TIME consumer spending

Here Is Proof the Class of 2015 Is the Most Spoiled Ever

Graduation
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These numbers are staggering

For all the parents who have spent four years gritting their teeth and writing checks to pay for their kids’ college tuition — sorry, you’re not done yet. This year’s crop of graduates are going to be raking in a record $4.8 billion in graduation gifts, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.

The NRF has been tracking spending on college graduation gifts for a decade now, and the outlay has never been higher.

After hanging out below $4 billion from 2009 through 2011, Americans’ collective spending on graduation gifts shot up in 2012. Last year, people gave $4.7 billion in graduation gifts, the survey’s previous record. The amount spent by each individual on graduation gifts also hit a new high this year, rising from a tick under $98 last year to $102.50 this year, and the average graduation gift-giver is shopping for two people — so those new grads will have to share the wealth.

Cash is the most popular gift — more than half plan to give it — so it’s possible some of this largess could be going towards the student loan debts many of these young adults have accumulated over the past four years. But the Benjamins are just the tip of the iceberg: More than 40% will give new grads congratulatory cards, about 30% will give gift cards, 13% will give clothes (that interview outfit might be a subtle hint) and more than 10% will buy them electronic gadgets, an increase over the 8% who bought new grads shiny new devices last year.

NRF results show that the ones giving the most green might be mom and dad: More than 60% of people between the ages of 45 and 54 who plan to give graduation gifts will give cash, and they’ll spend an average of $126.43. Older adults are also more likely than the overall pool of gift-givers to give gift cards.

TIME

Grads: This Could Be Why Nobody Wants to Hire You

Stop blaming employers — it might be you, not them

It’s graduation season, a.k.a. job-hunting season for all the young adults with newly minted diplomas. After the inspirational commencement speeches, it’s time to buckle down and plunge into the working world.

If you’re in the market for your first “real” job, here’s the good news first: You’re graduating into the best job market we’ve had in a long time. Employers plan to hire about 10% more new grads this year over last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. But that doesn’t mean you can expect anybody to just hand you a job, warns Scott Williams, executive director of the Career Center at the University of Georgia. While they have, in fact, earned a degree and gained valuable experience, the only other thing they’ve earned or gained is an opportunity to compete for a job,” he says.

This is one of the biggest mistakes career experts say young adults make when embarking on the hunt for their first post-college position — but it’s not the only reason your career can experience a failure to launch. We’re assuming you know not to bring your flip-flops, your lunch or your mom to a job interview. Beyond that, executives and experts say there are a handful of common mistakes young job-seekers tend to make — often because of their lack of experience — that can keep you on the sidelines.

You’re a know-it-all. “[This] just comes off as fake,” says Jim Whitehurst, CEO of software company Red Hat. Don’t try to dazzle the interviewer with your knowledge — showing off is a turn-off. “Be yourself rather than acting like person that you think they will want you to be in five years,” Whitehurst says.

You flake out on your references. “Don’t make your references an afterthought,” says Joyce Russell, President of Adecco Staffing, USA. It’s going to look off-putting, at best, if you don’t have any former colleagues or bosses listed — even if they’re from an unpaid internship or volunteer position. You need to check in with your references before giving HR types their info. Forgetting to give them a heads-up is a seemingly small oversight that can kill your credibility. “Oddly enough, some applicants even include references who do not have many nice things to say about them,” Russell warns. Make sure you’re both on the same page. And remember, your friends and relatives are not references. Just don’t go there.

You abuse cut-and-paste. When CareerBuilder.com asked employers to name the top resume mistakes they see on a regular basis, two big ones were “resumes that were generic and not personalized for the position… [and] resumes that have a large amount of wording copied from the job posting,” says Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s chief human resources officer.

Your heart isn’t in it. No, you shouldn’t expect a job — especially an entry-level job — to fulfill your dreams, but if you’re just going through the motions to make your parents happy, for example, that’s going to come through in your job search. “Don’t focus on jobs that are… the most prestigious or that your parents want you to do,” Whitehurst says. Best case scenario: You break out the false enthusiasm and get hired. What then? “You’ll spend more time at your job than in anything else you’ll do,” Whitehurst points out. That’s a long time to put up a false front.

You’re lazy. “The job search is a very active process. Unfortunately, technology has made it almost too easy for students to ‘drop’ their resume and think they are done,” Williams says. While it might feel like an accomplishment to hit “submit” on an online job application, that’s really only the first step. You have to reach out to people you know, too. “Use your personal and professional networks — be sure to include LinkedIn — to make additional connections, learn about opportunities and research companies,” he says.

You take the first thing that comes along. No, you shouldn’t be super-picky at this stage of the game, but a survey from Adecco Staffing finds that long-term career growth is the most important aspect of that first professional-track job. “While getting your foot in the door any way you can is important… take a moment to assess an opportunity from a longer term perspective,” Russell says. Think about (and ask about) what kind of opportunity for advancement a job will give you, whether or not you’ll be given opportunities to develop professional education, an industry network and leadership skills. Not asking could telegraph a lack of motivation — or could end up stalling your budding career if you do manage to get the job. “These are all questions that you should be asking yourself before committing to a first job, so that you don’t make the mistake of getting pigeon-holed in a role with no growth potential,” Russell says.

 

TIME

Why We’re All in Big Trouble If Gas Prices Keep Going Up

A pump at the Pilot Travel Center on East Austin Road in Nevada, Missouri. January 10, 2015.
Barrett Emke for TIME A pump at the Pilot Travel Center on East Austin Road in Nevada, Mo. on Jan. 10, 2015.

Most of us are barely scraping by as it is

The lower gas prices Americans have been enjoying for the past several months were supposed to boost consumer spending and get the ball rolling on more robust economic growth. That didn’t happen, and a new survey has a revealing insight as to why.

According to Bankrate.com, 40% of Americans are using the money they’ve saved from lower gas prices to pay for necessities like groceries and rent payments.

“The overwhelmingly most common response, by more than a two-to-one margin, was using it for necessities,” says Greg McBride,Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “It was the top answer among every age group and every income group.”

Fewer than 20% of people are banking that extra cash, and fewer than 5% are investing it. Bankrate found that only about one in seven of people are spending that extra money on discretionary purchases like dinner out or a vacation. “Household budgets remain very tight,” McBride says. “People don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around, and that’s why we’ve had this slow growth.”

Millennials are a little more likely to splurge — 17% versus 14% for all respondents — but they’re also more likely to be saving or investing those savings than Americans overall.

“Millennials have gotten the memo,” McBride says. “They’ve got a greater inclination towards savings than we’ve seen in recent generations.” They’re also less likely to be saddled with mortgages and childcare costs, although many of them do have hefty student loans to pay off.

For months, Americans have displayed a reluctance to loosen their purse strings even as gas prices fell. The recent increase in prices at the pump has only confirmed what many people suspected — that those super-low prices weren’t here to stay. More importantly, paying for necessities or socking away those dollars isn’t helping the economy the way economists had hoped. McBride says earlier Bankrate surveys found that when gas prices go up, 60% of people say they cut back on discretionary spending. Compare that to the meager 14% who are increasing their spending now that gas prices have fallen.

“We’ve been waiting for this economic shot in the arm from lower gas prices and it hasn’t materialized,” McBride says. “Now we know why.”

That’s because lower gas prices, no matter how welcome, are no substitute for higher wages, which have been conspicuously absent for much of the recovery. “Until people see more money in the paycheck, they don’t feel the economic recovery has landed at their doorstep,” McBride says. “Until that happens, the economy’s only getting better for other people.”

TIME

There’s a Super-Simple Trick to Getting Smarter

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It takes extremely little effort

Trying to brainstorm the solution to a thorny problem or want to invent the next big thing? When you need the kind of thinking that takes you from worker bee to the corner office, look in your closet: A new study finds that being dressed formally improves people’s ability to engage in abstract thinking.

“The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person… and how people perceive themselves… but could influence decision making in important ways through its influence on processing style,” the authors write.

There’s already lots of evidence and advice out there about how what you wear impacts your attitude. People who work from home are told to ditch the sweats, and HR types view job applicants who are dressed up as opposed to dressed down more positively. But the authors of this study wanted to push it further and explore the question: Can what you wear change the way you think?

The answer, in a word, is yes. In a series of experiments, dressed-up subjects were more likely to think outside the box, make less-obvious correlations and think about topics more broadly than their dressed-down peers.

“By that we mean, basically, holistic or big-picture thinking — so not focusing on the details but seeing bigger ideas, seeing how things connect from a more high-level perspective,” lead author Michael Slepian, research fellow and assistant adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Business School, tells New York magazine.

For instance, subjects asked to describe an action like “locking the door” while wearing casual clothing were more likely to use concrete terms like “turning a key,” while their dressed-up counterparts had a greater tendency to use more abstract terms like “securing the house.” Dressing up makes people think more creatively.

“Wearing formal clothing was associated with describing actions in more meaningful ways, as well as more frequently perceiving meaningful relationships between objects and categories,” the authors write. They say that people wearing more formal outfits have greater conceptual, perceptual and global coherence, three hallmarks of more abstract thought.

Here’s how this works. Being dressed up is like any other formality in that it creates what social scientists call “social distance.” We perceive an outfit like a suit and tie as less approachable than, say, jeans and a T-shirt. That sense of distance prompts people to view a question or task in front of them from a greater distance, too. The result is more broad-based, abstract thought.

Being more dressed-up than others around them can also make people feel more powerful, which also jump-starts a more big-picture, creative thought process. “When you’re in a position of power, you don’t have to focus on the details,” Slepian tells New York.

TIME stocks

This Is Why Tech Bubbles Actually Happen

Andrew Burton—2015 Getty Images A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of Feb. 13, 2015 in New York City.

Study's revealing new findings

We tap our phone, we expect to be able to make a call, send a text or open an app. We key in our PIN at an ATM, we expect to get cash. We punch in a time on the office microwave, we expect our lunch to heat up. In short, when we depend on technology for countless everyday tasks, we take for granted that it’s going to work.

A new study finds that this automatic assumption has a surprising, far-reaching dark side. Much as we expect the technology we interact with every day to be successful, we expect stocks of publicly traded technology companies to be successful — even if there isn’t any evidence that they perform any better than old-economy stalwarts.

We unconsciously confer on technology, especially new technology that we don’t really understand, an almost magical status. “We found that people weren’t particularly excited about the prospects of old technology,” says Christopher Robert, associate professor of management at the University of Missouri — Columbia and one of the paper’s authors. “You’re more likely to have faith that something you don’t really understand will work.
That’s because “technology” gets lumped together as this sort of monolithic entity, Robert explains. “We develop [a mental] shortcut that all of these technologies are successful and they work and then overgeneralize that perception to all technology,” he says. “We often don’t see its failures,” he points out, because those either never make it to market or fail to become a part of our daily lives.

How often do you think about Pets.com or the mini-disk? Probably not much. Now, how often do you think about Google or Apple?

“The success stories are very salient,” Robert says. “When you get an Apple or a Google… being really successful, people pay a lot of attention to that, but they don’t pay as much attention to the failures.”

This mental double standard makes us likely to view tech company stocks through rose-colored glasses. Robert’s experiments found that we’re were more likely to invest in (hypothetical) high-tech stocks than stocks of other industries, even when both produce similar financial results. We’re also more likely to ignore the cardinal rule of investing — that past performance is no guarantee of future results — when it comes to tech stocks. In experiments, subjects who saw growth in a tech company’s past were more likely to invest, assuming that the good times would just keep rolling.

Except, of course, the market doesn’t exactly work like that. The dot-com implosion of 2000 should have been a cautionary tale, yet here we are just 15 years later, with economists once again warning that sky-high valuations for today’s tech darlings could indicate a second tech bubble in the making.

“I suspect that the same processes might take place as they did [in 2000],” Robert says. “Of course, technology does keep marching along and is successful as writ large — however, individual companies might not be as successful.”

And when people pile into certain stocks because they just assume they’ll do well without looking at the fundamentals, they drive up valuations even further, and the whole phenomenon snowballs. “When you see a lot of investment going into technology-oriented co’s that don’t have any [profits]… that’s a sign that there might be a little bit of irrational exuberance regarding those companies,” Robert says. “You never see these companies that make asphalt shingles getting these huge, pumped-up PE ratios.”

TIME Gas prices

Here’s the Surprising Truth About Higher Gas Prices

Drivers pass by gas prices that are displayed at Valero and 76 gas stations on Feb. 9, 2015 in San Rafael, Calif.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Drivers pass by gas prices that are displayed at Valero and 76 gas stations on Feb. 9, 2015 in San Rafael, Calif.

How Americans really feel may shock you

Higher gas prices? Haven’t noticed them.

Although you probably won’t hear anyone saying that, new surveys show Americans aren’t about to let a creeping per-gallon cost ruin their Memorial Day fun.

A new survey from the American Automobile Association finds that more than 37 million people plan to travel 50 miles or more over Memorial Day weekend, a 10-year high. That 37.2 million total is an increase of almost 5% over last year, which AAA says is a big jump. Most of these — about 33 million people — plan to drive, an increase of more than 5% over last year.

It’s not that we don’t notice the rising prices, another survey finds; it’s just that we’re not willing to change our habits — at least, not yet. According to NACS, the National Association of Convenience Stores, even though 85% of people say gas prices affect how they feel about the economy, only about one in 10 say they’ll be driving less over the next month as a result of the increase. This is the case even though more than 70% expect gas prices to get even higher over the next month. When NACS asked drivers this question last month, just under half said they thought gas prices would still be climbing by now.

But still, NACS finds that gas prices would have to rise, on average, just over another dollar a gallon before people will think twice about getting behind the wheel.

For some perspective, AAA points out that gas prices are still cheap compared to what we’ve been used to in recent years. The national average price of gas on Friday is $2.69, 30 cents higher than a month ago, but about a buck less than the average last Memorial Day.

The fact that gas prices are still so far below what we’ve seen over the past few years could very well be the factor keeping Americans on the road. New research from travel marketing company MMGY Global finds that people today perceive travel to be more affordable than they did a year ago. The study says about two-thirds of people plan to take a vacation within the next six months, a slight drop from a year ago, but that many of those who will travel expect to spend more.

The good news for penny-pinching travelers is that there might be some relief down the road when it comes to those prices at the pump. NACS says gas stations’ annual switchover to summer fuel blends could put a brake on the rising prices we see today.

TIME

This Is a Horrible Realization About Retirement

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This might make you lose hope entirely

Retire at 65? Yeah, right.

Multiple surveys reveal that Americans are getting increasingly jaded about their prospects for enjoying a relaxing retirement, so much so that many are throwing in the towel and not even bothering to plan for it at all.

According to a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted for Allianz Life, 84% of them characterize the idea of a retirement where they can do what they want as a “fantasy.”

A second study, this one from the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, also finds that one in five Americans thinks they’ll have to keep punching the clock until they literally can’t work anymore, and 37% expect wages earned from working to be part of their “retirement” income. More than 80% of workers who have already hit the 60-year milestone expect to work past 65, already are or don’t plan to retire at all.

“Retirement has become a transition,” Catherine Collinson, president of the TransAmerica Center, said in a statement.

About two-thirds of Gen X’ers and half of Baby Boomers responding to the Allianz survey think the amount they’re expected to save will be impossible to reach.

Of the two groups, Generation X is the more cynical by far, even though they’re the ones with more time to plan for their retirements. (They’re also the group likely to have higher expenses, though, with obligations like mortgages like kids’ college funds and mortgages that aren’t on Boomers’ radar anymore.)

Only 10% of TransAmerica survey respondents who are in their 40s are “very” confident in their ability to live comfortably in retirement, and more than half of those in their 50s admitted to just guessing how much money they’ll need in retirement. More than two-thirds of Gen X’ers responding to the Allianz survey say they’ll never have enough money to retire, and more than 40% say it’s “useless to plan for retirement when everything is so uncertain.” More than half say they “just don’t think about putting money away for the future”

“Their hands-off approach to planning and preparation is alarming,” Allianz Life vice president of Consumer Insights Katie Libbe said in a statement accompanying the release of the survey.

That’s bad news. Gen X’s reputation for pessimism and angst is on full display in this survey, Libbe points out, and these character traits threaten to undermine their financial future.

Generation Y is more engaged, but they’re not doing so hot, either. The TransAmerica survey finds that young adults don’t have great expectations for retirement, either. More than 80% are worried that Social Security might not be there for them, and more than half aren’t counting on it to provide retirement income for them at all.

The good news is about two-thirds of twenty-somethings are already saving for retirement, but they might not be going about it in the most effective way, given that 37% say they know “nothing” about how they should be allocating their assets.

Still, their longer time horizon gives millennials the best shot at saving for a comfortable retirement, Collinson points out. “They can grow their nest eggs over four to five decades and enjoy the compounding of their investments over time,” she points out.

 

 

TIME

Four in 10 Boomers Don’t Have This Crucial Work Tool

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If the recession taught us anything, it should be not to get complacent and take your job for granted, because it could be gone as fast as you can say “downturn.” But it seems that many workers, especially older ones, didn’t get that memo. A new survey from jobs site Monster finds that 41% of workers 55 years and older don’t have a current resume.

If you haven’t updated their resume since George W. Bush was president, you need to fix that — but you might not know where to start, or what elements are going to peg you as being glaringly out-of-date to a hiring manager. We consulted career and workforce experts to find out how to rehab your resume.

Eliminate “skills” that make you sound clueless. Does your resume still say you’re proficient in Microsoft Word? Good — use that skill to delete that line. “You’re expected to be capable of using a basic program like Word,” says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at jobs site Glassdoor.com. And while you’re at it, “Remove ‘the Internet’ from your list of skills. Saying that you’re good at the Internet is one way to age yourself quickly,” he says. Ditto for Googling.

Don’t use jargon that was fresh a decade (or more) ago. Would you tell a hiring manager it was “groovy” to meet them? Of course not. Likewise, make sure the terminology on your resume is up to date, says Amanda Augustine, a consultant and career management expert for TheLadders. “For instance, I don’t know many people who still use the term ‘web marketing’ or even ‘Internet marketing.’ Most consider these to be Web 1.0 terms,” she says. “Nowadays you’re more likely to see them listed as ‘online marketing’ or ‘digital marketing.’” The buzzwords in your industry might be different, but the need to keep them current isn’t.

Lose the objective. “The days of a professional objective… are over, especially for anyone with ten years experience or more,” Dobroski says. Instead, replace that tired line with a professional summary. “This includes two to three short sentence and should capture who you are professionally, what makes you unique and underscore how you can contribute to the company,” he says.

Fix the formatting. Many HR departments today use technology called applicant tracking systems, or ATFs, to electronically sift through resumes, so you have to make sure these tools can “read” your resume. “Avoid using document headers or tables within your resume format. Systems can sometimes ignore or get confused by these features,” says Colin Day, CEO o of recruiting software company iCIMS. Use an easy-to-read, sans serif font like Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, or Calibri. “I would also advise avoiding serif fonts like Times New Roman for systems that may have difficulty parsing text,” Day says. And make sure the size is at least 11 points.

Even if a human is reading your resume, you want to make sure the formatting won’t go haywire when they try to open it. “If you’re using an old version of Word, there’s a good chance all the time you spent carefully formatting your resume will be thrown out the window,” Augustine warns. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your resume is compatible with Word 2013, she suggests.

Don’t tell them your entire life story. “A major mistake job seekers can make is to list out every single job they’ve held since college,” Dobroski says. This just communicates to a hiring manager that you’re out of touch with today’s fast-paced professional environment where every moment counts. “The hiring manager doesn’t have time to spend reading your every move since graduation,” he says, and being oblivious to that will make you look either obtuse or inconsiderate. “Job seekers who keep their resumes focused on their skill set and relevant work will come out on top,” he says.

Just don’t. According to our experts, things that need to come off your resume right now include: two spaces after a period, a landline, the phrase “references available upon request” and anything about your college education if it was more than 15 years ago.

TIME

Why We Can’t Get Enough of Gas-Station Pizza

Congress Allows Pizza To Be Considered Vegetable In School Lunches
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

The hottest new pizza places are convenience stores

Pizza chains these days are watching customers drive right by, then filling up on pizza when they fill up at the gas station.

Market research company the NPD Group says that the amount of pizza dough and crust shipped to convenience stores shot up by 27% in only a year. We’re collectively buying 20% more servings of pizza from these outlets than we were a year ago, while servings at traditional carry-out pizza chains are just treading water.

Convenience stores have ramped up their food offerings and gotten more aggressive at courting people outside their core customer base of young to middle-aged blue-collar men, says NPD Group restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs.

“They’ve placed a lot of focus on food service and food ready for immediate consumption,” she says. “They’re competing directly with other fast food concepts now.”

Jeff Lenard, spokesman for NACS, the National Association of Convenience Stores, says fifth-biggest pizza seller in the country — behind Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and Little Caesars, respectively — Casey’s General Stores, an Iowa-based convenience store chain.

According to NACS, convenience stores sold $40.6 billion worth of food prepared on-site, coffee and fountain drinks in 2014, an annual increase of around 10%. That’s roughly 20% of all sales, and prepared food makes up a growing percentage of the industry’s profits.

One way they’ve done this is by doubling down on the variety and quality of food they offer, Riggs says. Chains like Wawa and Sheetz are attracting millennials and women — people who wouldn’t typically think of a gas station pit stop as the time or place to grab a slice. “You go in some of those places, you would not think it’s a convenience store,” she says.

NACS data bears this out. Almost 60% of customers and 70% of millennial customers say they’d eat convenience store fare, and more than 40% customers think it’s possible to get fresh or healthy food just a few aisles over from the beef jerky and cell-phone car chargers.

Aside from the taste and nutrition factor, consumers today are chiefly concerned with food that’s even cheaper and faster than fast food. Riggs says that fast food outlets, to compete with the more upscale chains like Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill, have rolled out expanded menus and new concepts, which bogs down the whole “fast” part of fast food, and often costs more. “Consumers, especially millennials, are looking for a better experience. It’s a quick in and out,” she says.

TIME

Want to Get Ahead at Work Without Killing Yourself? Fake It

Once you make it, don't stop faking it

Here’s the depressing truth: If you want flexibility at work, you’ll have to do it on the DL, especially if you’re a younger worker.

The number of companies that let people take career breaks or practice job-sharing both fell last year, according to an employer survey conducted by the by the Families and Work Institute and Society for Human Resource Management.

And even for the “lucky” ones who work at a company that offers these kinds of perks, two new studies find that pursuing a flexible work schedule to juggle kids, other caregiving needs or personal objectives can actually harm your career.

Consulting company EY (the ones formerly known as Ernst & Young) found in a survey that almost 10% of American workers have “suffered a negative consequence as a result of having a flexible work schedule.” These workers have been reprimanded, denied promotions or raises. In some cases, they have lost their jobs. The rate of negative repercussions for young workers is even higher, with 15% reporting experiences like this.

“Millennials are moving into management at the same time that they are having children, facing increased demands at both work and home,” says EY global diversity and inclusiveness officer Karyn Twaronite. Since they’re juggling more in their professional and personal lives, this sets them up for more potential conflicts. Millennials also are more likely to be in two-earner households, Twaronite points out, which can make navigating logistics like childcare more complicated.

“Depending upon the work environment, people across all ages and levels of seniority could inevitably face some growing pains as workplaces try to become more flexible,” she says.

A study of 115 employees at a consulting firm with a hard-charging, workaholic culture conducted by Boston University professor Erin Reid comes to a similar conclusion: The consultants who put their heads down and plowed through 80-hour workweeks without asking to take time off for a kid’s dance recital or to chaperone a field trip were rewarded with good performance reviews. The ones who did speak up and ask for flexibility, even if they were getting all their work done, and even if they were asking for benefits they were legally allowed to take like family leave after the birth of a child, were perceived as slackers.

“We fall into the trap of thinking everyone is always available all the time,” one manager told Reid in an interview. Reid points out in her analysis that this viewpoint rewards loyalty and commitment more than actual knowledge or skills, which has the effect of leaving behind the talented people who can’t — or won’t — make themselves available 24-7.

But Reid says some employees were able to keep their jobs, reputations and sanity. They did this by carving out time for themselves — by selecting clients closer to home, making a deal with a colleague to cover for each other, finding ways to multi-task when telecommuting — without making a big about it. In fact, one worker told Reid, “No one knows where I am.” If he took a day to take his kid to go skiing, he didn’t advertise that or ask for permission. Reid characterizes this as “passing.” While they’re not faking the quality of the work they do, they don’t broadcast the fact that they’re not committed to their jobs 100% of the time.

It’s crummy to have to keep your personal life — and the belief that it’s OK to have one — under wraps at work, but for people who work in a certain kind of corporate culture, it may be the most prudent thing to do. Reid offers some observations about how people who do this successfully go about it: They get all of their work done, first of all, and don’t let clients or higher-ups get the impression that they’re anything less than 24-7 players. They form alliances with colleagues, so if someone needs to step in and pinch hit when a personal crisis strikes, nobody up the corporate food chain needs to be the wiser.

Although people who revealed that their job wasn’t their top priority were punished with lower performance reviews, their co-workers who took time for themselves but kept quiet about their behind-the-scenes maneuvering were reviewed as favorably as the employees who really did crank out those 80-hour workweeks.

“The personal information that people hid or shared… affected whether they passed or revealed,” Reid writes.

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