Tips that pay off: These 5 bits of career advice will get you a job you actually love


What sounds worse: Staying at your job or surviving several months of job hunting?

Searching for a new job can feel like shouting into a dark void — where your unique skillset and passion is recognized by no one but your one friend who says your cover letter is "amazing!" — but knowing what makes a good resume (and how much money you should have saved before quitting without a plan) gives you freedom from this soul-sucking process.

That's not all. Here are five moves to level you up — to career perfection.

Tip No. 1: Follow this template for the perfect cover letter


Cover letters might seem quaint in an era when you're almost always applying for jobs online — and the first reader of your application may be a computer scanning your resume for keywords. But in reality, introductory messages or emails are a lot more important than you may realize.

Done right, your cover letter can be the factor that makes or breaks you during the interview-selection process. "It's an opportunity to stand out", Brooklyn Resume Studio's Dana Leavy-Detrick, said in a phone interview.

Not sure exactly how to start? You can translate these items into a brief, four-paragraph cover letter.

Tip No. 2: ... and DON'T use these words.

Describing yourself in a cover letter or resume as a "well-seasoned team player" who is an "exceptional communicator" and is "results driven" could get your application dumped into the "circular" file (aka the trash) faster than a "productive worker" can move. While these phrases sound solid, they actually work against you and make it less likely you'll get past the resume screener of a potential employer.

Don't just provide a random list of your qualities. And although a graphic designer's resume may look different from an accountant's, for example, there are a few standard terms and phrases that should never grace a CV, cover letter or resume, no matter your profession. Here are 10 examples.

Tip No. 3: Quit the 7 bad habits sabotaging your job search


Most people wait until they're in a job crisis to network. That can be off-putting to the person you're contacting, who might sense your desperation, especially if you don't normally reach out.

Of course, networking mistakes are just some among many other unconscious errors that will hurt a job hunt. Here are the biggest common mistakes to avoid.

Tip No. 4: Make sure you can afford to quit your job


Unless living in your parents' basement is your idea of a good financial backup plan, failing to figure out how you'll make ends meet after you quit your bad jobcould make you even more miserable than staying there. So before taking that leap, be sure to to have a solid plan for paying your bills after you ride off into the sunset.

We get it; life's too short to stagnate in a "meh" job. Quitting your job may sound scary, but you can do it with the right financial and personal resources lined up. Consider taking these four steps to play it safe.

Tip No. 5: If you're looking for a raise or promotion, fish in this kind of pond


A new study found that your best chance for a significant raise or promotion is to leave your company for a younger, smaller one. Newer firms with fewer employees tend to do the most poaching, and workers are more likely to receive increased pay by jumping to such a firm, according to the study.

Here are two crucial job search lessons we drew from this enlightening insight.


Sign up for the Payoff — your weekly crash course on how to live your best financial life. Additionally, for all your burning money questions, check out Mic's credit, savings, career, investing and health care hubs for more information — that pays off.