Tiny missteps may derail your career. You appear unpolished when you talk like an adolescent, curse at colleagues or proffer a sweaty palm.

Outdated clothes, frayed cuffs, messy hair, scuffed shoes or excess cleavage also signal poor judgment. “Looking your best at any age is what you should aspire to,” advises Patricia Cook, an executive recruiter in Bronxville, N.Y.

Even bathroom habits count. High-tech recruiter Dora Vell once worked for a major search firm where the receptionist alerted partners if candidates using the guest toilet near her desk failed to wash their hands. (She could hear the faucet.)

This lesson also applies to cover letters. Inspirica, a New York high school and college tutoring concern, found mistakes in 93% of 220 letters from tutor applicants over the past year. Many flawed letters came from experienced writing tutors.

“Pay attention to everything you write in cover letters,” warns Lisa Jacobson, Inspirica’s CEO. “Otherwise, you will get weed whacked right out.” Her firm hired just 15 tutors in the fiscal year ended in June.