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11 Things Hiring Managers Won't Tell You

By Ayman Al-Abdullah

NEW YORK (LearnVest) -- The next time you walk into an interview, consider the following:

Your wedding or engagement ring? Can and may be used against you.

Those photos of kids on a hiring manager's desk? They may not actually be the manager's children—but the photo is designed to get you talking about your kids, or whether you plan to have some eventually.

And then there's the trick that can land some applicants $20,000 more when they start negotiating their salary.

In fact, LearnVest got the inside scoop from hiring managers across the country. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because their methods were so controversial—and not what you'd find in any company manual.

Why do you need to know these secrets? What you don't know can hurt your chances of landing a job and commanding a higher salary.

And new research out of the United States Census Bureau shows that women still earn less than their male counterparts at every education level. Although women are out-earning men in terms of college degrees and doctorates, our wages aren't keeping up. In fact, the gap only worsens at higher levels of education.

But armed with this insider knowledge—straight from the mouths of those who hire you—you can help improve both these statistics and your bottom line.

1. I leave pictures of kids on my desk. They’re not even my kids. Legally, hiring managers aren’t allowed to ask if you have kids, just as they’re not supposed to discriminate against you on the hunch that your child might occasionally have a soccer game. But we spoke to one hiring manager who leaves pictures of her niece and nephew to find out (legally) who has kids. “I’m not allowed to ask about family situations, but if they bring it up, it’s fair game. Kids are a distraction to this job, which requires long hours and weekends. I won’t hire someone who has other priorities.”

How to handle this: It’s very easy to get nervous and resort to small talk. (“Oh, are those your kids? How old? Mine are 6 and 10 ... ”) Commenting on kids’ photos is easy bait, especially if you’re a parent yourself, but avoid it if you can. Talk about the weather or find something to compliment your interviewer on instead.

2. I check for wedding bands. One hiring manager told us: “This is an entry-level job, and the people we hire are usually fresh out of college. If I see a wedding band, there’s a good probability that candidate is going to start a family soon. If I hire her and she goes on maternity leave, I can’t legally fire her, but I still have to find someone else to replace her while she’s gone. When she comes back I can’t fire her either, so now I’m stuck with two employees when all I needed was one. No thanks.”

This one is an easy fix: Leave your wedding ring at home. You're not obligated to share any information about your relationship status, so try to avoid doing so.

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