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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    Step Brothers Interview

    The overwhelming majority of interviewees who fail to impress a hiring manager do so because they are unable to incorporate dynamic and thoughtful phrases within their interview answers.

    You can have the most impressive theories on business, the most intriguing insight on success, and the most pertinent information to deliver, but if you don't learn how and when to get those messages across, you fail to gain any competitive advantage.

    In order to assist, our sales and marketing recruiters have set forth a list of phrases that, when put into your own words and used in the right context, will work magic for you.

    Here are 13 engaging and ear-catching thoughts to keep in mind for your interview:

    SEE ALSO: One CEO says résumés are a thing of the past — here's what he looks at instead

    DON'T MISS: The 30 highest-paying jobs you can get with an associate degree

    1. "I am someone who takes responsibility for their actions...

    and when things go wrong I don't look to outside forces to blame. Rather, I logically analyze what happened, how the situation could have been handled more effectively and determine how to prevent the mishap going forward."

    2. "I am the type of person who is in control of their consciousness...

    and who is able to focus attention at will, to be oblivious to distractions, and to concentrate for as long as it takes to achieve a goal."

    3. "I have high earnings expectations because I am confident in my abilities...

    to produce and while I prepare for the worst, I do the work necessary to tilt the odds that the best will happen."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    college graduatesThe Economist just released its first college rankings, but the results aren't just another list of elite schools you've seen before.

    Staying true to its name, The Economist sought to determine a college's "economic value."

    No points are earned for good food, nice dorms, or even engaging professors. Instead, the ranking takes a novel approach: It estimates which schools realistically boost graduates' salaries. 

    To start, it should be noted that, according to this economics paperstudents who attended elite schools did not make more money than students who were accepted into those same schools but chose less prestigious institutions.

    This result seems to suggest that earning potential may be more influenced by factors other than school selection —  like student intelligence or any variety of demographic factors.

    So the economists at The Economist hoped to determine which schools actually gave their alumni an earnings boost over what those schools' attendees would be expected to make had they finished college elsewhere.

    The result: The Otis College of Art and Design comes right after Harvard in this ranking, because its alumni earned a median of $42,000 per year — $13,052 more than what The Economist's model had estimated the grads would make, placing Otis fifth in the rankings.

    economist college rankingBut the way The Economist produced its rankings — and its implications for our perception of college economics — may be even more insightful than the rankings themselves.

    To determine a school's expected earnings, The Economist used numerous variables in its estimation methodology, including SAT scores, racial breakdown, school size, public-versus-private, subject matter, wealth of the state in which the school is based, proximity to a ranked business school, Pell grant percentages, and whether a school is a liberal-arts college.

    college students on laptopsThe 1,308 four-year (nonvocational) colleges with data available for these variables were extrapolated to determine the weight that these factors had on earning potential.

    Then, from the model the analysis produces, each school was assigned an estimated earning value that could be compared to the real median earnings for that school.

    In other words, using all the data on these schools, a model was developed that says "students like those at XYZ college should earn this much, based on these statistics about the student body and how those values generally affect earnings."

    The final rankings are then less useful for finding a cultural fit, or even the best value because tuition plays no role in the rankings.

    It's eye-opening to see that, according to the model, the SAT scores of Harvard students account for a $25,080 increase in estimated earning potential. In contrast, the students at Drake University — another top-ranking school in this list — might have made up the $2,207 they were docked if the school were located somewhere a little more happening than Des Moines, Iowa.

    Ultimately, the rankings are intended "for students who want to know which colleges are likely to boost their future salaries by the greatest amount, given their qualifications and preferences regarding career and location."

    Harvard studentsEven in that case, readers are warned that the data provided by the Department of Education is unrepresentative: Only students who applied for federal grants are included, and the salaries used were those earned 10 years after entering college, which is far from peak for some careers.

    The Economist has published both a story about the rankings and the interactive list.

    The hard data on actual earnings, along with a great deal of demographic information, was available through the Department of Education’s College Scorecard website. In particular, the ranking looks at the entering class of 2001 and that class' earnings in 2011.

    SEE ALSO: These university faculty members have advanced degrees and jobs, and they're still living in poverty

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These college majors lead to the highest starting salaries

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    Chuck LambHave you ever wondered about the people who play dead bodies on TV?

    We talked to Chuck Lamb, a 57-year-old part-time corpse actor, to find out how you get the job, what it pays, and what it's like on set.

    A decade ago, Lamb — a former computer analyst — started playing dead for fun. Turns out he had a knack for it. To show off his unique hobby, in December 2005 he launched the website, where he would post pictures of himself in different death scenarios around his house.

    The site has since garnered more than 50 million views, a ton of publicity, and, most importantly, earned Lamb more than two dozen roles as a "dead guy" in films like "Thankskilling,""Horrorween," and "Stiffs."

    Here's how Lamb has made a living out of playing dead:

    SEE ALSO: Here's what it's REALLY like to be an embalmer

    SEE ALSO: The 10 scariest jobs in America

    Now 57 years old, Lamb says he started his website as a joke.

    The former computer analyst for an insurance company had no idea what was to come.

    While watching "Law & Order" with his wife one night, he told her, "I'd like to be in a TV show or movie just one time so I can see my name in the credits."

    A few nights later he had a dream that Lennie Briscoe, the character from "Law & Order" who always looked down at the corpse of the victim and said something pithy, spoke to him. He woke his wife up and said, "I can be a dead body!"

    The next day his wife started taking pictures of him in different death scenarios around the house, which he posted on his website.

    "What really scared me at first was that she used to come up with different ways to kill me three times a week," Lamb says. "You start to think, well she’s liking this just a little too much."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    business handshake

    Chances are, you're better at your job than you think.

    Many people suffer from imposter syndrome, a state of mind in which they manage to put their success down to luck, timing, or trickery, and think they don't "deserve" it.

    Here are six ways you're better at your job than you think you are:










    SEE ALSO: College grads who studied this one subject have the 'safest route to the upper-middle class in America today'

    1. You Look Forward To Going To Work

    One pretty good indicator that you're good at your job is that you actually like your job. If you dread going to work in the morning and are sluggish when you're there as a result, chances are you're not doing your best work.

    But if you're enthusiastic, energetic and happy, chances are what you're producing will be a reflection of that.

    2. Your Day Passes Quickly

    Days pass slowly when you're bored, or being unproductive. If you're so focused on your work you look up at the clock and it went suddenly from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., you're probably doing a pretty good job.

    Being absorbed by your work shows commitment and interest, which are both things that people who are good at their jobs have.

    3. You're Constantly Finding New Tasks To Do

    I was a real nerd in high school and I really loved class. When I'd finish my homework I'd find other things to read or do, and then go talk to my teacher about them. I didn't have many friends, but that's neither here nor there, because I got perfect grades.

    If, at work, you're constantly adding tasks you've come up with yourself to build and expand on your delegated tasks, you're doing a good job. Going above and beyond is a key sign that you're fabulous at what you do.


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    awkwardOne of the most stressful parts of work life is figuring out how to say something tough, unpleasant, or awkward to a colleague.

    Most of us aren't fond of difficult conversations in any setting, but doing it at work can be doubly challenging, because we fear for our professional reputations and relationships.

    Here are four of the most difficult conversations you may need to have in your career and the secrets to making them go smoothly.

    1. "I'm quitting."

    This one might sound easy, and many people fantasize about the day they walk out of a bad job or a poorly managed workplace. But when it comes down to actually doing it, those same people often find it surprisingly hard to let their bosses know that they're leaving.

    People often feel regret about leaving something familiar, even when they weren't that happy there, and it can be tougher than expected to say the words "I'm quitting." That's especially true when you did like the job and your manager and are moving on for reasons that have little to do with them.

    How to approach it: The key to resigning gracefully is to keep it short and direct. For example: "I've really appreciated my time here, but I've made the difficult decision to move on, and my last day will be November 17."

    And know that it's normal to feel some regret; bringing any period of your life to a close can be bittersweet.

    2. "I'm firing you."

    Ask any manager, and you'll hear that firing an employee is one of the hardest things he or she ever has to do. Even when the employee has been given every chance to succeed, it's natural to feel terrible about taking someone's job away.

    However, taking action when someone isn't working out is one of a manager's most basic and crucial responsibilities and can't be shirked. (Unfortunately, managers far too frequently err on the side of not letting people go when they should, typically because they want to avoid the tough conversations it will entail).

    How to approach it: In most cases, a firing should be the final installment of an ongoing conversation. The employee shouldn't be blindsided, because you've already told the person about the problems and what needs to change; warned her if her progress isn't what it needs to be; and explicitly said that her job will be in jeopardy if you don't see specific changes.

    If you handle it that way, then when the actual firing conversation happens, it's an expected next step — not a surprise. It's still going to be hard, but it's far better than firing a shocked employee who didn't see it coming and had no idea that your concerns were serious.

    donald trump you're fired

    3. "Stop harassing me."

    You'll be lucky if you go your whole career without encountering sexual harassment, racist remarks, or other inappropriate behavior from a co-worker.

    Federal law requires employers to address sexual harassment or behavior that creates a hostile workplace based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age (if you're over 40), or disability, so you're very much entitled to tell offenders to knock it off — and to report them to your company if they don't. But knowing that the law is on your side doesn't necessarily make it easy to speak up.

    How to approach it: First, know that if you're not comfortable saying something directly, you can go straight to your company's human resources department, which will have a legal obligation to address the situation. However, if you're willing to say something to the offender on your own, that can be a more efficient and direct method of getting the behavior to stop. (And when you go to HR, they may encourage you to do that if you haven't already.)

    The key is to clearly state that the behavior is unwelcome and that you want it to stop. For example: "Please stop asking me out. I've told you that I'm not interested, and I need you to stop asking." Or: "I don't want to hear that kind of comment. Please don't say those things around me."

    4. "I made a big mistake."

    Everyone makes mistakes at work, but if the mess-up is large enough, your job or reputation might be on the line. Coming clean can feel like putting your career at risk, but you'll look far worse if you don't say anything and it comes out later. Professionally, it's much worse to be someone who makes mistakes and doesn't own up to them.

    How to approach it: Be as straightforward as possible, as soon as possible. Make it clear that you understand the seriousness of the mistake and that you're mortified that it happened. Explain briefly and without defensiveness where you went wrong and what steps you're taking to avoid it ever happening again. You might find that this approach makes your manager much less worried than she'd be if you didn't approach it this way.

    Or, yes, it's possible that you'll have a lot of work to do to regain your boss's trust. In the worst-case scenario, she may have real doubts about your fit for the role. But, as tough as that would be, it's better to talk about that explicitly than to have it happening below the surface without talking openly about it.

    SEE ALSO: The No. 1 sign you're about to be fired

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Zuckerberg: Why I Stayed Facebook CEO Even Though Many Thought I Should Quit

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    happy woman

    You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don't know what they're talking about. Don't trust them.

    Actually, don't trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

    UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life.

    Here's what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

    1. The most important question to ask when you feel down

    Sometimes it doesn't feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

    Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain's reward center.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they're activating the brain's reward center.

    And you worry a lot, too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you're doing something about your problems.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala. That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you're feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

    But guilt, shame, and worry are horrible, long-term solutions. So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

    What am I grateful for?

    Yeah, gratitude is awesome … but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

    You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable …

    Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

    I know, sometimes life lands a really mean punch in the gut and it feels like there's nothing to be grateful for. Guess what?

    Doesn't matter. You don't have to find anything. It's the searching that counts.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    It's not finding gratitude that matters most; it's remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

    And gratitude doesn't just make your brain happy — it can also create a positive feedback loop in your relationships. So express that gratitude to the people you care about.

    For more on how gratitude can make you happier and more successful, click here.

    But what happens when bad feelings completely overtake you? When you're really in the dumps and don't even know how to deal with it? There's an easy answer …

    unhappy sad frustrated person

    2. Label negative feelings

    You feel awful. OK, give that awfulness a name. Sad? Anxious? Angry?

    Boom. It's that simple. Sound stupid? Your noggin disagrees.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    [I]n one fMRI study, appropriately titled "Putting Feelings into Words" participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant's amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

    Suppressing emotions doesn't work and can backfire on you.

    Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

    Gross found that people who tried to suppress a negative emotional experience failed to do so. While they thought they looked fine outwardly, inwardly their limbic system was just as aroused as without suppression, and in some cases, even more aroused. Kevin Ochsner, at Columbia, repeated these findings using an fMRI. Trying not to feel something doesn't work, and in some cases even backfires.

    But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

    Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

    To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here's the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.

    Ancient methods were way ahead of us on this one. Meditation has employed this for centuries. Labeling is a fundamental tool of mindfulness.

    In fact, labeling affects the brain so powerfully it works with other people, too. Labeling emotions is one of the primary tools used by FBI hostage negotiators.

    To learn more of the secrets of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.

    Okay, hopefully you're not reading this and labeling your current emotional state as bored. Maybe you're not feeling awful but you probably have things going on in your life that are causing you some stress. Here's a simple way to beat them.


    3. Make that decision

    Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest? That's no random occurrence.

    Brain science shows that making decisions reduces worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.

    But deciding can be hard. I agree. So what kind of decisions should you make? Neuroscience has an answer.

    Make a "good enough" decision. Don't sweat making the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up.

    Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control …

    As Swarthmore professor Barry Schwartz said in my interview with him: “Good enough is almost always good enough.”

    So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.

    Want proof? No problem. Let's talk about cocaine.

    You give two rats injections of cocaine. Rat A had to pull a lever first. Rat B didn't have to do anything. Any difference? Yup: Rat A gets a bigger boost of dopamine.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    So they both got the same injections of cocaine at the same time, but rat A had to actively press the lever, and rat B didn’t have to do anything. And you guessed it — rat A released more dopamine in its nucleus accumbens.

    So what's the lesson here? Next time you buy cocaine … whoops, wrong lesson. Point is, when you make a decision on a goal and then achieve it, you feel better than when good stuff just happens by chance.

    And this answers the eternal mystery of why dragging your butt to the gym can be so hard.

    If you go because you feel you have to or you should, well, it's not really a voluntary decision. Your brain doesn't get the pleasure boost. It just feels stress. And that's no way to build a good exercise habit.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Interestingly, if they are forced to exercise, they don't get the same benefits, because without choice, the exercise itself is a source of stress.

    So make more decisions. Neuroscience researcher Alex Korb sums it up nicely:

    We don't just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.

    To learn what neuroscientists say is the best way to use caffeine, click here.

    OK, you're being grateful, labeling negative emotions and making more decisions. Great, but this is feeling kinda lonely for a happiness prescription. Let's get some other people in here.

    What's something you can do with others that neuroscience says is a path to mucho happiness? And something that's stupidly simple so you don't get lazy and skip it? Brain docs have an answer for you.

    happy laughing friends

    4. Touch people

    No, not indiscriminately; that can get you in a lot of trouble.

    But we need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don't it's painful. And I don't mean "awkward" or "disappointing." I mean actually painful.

    Neuroscientists did a study where people played a ball-tossing video game. The other players tossed the ball to you and you tossed it back to them. Actually, there were no other players; that was all done by the computer program.

    But the subjects were told the characters were controlled by real people. So what happened when the "other players" stopped playing nice and didn't share the ball?

    Subjects' brains responded the same way as if they experienced physical pain. Rejection doesn't just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain … at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.

    Relationships are important to your brain's feeling of happiness. Want to take that to the next level? Touch people.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. Obviously, it's not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you're close with, make more of an effort to touch more often.

    Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don't give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, improves your flirting … heck, it even boosts math skills.

    Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. In fact, when studies were done on married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the effect.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In addition, holding hands with someone can help comfort you and your brain through painful situations. One fMRI study scanned married women as they were warned that they were about to get a small electric shock. While anticipating the painful shocks, the brain showed a predictable pattern of response in pain and worrying circuits, with activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. During a separate scan, the women either held their husbands' hands or the hand of the experimenter. When a subject held her husband's hand, the threat of shock had a smaller effect. The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits. In addition, the stronger the marriage, the lower the discomfort-related insula activity.

    So hug someone today. And do not accept little, quick hugs. No, no, no. Tell them your neuroscientist recommended long hugs.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

    Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.

    Don't have anyone to hug right now? No? (I'm sorry to hear that. I would give you a hug right now if I could.) But there's an answer: Neuroscience says you should go get a massage.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    The results are fairly clear that massage boosts your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels, which helps you create new good habits … Massage reduces pain because the oxytocin system activates painkilling endorphins. Massage also improves sleep and reduces fatigue by increasing serotonin and dopamine and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

    So spend time with other people and give some hugs. Sorry, texting is not enough.

    When you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? Their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    [T]he text-message group had cortisol and oxytocin levels similar to the no-contact group.

    Author's note: I totally approve of texting if you make a hug appointment.

    To learn what neuroscience says is the best way to get smarter and happier, click here.

    OK, I don't want to strain your brain with too much info. Let's round it up and learn the quickest and easiest way to start that upward spiral of neuroscience-inspired happiness.

    Sum up

    Here's what brain research says will make you happy:

    • Ask "What am I grateful for?" No answers? Doesn't matter. Just searching helps.
    • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn't so bothered by it.
    • Decide. Go for "good enough" instead of 'best decision ever made on Earth."
    • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don't text — touch.

    So what's the simple way to start that upward spiral of happiness?

    Just send someone a thank-you email. If you feel awkward about it, you can send them this post to tell them why.

    This really can start an upward spiral of happiness in your life. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb explains:

    Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you'll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

    So thank you for reading this.

    And send that thank-you email now to make you and someone you care about happy.

    Join over 205,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

    SEE ALSO: Science says that if you want to be happy, you should consider ditching the promotion and staying where you are

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The simplest way to get — and stay — happy, according to psychologists

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    interview hiring manager

    Job seekers tend to over analyze everything that happens during the hiring process — from how long it takes a company to respond to their application to how friendly the person calling to schedule an interview sounds.

    But what they analyze more than anything are the specific words they hear from interviewers. As a workplace advice columnist, my mail is full of letters from people asking what their interviewers meant by remarks as simple as "we'll be in touch soon" or even "good luck."

    Here are seven of the most common things interviewers say that job seekers either misinterpret or read too much into.

    1. "You're very well qualified for this job."

    Candidates often get excited when they hear this and assume that it must mean that they're a front-runner for the job.

    But most or all of the candidates who an employer interviews are well-qualified; that's how they got to the interview stage. After all, employers don't generally ask to interview people who aren't well-qualified.

    You're less likely to get your hopes dashed if you interpret this statement as: "You are well qualified, as are the other candidates who we're talking to."

    2. "We're ironing out some details about the position."

    This isn't always a danger sign, but it can be.

    It can indicate that the job description is about to change dramatically, or funding for the position may be in doubt, or they're thinking of putting the hiring for the position on hold, or all sorts of other things that could derail your chances or turn the role into the wrong match for you.

    On the other hand, it can also be something minor that doesn't have much of an impact. Either way, don't panic too much if you hear these words, because if it does turn out to be a big change, it's far better to find that out at this stage than after you've already accepted the job.

    3. "Let me show you the office you'd be working out of."

    People often think that an interviewer wouldn't bother showing them the office space or introducing them to others on the team if they weren't close to making an offer. But many interviewers will do those things as part of their standard interview routine with strong and weaker candidates alike, so don't read anything into this.

    office tour

    4. "We'll get back to you soon / in two weeks / by Friday."

    Whatever timeline your interviewer gives you, don't put too much stock in it.

    Hiring processes are notorious for taking far longer than people think they will, and even the people in charge of hiring tend to underestimate how much time they'll need.

    Whatever timeline your interviewer gives you, you're safest if you double or triple it in your head — or even ignore it entirely!

    5. "Feel free to email me with any questions."

    Interviewers often say this to be polite, but it's not an invitation to bombard them with nonessential questions after you go home.

    Sometimes candidates think they'll impress the hiring manager or look more interested if they follow up with questions, so they think up questions to send over just for the sake of appearances.

    Since the questions aren't crucial ones, this usually ends up being fairly transparent and annoying, since it means that you're asking the hiring manager to spend her time writing out answers to questions that she can tell aren't genuine or pressing.


    6. "We have more candidates to talk to before we make a decision."

    Candidates often get disappointed when they hear this, figuring that the interviewer is signaling that they shouldn't get their hopes up.

    Sometimes that is in fact the case, but this is also a very normal thing that many interviewers say as a matter of routine to all candidates — because it's true, and it's a normal part of hiring to talk to other people. It doesn't generally indicate anything about your chances.

    7. "I look forward to talking more."

    Candidates tend to hear this as an implied promise that there will be further conversations, but that's not necessarily the case.

    It's more of a polite closing that interviewers use automatically, even when they haven't yet decided which candidates will be moving on in their hiring process.

    It's sort of the "I'll call you" of the job-search world. It really means: "If you end up moving forward in the process, we'll talk more."

    SEE ALSO: 29 things you should never include on your résumé

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    NOW WATCH: Here's what a hiring manager scans for when reviewing résumés

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    sad trader

    None of us is quite as decisive as we like to think. I'm fairly sure that's the case.

    Ideas bounce around our heads for minutes, sometimes hours and sometimes whole years before we tell ourselves that they're good ones.

    Some days, we're confident that we know what we should do, but we're slightly less confident about actually going ahead and doing it.

    Because who knows what awaits us on the other side?

    The triggers that actually make us act can sometimes seem quite daft. We watch two boats out on a lake and we tell ourselves that if the blue boat gets ahead of the red boat when they go directly past us, we'll take that big decision.

    And then the red boat wins.

    One of the biggest decisions we'll make (or won't make) is to quit our jobs. Here, then, are six triggers that should help you walk straight into the boss's office and say goodbye. (Well, depending on how confident you are, you could always send a resignation e-mail first. After all, lovers dump each other by text these days.)

    1. Your boss hasn't just promoted one person who's less competent than you. He's promoted two.

    You should always allow your boss one mistake. These can be made. And bosses have their own favorites and their own slightly skewed way of looking at life. But when you see two people — ones who you know can barely tie their shoelaces and chew gum at the same time — get elevated above you, that's the time to say goodbye. Please don't look back.

    2. You've been in the same job for 18 months, and you're still doing the same job.

    It's one thing to have the same job title. It's quite another to be doing the very same job. If you have ambitions, you'll know how to take on more responsibilities, sneak into more important meetings and generally make yourself more blessedly indispensable. But if you're literally doing the same things you were doing 18 months ago, it's time to move on.

    lehman bros fired

    3. You're coming home from work, and you want to talk about work. All night.

    Those who are slightly happier with their jobs will often come home, talk a little about it and then move on to other more interesting things. Like the collected thoughts of Ted Cruz and how they differ from the collected thoughts of Penelope Cruz. Those who are miserable with work will complain most of the night. Even if they're out drinking the finest vermouth. You can't do that to the finest vermouth. If you can't stop moaning about work, it's time to leave it behind. Now.

    4. You know you'd rather be in Lisbon.

    People have these strange, silly dreams. Often, they don't seem to make any sense. But if this dream persists for some time, you might want to ask yourself: "Why do I keep getting these pesky thoughts about moving to Lisbon? I've never even been to Lisbon." The subconscious works in extremely strange ways. When it's persistent, start listening. And after you've started listening, act.


    5. You can see what you'll be doing in five years' time, and you don't like the look of it.

    Some careers can seem enticing, sexy even. You're doing well. You're earning more money. Then you look up and see what your bosses are doing. There they are, harassed and mired in 24-hour politics. The bags under their eyes look like ripples in a lake left by a smoky steamboat. You told yourself that this career was exactly for you and you quite like the job you're doing right now. But look what you're headed for. Turn back.

    6. You really, really don't like Mondays.

    We're told, but of course, that everyone's supposed to not like Mondays. It's nonsense. In jobs I've enjoyed, Mondays have been perfectly lovely days, garlanded with as much hope and pleasure as Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and almost as much as Fridays. I'm not convinced that Mondays deserve universal loathing. If you really, really, don't like Mondays, what you really, really don't like is your job.

    SEE ALSO: 10 Signs You Should Quit Your Job

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    NOW WATCH: This guy quit his job and visited 36 countries — he documented it in an awesome way

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    people on phones

    I asked hundreds of entrepreneurs and business leaders of all generations how they thought Millennials were doing at work. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised at the reaction. Let's just say they had a lot to say. 

    So much in fact that I had to split their answers into two parts. Part 1 was an examination of the words, phrases, and speaking habits Millennials tend to use that come back to bite them (read it here, ICYMI). This is Part 2.

    1. Not really understanding entrepreneurship

    "Too many Millennials don't understand the difference between being an entrepreneur and doing something entrepreneurial. ... [W]e see so many stats about how many Millennials want to work for themselves someday because they've grown up in a time where the tech world has made them believe everyone can do everything. That's just not true. So what should they quit doing? They should quit thinking that working for themselves is the only way — or even the best way — to experience what it means to be entrepreneurial, make a big impact, and enact important change."

    —Mike Maughan, head of insights, Qualtrics 

    2. Acting overly entitled

    This one is almost a cliche at this point, but we still hear about it.

    "The problem is, there's a correlation between self-motivation and self-entitlement, and a very thin line between confidence and arrogance. ... Millennials push themselves very hard, [and] their need for purpose causes a great deal of them to be intrinsically motivated. We just need to realize that sense of self purpose that we have CREATED for ourselves is not more important than anyone else's."

    —Reza Jafery, Casual Solutions LLC

    3. Being overly certain

    "We Millennials can be very confident, which can be electric and motivating to those around us — but only when it's actually authentic. Bottom line: If you don't know the answer to a question, don't pretend to be an expert. It's OK to be uncertain, and it's better to be honest about it rather than exude false certainty." 

    woman depressed thinking glum unhappy

    4. Lack of focus

    "I'm a Millennial and I run a company where most of my staff consists of Millennials. The bad habit I'd like to mention is lack of focus due to constant distraction. Generation Y grew up in front of a TV, bombarded with new stimulus every 15 seconds. As a result, it's an uphill battle for many to regain the ability to retain focus for a long period of time. The web and mobile devices don't exactly help alleviate this habit either."

    —Orun Bhuiyan, co-founder, SEOcial

    5. Only being out for themselves

    "Leading today is all about creating true collaboration and teamwork. This is not a strength of Millennials. ... I see it often — great technical expertise but no idea how to relate to people. Maybe it is/was all those hours on their smart phones."

    —Lawrence Polsky, co-founder, Teams of Distinction

    6. Refusing to pick up the telephone

    "So much of business is still done by phone. ... You can't text a CEO to ask him to consider buying your product which you wrote as a string of emojis. Even if he thought it was a brilliant tactic, he'd likely pick up the phone to call you about it. Make sure you answer it and sound professional." 

    —Meagan Nordmann, RiskSense

    7. Inability to take or give criticism

    "They are often afraid to hurt someone's feelings instead of spark progress. ... On the flipside, Millennials also need to better understand how to take criticism. If I were to tell the average Millennial that he or she just created something that was a good try, but no — they would likely be upset. ... Millennials are a sensitive generation, the most sensitive in history, and [they] need to work to be less petty when it comes to reacting to what is said to them." 

    —Adam Lawrence, StrollingWild


    8. Talking more than listening

    "As a Millennial, our primary goal should be to ... learn as much as we can from other people. ... Not only that, if you want to build rapport with anyone, you need to show you're interested in what they have to say, and listening is an essential factor in developing rapport."

    —Sean Kim, CEO, Rype

    9. Acting too cool to care

    "I've come across quite a few younger people with the notion that 'not caring' is somehow super cool. I think it's impossible to be successful with this outlook. In my companies, really caring and giving it my all is a huge part of what allowed them to grow and succeed."

    —Louisa Levit, co-founder, Unexpected Ways and Reliable PSD

    10. Freaking out when making mistakes

    "I'm a Millennial, and my generation got gold stars for pretty much everything. Now we're in the working world where if you make a mistake and get called out for it, [it seems as if it's] almost a better idea to jump off a cliff than come into work tomorrow. Mistakes happen to everyone. ... They do not mean your career is over."

    Heather Taylor, freelance writer

    11. Too much multitasking

    As a Millennial ... we think we are very efficient at multitasking, but being in business has taught me that it is not always right to multitask or to hop on new projects like a bunny."

    —Salman Aslam, CEO, Omnicore 

    tumblr office

    12. Expecting too many perks

    "Millennial candidates should forget what they see in the movies and read on social media, and focus on the career opportunity instead of the perks. If you don't work for a Silicon Valley tech giant, you probably won't have daily catered meals, a full-time barista, and free dry cleaning delivered to the office. Expecting (and asking for) those ... high-end perks can make a candidate seem out of touch and a potential prima donna."

    —Lauren Bigelow, executive director, Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

    13. Not properly owning their Millennial-ness

    "Millennials should use their unique voices. Most of the consumer world is Millennial, and sharing the consumer's voice is valuable. However, you need to be articulate and crisp. Also, they should use the word 'awesome' in moderation. It's become the go-to Millennial phrase, but it's overused. Be youthful, but have a range of words that express excitement or pleasure."

    —April Masini,

    14. Not being willing to take time to learn

    "I have been hiring positions [and] the requirements [include] a real estate license and a three-month training period. ... No Millennial we've encountered wants to take their time to train through a process, [so] our most recent hire has been someone in the Baby Boomer generation."

    —Steven Clarke, Steven Clarke Real Estate

    15. Not being able to disconnect

    "Millennials make the best salespeople. ... They often don't see a hard line between their work and personal lives, which makes using social sites like Instagram and Twitter very effective for making business connections ... but this has also come at the cost of ever-important face-to-face meetings and networking. Millennials need to kick the habit of being tethered to their devices 24/7/365. There is something to be said for Millennials who know when to put down the smartphone and have an in-person conversation." 

    —Adam Honig, co-founder and CEO, Spiro Technologies

    young people working computers

    16. Not reading things carefully

    "It seems like 'TL;DR' ... has extended to things that only require scrolling slightly on a phone. ... We've had many issues with Millennials applying for jobs without reading [the job descriptions]. We've had them requesting more information on our apartment listings, even though the information they were requesting was right before their eyes." 

    —Jeremy Schmidt, director of marketing, 

    17. Not being present in conversations

    "A common criticism of Millennials is that they are less likely to engage in face to face conversations in order to collaborate or problem solve, instead choosing social media, phone, or email. The consequence of this can be poorly developed social and communication skills, and a perception of rudeness and/or inconsiderate behavior."

    —Keith Fowler, Black Isle (Europe) Limited

    SEE ALSO: 25 super-successful people share their best career advice for 20-somethings

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    woman speaking

    There is a special art to choosing the perfect word for a situation, particularly in the workplace.

    You want your vocabulary to be impressive but not so impressive it garners scoffs, professional but not stiff. It has to sound natural in context, like you’ve used it before.

    You want people to understand what it means, but maybe Google it “just to make sure.”

    Most importantly, it has to make sense, connotation very much included. If you’re looking to stretch your workplace vocabulary without sounding like a pretentious asshole, here are some suggestions.

    1. Caustic (kôstik)

    Adjective: sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way.

    Synonyms: derisive, acerbic, abrasive

    Example: I didn’t appreciate the caustic tone of that email.

    Note: Yes, it also means “able to burn or corrode organic tissue by chemical action” or “formed by the intersection of reflected or refracted parallel rays from a curved surface,” but this is less likely to be applicable in the workplace. Unless of course you are a chemist or physicist, in which case a liberal arts major who works in book publishing is unlikely to be of much assistance anyway.

    2. Idiosyncrasy (idēəˈsiNGkrəsē)

    Noun: a distinctive or peculiar feature or characteristic of an individual, place, or thing.

    Synonyms: peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity

    Example: Ah, just another charming idiosyncrasy of our printers I see. [sarcasm]

    3. Paradoxical (par-uh-DOK-si-kuhl) 

    Adjective: having the nature of a paradox; self-contradictory.

    Synonyms: contradictory, incongruous, anomalous

    Example: I know that this idea sounds paradoxical, but I believe it’s our most effective solution.

    4. Beleaguer (biˈlēɡər) 

    Verb: to cause constant or repeated trouble for a person, business, etc.

    Synonyms: harass, pester, badger, vex

    Example: The beleaguered school system can’t take much more of this.

    5. Exacerbate (iɡˈzasərˌbāt) 

    Verb: make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse.

    Synonyms: inflame, aggravate

    Example: I understand that you’re trying to help, but what you’re doing is only exacerbating the situation.

    6. Didactic (dīˈdaktik)

    Adjective: in the manner of a teacher, particularly so as to treat someone in a patronizing way.

    Synonyms: patronizing, pedantic

    Example: He would be a good choice for the conferences if his speeches weren’t so didactic.

    7. Innocuous (iˈnäkyo͞oəs)

    Adjective: not harmful or offensive.

    Synonyms: harmless, innocent

    Example: There’s no need to be defensive, it was an innocuous question.

    8. Parsimonious (pärsəˈmōnēəs)

    Adjective: unwilling to spend money or use resources.

    Synonyms: stingy, frugal, cheap

    Example: In this campaign, there is no room to be parsimonious.

    9. Bloviate (blōvēˌāt)

    Verb: talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way.

    Synonyms: spiel

    Example: It’s tough to watch them bloviate about sweeping change when our internal processes are still such a mess.

    10. Aplomb (əˈpləm)

    Noun: self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation.

    Synonyms: poise, composure

    Example: It was a tense meeting, but you carried the presentation with aplomb.

    SEE ALSO: 20 words you should never put on your résumé

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    meeting, interview

    You know what you want: a new job, a promotion, an investment in your idea, or new networking contacts.

    And believe it or not, the difference between getting what you want and being passed over is often simply a matter of how you tell your story.

    Too often, someone will tell stories from his or her personal point of view. Which makes sense — it's your story, so why wouldn't it be personal?

    Well, the problem with that thinking is that you're forgetting the person you want something from (be it a job, a raise, or a reference) will only be thinking of his story — how will what you're saying help him?

    I see you shrugging your shoulders and saying, "I don't know how my raise will help him at all.

    Well, good news for you. Selling someone on your story is a pretty simple shift that involves one three-letter word: why.

    Far too often, people answer questions with what, when, and how. Here's how to start using why to get what you want.

    1. When you're interviewing for a job

    The interviewer starts with, "Tell me about yourself." So you say, "I've worked at Microsoft for the last two years." Or maybe, "I graduated from Yale in 2010 with a major in Economics."

    These answers may be true, but they don't answer what the hiring manager's really saying — give me a reason to hire you for this position.

    So, instead of focusing on the what, focus on why you made the decisions you made between all the lines on your resume. Why did you choose a less obvious product to work on? Why did you want to move from journalism to PR? The better answer would look like this:

    "I went to Microsoft because I was interested in working on a large-scale software project, and Windows was one of the largest software teams in the world at the time. Now, I'm looking to join a small startup company, because I'd like to work on many different projects and grow my skill set."

    This answer doesn't just tell the hiring manager who you are, it explains why you should get the job. Suddenly, you're a much more interesting candidate.

    2. When you want to change fields

    The first question most interviewers will ask in this situation is what interested you about Position A, when your whole career's been focused on Position B.

    And most people make the mistake of answering this with the standard what refrain ("I want to make a change"). The why answer much explains your reasoning in a much more convincing way:

    "As much as I've learned working in PR, part of me has always wanted to make a difference through politics. I spend all of my free time thinking (and reading, and tweeting) about the upcoming election, and that's why I want to work on a presidential campaign."

    I know I'd be much more excited about hiring someone who could articulate why she wanted to make the change than someone who was looking into a new field apparently just for the heck of it.

    climbing ladder

    3. When you want a promotion or raise

    Yes, you should come to your evaluation with a brag list.

    But avoid the temptation to sit in front of your manager and rattle off all of the things you've accomplished over the last quarter. (You — and your boss — know what that sounds like, so it probably won't sway her decision either way.)

    Instead, talk about why a promotion makes sense, not just for you, but for the team. In other words, rather than just stating that you've stepped up and successfully led numerous team projects, discuss the ways a management role would allow you to be an even more effective team leader.

    It looks like this:

    "As you've likely noticed, I've been working on several projects outside of my job description. I've really enjoyed it and I want to do more. However, I think my colleagues in other departments might take my input more seriously if my title reflected my changing role. Is that something we can discuss?"

    Your boss will be more receptive to this framing than he would to a list of achievements.

    4. When you want support for a bold, new idea

    Let's say you're brainstorming with your team about fixing a stalled project, and you decide to reach out to a broader base of constituents. You could just blurt that out, but if you lead with the what, then you'll have to convince them. If you start with the why, you can lead them to the answer by making it seem obvious. For example:

    "I noticed that only a small portion of our target demo has actually engaged with our product so far, which would explain why we haven't gotten enough data to make clear decisions about how to move forward. Let's consider strategies for reaching out to new users."

    By presenting your argument this way, your plan seems not like an idea out of left field, but like something that only makes sense.

    meeting, working, chatting, team, teamwork, chat, talk, huffington post, office tour, november 2012, bi, dng

    5. You want to connect with someone new

    Imagine your major life events occurring along a winding path up a mountain road.

    Don't make the mistake of talking about the straight parts of the path, which is what you did during any particular stretch of time. Instead, talk about the switchbacks, the turns, and twists — because that's a whole lot more interesting.

    The story about why you went back to school, why you moved across the country, or why you worked on that specific project, or within a certain industry is lot more fascinating that the standard, "Here is my degree and job title."

    For example:

    "I'm originally from the Midwest and never thought I'd be living in New York City. But I saw an opening at my dream company and thought I'll just put my application out there and see what happens. Well, by the time I made it to the final rounds of the interview process, I was hooked, and now I can even navigate the subway system like a local."

    Expert tip: Here's even better advice for striking up conversation with someone new: Ask him or her the winding road why questions. Nine times out of 10, "Why did you make the switch from nonprofit to for-profit?" will lead to a more interesting (and more memorable!) conversation than, "What do you do at your current job?"

    Remember that while what, when, where, and how is important, why is interesting. And in career scenarios when you want to make a lasting impression, telling your story with why will do the trick.

    SEE ALSO: 11 tips to stop saying 'um' forever

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    Most parents mean well — they really do have an interest in what their kids do for a living.

    But job titles like "user-interface designer" and "civil servant" aren't exactly the most descriptive, and they leave many parents scratching their heads.

    In LinkedIn's 2015 global study, more than half of the 1,390 parents surveyed admitted they aren't very familiar with what their child does for a living, while one in three parents said they don't understand their kids' jobs at all. But they also said they want to know.

    To help bridge the gap, here are 15 of the most misunderstood jobs in America, according to LinkedIn's survey, and how you could explain them to struggling parents.

    BI Graphics_15 Jobs That Are Impossible to Explain to Your Parents

    SEE ALSO: 20 college majors where the pay goes nowhere

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    Working Late Messy Desk

    Picture this. I was at a networking event last winter. It was cold outside, but quite warm in the room. Most of us balanced winter coats and heavy bags. I made small talk with a few other people, when a new guy approached the group.

    "Damn, you guys are carrying a ton of sh*t," he said. "You know, you can check your sh*t for free at the coat check."

    Boom! Instant credibility suck. I get that he was trying to help us, but none of us paid him any mind after that introduction.

    It's not really just that the guy swore; most of us are pretty immune to that these days. It's that three of his first 22 words were curses (assuming you count "damn" as a curse). That's just lazy, as if he couldn't be bothered to come up with better descriptions of all the things we were carrying. Instead, he went with the barnyard default, and that made him seem unserious and unprofessional.

    (Just off the top of my head, since I'm sure some of you are about to ask what he could have called the things we carried instead: coats, bags, laptops, stuff, purses, briefcases, jackets, coats, gear, kit, pouch, totes, baggage, portage, luggage, junk, tunics-heck, call my a bag a man-purse, if you want to at least score a C-minus joke).

    The truth is, nobody's perfect. We're all prone to semi-conscious verbal foul-ups that make us look totally unprofessional. That's why we all need a reminder now and then. Here are 10 examples of similar things to avoid.

    1. Lazy profanity

    OK, this one really is at the top of the list. Again, it's not the profanity itself (although that often doesn't help). It's the laziness. If someone constantly uses the F-word as an all-purpose adjective, it makes you wonder whether they're equally uncreative and slothful in everything they do.


    2. Lateness

    I must admit this is a tendency I've had to work hard to combat in my own life. The phrase "Murphy Standard Time" would not be met with blank stares by some of my friends and family. Yet I've learned that being on time is a matter of respect. Show up when you say you will, and you send a message that you're professional enough to care.

    3. Leering

    We're all human. We're mammals. We notice alluring members of whatever gender we're biologically predisposed to be attracted to. Yet, that same humanity also means we should have the self-control to keep the "up-and-down look" under control, so to speak. Eyes up here, my friend, or you'll look like a creepy amateur.

    4. Pollyannaishness

    I've always been a bit bothered by the fact that the word "Pollyannaish" suggests the concept of having too much unrealistic optimism. Check out the 1913 book if you don't understand why. Still, when, after a disaster, a colleague or a vendor insists that things are absolutely fine-while simple common-sense tells you they're not-it undermines their professionalism.

    5. Flightiness

    To be flighty is to be fickle and irresponsible. Tell someone you'll be at a certain place, or that you'll accomplish a certain thing-and then never do it? Sorry, you're flighty.

    6. Disorganization

    (Anyone who gets more than 1,000 emails a day probably falls into this category.) As most of us who run businesses understand, clients and customers expect you to reply quickly. They want you to be able to talk about their situations (seemingly) off-the-cuff. If you aren't in control of your own situation, they'll wonder how you can possibly be in control of theirs.

    women outside talking

    7. Inarticulateness

    This one is like, so like, obvious — and yet a lot of people like, they don't really, like, get it. And that just, like, totally makes them seem like — well, not really professional, because they, like, can't even get to the point of what they want to say and like, make it clear and stuff.

    'Nuff said. I'd actually throw bad grammar into this category as well-although with the caveat that we've all known some very smart, professional people whose language simply betrayed their lack of formal education, or whose first tongue wasn't ours. (Seriously, if this column were written in French or Spanish, we'd all have a good laugh at my grammar.)

    8. Secrecy

    Sure, we all have private lives, but most of the time our businesses don't truly involve them. If you're hiding important information from employees or clients, you're not doing much for your reputation as a leader, and you're probably making them wonder whether they can trust you.

    9. Overpromising

    A really brilliant salesperson once told me her art of selling was about "making the maximum promise you can, consistent with your ability to deliver." Entrepreneurs often push the envelope on this, but the key is to make sure you're confident you will eventually be able to make good on your promises.

    10. Cheating and lying

    These two are obvious. As President George W. Bush once tried to say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

    SEE ALSO: 6 short stories that will make you smarter about business

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    As a society, we often overvalue unimportant things and undervalue the ideas and strategies that make a real difference.

    Here’s my take on a few common beliefs that I think we often get wrong.

    1. Overrated: Being busy.

    Underrated: Doing one thing at a time.

    Being in motion is not the same thing as taking action. As a society, we’ve fallen into a trap of busyness and overwork.

    More critically, we have mistaken all this activity as an indicator of living an important life. The underlying thought seems to be, “Look how busy I am? If I’m doing all this work, I must be doing something important.” And, by extension, “I must be important because I’m so busy.”

    Read more: The Myth of Multitasking: Why Fewer Priorities Leads to Better Work

    2. Overrated: Avoiding criticism.

    Underrated: Sharing unique ideas.

    You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you. Too often, we let our fears and emotions prevent us from sharing our work with others.

    Read more: Haters and Critics: How to Deal with People Judging You and Your Work

    3. Overrated: Unrestricted freedom.

    Underrated: Carefully designed constraints.

    Constraints actually increase our skill development rather than restrict it. We need lines to show us where to add color, not a blank canvas to draw on. As an entrepreneur, I struggled to manage myself until I realized that I needed to add some structure to my day.

    I began to only scheduled calls in the afternoon. I blocked my email inbox until noon. I required myself to publish a new article every Monday and Thursday. By adding a few carefully designed constraints to my life I reduced my freedom, but actually improved my productivity and happiness. Instead of feeling restricted by constraints, I felt empowered.

    Read more: The More We Limit Ourselves, the More Resourceful We Become

    4. Overrated: Degrees, certifications, and credentials.

    Underrated: Courage and creativity.

    Degrees can be important. (I don’t want to be operated on by a neurosurgeon who didn’t attend medical school.) But as my friend Charlie Gilkey told me, “Most people need degrees because they don’t have the courage to ask for what they want.”

    In many cases, the courage to ask for what you want and a willingness to solve other people’s problems is all you really need. The degrees, the awards, going to the “right” school or being born into the “right” family — none of these things are a prerequisite for success.

    Read more: Let Your Values Drive Your Choices

    Leavenworth climbing

    5. Overrated: Getting motivated.

    Underrated: Changing your environment.

    We incorrectly believe that motivation is the missing link that will enable us to stick to a new diet plan or write that book or learn a new language. Motivation is fickle and it doesn’t last. One study found that motivation had no impact on whether or not people exercised over a two week period.

    The effects of motivation essentially vanished after a day. Meanwhile, most of your daily choices are simply a response to the environment around you. We rarely think about the spaces we live and work in, but they drive our behavior whether we feel motivated or not. 

    Read more: How to Stick With Good Habits Even When Your Willpower is Gone

    6. Overrated: Watching the news.

    Underrated: Reading old books.

    By default, any good book that is more than 10 years old is filled with life-changing ideas. Why? Because bad books are forgotten after a decade or two. Any lasting book must be filled with ideas that stand the test of time. Meanwhile, the news is filled with fleeting information.

    We justify paying attention to the media because we think it makes us informed, but being informed is useless when most of the information will be unimportant by tomorrow. The news is just a television show and, like most TV shows, the goal is not to deliver the most accurate version of reality, but the version that keeps you watching. You wouldn’t want to stuff your body with low quality food. Why cram your mind with low quality thoughts?

    Read More: Stop Overdosing on Celebrity Gossip, The News, and Low Quality Information

    7. Overrated: Discovering the “new” thing.

    Underrated: Mastering the fundamentals.

    I’ve been guilty of jumping at the latest tactic or strategy, just like everyone else. We fool ourselves into thinking that a new tactic will change the fact that we need to do the work. There really isn’t much of a secret to most things.

    Want to be a better writer? Write more. Want to be stronger? Lift more. Want to learn a new language? Speak the language more. The greatest skill in any endeavor is doing the work. You don’t need more time, more money, or better strategies. You just need to do the work.

    Read more: Vince Lombardi on the Hidden Power of Mastering the Fundamentals

    8. Overrated: Being the leader.

    Underrated: Being a better teammate.

    We love status. We want pins and medallions on our jackets. We want power and prestige in our titles. We want to be acknowledge, recognized, and praised. It’s too bad all of those make for hollow leaders. Great teams require great teammates. Nowhere is that more true that at the top. No leader ever became worse by thinking about their teammates more.

    9. Overrated: Winning.

    Underrated: Improving.

    Too often, we value immediate results over long-term improvement. CFOs play accounting games to meet quarterly earnings projections. Police chiefs fudge the numbers to make crime rates appear lower. Students cheat on exams because getting an A is more important than learning the material.

    Learning, growth, and improvement are undervalued in the name of getting faster results. The shame of it all is that if we could find the time to focus on the process, the outcomes would follow shortly after.

    Read more: Pat Riley on the Remarkable Power of Getting 1% Better


    10. Overrated: Training to failure.

    Underrated: Not missing workouts.

    Feeling exhausted at the end of your workout is massively overrated. Working until you have nothing left is a recipe for burnout, injury, illness, and inconsistency. It is better to make small progress every day than to do as much as humanly possible in one day. Effort means nothing if it only last for a week or two. Do things you can sustain.

    SEE ALSO: 5 beliefs that are killing your success

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share

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    mom and child

    Five years ago Sarah Hosseini had a great gig as a TV producer for a news station in Charlotte, N.C.

    She loved the work, and expected a continual — and satisfying — climb up the career ladder. So she never imagined that having a baby at 25 would forever change that trajectory.

    But that's exactly what happened.

    "I wanted to take a little time off for the birth of my child — more than the three months of maternity leave my corporate job was willing to give me, but definitely less than a year," Hosseini, 30, recalls.

    When she asked her boss about possibly extending her maternity leave, or implementing partial work-from-home hours for a bit, she was met with a hard no — it was all or nothing.

    Because her $30,000 salary would have been completely eaten up paying for full-time day care, Hosseini decided to quit her job.

    Since then she's become a freelance writer, and had another child. And while she earns about the same amount as she did at her old job, she goes without such employee benefits as paid time off and subsidized insurance coverage.

    Returning to a full-time job in television production is appealing, but Hosseini knows that she'd have to start at a lower-level position, along with a salary cut—and she can't afford that.

    "My old career path has run dry," she says. "I never wanted to be forever banished from my career, or thrown off my professional track, all because I had kids."

    The 30% Mommy Penalty

    Stories like Hosseini's aren't uncommon. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, a woman's earnings generally take a 30% dive after being out of the workforce for two to three years.

    "There's a ton of discrimination for women who've taken time off to care for their kids, which is technically illegal but doesn't stop people from doing it," says Sarah Jane Glynn, director for women's economic policy at the Center for American Progress.

    There's even a name for the phenomenon: "the mommy penalty."

    From an employer's perspective, Glynn recognizes the rationale used in paying less. Should someone who hasn't been working for an extended time really command the same type of salary and position as someone who's been consistently working and keeping their skills fresh?

    The answer, says Glynn, depends on your industry and your role.

    "If you're talking about someone who works in technology, it can make an enormous difference in terms of whether or not you're up-to-date on skills," she explains. "But if you're a high school teacher, taking time off probably isn't going to mean that you'll be unable to keep up with your peers if you return to work."

    However, she argues that, in most cases, women can be brought back up to speed pretty quickly. So why are so many women still being hit with the mommy penalty even if they're able to hit the ground running?

    It may be about more than just the amount of time spent away.

    The way moms are perceived in the workplace can be an additional salary factor — whether or not they took a break from their job.

    kids and money

    Battling the Mommy Bias

    According to research out of the University of Rhode Island, working moms are often viewed as being less competent, committed and productive as their childless peers.

    "We don't have these same assumptions about men," Glynn says. "There are actually studies that show the reverse — people assume that fathers are going to be more dedicated to work because they now have an additional mouth to feed."

    One recent study from the research group Third Way found that, on average, dads who live with their kids experience an over 6% pay bump. On the flipside, mothers are hit with a 4% pay decrease for each kid they have.

    "People have this idea that, when you're a mom, your life is going to revolve around your kids in particular ways — that's going to be your number-one priority. And it's going to distract you from being a good worker," Glynn says.

    All of these factors, adds Glynn, can make women who take a break more financially vulnerable to unexpected changes — from a partner's job loss to divorce — in their family's financial situation.

    Angelina Capalbo, a 35-year-old administrative worker in Unionville, CT, dealt with this firsthand.

    When she had her daughter six years ago, the original plan was for Capalbo to stay home until her child was ready for kindergarten, while relying on her husband's salary to keep them afloat.

    But when they divorced two years later, Capalbo was hastily thrown back into the workforce.

    Prior to having her daughter, she'd been making $75,000 a year, plus bonuses, as an executive assistant. Unfortunately, walking back into that type of setup proved impossible.

    The only gig Capalbo was able to secure was an administrative position that paid just $15 an hour. Since then, she's bounced around to similar jobs and is currently earning $22 an hour as a temp-to-perm office worker.

    And short-term financial struggles aren't the only concern for Capalbo. She's also had to put building up her emergency fund and saving for retirement on the back-burner — moves that could put her future in jeopardy.

    "I think that's a nasty surprise that women, in particular, end up experiencing when they've taken extended spells out of the labor force [to stay with children]," Glynn says. "Anybody who understands how compound interest works knows that it's really important to be putting money away during your 20s and 30s, so if those are the years that you're taking off, that can really hit you down the line."

    mom working from home

    How to Get Back in the Game—and Get Paid Your Worth

    When Alison Risso, now a public relations professional in the Washington, D.C., area, had her second child nine years ago, her boss assumed that a slower work pace might be a better fit for her.

    "While I was on my maternity leave, I got a call saying I'd be switched over to a smaller department," recalls Risso, 42. "I wasn't expecting it — and wasn't consulted about it."

    The lateral move came with the same salary, but a less hectic workload. And Risso says her boss, also a mom, had good intentions, thinking she was doing Risso a favor by lightening her load a bit.

    The new department was indeed less hectic — because it was generating less revenue and not performing as well as others. And this all played into the reason why Risso was laid off later that year.

    The situation had a happy ending, though: Risso snagged a better position at another company, and was able to negotiate a higher salary.

    According to Evelyn Murphy, former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and founder of the WAGE Project, knowing your worth — and being ready to negotiate — is critical for moms who are navigating a return to the workforce.

    "It shouldn't really matter if you've been out of work for several years raising kids or not," Murphy says. "It's about what you'd bring to the job."

    And that's why Murphy advises moms who are just getting back in the game to approach the situation without assuming they'll have to take a demotion or pay cut just to secure a job.

    Murphy, who's been leading salary negotiation workshops for nearly a decade, says that many women — regardless of where they are in the earning spectrum — don't know how to assess their worth in the marketplace in an independent way.

    Her advice? Before you walk into any interview, thoroughly research what the current going rate is for that particular job in your given area — and then use that information during the negotiation process.

    Glynn adds that women opting out of full-time work for a few years should also think about their big-picture plans. Do you want to eventually return to your career? If so, staying connected to your industry can be the key to a smooth reentry.

    This might mean working part-time, or doing some freelance work during the years you're at home, which will help keep your résumé fresh and current.

    "Even if it's something as simple as keeping in touch with your colleagues and regularly having coffee with them, just maintaining that network is super important," Glynn says. "Not only so you're abreast of what's happening in your field, but also because those kinds of networks, frankly, are increasingly how people find jobs."

    SEE ALSO: The 30 highest-paying jobs in America

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Science says that parents of successful kids have these 7 things in common

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    What makes something smart? It can mean many things for many people.

    But the kind of smart I'm talking about is the smart that inspires, the smart that speaks to us and makes sense, the smart that allows us to move past ourselves and do something about the things that keep us stuck.

    Let these smart thoughts inspire you and motivate you to power through whatever is blocking your path to success.

    1. Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. — Winston Churchill

    2. There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. — Logan Pearsall Smith

    3. You have brains in your head
    You have feet in your shoes
    You can steer yourself any direction you choose
    You're on your own.
    And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go. — Dr. Seuss

    4. The obstacle is the path. — Zen saying

    5. Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them — Vaibhav Shah

    6. Success? I don't know what that word means. I'm happy. But success, that goes back to what in somebody's eyes success means. For me, success is inner peace. That's a good day for me. — Denzel Washington

    7. Opportunities don't happen. You create them. — Chris Grosser

    8. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.— G.K. Chesterton

    9. It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not to venture all his eggs in one basket. — Miguel de Cervantes

    10. To please everybody is impossible; were I to undertake it, I should probably please nobody. — George Washington

    11. Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value. — Albert Einstein

    12. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.  — Charles Darwin

    13. Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. — Eleanor Roosevelt

    14. The best revenge is massive success. — Frank Sinatra

    15. A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. — David Brinkley

    16. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. — Eleanor Roosevelt

    17. If you're going through hell, keep going. — Winston Churchill

    18. What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. — Oscar Wilde

    19. The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success. — Bruce Feirstein

    20. Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. — John D. Rockefeller

    21. Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. — Nathaniel Hawthorne

    22. If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. — Albert Einstein

    23. There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed. — Ray Goforth

    24. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. — Arthur Ashe

    25. It is necessary for us to learn from others' mistakes. You will not live long enough to make them all yourself. — Hyman George Rickover

    26. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better. — John Updike

    27. Eighty percent of success is just showing up. — Woody Allen

    28. Be wiser than other people, if you can; but do not tell them so. — Philip Dormer Stanhope

    29. In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind. — Louis Pasteur

    30. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. — Eleanor Roosevelt

    31. One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. — A.A. Milne

    32. The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it. — Thucydides

    33. Fortune favors the brave. — Terence

    34. One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. — Will Durant

    35. It takes less time to do a thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong.  — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    36. The speed of a runaway horse counts for nothing. — Jean Cocteau

    37. No one ever gets far unless he accomplishes the impossible at least once a day. — L. Ron Hubbard

    38. Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. — John R. Wooden

    39. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. — Thomas Alva Edison

    40. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    41. It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security of a god. — Seneca

    42. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. — George S. Patton

    43. A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain. — Robert Frost

    44. The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. — Ellen Parr

    45. With self-discipline, most anything is possible. — Theodore Roosevelt

    46. It is not enough to be busy. . . The question is: What are we busy about? — Henry David Thoreau

    47. The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. — Ben Stein

    48. All good things which exist are the fruits of originality. — John Stuart Mill

    49. The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. — Cecil B. DeMille

    50. The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. Paul Valry

    51. No illusion is more crucial than the illusion that great success and huge money buy you immunity from the common ills of mankind, such as cars that won't start. — Larry McMurtry

    52. Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. — Satchel Paige

    53. You'll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. — Wayne Gretzky

    54. There is hardly anything in the world that some man can't make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey.  — John Ruskin

    55. The dreadful burden of having nothing to do. — Nicolas Boileau

    56. Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go — and then do it. — Ann Landers

    57. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. — Confucius

    58. I learned much from my teachers, more from my books, and most from my mistakes. — Anonymous

    59. A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. — Sir Francis Bacon

    60. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. — Abraham Maslow

    61. Measure twice, cut once. — Craftsman's aphorism

    62. Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash. — George S. Patton

    63. Formula for success: Underpromise and overdeliver. — Thomas Peters

    64. What is harder than rock, or softer than water? Yet soft water hollows out hard rock. Persevere. — Ovid

    65. Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity a greater.  — William Hazlitt

    66. If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. — Sir Isaac Newton

    67. The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur. — Vince Lombardi

    68. In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves ... self-discipline with all of them came first. — Harry S. Truman

    69. The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it. — Anonymous

    70. When in doubt, win the trick. — Edmond Hoyle

    71. I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow. — Woodrow Wilson

    72. They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. — Andy Warhol

    73. It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it. — Arnold Joseph Toynbee

    74. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. — Ayn Rand

    75. Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go. — James Baldwin

    76. There is no disinfectant like success. — Daniel J. Boorstin

    77. Nothing succeeds like success. — Alexander Dumas

    78. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all. — William Shakespeare

    79. The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the four guys who haven't made up their minds. — Charles "Casey" Stengel

    80. A wise man sees as much as he ought, not as much as he can. — Michel de Montaigne

    81. Being a hero is about the shortest-lived profession on earth. — Will Rogers

    82. One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked. "Where do you want to go?" was his response. "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."— Lewis Carroll

    84. Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon. — E.M. Forster

    85. If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent. — Sir Isaac Newton

    86. Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. — Gloria Steinem

    87. Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. — Auguste Rodin

    88. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

    89. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery. — Samuel Smiles

    90. One thing life taught me: If you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else. — Eleanor Roosevelt

    91. To do good things in the world, first you must know who you are and what gives meaning to your life. — Robert Browning

    92. You just don't luck into things as much as you'd like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it's friendships or opportunities. — Barbara Bush

    93. During my 87 years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think. — Bernard Mannes Baruch

    94. When clouds form in the skies, we know that rain will follow but we must not wait for it. Nothing will be achieved by attempting to interfere with the future before the time is ripe. Patience is needed. — I Ching

    95. Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. — Mark Twain

    96. A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied 10 minutes later. — George S. Patton 

    97. Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the next important thing is to know when to forgo an advantage. — Benjamin Disraeli

    98. The manner in which a man chooses to gamble indicates his character or his lack of it. — William Saroyan

    99. If you wish in this world to advance
    Your merits you're bound to enhance;
    You must stir it and stump it, and blow your own trumpet.
    Or trust me, you haven't a chance. — Sir William S. Gilbert

    100. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime you might find you get what you need. — Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

    101. Clear your mind of can't. — Solon

    SEE ALSO: Here's the unusual interview question one CEO asks every job candidate

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 7 Smart Questions To Ask At The End Of Every Job Interview

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    thinking work office

    Jennifer Goff was fresh out of college when she landed a dream job at a thriving art gallery in San Francisco.

    Before long, she climbed the ranks to become the director of PR and media. She loved it, but after three years in the role, she began to feel restless.

    "I had adapted to the continuous deadlines, and had established smooth, efficient routines — yet I was less absorbed by the work," says the 27-year-old Goff. "I no longer had moments when I felt 'in over my head.' And, oddly, I missed that."

    After reflecting on her situation, Goff realized that she wanted to expand her writing and marketing skills beyond what her current gig offered. So she made the difficult decision to move on, accepting a content-marketing job at an Austin-based startup.

    "My team in San Francisco was extremely close-knit, so it was hard for me to say goodbye," she admits. "But I looked ahead to the benefits that could come from exploring the unknown."

    In fact, Goff recalls a quote from Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer that really resonated for her when she was contemplating the career move: "When you have different options, you should choose the thing that looks like it will be more difficult, because that usually turns out to be the right choice."

    "At first, I felt disillusioned that my 'dream job' was no longer the right fit, but at the same time, admitting that was incredibly freeing," Goff says. "For anyone facing similar feelings, the advice I'd give is: Embrace it. Jump into something new."

    Easier said than done, right?

    This can be a particularly anxiety-provoking proposition if you're one of the many people who lost a job during the recent recession — or if you've clung to a less-than-awesome gig out of fear of being unemployed.

    "Most of us are wired to crave stability," says career coach Matt Youngquist, president of Career Horizons in Bellevue, Washington. "The recession took away our sense of security, and now that it's over, people are starting to take a deep breath and are happy to finally be in a place of relative calm."

    With this in mind, we've put together a four-step action plan that can help you assess whether it's time to take that big career leap yourself.

    Step #1: Figure out if you're staying simply for the sake of staying.

    It's a no-brainer to leave a job because the hours are killing you, or your boss is a carbon copy of Miranda Priestly.

    It's another thing entirely if nothing is wrong, per se ... except that you're coasting instead of growing. So if you have a nagging sense that you're running on autopilot, it's probably time for a gut check.

    "Ask yourself whether you're too comfortable, and honestly analyze your feelings by talking it out with friends," says Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career coach and author of "Coach Yourself to a New Career."

    She also recommends composing a pro/con list comparing the benefits and drawbacks of staying vs. moving on. "This gives you objectivity so that you can make a fair assessment," she explains.

    It also pays to dip your toe into the job-hunting pool.

    "People who've been out of the game for a while are often unaware of what opportunities are even available," Brown-Volkman says, adding that this is especially true if the recession's dearth of options intimidated you into staying put.

    So check out job boards and LinkedIn, and also make an effort to reach out to people in your network. Sometimes sniffing around informally like this can be enough to get you over the initial fear of making a change.

    Jessica Kolber (R) shakes hands with a job seeker at a job fair in Burbank, Los Angeles, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

    Step #2: Get real about what really matters to you.

    Just to be clear, feeling comfortable in a job isn't necessarily a bad thing. But if you want to climb the ladder as high as you can, your path is going to look very different from someone who values a flexible schedule and plenty of vacation time.

    To suss out your own priorities, you need to get really specific by "breaking things down into testable benefits," Youngquist says.

    She offers up this example of the kind of key questions you should ask yourself: If you crave better work-life balance, what would that look like exactly? Working from home once a week? Never staying late at the office? Moreover, how much would you give up for those perks? Would you be willing to take a pay cut?

    This kind of seemingly simple career soul-searching can often lead to a clear answer.

    Take the case of one of Youngquist's clients — a rising star at Boeing who wished she were at a smaller startup, where she could have more impact.

    "When we sat down and looked at her current benefits and job stability, we realized that she would probably backtrack if she jumped ship," Youngquist says.

    As Youngquist explains, her client was shocked to learn that the average tenure at young tech companies was just two and a half years — never mind the long hours — whereas Boeing ranks in the top 3% of businesses in terms of longevity.

    Since she had already put in so much time building a bulletproof career for herself at Boeing, she decided to play it safe and stay — with a newfound sense of appreciation for what she had.

    Step #3: Research if a new job is worth the move.

    If you've found a job you're really interested in, go ahead and apply — but be sure to do your homework along the way.

    A good first stop is Glassdoor, where you can find employee reviews of a company's internal environment. "If seven out of 10 people report that, for example, an organization doesn't promote from within, that's something to think about," Youngquist says.

    Next, do a LinkedIn search on the firm to find out if anyone in your extended network has worked there — or is connected to someone who has — and ask if you could have five minutes of their time to discuss a job opportunity you're exploring.

    Once you're actively interviewing, Youngquist recommends carefully evaluating the culture to get a sense of how they treat employees. Were you jumping through hoops during the interview process? Did you get a good feeling from the staff you met?

    And don't be afraid to ask tough questions yourself: Where have previous employees in this position ended up? What are the biggest challenges involved in this job?

    Think of it like dating. If you pay attention in the early stages — did your date text you back, or leave you hanging? are you always picking up the tab? — you can often determine what a long-term relationship would look like.

    Brown-Volkman has another suggestion: Draft a list with your current position in one column and the new job in another. Then compare certain factors side by side, like benefits, salary, commute, schedule and responsibilities.


    Step #4: Evaluate what it would cost you to stay in your comfort zone.

    One particular challenge facing "lifers" is that you lose marketability. After 10 years or so in the same job, recruiters start penalizing people for not being more ambitious, assuming your skills are stagnant and you lack motivation.

    And while money isn't everything, becoming a barnacle usually means you aren't scoring the raises that occasional job-hopping can net.

    "Periodically, it's worth investigating what you're worth in the marketplace — and if you're underpaid — by going on interviews, talking to recruiters, and checking out websites like," says Eleanor Blayney, a CFP and consumer advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

    Blayney estimates that a 30-year-old currently earning $45,000, but who could be making about 10% more in a new position, potentially gives up $500,000-plus over their work life by staying put. This takes into account not only lost salary, but also lost 401(k) matches and lower Social Security benefits.

    On the flip side, that long tenure in your current job has likely earned you perks that can be hard to let go of, like ample vacation time or stock options. But there's no reason why you can't negotiate for similar benefits with a new employer.

    Just try to keep your asks to a maximum of three, Youngquist says. "And remember that you already have a decent job, so you need a compelling reason to leave," Brown-Volkman adds. "You have nothing to lose."

    SEE ALSO: 9 life lessons I learned from being a janitor for a year

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    Nashville, TN

    Silicon Valley has long been hailed as the tech epicenter of the world. But in the past few years, other metropolitan areas such as New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco have begun to give the area a run for its money with its impressive and flourishing tech talent pool.

    As the demand for tech talent increases in these cities, however, so does the cost of office space. In San Francisco, the high-tech industry accounted for 95% of the 3 million square feet of office occupancy gains since 2013, while rents in the city have more than doubled since 2010. And it's not just big cities that have been feeling the tech surge. Smaller markets, such as the south and midwest, have seen a significant boost as well. 

    According to a study by CBRE, a leader in commercial real estate services, Nashville and Oklahoma City both grew their tech talent pools by 39% between 2010 and 2013. This growth, in turn, contributed to increased wages, employment, and office rents. And though commercial real estate costs are slowly rising in these markets, it's nowhere near the skyrocketing costs of Silicon Valley. 

    “Tech talent growth rates are the best indicator of labor pool momentum and it’s easily quantifiable to identify the markets where demand for tech workers has surged,” says Colin Yasukochi, director of research and analysis for CBRE. “Tech talent growth, primarily within the high-tech industry, has recently been the top driver of office leasing activity in the US.”

    For companies seeking affordable commercial office space without the need to sacrifice on talent, the following eight cities on this list are worth considering as an alternative to Silicon Valley. 

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    1. Oklahoma City, OK

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 38.9%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 17,520

    Median annual wage: $67,190

    2014 annual office asking rent: $15.70 psf

    While Oklahoma City is best known for its large mining and livestock market, its technology sector is fairly close behind. Between 2010-2013, Oklahoma City led the pack as one of the fastest growing small tech markets in the country, with affordable office rent to boot. "It’s not surprising to see Oklahoma City on this list," notes Brent Conway, CBRE vice president. "With 17 institutions of higher learning in the greater metro area, we have a large, very talented labor pool coming into the workforce each year." 


    Nashville, TN

    2. Nashville, TN 

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 38.5%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 22,720

    Median annual wage: $70,448

    2014 annual office asking rent$19.74 psf

    The nation's country music capital saw a major boost in demand for technology talent over a three-year span amounting to a 38.5% increase. Between January 2014 - February 2015, computer systems analyst, computer user support specialist, and software developer topped the list as the most in-demand positions in Nashville.


    Charlotte, NC

    3. Charlotte, NC

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 27.9%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 37,360

    Median annual wage: $86,702

    2014 annual office asking rent:$20.59 psf

    Banking has long dominated Charlotte's economy, but the city's technology sector has steadily been on the rise. Energy companies like Duke Energy have beefed up their tech recruiting, and the city also boasts some of the highest median tech wages within the market.  


    Indianapolis, IN

    4. Indianapolis, IN

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 23.7%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 30,340

    Median annual wage: $74,552

    2014 annual office asking rent: $17.35 psf

    Despite being a smaller metropolitan area that is not widely associated with high tech, Indianapolis has a thriving tech scene. Companies such as Allison Transmissions and Bell Industries are providing jobs to people in the city, as well as drawing prospective employees from larger metropolitan cities looking for a change of pace. The growth is expected to continue into the next decade.


    Tampa, FL

    5. Tampa, FL

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 20.0%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 38,490

    Median annual wage: $74,858

    2014 annual office asking rent: $20.30 psf

    This city is of course best known for its beaches, but it's actually headquarters to several large companies in the tech sector, including TECO Energy and Tech Data. It's also an outpost for companies like Verizon, which employs 14,000 people from the area.  


    6. Oakland, CA

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 18.0%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 48,610

    Median annual wage: $97,104

    2014 annual office asking rent:$28.60 psf

    Given Oakland's close proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, it's no wonder the city boasts the largest number of employed tech talent, the highest median wages, and the most expensive real estate on the list. Oakland also touts the most diverse tech pool on the list with females making up 25% of the tech workforce. 

    San Antonio

    7. San Antonio, TX

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 15.7%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 26,100

    Median annual wage: $75,337

    2014 annual office asking rent: $20.34 psf

    While Austin has long been dubbed Texas' main tech hub, in recent years, San Antonio has been making strides to take the crown. Collaborative co-working spaces such as Geekdom — created by Rackspace CEO Graham Weston and software entrepreneur Nick Longo — are bringing the best and brightest tech talent together to spark tech innovation. The co-working space has birthed startups like Parlevel Systems and TrueAbility. 

    Salt Lake City

    8. Salt Lake City, UT

    Percentage increase in tech talent: 13.0%

    Total number of tech talent employed: 24,940

    Median annual wage: $74,868

    2014 annual office asking rent: $20.40 psf  

    Silicon Valley-based companies such as Adobe and Twitter have expanded their businesses to Salt Lake City for its growing tech workforce and affordable real estate. The city has seen a 31% boost in tech employment in the past decade with no signs of slowing down. 

    Click here to learn about CBRE's commercial real estate offerings in these cities. 


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    college students campus laptop

    For some, the best jobs are the ones that make the world a better place, and choosing the right college major can help get you there.

    PayScale recently filtered its salary data from this year's College Salary Report based on the percentage of respondents who said their careers have high meaning.

    "The majority of workers with a bachelor's degree who tell PayScale their job makes the world a better place are in healthcare and related programs," says Gina Bremer, PayScale's lead data analyst and data-visualization specialist. "But finding meaningful work and big paychecks doesn't necessarily go hand in hand as many of these healthcare professions don't take home top pay." 

    Here are 20 college majors that may not lead to the greatest salary growth but can still offer some of the most satisfying careers:

    SEE ALSO: 20 college majors where the pay goes nowhere

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    20. Early childhood education

    Most common jobs: Daycare teacher, preschool teacher (excluding special education), elementary school teacher

    People who find their job meaningful: 77%

    Starting median pay: $30,300

    Mid-career median pay: $38,000

    19. Health administration

    Most common jobs: Administrative assistant, practice manager, office manager

    People who find their job meaningful: 77%

    Starting median pay: $34,600

    Mid-career median pay: $56,100

    18. Human services

    Most common jobs: Medical case manager, social worker, administrative assistant

    People who find their job meaningful: 78%

    Starting median pay: $34,100

    Mid-career median pay: $43,400

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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