The 2 Times You'll Make a Better Impression if You Don't Fire Off a Quick Email Reply

Here’s something great about smartphones: Someone sends you an email, and while you’re waiting in line or in transit, you can shoot back a quick reply and check it off your list. 

And now for something not so great about smartphones: They let you respond instantaneously. 

Let me explain. Do you ever skim an incoming message and fire off a quick response while you’re waiting around or going from place to place? (Confession: I’ve sent emails while I was on the treadmill.)

It seems convenient, expedient—even considerate—to get back to someone ASAP. However, if your reply drops all formalities (and you’re not at that level), or worse, doesn’t answer the other person’s question; it actually makes you look bad.

So, here are the two times when waiting to send an email back will make a much better impression.

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How to Continue Impressing the Company Throughout Every Single Interview Round

You nailed your interview. You answered “tell me about yourself” perfectly, discussed your relevant experience with ease, and established a great rapport with the hiring manager.

And you know you read it right when you hear you made it to the next round of the process. But after all of the excitement, you start to wonder what on Earth you have left to talk about. Should you just repeat what you’ve already said? Or, is the hiring manager looking for something new? 

Well, as the rounds of interviews continue (think: second, third, and maybe even fourth), you’ll do some repackaging of old stories and introduce some new information. But the secret is not to go overboard either way. Here’s how to channel your inner Goldilocks and find the balance that’s just right.

Don’t Give All New Information

You might be thinking that the interviewer has already heard everything you said once, so none of it’s worth repeating and you should come with all new information. That’s not really the case.

More often than not, you’ll be meeting with new or additional team members who weren’t present in the first round. They’ve never heard your pitch, and while they may have seen your resume or heard a quick overview from the interviewer, the best person to sell you is, well, you. 

Not only that, but odds are the person you spoke with only remembers highlights of your talk. She might have had back-to-back meetings or only taken notes on one part of the discussion. So, if you don’t repeat anything—you know, in an effort to keep it interesting—she may not remember the really relevant skills you shared in your last meeting.

But rather than quoting yourself exactly, make sure to connect any new information back to what you said last time. That way you’ll know you’re not skipping over any of the big selling points of your candidacy. If you’re asked (again) to “Tell me why you’re drawn to this role?” you can say, “Last time, we discussed the strong management component, which is still something I’m very enthusiastic about. Additionally, the information you shared about the collaborate nature of the team is very appealing to me.” 

This way you added something new, but you still led with your most relevant skill.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

How to Choose Between 2 Awesome Positions at the Same Company

Your dream company is hiring. Better still, it has a ton of openings—actually, so many, that you could see yourself applying to a few of them. Should you send in multiple applications? After all, won’t the person reviewing them know which position you’re best suited for? 

The answer is yes and no. Yes, the hiring manager might think one role seems more obvious based on your application— but no, this isn’t the best way to go. Because instead of coming off like someone who has so much love for the company that you’ll pitch in wherever you can to make the greatest difference—you risk making the impression that you just couldn’t make up your mind. Or worse, you might look kinda qualified for a few jobs, and yet, an obvious pick for no jobs.

I’ve been in this situation (twice!) and each time ended up applying for just one job—and landing the role that was right for me. Here’s how I did it and what I’d recommend to anyone in a similar situation:

1. Think About What You Really Want to Do

I’d just moved to a new town and was desperate to get back into the nonprofit sector. Well, the local contact I met through a mutual friend was leaving her job as a fellowship program manager. Not only that, but the development officer at her organization would be leaving soon too.

My background was in fundraising, so the development role would have been the obvious choice. But as this person described her job, it sounded so much better. Everything she was doing sounded like something I’d really love to do.

So, I applied for the fellowship program manager role—and made it clear that was role I was interested in. Sure, I listed my previous nonprofit experience, but tailored my resume in a way that highlighted transferable skills of communicating a mission, building relationships, and so forth. 

Had I sent in multiple applications, I would have distracted the hiring manager from the role I really wanted. So, don’t go into it with the mindset that you’ll apply for the job you want—plus the one you look like a match for, as a backup. Put your best foot forward and keep the focus on why you’re a fit for the role you really want.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

4 Completely Inoffensive Ways to Say "No" at Work (Because "Yes" Isn't Always an Option)

Sometimes saying “yes” at work is the way to go. Yes to that new project, yes to more responsibility, and yes to that promotion you’ve been eyeing. 

But other times, you need to decline. No, you’re too busy, no you’re not interested, or no, you don’t want to work until all hours of the night. Of course, how you phrase your reply makes a big difference. “No, that idea sucks,” is quite different from, “No, I’d like to take a different approach.”

With that in mind, here are four kinds of people you need to say “no” to at work—and diplomatic ways to do it. 

1. To Your Boss

Your supervisor asks if you’re able to take on a little more work, but the thing is—you can’t. You’re up to your ears in other projects and you like eating dinner before 9 PM (at your apartment, not at your desk).

It can be a little intimidating to push back when your boss asks you to do something. Skip the flat, “no” or an awkward, passive aggressive, “Well, umm, see I would, it’s just you’ve assigned me so much work in the past two weeks that I’m busy working on everything else you asked, so I, uhh, don’t think I can.”

Instead, try, “Thank you so much for thinking of me for this, but I was planning to spend this week working on [name of other projects].” 

This approach works for a couple of reasons. First, it’s flattering that your manager thought of you (after all, you want to be top of mind when new, exciting projects come along!). Second, if your boss knows this new task is more important, it invites him to say, “Let’s push those other projects to the backburner,” and make sure you’re on the same page as far as priorities go.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

3 Simple Ways to Tell an Employee You Were Wrong

Managers put a lot of effort into providing constructive criticism for their employees. They work to individualize feedback and make it really valuable to a given person, even those who are infamous for not taking suggestions in stride.

But conversations about room for improvement aren’t always centered on the employee. Sometimes you, the manager, are the person who screwed up.

Everyone makes mistakes, but being in a leadership role often seems to add a layer of confusion. Maybe your inclination is to downplay or even hide what you did, because you’re worried that admitting an error will make you look unqualified. To the contrary, covering it up could lead your employees to be in the one-third of respondents surveyed by the American Psychological Association who said, “My employer is not always honest and truthful.”

These sentiments are the enemy of open communication and can harm your workplace relationships. With that in mind, here’s how to communicate your error:

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3 Classic Resume Rules, Updated for the 21st Century

There are certain resume rules everyone knows because they’re practically engraved in stone. But the interesting thing is that most people also have a list of reasons why they’re the exception. Maybe you’ve seen the algorithms that multiply the number of jobs you’ve have by your years of experience, to tell you how long your resume really should be. Or, maybe you just know that you can break them in this one, specific instance.

With all the rules, and the amendments to the rules, it’s hard to know whether you should stick to conventional wisdom—or ignore it. 

Well, here’s what we recommend:

1. Does Your Resume Still Need to Be One Page?

Let’s start with the fact that there is a real-life exception for when a one-page resume will not work in your favor. Federal resumes typically run two to five pages! 

Not applying to work in the federal government? Then one page should be just right. Many people think it’s impossible to put their best foot forward with such little space; after all, if you’ve worked multiple jobs, that means cutting down the number of bullets—and maybe even leaving off certain work experience altogether. But here’s the secret: Deleting extra information works in your favor. 

Cutting your experience down to one page forces you to zero in on the most relevant experience. Too many people have bullets that don’t really add anything (think: a language section that includes high school Spanish or every aspect of your first two jobs). If you cut all of the extraneous, decent bullets and focus solely on your greatest achievements and most applicable information—everything on that page is suddenly more relevant, more impressive, and more skim-able.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

3 Ways Supporting Your Co-workers Can Advance Your Career

I’m sure you’ve seen the articles on things you can do — independently — to bolster your career prospects. You can take steps to get more face time with your boss, you can volunteer to take ownership over projects and you can develop other talents on the side.

But the thing is: Advancements aren’t all you, you, you. In other words, I’m sure several of the job descriptions you've seen call for a “team player,” and in job interviews, you you may have been asked to describe how you work with others.

So even if you nail your solo tasks, you still have to be able to work with a group. And the good news is, “team player” is more than an interview buzzword — supporting your colleagues can also advance your career. Here’s how:

1. Learn something new

Maybe you have a job where you do something new and different each day. But many of us hold roles that are fairly routinized. You work on the same projects or towards the same set of goals day in and day out. And even if you’re committed to innovating within your workload, you’re still only engaging with your assignments.

As soon as you step outside of your workload and volunteer to help your colleagues, you’re opening up the door to new insights. Maybe you partner with a coworker in the same department, but her experience lends a totally different perspective to the work you’re doing. Even better, maybe you work across departments.

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4 Ways to Convey Genuine, Non-Robot-Like Enthusiasm if You're Not a Bubbly Person

Picture this: Three friends are catching up over drinks, and one shares the big news that she’s finally landed her dream job! Friend two screams and waves her hands around in front of her face, while the third says measuredly, “That’s great. I’m really happy for you.” 

There’s no salacious, frenemy backstory: she simply isn’t a screaming, hand-waving kind of person. She’s genuinely thrilled, but she has the kind of voice that’s perfect for leading guided meditations (and less suited to expressing enthusiasm). And while her BFFs get it, it can make her look bad in professional situations. 

Luckily, showing enthusiasm—even if you’re not a naturally bubbly person—is easier than you think (and doesn’t include fake, plastered smiles). The trick is to get specific. Here’s how it works:

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How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter From Scratch in 30 Minutes

You know enough to regularly update you resume—so if you find a job posting you’re interested in, you’re halfway through the application process. The other half, of course, is your cover letter. If you have some time and are just rusty, you can make a game plan to write a draft, then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

But if you see the deadline to apply is just 30 minutes away, you don’t have any time to spare. Here’s how to write a respectable cover letter that will bolster your application—in just half an hour. (And if you need to revamp your resume or prep for interview in the same amount time, look here and here.)

Minutes 1 Through 10: Write Down Your Main Points

Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle the most on the opening line of a cover letter. I know I shouldn’t lead with “My name is…,” and I want something that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention. But my quest for the perfect beginning can lead me to spend 15 minutes (or more) typing and deleting the same line over and over. (And at that rate, my 30-minute cover letter would be all of two sentences.)

So, skip the intro if need be, and just start writing about why you’re a great fit for the open position. Don’t stress about the very best way to phrase your current responsibilities. Just write down your main points. 

Need a prompt? Answer these questions: What do you find most exciting (or interesting) about the position? What relevant experience do you have? What would you bring to the role (and/or company) that’s unique to you?

Definitely make sure to have your resume and the job description open or printed out next to you. That way you can glance over at both and make sure you’re highlighting the right experience.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

How to Prepare for a Last-Minute Interview in 30 Minutes

Great news! A hiring manager called and wants you to come in for an interview—this afternoon. You can move your schedule around and tell your boss you have an emergency dentist appointment, but in all reality, you only have 30 minutes to prep.

Yes, you could’ve asked about rescheduling (and for future reference, that’s actually a good option), but in your enthusiasm you said “Absolutely!” and requested the address of HQ. And you know that calling back and asking to change the time is a no-no, because it’ll make it seem like you struggle to think on your feet.

So, here it is: Your guide to prep for your upcoming interview in 30 minutes. 

Minutes 1 Through 10: Read Up

If you’re interviewing for an actual, posted position, you’re going to want to read through it with a fine-toothed comb. If you can print it out (i.e., you’re home), do it and circle keywords that jump out to you (think: “strong communicator” or “experienced manager”). If you’re reading it on your phone or tablet, take screenshots so you can review it on the move if you have extra time.

Then, read up on the company. Look at the about page and mission statement, click through social profiles or a blog to see what news or events the company is currently pushing. Google the organization and see what comes up first. 

No, you’re not going to have time to read article after article. But just clicking through headlines and getting a sense that the organization’s annual charity fundraiser is next week or that it’s doubling in size will make you feel less like you’re playing catch-up when you arrive at your interview.

Read the rest of the article on The Muse.

How to Run Your First Performance Review

Business 2 Community compiled an infographic of depressing facts about performance reviews, and as you may have guessed, they are bleak. 20% of employees think their boss arrives wholly unprepared. Nearly half of people surveyed think their supervisor isn’t telling the truth. One-third of the time, performance reviews can actually lead to a decrease in performance.

The good news — yes, hope exists — is that managers can help fix these issues. For example, the same infographic points out how regular feedback increases employees’ scores and decreases turnover.

Here is what you need to know to lead a valuable performance review (even if you’ve never led one before).

1. Do consider your employee’s work all year

Think fast: What has your employee improved on since January? What projects did he hit out of the park in the first quarter? What issues has she pushed up against and how has she remedied them?

These questions would be a lot easier to answer if you kept a running list of innovations, great work and areas for growth. This sort of list will prepare you to assess performance based on more than recent memory. More importantly, you should use it to provide regular feedback throughout the year (positiveand negative). That way, you’ll lead a more productive review because none of the information will come as a shock — and you won’t be seen as a boss who holds grudges or waits six months to give praise.

You’ll be able to reinforce what you’ve said in other discussions and how it contributes to your overall view of your employee. For guidance on specific timing, check out this schedule written by Amy Adams at The Muse, for what to do each month of the year.

Read the rest of this article on Mashable.

3 Phrases That'll Kill Your Idea Before You Even Pitch It

You have an idea that’s a little—or perhaps, veryoutside the box. You’d like to float it by your teammates, but in a way that underscores that it’s just a suggestion. After all, you’re just throwing some ideas against the wall, trying to come up with something that’ll work.

It’s a delicate balance. You don’t want other people to think you’re set on this approach, or that you’ve found some magical solution, when you’re not even sure how you’d execute it. But, you do think your idea’s worth considering.

Sometimes, when people are afraid of overselling an idea, they end up introducing it in a way that sinks the pitch before they’ve even finished sharing it. 

Here are three phrases you want to be sure to avoid, as well as better options.

1. “This Is Probably a Horrible Idea…”

Over the course of the workday, you have a ton of information to process. So, you’re constantly categorizing. You order tasks by priority: What needs to happen now and what can wait? You break them out by how long they’ll take (e.g., What can you actually accomplish before that mid-morning meeting?). You think through what you can push ahead by yourself versus what you can’t move on until you hear back from a co-worker

And you know what else you categorize? What is—and isn’t—worth your time, or in other words, what is (or isn’t) a “good idea.” So, when someone starts a pitch with the phrase “This is probably not a good idea,” your brain thanks him for being so transparent, dials down the listening and creative thinking skills, and prepares itself to say, “Nope, as you suggested, that isn’t worth our time.”

Instead

A much better approach is to present your idea as “an option.” After all, you’re probably prefacing it that way because you want to be clear you’re not suggesting a cure-all, just a possibility. So, position your thought as a contender, one to be considered and then adopted (or dropped), accordingly.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

How to Rock a Project When Your Boss Is Completely MIA

It’s natural to think that the most frustrating boss is the one who stands over your shoulder every moment of a project, asking if you’ve thought of this and remembered to check that. However, it can be equally challenging to work for a boss who is nowhere to be found. 

Picture this: Every time you say (or think), “I’ll just run that by my supervisor,” no one’s there. So you alternate between deflecting the questions you know you aren’t supposed to answer, making executive decisions you aren’t positive you’re allowed to make, and trying to figure out the best way forward by yourself.

This is a sink or swim situation. Some people feel unsure what to do and end up doing nothing. Some people take their newfound freedom too far and learn after the fact that they took the project way off course. And a third group of people find a way to adapt and make it work.

In a previous job, I worked for someone who was too busy to be my supervisor—so I taught myself how to complete projects that would meet his expectations without needing too much oversight. Steal my steps if you’re in the same situation and struggling to succeed.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

How to Respond to an Email You Forgot About

You’re going through your inbox, deciding which emails should be archived and which should be saved, and there is it: an email from a week ago (or even further out). Maybe it came in during an onslaught and this is the first time you’ve seen it; or perhaps, you remember thinking you’d come back to it — and then it fell off of your radar. Regardless, someone sent you an email, and you never responded.

Let’s get your first question out of the way: Do you still need to reply? While it’s tempting to blame it on your SPAM filter and pretend it never happened, the answer is yes — assuming the email comes from someone you know. (Naturally, I’m not suggesting you reply to every newsletter or cold email you receive.) According to Emily Post’s list of the “Top Ten Email Manners,” the number one rule of email is: “Always Respond.”

Here are four questions to ask yourself before you send back your reply:

1. It is worth saying why?

An excuse doesn’t make your lapse any better. In fact, it can backfire and make it seem like you think it’s no big deal. In other words, if you say, “I’m so sorry: I’ve just been so busy at work!” it won’t make your contact feel any better. But it could make him feel like responding to him is low on your list of priorities or like you think it’s OK to take 10 days to reply when things get hectic.

Read the rest of the article on Mashable here.

4 Very Common Words That'll Give Your Co-workers a Heart Attack

You pride yourself on having good communication skills. You keep your co-workers looped in and apprised of what’s going on at all times. 

But did you know that a few (very common!) words could actually be causing your beloved colleagues to freak out? It’s true: Certain terms that you might use regularly make people think fire drill, resulting in an almost visceral response. 

Read on for the four words that actually scare your colleagues (and what to say instead).

1. Except

Before you think I’m writing this from atop a perfect word usage pedestal, let me start with one I recently used. I was messaging my manager about an upcoming project and I wrote, “It looks great, except…” To which her immediate response was to suggest I write an article on “five words that send chills down your spine.” 

Except is a word that says you would’ve gotten the job or the influential person would have funded your idea—but there was just one little thing that made that not happen. It’s the shorthand for, “so close, and yet, so screwed.” Whenever someone starts a sentence with a victory, and then drops the except bomb, you instantly start preparing for disaster.

So, save your co-workers that emotional rollercoaster. Rather than structuring your update as “good news—except…” lead with what needs to be fixed so there aren’t any surprises. For example, instead of: “The report looks good, except for points three through five,” you’d say, “The report would be stronger if we reworked points three through five (more on that below), but otherwise it looks great!”

Check out the rest of the article (and the other three words) on The Muse.

How to Update Your Resume in 30 Minutes—and Turn in an Impressive, Typo-Free Version

Let’s start with the good news: You just bumped into a well-connected person and impressed the heck out of her. So much so, in fact, that she asked you to follow up with your resume, because she knows someone who’s hiring. 

You’re feeling pretty great. But before you decide which dancing animal GIF accurately sums up your networking victory, you have some work to do. Because, the last time you even thought about your resume was before you got your recent job or started your side gig, and it’s seriously out of date.

Well, it’s time to open that old document, save it under a new name, and get typing. Here’s how to update your resume—fast.

Minutes 1 Through 10: Add New Content

Where did you leave off? Think about your current job, as well as related extracurriculars—such as a blog, side gig, or volunteer work. A good starting point is to remember how you were just pitching yourself to person you impressed. If the discussion centered around your interest in design, the last thing you’d want to do is leave that off just so that you can list every single bullet point of your first gig out of college.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

What to Do When Your Boss Keeps Asking You to Redo Your Work

After weeks of pouring all of your time and energy into a new project, you turn it in and are feeling pretty victorious. Moments later, your supervisor walks over to your desk. It feels a little soon for praise, but OK, why not?

She sits down and tells you that you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.

Wait, what?

Then she starts describing the revisions she’s looking for, and they’re nothing like the project you were assigned. Is your manager an indecisive flip-flopper, or was she saying this all along and you completely missed her point? 

Here are two key questions you can ask to figure out what happened and prevent this from happening again (and again).

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

Your Guide to Working With a Boss Who Has a Different Communication Style

So, you and your boss are never on the same page — join the club. Nearly half of all employees think that their supervisor is awful, and according to the same article, “on average, employees spend about 19.2 hours a week worrying about ‘what a boss says or does.’” This stress can turn into a loss of productivity and even serious health problems.

OK, now that you’re sufficiently worried about how you interact with your manager, here’s the good news. He or she isn’t the only one empowered to deal with your relationship. It takes two people to miscommunicate, and accordingly, you can take steps to improve your interactions with your supervisor. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Read the rest of this article on Mashable.

3 Signs You Have a Reputation for Wasting People's Time (and You Don't Even Know It)

You pride yourself on being punctual. You always leave a cushion in case there’s traffic. And yes, sometimes you arrive so far in advance of meetings—and social get-togethers—that you have to kill some time so as to not be awkwardly early.

And as someone so very aware of time, you consider other people’s schedules, too. You’d never dream of being the person who texts that she’s “five minutes away,” when she’s actually just leaving her apartment, nor would you change meeting times around, forcing a contact to rearrange his whole afternoon. And while those basics are appreciated, it’s possible to be punctual and still be labeled a time waster. 

How so? Because even if you keep every 30-minute meeting to a half-hour, people will feel like their time is being wasted if they don’t accomplish what they’d planned to. 

Here are the signs you’re (unknowingly) being a time waster—and what you can do about it:

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.

How to Ask for a Deadline Extension Without Losing Your Street Cred

So, you kinda underestimated how long that new project would actually take. Or, you felt pressured to overcommit and now have way too much to do before Friday. Regardless of the situation, you’ve done the math—and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done on time.

Fortunately, we’ve all been there. So, in many situations people will be willing to be grant you some extra time. Of course, you want to be sure to ask the right way. What you say can make all the difference in how the person responds as well as how it will affect your future responsibilities and assignments. 

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind as you attempt to score yourself some breathing room while keeping your reputation intact.

Read the rest of this article on The Muse.