CNBC make it 2024-03-13 02:00:50

3 red flags recruiters look out for in job candidates: They’re how you ‘get blacklisted’

A majority of people, 95%, intend to look for a new job this year, according to a January 2024 survey by jobsite Monster. And many anticipate it will be challenging. More than half, 68% say they think it will be difficult to find one given the state of the economy.

While finding work opportunities can be challenging, there are ways to conduct yourself that could make doing so even harder.

“There’s something called validation seeking behavior, aka desperation,” says Lindsay Mustain, a former Amazon recruiter and current CEO of career coaching company Talent Paradigm. She adds that “it’s that ‘pick me’ energy that actually repels the opportunity.”

Here’s how to avoid giving it off.

Don’t apply to a company over and over

First, avoid applying to jobs in the company over and over again, especially in a short period of time.

If Mustain sees that “you’ve applied 20 times in the last two years and we’ve never hired you once,” she says, that’s a red flag. She immediately thinks, “something’s wrong with that candidate for them to have not been hired by this point.”

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Regardless of how much of a fit you might be for the job, a recruiter’s likely not going to take the time to investigate your candidacy further.

“This is how you can kind of get blacklisted,” she says. Try to limit your internal applications to a maximum of five roles that you closely align with in the company.

Don’t use LinkedIn’s ‘open to work’ banner

Another red flag for a recruiter: the “open to work” banner on LinkedIn.

Just by putting up that one signal on the site, “we already know that you need something,” says Mustain. It means that you might not be as picky when it comes to your job opportunities, that you might not be moving your career forward in a measured way that helps you build skills and get better.

“It reduces the appearance of being a high caliber candidate,” she says. Plus, it changes the dynamic in a conversation with a hiring manager. Now, they’re not trying to convince you of a great job opportunity because they want you at the company. Instead, you’re trying to convince them to consider you.

Nolan Church, CEO of talent marketplace Continuum and ex-Google recruiter, agrees. Using the banner “actually feels to a hiring manager like desperation,” he previously told CNBC Make It.

“It’s kind of like asking for a handout on the corner,” says Mustain.

Don’t show up ‘very wounded and hurt’ on social media

Finally, if you’re unemployed, don’t post your unemployment status on social media, especially if you’re inclined to do so from a place of hurt. Mustain gives the example of a post like the following:

“I just got laid off and I have two kids at home and I really need another job, like, as soon as possible. So if you could please introduce me to every person that you know that has a possible opening, I would be so grateful.”

Though sad and a cause for sympathy, people who post like statuses are “showing up very wounded and hurt,” she says. They’re “bleeding out on social media.” Ultimately, they’re showing a weakness in a similar way to people who include the “open to work” banner on their LinkedIn profiles. It’s clear they need something.

A post like that “repels people because they’re not coming from a place of strength,” says Mustain.

Instead, if you’ve been laid off and want to signal to the world that you’re looking for new opportunities, try framing the situation as a new beginning or a chance for growth and sharing concrete examples of your past contributions and successes. You can also share what you’ve learned and how your experiences have equipped you for future challenges. All of this “demonstrates adaptability and a forward-looking mindset to potential employers,” she says.

Remember, “you don’t need any job,” says Mustain. “You want a good job.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

If you and your partner use any of these 5 phrases regularly, your relationship is stronger than most

Speaking to your partner with respect and appreciation is important, especially in times of conflict.

The most successful couples, according to psychologists, regularly express devotion, understanding, and contrition.

Here are the five phrases that couples who have a strong connection use most, according to experts.

1. “Thank you.”

John and Julie Gottman are psychologists who have studied more than 40,000 couples in search of answering the question: What makes love last?

The one phrase they say all successful couples use often is “thank you.”

“A thriving relationship requires an enthusiastic culture of appreciation, where we’re as good at noticing the things our partners are doing right as we are at noticing what they’re doing wrong,” they wrote for CNBC Make It.

This is especially true for small, everyday acts, they say.

“Tell them why that small thing is a big deal to you: ‘Thank you for making the coffee every morning. I love waking up to the smell of it and the sounds of you in the kitchen. It just makes me start the day off right,’” they say.

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2. “Help me understand this.”

Harvard psychologist Cortney Warren says successful couples don’t avoid conflict, they just better navigate it.

We often assume we know what our partner is saying when in reality they might be expressing something more nuanced or totally different.

“If your partner reacts to a situation in a way that you don’t understand, telling them that you want to know them better is key to resolving conflict and bonding at a deeper level,” Warren wrote for CNBC Make It.

3. “I can forgive you. Can you forgive me?”

When you’re in the heat of an argument or at the end of one it can be hard to express forgiveness. Do it anyways, Warren says.

“Studies have shown that couples who practice forgiveness are more likely to enjoy longer, more satisfying relationships,” she says.

4. “I am committed to you.”

“Being in a relationship is a choice,” Warren says. “Reassuring your partner that you’re still choosing to be with them and to work through challenges will help create a sense of safety and stability.”

This might seem obvious, but communicating your promise to one another can help you and your partner feel validated.

5. “I like you.”

“The healthiest couples don’t just love each other, they like each other, too,” Warren says. “Loving someone is an intense feeling of affection; liking is about seeing them for who they are and acknowledging the attributes you enjoy about them.”

Even if you and your partner aren’t arguing, remind them that you like them.

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The minimum amount of money to save in case of an emergency, according to a CFP

Experts generally say emergency savings should cover three to six months of living expenses. But after years of high inflation, this goal might seem far from attainable for many Americans.

In fact, nearly 1 in 4 U.S. adults say they have no emergency savings, a recent Bankrate survey found.

If you’re starting an emergency fund from scratch, don’t be intimidated by the prospect of saving months’ worth of expenses all at once, says Will Kellar, a certified financial planner and partner and lead advisor at Human Investing.

“Emergency savings demands a personalized approach,” he says. “While the conventional wisdom endorses three to six months of living expenses, I persistently advocate that any amount is superior to none.”

Kellar recommends breaking down your emergency savings goals into bite-sized amounts — and celebrating wins where you can. Start by putting aside $50 to $100 a month, he says, and work your way toward saving one month of living expenses. That’s a solid starting point, Kellar says. 

“An entire month of expenses serves as a buffer against immediate shocks, affording space to navigate crises without plunging into debt,” he says. “Regardless of their financial situation, I urge everyone to prioritize this humble yet essential goal.”

Why now is a good time to build your emergency fund

While 63% of Americans say they’re saving less due to rising costs, a series of interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve means banks are offering their most attractive rates to savers in years, says Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick.

“One of the benefits of that is we’re now in an environment where people who shop around for the highest yields can get 4 or 5% [annual percentage yield] on a number of different savings products,” he says.

While traditional savings accounts offer an average interest rate of 0.46%, many high-yield savings accounts carry interest rates of 4% or higher — making them ideal for growing your savings faster. These interest rates — also known as annual percentage yield, or APY — fluctuate alongside the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate.

Certificates of deposit, or CDs, also carry higher APYs than traditional savings accounts, with top CD rates ranging from 4.45% to 5.50%, according to Bankrate. CDs are a type of savings account where money is deposited for a predefined amount of time at a fixed interest rate and can’t be withdrawn prematurely without incurring a penalty.

No matter which savings vehicle you choose for your emergency fund, putting away something is better than nothing, Kellar says.

“In essence, there’s no universal formula for emergency savings,” he says. “Having some cash can prevent someone’s financial wellbeing and what they’ve worked so hard to build from going up in smoke.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

34-year-old mom’s 4-month world cruise with family cost $50K: ‘Some of the best money I ever spent’

Last year, I paid $50,000 to go on a four-month cruise that took my family and me to 30 countries. My husband, our 12-month-old daughter and I shared one room that doubled as my floating office. 

We spent 60 days at sea and 50 days in port, and we visited six continents. This was the most expensive trip we’ve ever taken, but it was worth it. I see the money spent as an investment — not just in travel, but in a collection of memories that we will treasure forever.

Here’s why it was some of the best money I ever spent:

I didn’t have to plan everything for a change

I’m no stranger to long-term travel. From 2015 to 2018, we lived in our RV and drove across the country. For the last five years, we lived on our sailboat full-time, and I ran my online business, Making Sense of Cents from there.

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We love this lifestyle, but managing it takes a lot of effort. You have to account for repairing broken equipment, sailing in overnight shifts, keeping track of multiple routes and preparing for all kinds of weather and potential dangers.

We spent so many years constantly on the move, but I couldn’t remember the last time we took an actual vacation.

Stepping onto the ship, a lot of that mental load lifted. We only unpacked once and the cruise line handled most of the visa process for us. It was so nice to not to have to cook or do dishes for four months.

We did do a fair amount of laundry — inevitable with a baby — but we booked our room next to the laundry room on our floor to avoid any additional hassle.

I bonded with my family in a unique way

After our daughter was born, the idea of a world cruise piqued our interest. While she was still young, we thought it would be fun to slow down, travel with fewer responsibilities, and focus on being new parents.

When we embarked on our adventure, our daughter the youngest passenger on board. She was a veteran seafarer at that point, having lived on our sailboat (which we docked in Florida while we were away) since she was just a day old.

Since the rooms on the ship were so close together, at first we were concerned that a crying baby wouldn’t exactly endear us to our neighbors. It turned out that the cruise was full of grandparents who missed their grandkids, so it actually worked out quite well.

There were few families on board, but we befriended another couple with a toddler and got together for many playdates.

I set a goal to go to as many international playgrounds as we could, and we visited at least 20. Our daughter even took her first steps on the trip, on a beach in Moorea, French Polynesia. 

I got to experience many different cultures

The cruise started in Florida. Then we we traveled through the Panama Canal, the lush tropical islands of French Polynesia, the beautiful scenery of New Zealand, amazing cities in Asia and historic sites in the Mediterranean.

We’re usually very slow travelers. For example, when we lived on our sailboat, we spent six months in the Bahamas every year. So it was a rare opportunity to see so many different places in such a short time frame.

Some of my favorite stops were Australia, Oman, Thailand, Turkey, Montenegro, Spain, Mexico and the Canary Islands. While the sights were incredible, to me, one of the best parts of the journey was being a part of this ephemeral, floating community.

I loved getting to know everyone on board, guests and crew. We’re still in touch with many of our neighbors and we took some genuine friendships home with us.

I became better at living in the moment  

I can stare at the ocean forever. That’s one of the reasons why I loved living on our sailboat for so many years. We even splurged on a room with a balcony, so we could go outside and take in beautiful views whenever we wanted.

The tranquil days at sea were wonderful, although I think it was a little easier for me to relax than my husband. He was so used to being the captain of our boat, dealing with weather and fixing everything, but eventually he embraced the slower pace, too.

The most valuable part of this trip was that it allowed me to be fully present. As an entrepreneur, even when I’m not actively working, is easy to constantly think about all the things on my to-do list. Balance quickly becomes an afterthought.

I loved the simplicity of my daily routine on the cruise. I only worked the days we were at sea, for a couple of hours while my daughter napped. Then when we were in port, I put my laptop away.

This break was much needed. It let me focus on my family during a formative time in my daughter’s life and it helped me better understand what truly makes me happy.

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, where she helps readers make smart decisions about how to earn, save, spend and invest. She paid off nearly $40,000 in student loan debt in just seven months and now travels as much as she can. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

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41-year-old and her family left the U.S. for Costa Rica and live on less than $30,000 a year

Kema Ward-Hopper never imagined she’d raise her children in the middle of a jungle.

But in 2018, after Hurricane Harvey destroyed her Houston home, a trip to Costa Rica with her husband Nicholas Hopper and then 9-year-old daughter Aaralyn became a permanent move. 

“The housing market was just insane in Houston because of so many people losing their homes to the storm,” Ward-Hopper tells CNBC Make It. “At the time, we were living in a small garage apartment above a neighbor’s home, with no relief in sight.”

Hopper suggested they house hunt elsewhere. “I thought he meant we should move to a different city in Texas or a different state, but he looked at me and said, ‘No Kema, let’s leave the country,’” Ward-Hopper, 41, recalls. 

From Hopper’s perspective, moving to Costa Rica was a no-brainer. 

The couple got married there in 2016 and had been itching to return, but life — whether it be bills, jobs or family obligations — kept delaying their plans. 

“When we came back to Houston [after the wedding], we both had this calmness about us, and I felt like we were missing out on something by staying in the states,” Hopper, 43, says.

In July 2018, after spending six weeks scoping out different neighborhoods along Costa Rica’s northern coastline and debating if they were ready to become expats, the Ward-Hoppers signed a one-year lease on a house (or “casita” in Spanish) in the middle of the jungle on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. 

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom house sat on seven acres of land in the middle of the jungle near Playa San Miguel and came with an outdoor kitchen as well as panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean — plus, rent was only $500 a month. 

“Ten years ago, I would not have believed you if you told me that this is where we would be,” Ward-Hopper says. “But it feels like luck or fate led us here.”

Fast-forward six years later, and the Ward-Hoppers are now permanent residents of Costa Rica, with no plans to move back to Texas. “We’re a lot happier living here than in the U.S.,” Ward-Hopper says.

Finding a healthier lifestyle for body and soul in Costa Rica

Another pivotal moment in the couple’s decision to leave the United States was Ward-Hopper’s cancer recovery.

In April 2016, mere months before her wedding, Ward-Hopper discovered she had stage 2B breast cancer. 

“Undergoing chemotherapy was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” she says. “I only completed half of the prescribed infusions because I felt like if I did any more, it would kill me.” 

Ward-Hopper paused treatment right before her wedding. She expected to feel ill during her ceremony and honeymoon but, much to her surprise, Ward-Hopper says she felt better than she had in months while vacationing in Costa Rica.

“Suddenly I had enough energy to get up in the morning and do yoga and go on hikes, I was eating more,” she says. “I really felt like I was healing while we were there, in no small part because of the fresh fruit, clean air and water.”

The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the five original Blue Zones, home to the longest-lived people and highest life expectancies, according to longevity researcher Dan Buettner.

Some of the factors that make Nicoya a Blue Zone, Buettner discovered, are the Nicoyans’ diet, which includes fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains as well as their focus on family and community.

Both Ward-Hopper and her husband say that they saw immediate benefits from living in a Blue Zone for their health including getting sick less, losing weight, feeling more energized and less stressed. 

An added bonus was the birth of their son Nico in 2020, even after doctors said chemotherapy had rendered Ward-Hopper unable to conceive. “I got pregnant within 13 months of living here, which I thought was impossible,” she says. “It was a small miracle.”

Nico’s arrival also introduced another element of stability to their lives by making the entire family eligible for citizenship in Costa Rica. Previously, the Ward-Hoppers stayed in Costa Rica on tourist visas, which meant they had to leave the country every 90 days, time they used as opportunities to explore neighboring countries like Nicaragua or visit family in the U.S.

Ward-Hopper’s doctors in the U.S. said they no longer detected cancer calls in her body in 2017, and in 2021, her doctor re-affirmed that she was cancer-free, an outcome she attributes in part to her decision to live in Costa Rica. For many breast cancer survivors, the risk of recurrence five years post-diagnosis significantly decreases, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Health-wise, I did a complete 180 after moving here,” Ward-Hopper says. “I healed both physically and emotionally.”

Ward-Hopper also credits Costa Rica’s health-care system for her improved well-being. 

As citizens, the Ward-Hoppers receive their health care through the CAJA system, a government-run program that grants 100% coverage for all medical procedures, appointments, hospital visits and prescription drugs. The Ward-Hoppers spend about $83 per month on their family’s health-care plan. 

Even when they were uninsured, Ward-Hopper says their medical expenses were negligible at best. “I remember one visit I had to the emergency room for chest pains and anticipating a bill that would cost thousands of dollars, as it would in the U.S., and it was less than $200,” she adds.

Living comfortably on $30,000 a year

Right before they moved to Costa Rica, the Ward-Hoppers quit their corporate jobs as a research analyst and mortgage broker, respectively, to pursue new careers as entrepreneurs abroad. 

Navigating their new careers — and lives — in Costa Rica didn’t involve much of a language barrier, Ward-Hopper says, as most Costa Ricans speak English, and she and her daughter are proficient in Spanish. Hopper, meanwhile, is enrolled in a beginner Spanish course.

Ward-Hopper now balances four part-time jobs: She’s a health and fitness coach, a Spanish teacher, a host for wellness retreats and, most recently, an author. She self-published her first book, “For my Beloveds: An End-of-life Journal for Guidance & Wisdom,” in September 2023.

Last year, her different income streams earned her about $10,500, according to financial documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. 

Hopper, meanwhile, runs his own remote logistics business, which earned him about $19,500 in 2023.

“Living here has allowed me to explore my passions so that my methods of earning income don’t feel like a job, it just feels like I’m getting to do the things that I love to do, which is to be of service to others,” Ward-Hopper says. “We make less money, but we’re still living pretty comfortably … our money definitely goes further here than in the U.S.” 

In May 2023, the Ward-Hoppers moved to a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house in Nicoya to be closer to Aaralyn’s school, which is public and tuition-free.

Here’s a monthly breakdown of the Ward-Hoppers’ spending (as of November 2023):

Food: $1,200

Rent and utilities: $628

Discretionary: $330

Nico’s school tuition: $284

Phone (U.S. phone plan): $223

Insurance (health, life, car): $99

Subscriptions and memberships: $78

Gas: $67

Total: $2,909

Daily average: $97

Finding their forever home abroad

For the Ward-Hoppers, the biggest challenge of relocating to Costa Rica has been being far from their family and friends in the U.S., and also losing access to certain American resources and products, like Reese’s peanut butter cups, a family favorite they haven’t found in local supermarkets.

But by most measures, the Ward-Hoppers have found the qualify of life to be “much better” in Costa Rica than in the U.S. 

“I’ve had great experiences in the U.S., but we can’t deny the way that people of color are treated there, and we have not had that experience here at all,” Ward-Hopper says. “In Costa Rica, I feel that people are treated as humans first, people are incredibly respectful and kind here.”

In banks and grocery stores, for example, Ward-Hopper has noticed that people will encourage pregnant people and elderly customers to skip to the front of the line. “While it’s not impossible to get that in the States, the baseline isn’t this theme of love, acceptance and community the same way it is here,” she adds. 

The Ward-Hoppers say they plan to stay in Costa Rica for the rest of their lives, even if they plan extended trips to Africa, Europe and other countries in South America. 

“This is where we always want to return to,” Hopper says. “Ultimately, our goal is to build up our savings and build a nice finca [the Spanish word for “estate”] for our family here.”

Hopper says the lower cost of living and community in Costa Rica has far outweighed any feelings of homesickness he’s felt since the move.

He adds: “I’m definitely happier living in Costa Rica than I used to be in the U.S. I’ve gained my family back being here, I’ve gained the opportunity to spend more time with them and not only create more freedom in myself but also more freedom within our family to explore our dreams.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.