The Trillion $ Problem | June 2019

This $1 Trillion Problem Can Be Fixed by Asking Employees 2 Questions

A study has concluded that voluntary turnover in this country is ‘self-inflicted’ and could be easily avoided.

By Marcel SchwantesFounder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core@MarcelSchwantes; Source: Inc.

One harsh truth in the human capital space has remained true for over two decades: 70 percent of U.S. employees are disengaged in their work and workplace right now.

It should come as no surprise that, according to a report by Gallup, 51 percent of American workers are actively looking for a different job or watching for openings.

Gallup says that those who have already jumped ship have cost U.S. businesses $1 trillion.

If you’re a number-crunching CFO and your company has high turnover, you’re sweating bullets. Do the math: The cost of replacing a single employee can be anywhere between one-half to twice that employee’s annual salary.

There are other hidden costs that come with a voluntary turnover–a decline in team morale, distrust in management, uncertainty about the future, and unhappy customers.

Ask 2 important questions to stop the bleeding.

According to Gallup research, “52 percent of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.”

Done something in the form of caring enough about their employees as people–as valued human beings.

To keep your most talented and innovative knowledge workers, managers need to ask two questions that exceptional, human-centered leaders would ask:

1. A question about the employee’s job satisfaction.

Those 52 percent of exiting employees say that in the three months before they quit their jobs, no manager came to check in with them and have a meaningful conversation about how they were doing, how they felt about their work, and whether they were happy.

2. A question about the employee’s future with the organization.

The $1 trillion problem may be drastically reduced if managers have the presence of mind to sit down with employees and talk about their future with the organization. This, too, was a question never asked in the three months prior to an employee’s exit, says Gallup.

I agree with Gallup’s position that the problem of voluntary turnover in this country is “self-inflicted”–managers do not do everything in their power to make things right and put the employee first. In hindsight, exiting employees in the Gallup study said “their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.”

Bonus: Three more questions.

Gallup’s solution to your turnover issue is simple: “Train your managers to have frequent, meaningful conversations with employees about what really matters to them” in order to win them back. You can ask three additional questions:

  • What’s frustrating you?
  • What are your dreams?
  • Where do you want to go?

The bottom line of asking these questions is to let your employees know that you truly care about them as people, that you value their work and their successes. But it has to be done authentically. Asking without an intent to care is simply disingenuous, and people will have an adverse reaction.

Managers who stay involved with what employees are doing–without micromanaging–keep track of their employees’ wins, goals, dreams, and fears, and support them along their career paths. This gives employees a high awareness of their place within the company and the value of their successes.

This is what will elevate managers from simply managing functions and tasks to becoming influential and respected leaders who win the hearts and minds of employees.

Going Through A Late Career Change? 10 Survival Tips

SOURCE: Forbes Coaches Council

Decades ago, the majority of people chose an industry and stuck with it through their entire careers, from college graduation through retirement. In today’s market, where job-hopping, industry-wide downsizing, and “second act” careers are all prevalent, it seems that anything goes – and this can be a good thing for professionals who want to (or have to) change careers in their 40s or 50s.

It may seem daunting to switch to a new industry after several decades climbing the ladder in a different one, especially if the change is abrupt and not by choice. However, it’s certainly not impossible, and you may even find that you are happier, less stressed, and more fulfilled after you start your new career.

We asked members of Forbes Coaches Council how to deal with a career change late in your professional life. Here’s their best advice.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council share their insight.All images courtesy of Forbes Councils members.

1. See This As A New Beginning

Everything in life comes full circle one day. You can’t control events, but you can control how you perceive things. See your job loss as a new beginning. It’s not the end of the world. This is finally a beautiful opportunity to do what you always wanted to do – disconnect from the mundane for some time, and then evolve as a much stronger person with more clarity than ever before.   – Anjali ChughCosmique Global Inc 

2. Disconnect Your Identity From Your Profession

Whenever I coach clients through a transition, whether it’s a professional athlete leaving their sport or an executive transitioning from their corporate position, this question of identity comes up, and it’s vital that it be addressed. If you base your self-worth and self-definition on your title, transitions can quickly lead to depression. Your value is intrinsic to your humanity, not your job.   – Debra RussellDebra Russell Coaching, LLC

3. Embrace The Gig Economy

The job may have left, but you still have intellectual capital you could parlay into another successful career. If a full-time job with perks and security is your goal, and it’s not happening fast enough, participate in the gig economy, working on a project-by-project or interim basis. This will keep your skills sharp, and fill the gap until the right opportunity comes.   – Daisy WrightThe Wright Career Solution

4. Aggressively Pursue New Training

You may not need to pay for technical certifications or semester-long classes, but any new employer will want to see your absolute commitment to change, your ability to adapt, your commitment to learning new information and applying that knowledge. Older workers post job-loss often spend too much time worrying and not taking immediate action to update, augment and improve their knowledge.   – John M. O’ConnorCareer Pro Inc. 

5. Become A Mentor

It’s often hard to just stop doing something. Take the experience you have gained over your career and use it to help the next generation of professionals and leaders. Become a mentor to someone who is starting their career in a field that you worked in. Share your knowledge, and learn some things from the younger generation. As a mentor, you can develop meaningful connections.   – Kathy LockwoodBlue Water Leadership Coaching 

6. Embrace The Unknown

Many times, work and identity go hand in hand. What do you do when you aren’t the wise voice of reason amongst the team? You embrace the unknown and allow yourself to be open. It’s scary, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s the chance to explore another area of your life. Think back to childhood – what interested and captivated you that you could still do now? It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.   – Maresa FriedmanExecutive Cat Herder 

7. Highlight Your Transferable Skills And Enthusiasm

The key to a modern-day job search is showcasing transferable skills and utilizing an updated resume format. Research current resume trends for your intended career goal and highlight your skills and accomplishments (not just job duties). Transferable skills can be used in multiple job types or industries, such as organizing. Finally, highlight your interest because employers are seeking passion.   – Megan WattDream Catalyst Labs 

8. Know Your Value And Pivot If Necessary To A New Career

First, know your value. Many companies want to hire experienced executives for their wealth of knowledge. Next, if you’re in a career that is “disappearing” in the new economy (like journalism), or that favors younger workers (like digital marketing), do a career pivot. Identify your skills and passions and transfer them to a new career. Stay positive, network and move forward.   – Rebecca BoslDream Life Team 

9. Make Your Encore Meaningful

Begin considering what will give meaning to your legacy and encore career early. I coach professionals to begin this process of defining meaning during mid-career. Nurture your network to set up volunteer or paid opportunities to do something that you love. If this plan is in place, an abrupt job loss is not so jarring, and a retirement can be a soft landing rather than a loss of identity.   – Sharon HullMetta Solutions, LLC 

10. Continue To Grow Your Knowledge And Stay Relevant

In the digital age, it’s imperative to stay relevant and up-to-date on the latest trends in personal and professional branding.  For example, keeping an updated LinkedIn profile that accentuates your brand and value, as well as continuing your knowledge and training no matter your age, shows commitment and dedication to remaining in-tune with the skill set of your industry.   – Wendi Weiner, Esq.The Writing Guru 

How to Make a Potential Employer Fall in Love With You


Looking for ways to impress a potential employer? Want to make your résumé or job application stand out from the pack?

This from an employer: “In the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed 480 résumés and applications for 16 different positions. I’ve interviewed 22 candidates and brought 6 back for a second, more intense round of interviews. Believe me, I can tell you what rang my chimes!”

“Some of this advice may surprise you. Some may even make you angry because it doesn’t seem fair or right to you. I can’t guarantee that all employers will agree with me, but why take a chance in this employers’ market?”

heart Only apply for jobs for which you qualify. The “NO” pile of applications is increasingly made up of people who don’t even remotely qualify for the advertised position. Why waste the time? If you find yourself applying because it’s an area of work you might want to get into, or think you’d like, don’t bother UNLESS you can make the stretch and fit between your qualifications and background and the described opening. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.

Each application or résumé gets less than 2 MINUTES of time; usually it’s a 30 SECOND SCAN! You need to quickly qualify yourself as a potential candidate because the employer doesn’t have or take the time to do it for you.

heart Write a targeted cover letter that introduces your key qualifications and highlights your “fit” with the position for which you are applying. Address the letter to the person conducting the candidate search, when known. DO NOT presume familiarity and write, “Dear Carol.” Until someone knows you, the name is “Ms. Landry.” Additionally, the cover letter needs to specifically address the available position. Spelling and correct grammar do count. So does the spacing of words on the page or email screen and an attractive overall appearance.

heart Target the résumé to the job. Would you like to know how many people are looking for a “challenging opportunity to utilize my skills with a progressive employer who will provide opportunities for growth?” Customization counts. Customization is everything when you are looking at substantially different opportunities, too. Say, you are looking for a training position or a marketing position. The identical résumé won’t sell your skills for either field.

heart Lead with your strengths. What makes you different from 40 other applicants? On your customized résumé, start out with the background and experience most important for the position you seek. The stage of your career is also highly relevant to the placement of information on your résumé. If you are just graduating from college, lead off the first portion of the résumé with your education and degree.

The key is to make it easy for the résumé reviewer to see that you are qualified for the position. You want your résumé in that “YES” pile awaiting an interview!

How to Find a New Career for the New Year

Source: Rachel Denison via

Looking for a new change for the new year? Need a different opportunity for a fresh start? You’ve come to the right place! Here are a few tips on how to find a new career so you can put your best foot forward in life.


Step Up Your Education Game

Take advantage of online universities and local community colleges by enrolling in courses that enhance your skill set or even earn you a new degree, which can help qualify you for a different career.

Classes through these resources tend to be cheaper and easier to acquire than classes through traditional four-year universities. Simply apply online or meet with a dean at the school to discuss the testing and financial requirements. Employers love to see that you care about your education and that you are willing to learn.

Regardless of how old you are or how much experience you have, you can never get too cool for school!

Brainstorm with Others

Career counselor, Barbara Sher, recommends hosting an “idea party,” which is an event for friends and family members to come together and help the person looking for a new career discover new ideas and narrow down possibilities.

Our friends and family members have close perspectives on our lives and can offer different options and resources that we might never consider on our own. You might be surprised at what they think you could excel at.

Who knows? You might have a talent you didn’t realize could shape a new career!

Test Yourself

The Muse suggests planning for your dream job by filling out the following questionnaire:

If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do ____________. It’s interesting to me because ____________.

If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try ____________, because ____________.

If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in ____________, because ____________.

My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at ____________, because ____________.

The thing I love most about my current job is ____________, because ____________.

If my boss would let me, I’d do more of ____________, because ____________.

If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.

When I retire, I want to be known for ____________, because ____________.

In addition to this questionnaire, there are other resources you can use to learn more about your strengths and interests. For example, taking personality tests like Visuality and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you discover the perfect job.

How to Set Up Your LinkedIn Profile for a Job Search

Source: Carol Adams, CPRW | FACET Senior Career Strategist

As a job seeker, having a LinkedIn profile is critical to your success as a professional. Even when you’re not looking for a new position, maintaining an active network and a presence on LinkedIn can provide a boost to your career. Ideally, you should already have a LinkedIn profile with a decent size network, and be a regular participant on the site before you need to look for a job, but at the very least, you MUST develop a LinkedIn profile when you are in job search mode.


Because everyone, from CEOs to recruiters, to your former college classmates are on the platform, and not being onboard suggests that you’re not “with it.” This can be especially harmful if you are over 50 and already facing potential bias because of your age. In addition, maintaining an optimized profile and staying engaged on the platform can bring opportunities to you, because 94% of recruiters and hiring managers report being on LinkedIn every day, actively seeking candidates and checking up on those who’ve already applied.

So, you’re looking for a job, what does your LinkedIn profile need to look like to make you attractive to employers?

To start, ignore any advice to put “Open to Opportunities,” or “Seeking New Opportunities” in your Headline or Summary. This was standard advice for a while, but these phrases are now considered banners of desperation, and nobody wants to be seen as desperate, nor is anyone attracted to someone who appears that way.

“Studies show there are several reasons why this hurts the effectiveness of your profile,” says J.T. O’Donnell, Founder & CEO of “It’s been proven that recruiters have a serious hiring bias. They prefer to hire someone who is currently working,” she says. So phrases that suggest you are unemployed can make you a less attractive candidate.

Instead of announcing your situation in your profile, optimize the content to make yourself as attractive as possible to potential employers.

Here’s how:


Your Name

If you have professional credentials that help in your field, such as MBA, PhD, SPHR, CPA, SPE, etc. be sure to include them after your name so that anyone searching for someone with those credentials can find you that way.

Your Photo

Adding a photo to your LinkedIn account makes it 14 times more likely that a recruiter will click on your profile!

You don’t need a professional head shot, but you do need to look professional. No selfies. Instead, get someone to take several shots of you from the chest up against a blank wall. Just you. And no, you may not use a photo from last year’s Christmas party and try to cut out the people standing next to you.

Wear what you would wear to work, and remember it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. If you work in an industrial job where a suit or dress would mark you as trying too hard, then wear a nice polo-style or button-down shirt/blouse. Gentlemen: trim your beard/shave. Ladies: hide the cleavage, please. And smile!

Your Headline – Make it Professional

The headline is weighed heavily in LinkedIn searches and should be keyword rich to brand you for the job you want, NOT the job you left/are leaving. Let’s say you want to be an HR manager, your headline might read:

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER – Organizational Development | Employee Engagement | Talent Management

This headline clearly tells people who you are and what you can do. You get 120 characters, so play with different words and phrasing to fill up that space, and highlight your key expertise.

Your Summary

You get 2,000 characters for your Summary, and you should use that space well to make yourself look interesting and let people know that you’re qualified for the positions you’re seeking.

Unlike most resumes, however, your LinkedIn Summary should be written in first person and allow people to see your personality. If it’s relevant to your field or your goals, include a brief glimpse into the private you. Here’s an example from a web designer:

I’m an avid photographer and world traveler. I think both of these things inform my creative vision and bring a different perspective to my clients and employers. I love images and the way they connect to storytelling.

Next month, I’m going to China to see and photograph the annual New Year’s celebration there. Through the years, I’ve visited Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Cambodia and much of Europe. I plan to travel often because it feeds my soul and stimulates my creative process.”

The Summary should not be a recap of your resume, but rather a short synopsis of your experience and value-add, along with those glimpses into the real you. Remember, LinkedIn is a social network, so don’t adopt a stand-offish tone in your writing.

Also, be sure to include your email address at the end of your Summary to make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to contact you (many can’t see your contact information if you’re not connected).

Your Work Experience

Don’t be too quick to put an end date on your last job. You can let that ride for a few weeks or a month, while you organize your job search and grow your network. If someone directly asks why you haven’t changed it, you can honestly say that it’s on your list of things to do.

For now, make sure that both your resume and LinkedIn profile are updated and aligned. That doesn’t mean that your LinkedIn profile has to be an exact copy of your resume, but it should be close enough that any differences will not raise questions with potential employers. As with the Summary, you can make all or part of your work experience details first person to make you seem more approachable. For example:

“I started at ABC Company as a sales representatives, and was promoted after six months to sales manager, based on my ability to exceed all of my quotas and serve as the leader of my team.”

Then you can copy and paste in the rest of your bullets for that job directly from your resume, or continue on in first person, depending on what is comfortable for you.

Your Education

The LinkedIn Education section includes the following fields:

Field of study:
Activities and societies:
From & To:

Unless you are a fairly recent graduate (last 2 years), DO NOT include your GPA, and only include “activities and societies” if they are in some way universal so as to appeal to a broad base of people.

For example: If you were a member of a well-known honor society such as Phi Beta Kappa, or a sorority or fraternity, then list them, because these are organizations that everyone recognizes and understands, and they can be a bridge between you and other people.

Most of us need to fill in only three things for each degree we hold:

School: University Name
Degree: BA, BS, MBA, etc. – Use the abbreviations to appear younger.
Field of study: What your degree is in
Grade: Leave blank
Activities and societies: Leave blank (unless they fit the parameters noted above)
From Leave at null setting To: Leave at null setting unless within the last 10 years
Description: Leave blank

DO NOT include your high school diploma unless it’s the only education you have.

Your Skills

You get a maximum of 50 skills under the “Skills” section of LinkedIn. As you type, LinkedIn will offer suggestions that will help you complete this section. Be sure to include some of the same skills that you’re seeing on job postings (assuming you have them) and write the same skills in different ways.

For example: “Human Resources Management” and “HR Management” are the same thing, but one recruiter may search for the first and another might search for the second, so it’s best to list them both. A well-rounded Skills section is critically important to helping you be found on LinkedIn.

Be Active

LinkedIn only works for you if you work it. You need to be on the platform several times a week, liking and commenting on other’s post, and posting / re-posting articles yourself. You should join Groups, and follow the companies that interest you, then like/comment on their posts as well to bring yourself to the attention of hiring authorities.

In addition, engaging with your connections through occasional messaging will help to keep your network strong.

Bottom line, don’t be afraid of the platform, embrace it. The rewards can be many!

How to Write a Cover Letter That Doesn’t Just Recap Your Resume

Source: Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew via Fast Company

This is what it takes to make your cover letter do what your resume can’t.

All too often, people feel that they’ve already mentioned everything worthy of note in their resume, and, unfortunately, their cover letters just become shortened, regurgitated versions of that same information. That’s a bad move—here’s how to avoid it.

Weave Your Bullet Points Into a Narrative

This isn’t something you want to do. Instead of a mirror image of your resume, think of the cover letter as your opportunity to expand on some of the key points that were included there (while also showcasing a bit of your personality).

Cover letters let you use full sentences, so that means you have a lot more freedom to expand upon whatever your resume enumerates much more concisely.

In other words, you can explain why you’re the perfect fit for this particular company based on your experience, rather than just listing what you’ve done for which employers.

For example, instead of saying, “I was in charge of assigning quarterly budgets,” you’re much better off using that space to elaborate into, “Through the process of establishing and assigning quarterly budgets, I gained a deep knowledge of AcmeCorp’s internal financial systems—and I also became adept at negotiating between multiple stakeholders across the business to come to consensus.”


Talk Up Your Skills, Not Your Excitement

First, it’s important to note that while you don’t want to copy and paste the contents of your resume into a new document, slap a “Dear Mr. Smith” on it, and then simply call it a day, there are a few things on your resume that are worthy of some repetition here.

Your key skills are one of them: You don’t want to take a chance of anyone missing the things you truly excel at. Try pulling out two or three key skills you want to be sure to emphasize (by looking at both the job description and your resume).

Then, for each of the skills you choose, think back on some specific projects, achievements, or assignments that directly relate to your expertise in that specific area. Next, explain those skills in your cover letter. One effective way to do this is to include a sentence like, “As a candidate, here’s what I bring to the table:” after your introduction.

You can follow that up by breaking down your two or three key skills, with an expanded explanation of how you’ve used them in previous employment experiences—as well as how you’ll use them to benefit the company.

Lots of job applicants emphasize why they want that particular job. But that’s a common mistake. It’s important to remember that the hiring manager already knows you want the job—he or she is looking out for the best fit for the role, not necessarily the person who wants it most.

So make sure to highlight the value you’re offering, and resist the temptation to go on and on about how much you’d love to land the position.

Share an Anecdote

Again, this is your chance to go beyond bullet points and share a little more of both your story and your personality. Remember, hiring managers hire people, not robots.

Kicking off your cover letter with a brief but attention-grabbing anecdote will demonstrate a little more about who you are personally. And you can bet it’ll stand out a lot more than a standard “I’m writing to express my interest in the Sales Coordinator position” line. The more you grab their attention, the better your chances are at actually having your letter read.

Of course, any anecdote you tell should be related to the position you are hoping to fill. Perhaps, for example, you first discovered your passion for sales while working at your childhood lemonade stand. Or maybe a recent volunteer opportunity ignited your interest in the new career field of educational consulting. Whatever it is, craft a narrative about how your experiences led you to this very job.

Here’s an example:

When I was growing up, all I wanted to be was one of those people who pretend to be statues on the street. Thankfully, my career goals have become a little more practical over the years, but I still love to draw a crowd and entertain the masses—passions that make me the perfect Trade Show Coordinator.

My last boss once told me that my phone manner could probably defuse an international hostage situation. I’ve always had a knack for communicating with people—the easy-going and the difficult alike—and I’d love to bring that skill to your Office Manager position.

Last December, I ousted our company’s top salesperson from his spot at the top of the sales leaderboard—and I’ve been there ever since. Now I’m ready for my next big challenge, and the Sales Manager role at X company just might be it.

While you won’t find the title “Community Manager” listed on my resume, I’ve actually been bringing people together online and off for three years while running my own blog and series of meet-ups.

This cover letter doesn’t read anything like the candidate’s resume—and that’s a good thing.

9 Email Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job Offer

Source: Fox Business via

When you’re job hunting, you’re on high alert for every mistake you can possibly make: You run your resume by every friend you have, carefully craft a cover letter, scrutinize every detail you put into the job application, and spend hours preparing for your interview.

But did you ever stop to think that you could make it all the way to a final interview, only to lose the job offer to something as small as an email?

Jennie Ellis, founder and CEO of Recruiting Bandwidth, wants job hunters to understand that every interaction they have with a prospective employer reflects on them, and that goes for the highly visible parts of a job hunt (like a resume, cover letter, application, and interview) and the behind-the-scenes communication that goes on in an email inbox.

If you want to make sure you’re presenting yourself professionally at all times, make sure you’re not making these nine common email mistakes.

1. Writing misleading email subjects

The way you communicate should express respect, and that starts with being accurate and honest. Make sure you’re using email subjects that convey exactly what you mean, not clickbait email headlines that encourage the reader to open but leave them disappointed in the content.

“I don’t appreciate an intrusive, alarmist approach,” explains Ellis. “For example, in email subject stating someone has an urgent need to speak to me, but when I open it, it’s just a solicitation [for] a job. Simply be transparent — include the position title in the subject, or if you were referred by someone who knows the recipient, state that.”


2. Using the wrong name or title

In the Internet age, addressing an email “To whom it may concern” or an incorrect name often shows a lack of initiative — more often than not, that information is available online. Furthermore, out-of-touch salutations can be a clue for recruiters and hiring managers that you may not fit in with the culture.

“For example, [some] women don’t typically like being addressed as Ms. or Mrs. in email,” says Ellis. “If someone did this to me I would think they were old school and [did] not get our informal tech culture.”

3. Not getting to the point

One danger of communicating with prospective employers by email is that you have plenty of time to linger on your draft until it expands into a mini-treatise on why you should be hired. Skip the long correspondence and try to keep your emails to three to five sentences or less.

“Long, rambling emails when I didn’t ask for one in the first place assumes that I have nothing better to do than listen to a candidate go on about themselves,” explains Ellis. “Instead, think about what is the most important thing you need to convey and be clear and concise about it.”

4. Cutting corners on language

You don’t want to treat an email like a 10-page term paper, but you also don’t want to treat it like a text to your best friend. No matter how informal a company culture, you’ll always need to write with full words, full sentences, and good grammar and spelling.

“I cannot stand it when people use text acronyms in email messages in something that should be as formal as a cover letter,” says Ellis. “It shows an immaturity and disrespect for a job seeker to be that informal to someone they don’t know.”

5. Being too personal

Using email to build a strong relationship with a recruiter or hiring manager is not the same thing as assuming you have a personal relationship right from the start. Strive to keep your tone warm, but not too intimate.

“Avoid anything that sounds too personal,” says Ellis. “Even ‘Very best regards’ could be construed as too personal. After all, why would someone give me their very best regards if they don’t even know me? For all they know, I could be a total jerk, so that feels inauthentic.”

6. Not customizing your note

Recruiters get it — you may be a very busy, in-demand candidate trying to coordinate interviews and follow-up materials with several companies at a time. But that’s no excuse to send everyone the same content.

“Sending vague emails that are clearly part of a massive blind copy blast is a big mistake,” says Ellis. “Many recruiters are screening your emails to see if you pay attention to details, and getting obviously copy-and-paste responses without any personal details is a big red flag.”

7. Being too experimental

There’s a time and place for experimenting with the way you work, but it’s not in the way you communicate with a recruiter or hiring manager. The only thing that should stand out about you in the interview process is the quality and efficiency of your work.

“Recruiters read email for the content, not for the creative expression through color and format,” explains Ellis. “Style choices like offbeat formatting and colored or oddly large font does not give off the most professional vibe, and smiley faces and lack of paragraph breaks just send a confusing message.”

8. Using an unprofessional email address

Your email address should be some combination of your first name, initials, and last name. Anything else should be reserved exclusively for personal use.

“Using an inappropriate personal email address to apply for jobs is really unprofessional and it may affect whether or not the hiring manager takes you seriously,” says Ellis. “For example, I once had an email from ‘stoner54@’ come through the ATS once, and I thought it was a joke!”

9. Following up too aggressively

In a competitive job market, there’s a lot of pressure to express your interest in a position. Unfortunately, this can lead a lot of candidates to be more aggressive than they should be, which runs the risk of turning off the hiring manager. You’re better off directing your energy to following directions for applying for a job and carefully reading all of the instructions you receive throughout the interview process — and nothing more.

“Emailing too often in the course of an interview process — especially if you’ve been told to expect a reply in a couple of days — can be very frustrating for a recruiter,” says Ellis. “Likewise, not responding in a timely manner to an email that necessitates a response from the potential employer can take you out of the running for a job.”