal recourse.


While you’re in the thick of the bullying, it’s more important than ever that you stand strong in your values, and keep your head held high. Recognize that bullying and mobbing have the potential of becoming quicksand, swallowing up your sense of identity, self-confidence, independence and positive outlook. As with quicksand, sudden movements can pull you further down into the problem. Immediately seek help if you feel a loss of control or purpose.


While changing employers may help how others view you, I don’t recommend leaving an industry you love and in which you’ve had a solid, positive experience up until now unless something life-changing occurs. Not every company in your industry has a bullying culture. If you have established a credible reputation within an industry but experience a negative workplace, changing jobs can be seen favorably. This move shows you are confident enough about yourself and your abilities that you won’t tolerate toxicity. Remember, if an organization’s culture is toxic, you’re probably not the first bullying target.


To help preserve and rebuild your reputation, ask allies to speak well of you to a new boss/employer/prospect. You may find if the bullying case reaches the media and becomes public, colleagues reluctant to publicly say the company or boss treated you wrongly. These employees may fear they will become the next target or lose their job. But carefully find allies willing to endorse and protect your brand in other ways — through a phone reference, for instance.


Revenge can be a natural, human response to becoming a target. Some clients want to go to investors and speak ill of the boss and employer who targeted them. I advise holding back. Revenge does not effectively repair your personal brand and reputation. And in many cases, efforts to tarnish a boss or company will backfire and make you look even worse.

Here’s how you might feel satisfied, less angry and help repair personal brand and confidence:

  • Write a detailed, unfiltered letter/email to the bully/mob. Purge every angry and resentful idea; however, don’t send it. Instead, put it away someplace. Review it in six months and see how you feel.
  • Avoid Glassdoor. While online review sites could give you the emotional outlet of venting about the bullying behavior you endured, the service becomes entirely misused by individuals making outlandish claims about companies. You might feel vindicated, but more likely, you’ll feel better writing the review, saving as a Word document, then, seeing how you feel. Writing anonymous bad reviews about an employer won’t help rebuild your personal brand.
  • Succeed and rebound. One client of mine lost her public affairs role when her boss and team mobbed her and made up lies about her work to have her fired. Her upbeat personality clashed with the curmudgeon boss who’d missed out on getting promoted. Her experience and skills trumped his and provided a threat. While writing scathing letters to expose the bullying crossed her mind, ultimately, building her own successful business and sharing those successes on social networking sites served her best. The mob noticed each post, and she proved them wrong about her competence.

Hopefully, you will never be subjected to workplace bullying. But if you do, these recommendations will help you plot your next move and ultimately preserve something critical to your career success and personal legacy — your personal brand and reputation.

By Sarah LandrumMay 16, 2018

Everyone looks at the world through different filters based on their upbringing, environment, experience, and attitude. The victim mentality is one of those unfortunate lenses that even experienced professionals sometimes play into when searching for a job.

When you’re on a job hunt, don’t chase your tail by giving in to victim mentalities. Outside circumstances work against you. Layoffs happen. You mess up on the job. You need to gain more skills. No positions are open. It’s typically a mixed bag of happenings that land you where you are now, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough or that there are no opportunities to be had.

You need to recast yourself as the hero of your career journey, while remaining honest with yourself, and lead your job search in a positive and proactive direction. Realize that you can take charge of your career journey, rather than playing into these six victim mentalities.

1. Rejected too many times

Victim Mentality: “Everywhere I’ve applied turned me down. No one wants me.”

Rejection stings and too much rejection can make you feel like giving up. It’s easier to give up on the job hunt. Think of it from the perspective of a fisherman. Being out in the hot sun with only so much food, energy and bait can wear you down after a while. When your resources drain, it’s common to reach a burnout point. Leave the line in as you fish for your job, but take it easy on yourself. Focus on taking care of your mind, heart, and body.

You may rest more easily knowing that only  2% of applicants get an interview, and remember to apply for the job as it’s outlined. Your career objective should match the role.

2. Not good enough

Victim Mentality: “My experience and education aren’t good enough for this role.”

People typically dislike uncertainty. So, they shortchange themselves instead of facing change and risk.

Counteract negative self-talk by focusing on times when you excelled, exceeded expectations and were more than good enough. Challenge your inner bully by laughing and probing the suggested illogical fallacies by asking a question like “What evidence do I have for and against this?”

3. The bad apple

Victim Mentality: “I’ve been laid off or fired too many times. No one will hire me.”

Folks say that one bad apple will turn the whole batch, rotting every good apple around. That’s simple oxidation. It’s not the apple’s fault. Consider the circumstances, and be honest with yourself. If you were previously late to work, and that’s a part of why you were laid off or terminated, focus on how you that experience helped you grow as a professional. Perhaps, you freed up stress from your life and developed a bedtime ritual before going to sleep, which signals your body that it’s time to sleep.

Polish your resume, and prepare yourself to tell the positive side of the story. Explain how you arrived at a solution and what you decided to do with your time.

Look at times when you walked away because your expectations differed from an employer’s expectations. You changed the situation by redirecting your energies. Many people wait too long to leave a job when they’re unhappy and get fired in the end. Was that you?

4. Taking whatever comes

Victim Mentality: “I must take whatever job offers I get, even if they treat me poorly or pay me poorly. That’s the way of it, and I have to consider myself fortunate.”

Too many people work too hard, without recognition, only to burn out. When they leave a toxic work environment, they’re likely to enter another one if they don’t stop the pattern in advance. Weigh the pros and cons. Accepting poor treatment, unfair wages and inadequate benefits devalues you as a person and a professional. Does it get you where you want to be five years from now? Instead of counting yourself “lucky,” aim for companies that genuinely value their team members. Read employee reviews. Research the companies. Find out if you’re a fit, and the results will be better for everyone involved.

If a potential employer offers you low pay, counter with a better but fair wage, and be prepared to explain why they should take you up on the counteroffer. Look at your needs, and come to the table with confidence in your skills. If the company isn’t wealthy, counter with alternatives they can afford, such as flextime that allows you to work from home on certain days.

5. Lack of appreciation

Victim Mentality: “No one appreciates my accomplishments or talents.”

Too much rejection and feeling invisible at previous jobs makes you feel unappreciated and undervalued as a professional. You spent time and money to develop your education and experience, and your accomplishments and talents are a reflection of that.

You reach a point where you realize it’s time to move on, but consider this: Did you speak up for yourself?

You put your nose to the grindstone, sacrificing your time and talents, but you need to practice self-respect as a professional. You can say “no” with grace and say “yes” with confidence when you only agree to take on tasks that are truly worthwhile and reasonable. Ask for feedback. Reward yourself. Toot your horn on paper and in person, ask for what you deserve and trust that you’ll find the right fit when you keep speaking up for yourself.

6. Dry desert

Victim Mentality: “No one is hiring. It’s a desert out there.”

How big is the job pool you’re fishing in again? Give yourself a reality check and get creative if statistics support your claim of a desert marketplace. Deserts are dry, yes, but dwelling on that fact won’t help you in your job search.

Turn to other job boards. Get on social media, and search for open roles with relevant hashtags. Reach out to your networks from college and professional associations. Get creative and consider career path alternatives, such as other industries or running your own business as a consultant or freelancer.

Experts expect freelancers to make up  34% of the “gig” economy by 2020, and that doesn’t mean self-employed professionals live off of pennies. Many successfully leverage their skills and experience in a niche market for a living wage.

Don’t fall into these victim mentality traps, or you will stay stuck and never find the right fit. Know that you deserve better. Take action to shift the negative narrative, and become a career hero.

This article first appeared on  Punched Clocks.

By Lisa Vaas

How soon is too soon to send an e-mail or make a phone call after a resume submission? When does persistence become an annoyance?

You filled out the online application form. You pressed Submit or Send or Upload. Maybe you got a confirming e-mail, maybe not. Now comes the winter of your discontent as the clock ticks, hours turn into days or weeks, and your thumbs grow weary from twiddling.

If it’s any consolation, etiquette experts get really miffed over candidates being left in the dark. “It really frustrates me that the people who put these [job postings onto online application systems] don’t use a simple batch processing type of thing to let the person know when the e-mail comes in and what they can expect,” said Peter Post, director of the Emily Post Institute and author of ” The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success.” “The problem for the person who’s applied, the question of whom to contact and when is you don’t know what to expect. You’re just wondering, ‘What happens next?’ ”

 Following up with the company after you apply is a critical step in the job search. According to Jill Gaynor, Staffing Consultant at  John Leonard Employment Services, follow up “projects your level of interest and commitment to the position at hand.” A call to the hiring manager can bring your name and resume to his/her attention, Gaynor said, and separate you from the hundreds of resumes still to be reviewed while showing you understand the importance of timely follow-through.

But how to follow up without being annoying or coming off as desperate? Ladders asked hiring managers, career coaches, and the etiquette gurus at Emily Post for their advice on when to follow up after you’ve submitted your job application and resume and how to do so without committing a follow-up faux pas.

Watch the ‘close date’

Bruce Powell, a managing partner of human-resources consultant  IQ PARTNERS Inc., advises job seekers to note the close date on the job posting. “Don’t call or follow up before the posting has even closed,” he said. If there is a posting deadline, Powell said, wait a week after the deadline to follow up to give the company a chance to sort through resumes and schedule interviews. If you follow up before this date or a day after the deadline, you come off looking impatient, he said. “A week (five business days) is a good balance between giving the company ample time to take first steps but not waiting so long that they’re likely to be deep into the hiring process already.”

No ‘close date?’

If the job posting doesn’t provide a clear close date, HR experts and career coaches generally agree that one week after applying is an appropriate amount of time to wait before you follow up. But practice prudence, Powell said. He suggested job seekers avoid coming on too strong when they call or write. For example, don’t ask why you haven’t been called yet. Instead, keep the tone of the conversation or e-mail light and friendly, and, if you can, slip in a few questions and have a bit of a conversation if it seems appropriate.

“Take every opportunity to make an impression and get remembered,” Powell said. “This is a bit of a feeling-out process, though; if the person sounds rushed or is giving you one-word answers, then don’t hold them up.”

What to ask when/if you call or write

According to Powell and Heather Krasna, a career services professional and author of ”  Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service,” good questions to ask on a follow-up call or e-mail might include:

  • Have any decisions been made yet?
  • Is it OK to follow up in another week if you haven’t heard anything yet?
  • What’s the timeframe for the job-requisition process?
  • What’s the time frame for the hiring process?
  • What technical qualifications is the company seeking?

How not to be annoying, part 1: No constant calling

If the job posting doesn’t stipulate “no calls,” recruiter Lorne Epstein welcomes calls, given that it shows interest and a genuine desire to get the job. But ah, the annoying factor: He says one call is good enough, and the caller should definitely ask how to follow up before doing it again.

“Annoying happens when someone calls a couple of times a week or every week and I have made it clear there is no news or nothing to tell them,” said Epstein, founder of  InSide Job on Facebook. “Many companies can be slow with hiring, and with vacations and holidays, the process can take months. Once I tell you to stop calling, stop or I will make your resume go away.”

How not to be annoying, part 2: No unwanted calls

Calling to follow up in itself can lift your resume to the top of the pile, Krasna said, given how few people take the time to call about jobs they’ve applied for. With that said, it’s a capital offense to call when the job listing states “No calls.”

In such a case, be careful of calling to find a person’s name to follow up with, Post recommends. “One of the things you want to show us is that you know how to follow directions. Just be careful of that stuff. Read the fine print.”