TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Companies That Are Hiring Like Crazy Right Now

Great companies with great job openings

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s How to Creep Out of Work Without Anybody Noticing

open door-blue wall-TheMuse
The muse

What do you do when you’re gainfully employed, yet dying to land a more interesting, more profitable job?

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Jenny Foss

You’re dying to tell your favorite client how much you’d love to work for her firm. But your boss and your client do yoga together. Surely they’d talk.

Your friend who got laid off two months ago just landed an amazing new gig. A recruiter found her via LinkedIn, and noted that she was both qualified and currently available.

So what do you do when you’re gainfully employed, yet dying to land a more interesting, more profitable, or more fulfilling role? How do you make it clear to key influencers that you’re “open to opportunities” without full-on outing yourself to your colleagues or, worse, your boss?

Think “The Art of Allure.”

Just as you might use subtle, yet intentional, methods to entice a romantic suitor, you can use the professional version of these same techniques to woo recruiters or other corporate decision makers—without your boss figuring out what you’re up to. Consider these:

1. Hint That You’re Available

Subtle hints can go a long way, and your LinkedIn summary is a perfect place to start. While you can’t come right out and announce that you’re looking (like your friend who got laid off did), you can present a call to action in the summary that encourages people to contact you and provides a very easy way to do just that.

Example: “I’m fascinated by all things digital marketing and enjoy meeting like-minded people. Feel free to contact me at YourEmail@gmail.com.”

As a recruiter, when I see that someone’s presenting his email address right in the summary, I assume he’s open to being contacted about job opportunities.

(Here are four more elements of a great LinkedIn summary.)

2. Be Interested

Everybody—and I mean everybody—likes feeling like their work matters and their efforts are being noted. Use this to your advantage. Approach people you think may be influential to your next career move in a way that is genuine, seems curious, and makes them feel important. Ask thoughtful questions about their own careers and contributions, in a way that suggests you’re just sincerely interested in their work, not looking for something from them.

By building rapport with those who may be beneficial to your growth, you may have the opportunity over time to reveal your specific career goals and interests—with less risk that they’ll rat you out to your employer.

3. Conveniently Appear in All the Right Places

Remember in high school when you just “happened” to walk by your crush’s locker at the precise moment he arrived each day? Coincidence? Of course not. You had that one figure out to the millisecond. (“Oh, hiiiiii.”)

Do the same now, minus the lockers. Figure out where the influencers in your industry hang out—both online and in person. Maybe it’s a regular meetup through your professional association, maybe a LinkedIn group or TweetChat. Wherever they congregate, consider stopping by, weighing in, or saying hello from time to time. The more you can get on the radar of people who matter to your career growth, the better.

4. Save Some of the Good Stuff for Later

Sharing every single thing about you on a first date isn’t alluring, it’s weird. A similar principle applies when you’re updating your LinkedIn profile as a means to quietly entice others. If you make a zillion updates all at once—especially if you do so without turning your Activity Broadcasts off—someone you work with is going to notice. And they’re going to wonder what’s up.

If you’re updating your profile with the hopes of positioning yourself as open to new opportunities, think seriously about editing in stages. Save some of the good stuff for later, so that you don’t out yourself as an obvious job seeker.

It’s not simple to simultaneously hold down one job while secretly exploring others, but if you’ve got some time to strategically allure the influencers, you might just land “the one.”

More from The Muse

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Super Simple Ways to Be a Better Writer

person writing-hand-pen-themuse
TheMuse

The written word is king. Time to get more comfortable with it

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Alexandra Franzen

Do you enjoy writing? Does it come naturally to you? Do colleagues praise you for your crisp, articulate, Nobel Laureate-worthy email updates?

Congratulations! Because if you work in an office or run your own business, you’re likely to spend about a quarter of your workday doing one thing:

Writing.

Oh, and that’s just the portion of your day that you’ll spend writing emails.

That figure doesn’t account for reports, proposals, best practice guidelines, blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets, texts, chapters of your forthcoming memoirs, that TED Talk script you’ve been tinkering with for the last 18 months, and the occasional hand-written “thank you” note.

We live in an era where the written word is King.

And if you’re going to write 40,000+ words this year—at minimum!—you might as well learn how to do your absolute best.

Here are 10 ways to become a better writer, right away.

(The kind of writer whose words get results.)

1. Get Clear

Before you sit down to write (anything), ask yourself: Why am I writing?

What’s the desired outcome that you want with this particular piece of writing?

Are you writing to brighten someone’s morning? Motivate your team to head back into the ring after a crushing defeat? Encourage folks to say “yes” to your new meeting time?

The best writing tends to have one clear, ringing intention. Choose it—and commit.

2. Get to the Point

In the business world, brevity is gold. (Related: Are Your Emails Too Long? Probably)

If you’re struggling to get to the point, take a moment to think about the person (or people) that you’re writing to, and create a roadmap for yourself by filling in the following statements:

The reason I am writing is:

What I want you to know is:

What I want you to do is:

Get those three points down pat. Then refer to them as you write to keep yourself on track.

3. Strip it Down

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Imagine that you’re writing for an audience of little kids—impatient, easily distracted, with zero tolerance for jargon.

You can practice—out in the real world—by having actual conversations with kids. Try explaining to a toddler what you do for a living, for starters. You’ll see, very quickly, if your elevator pitch is clear and intriguing—or not. (If not? Here are my tips for how to tell people what you do—and be remembered.)

4. Write From Your Happy Place

Ever notice how when you’re stressed out and trying to “force” yourself to write something amazing, it almost never works?

Research shows that getting yourself into a happy, relaxed state—think: taking a shower—is the key to creativity-on-command. When your body is experiencing a rush of dopamine, that’s when those a-ha! moments (“Ooh! I’ve got the perfect title for my presentation!”) tend to happen.

Can’t take a shower at work? No worries. There are plenty of other ways to get into your happy place before you sit down to write. Play energizing music, light a scented candle, bounce on an exercise ball—whatever it takes to help you unclench and relax!

5. Give Yourself a Time Limit

For most people, the longer you fuss over a piece of writing, the worse it gets.

When you have a clear reason for writing and feel happy and relaxed (see tip #4), your first draft is usually best. There’s no need to endlessly chew it over.

Clearing out your inbox, for example? Give yourself a time limit—say, two minutes per email—to prevent yourself from slipping into analysis-paralysis.

(You can set up a “smart playlist” in iTunes comprised entirely of two-minute songs, to keep yourself rockin’ along. When the song changes—hit “send” and move on!)

6. Ask, “What Would My Hero Write?”

If you’re struggling with a sensitive piece of writing where hitting the right emotional tone is essential, try channeling one of your personal heroes.

“What would Mister Rogers write in this situation?” “What would the Dalai Lama say?” “How would Richard Branson handle this email chain?”

7. Close Strong

Lost in a sea of never-ending email threads? Questions building upon questions, never leading to decisive action?

Try taking a decisive stance, rather than wrapping up your writing with an open-ended prompt.

Think: “In my opinion, the following approach is the best choice. If you agree, write back to say ‘yes,’ and I’ll get started.”

Not: “So, what do you guys think? I’m open to everyone’s input!”

8. Use the 7 Magic Words

“All I need from you right now.”

Kick these words up to the top of your correspondence, as in:

“I’m so excited that you’re going to deliver a keynote at our annual conference.

All I need from you right now is the title of your talk, a headshot, and your bio.”

These seven magic words give your reader a clear assignment, and put them at ease. (“Ahhh—that’s all? No problem. Done.”)

You can always add more information down below, if necessary (“Here are a few other things to know—for later.”)

9. Say it Out Loud

Whenever possible, read your writing out loud.

Does it sound like it was written by a human being or a cyborg? Are you stumbling over excessively long sentences? Catch any typos or duplicate words? If so, tweak and read it out loud again.

If reading aloud isn’t possible—because you don’t want to disturb your colleagues—try lightly tapping a finger on your desk or thigh as you silently read each word in your head. (It’s bizarre, but it works almost as well as reading out loud.)

10. Be a Daymaker

David Wagner, CEO of Juut Salonspa, often speaks about being a “Daymaker”—not just going through the motions at work, but actively choosing to be a source of positivity and encouragement. Choosing to make someone’s day.

With everything you write—every email, every text, every tweet—you have an opportunity to make someone’s day. (Or not.)

Often, all it takes is a few words of kindness, a thoughtful compliment, or the kind of insightful reminder that leaves people thinking, “Yeah. I needed that.”

Set “Daymaker” as your barometer of success—for your writing, and for everything you do.

Whether your writing is “perfect” or not, your intent will shine through.

 

More From TheMuse:

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Ways to Become Your Boss’ Dream Employee

Christian Hoehn—Getty Images

Become a pet in just a few steps

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Lea McLeod, M.A.

When my client Angela needed help sorting out a number of career-related issues, her relationship with her manager was at the top of the list.

Frankly, it was in shambles. Their working relationship was terrible, they couldn’t get along, and Angela even admitted she thought her boss regretted hiring her.

While I’m sure Angela’s boss had his own faults, I began to realize that Angela had forgotten the fundamental rule of employment: You are there to make your manager successful. Angela was contentious and argumentative, and I could see how her boss might not consider her someone who made his life any easier. (Related: How to play nice with a boss you hate)

On the other hand, when I look back at the best staff I had as a manager, they were the ones doing whatever was needed—and with a great attitude—so that we could all be successful together. In short, they made my life easier.

The good news is, aiming to do the same doesn’t just help your boss out. When your goal is to make your manager more successful—rather than just yourself—you’ll grow as an individual performer, as a professional, and as a part of the team. You’ll learn a lot about what it takes to be a leader, expand your empathic skills, and develop your capacity for leadership. Plus, your boss will likely become your mentor and advocate—which will put many more opportunities within your reach.

It’s not complicated; it just requires a decision and commitment on your part to make it happen. Here are some starter tips for making your manager’s life—and job—easier on a daily basis.

1. Get to Know Your Manager

You can’t make your boss’ life easier if you don’t understand how he fundamentally operates. So, your first step is to figure out what he needs from you—and how you should deliver it.

Does he prefer updates delivered in written form or verbally? Spreadsheets or PowerPoint slides? Does he want information conveyed via email, during a team meeting, or on a voicemail?

Getting to know your manager and his preferences will help you deliver the information he needs, the way he needs it. And who doesn’t appreciate that?

2. Know Your Boss’ Goals

As an employee, you may be so focused on your own goals that you forget that you’re actually there to support your manager achieving her goals. So, make it your job to understand the goals, numbers, projects, and other deliverables your boss is accountable for.

It’s as simple as asking your manager as part of your one-on-one meetings, “If I’m aware of your goals and priorities, I can better support you in achieving them. Can you share these with me, so that I can help you succeed?” Once you understand her goals, you’ll be able to produce deliverables that support her success.

3. Never Let Your Manager Be Blindsided

One rule I always asked my teams to abide by was to never let me be blindsided. In short: No surprises.

So, if you suspect that one of your customers is getting really ticked off and is about to escalate over you—and over your boss—to the VP of customer service, you need to let your manager know. Otherwise, she’ll be completely blindsided by the situation, unprepared to handle it, and likely, not too happy with you.

A blindside creates frustration and chaos that usually ends up in a major time-wasting fire drill. Avoid it, and believe me, your manager will thank you.

4. Don’t Expect Your Boss to Spoon-Feed You

It may sound harsh, but no manager wants to babysit an employee. So if you have questions about health insurance, where to find the pencils, or how to file an expense report, find a colleague who can help you get your answers.

Save one-on-one time with your boss for work-related matters that require collaboration; issues that allow you to flex your intellectual muscles and prove your worth as an employee.

5. Meet (or Beat!) Your Deadlines

When you get an assignment from your manager, enthusiastically commit to the deadline (this means “I’m on it!” not, “I’ll see what I can do”). Then, aim to deliver it at least a day early.

This gives your boss time to flex and adapt in case something comes up—and it always does—rather than sweating it out for you to deliver something at the very last minute.

6. Offer Solutions, Not Problems

Your job is not to constantly point out problems that arise, but rather, to proactively start thinking about what solutions could help address those challenges.

For example, you should never walk into your boss’ office to complain about how the shipping department can never get anything out on time. Instead, you should first go to the shipping department, have a conversation about what can be done to improve the situation, and see what you can do to help.

Then, when you do go to your boss about it, you’ll be able to let him or her know the action you’ve already taken to start solving the problem.

7. Do What You Say; Say What You Do

If you say you’ll finish a report by Friday for the team update, but you come in Friday morning unprepared because “other things came up,” people will probably complain to your manager.

And if that’s not enough, if your manager was counting on that report to take the next steps on a project or to present to the executive team, it will inconvenience (read: annoy) him or her even further.

People who are accountable for their actions and follow up on their commitments are dream employees—and their bosses know they can count on them, no matter what.

Employees who work to make their managers successful are golden. Your manager has a tough job—the stress and pressure of which may not be abundantly evident to you. So, help your manager out and develop your own skills at the same time, by doing everything you can to make your boss’ job easier. When you’re a manager, you’ll appreciate the same.

TIME

This Is Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Terrible Advice

169261573
Peter Dressel—Brand X/Getty Images

Just don't do it

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.
TIME productivity

The Little-Known Trick That Will Transform Your Life

Photo: Shutterstock

Some might call it the ultimate life hack

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Lily Herman

For most of us, our inboxes are the enemy—a bottomless black hole of pain, despair, and sales coupons we can never crawl out of.

And while you can try to auto-file and unsubscribe your heart out, there are just some emails you can’t avoid. You won’t be able to stop your company from sending you all those team reports or keep that annoying publicist from chucking press release after press release at you.

But there’s one type of email you can stop: Follow-up emails.

Think about it: The more emails you accumulate, the longer it takes you to respond to all of them. The longer it takes you to respond, the more follow-up emails people decide to send just to make sure that you have received their messages. Before long, you’re stuck in a vicious, perpetual cycle. If a plethora of people are sending you “Hey, did you get the message I sent yesterday?” emails, could you imagine how much extra space and time is being wasted?

Luckily, there’s a super easy way to cut down on the number of follow-up messages (and potentially just messages in general) you receive: Put an email auto-responder in place—not just when you’re on vacation, but all the time.

Your auto-response doesn’t have to be long or detailed, but a quick “Hi, I’ve received your email and will get back to you when I can!” message may keep the eager beavers at bay.

Need a little guidance for how to format your auto-response? Try out this template to start:


Hi there! This is just a message to confirm that I’ve received your email. It might take me a little while to follow up, but I will in fact get back to you, so hang tight and don’t worry about sending me a follow-up!

Thanks, and have a great day.


Also keep in mind that being more specific with your auto-responder is best. Give people a general timeline of when you’ll get back to them (“I’ll try to reply to business inquiries within three days”), so they know the difference between you being busy and you using an auto-responder as a way to completely avoid your inbox (we don’t recommend doing this, obviously).

In addition, auto-responders are a great way to direct work to other people who may be better suited (“If you’re contacting me about a marketing opportunity, feel free to email [name], our marketing associate, at [email address]”).

Your auto-responder can also be a more unconventional opportunity to engage people. Feeling a little self-promotional? Add a link to one of your social media pages. Want to preemtively answer some questions? Include a fun FAQ of handling some of the things that people most often come to you for. Interested in getting creative? Link to a recent article you found interesting.

Above all though, make sure you’re using your auto-responder as a way to buy time and not an alternative to answering emails (because, surprise: Auto-responders don’t answer messages for you no matter how long you wait).

But by using this approach, you’ll keep unnecessary emails at bay. You’ll keep your contacts happy. And, best of all, you’ll keep inbox dread from creeping into your day.

TIME leadership

Here’s the Most Useful Personality Quiz You’ll Ever Take

Addictive? Definitely

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Scott Dockweiler

It was after spending 10 minutes taking a “what kind of sloth are you?” quiz that I knew I had a problem.

Those little BuzzFeed-style quizzes are so addictive (who doesn’t want to know more about their personality?), but unfortunately aren’t really helping any of us get further in life. (I don’t think my co-workers knowing that I’m a “cuddle sloth” is going to help us work better together.)

But, thanks to VisualDNA, us aspirational careerists who also have an unfortunate penchant for taking quizzes have a happy medium: the “Who Am I” assessment.

While it’s built in a similar style to your favorite BuzzFeed quiz—a series of questions that have you choose a photo that correlates with your answer—the results of this one are actually based on a well-respected model of personality assessment called “The Big Five.”

Even better? While there are plenty of places online where you can go to learn your Big Five personality scores, VisualDNA takes it one step further and analyzes your results, explaining how the different elements combine to affect things like your outlook, composure, and resilience. In other words, actual character traits that can affect how you work—and how you can succeed.

So go ahead: Take 10 minutes to take a quiz and be happy knowing that, at the end, you’ll understand a little more about yourself—and be able to put it to good use.

Take the “Who Am I?” Quiz Now!

Read more from The Muse:

What to Do When You’re Just Not That Into an Idea Anymore

The Best Ways to be Productive When Your Energy is Gone

What Your Facebook Profile Says About Your Personality

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Cover Letter Mistakes That Will Sink You

Resume
Image Source—Getty Images/Image Source

Makes these and hiring managers will cringe

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Lily Zhang

Cover letters don’t get a lot of love. And considering how tough it is to write a good one, it’s kind of understandable that people tend to throw them together at the last minute (or update one they wrote last month), attach it to their resume, and call it good.

But this, my friends, is the biggest cover letter mistake you could make. In fact, this document is the best chance you have to give the hiring manager a glimpse of who you are, what you bring to the table, and why you—above all those other candidates—are the one for the job.

Don’t give up your chance to share your best qualifications in a fresh, unique way. And while you’re at it, don’t make these seven other common cover letter mistakes I see all the time.

1. Starting With Your Name

How do you start a cover letter? Let me set the record straight now and say it’s not with, “My name is John Smith.” Unless you’re already famous, your name just isn’t the most relevant piece of information to start with. Not to mention that your name should be listed on your resume, the sign-off in your cover letter, and in other parts of your application.

Instead

Start with a relevant qualification as a way to introduce yourself. If you’re a recent grad with a passion for environmental activism, go with that. Or, maybe you’re a marketing professional with 10+ years of healthcare industry experience—introduce yourself as such, and connect it to the position you are applying to. (Here’s a bit more about kicking off your cover letter with an awesome opener.)

2. Rehashing Your Resume

If your cover letter is basically your resume in paragraph form, you’re probably going to need to start over. Your resume likely the first thing a recruiter looks at, so you’re wasting your time (and the recruiter’s) if your cover letter is a harder-to-read version of something he or she has already seen.

Instead

Focus on one or two (OK three, max) examples of your work that highlight what you can bring to the position, and try to help your reader picture you doing the work by really diving deep and detailing your impact. You want the hiring manger to be able to imagine plucking you out of the work you’re describing on the page and placing you into his or her team seamlessly.

3. Not Being Flexible With the Format

Remember those three paragraph essays you wrote in middle school? Your cover letter is not the place for you to be recalling those skills. Rather than fitting your message into a particular format, your format should be molded to your message.

Instead

Consider what message you’re trying to get across. If you’re going to be spending the majority of the letter describing one particular relevant experience—maybe that three-paragraph format makes sense. However, if you’re thinking about transferable skills or want to explain how your career has taken you from teaching to business development, a more creative approach could be appropriate. I’ve seen cover letters use bullet points, tell stories, or showcase videos to (successfully) get their point across.

4. Going Over a Page

There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, for resumes and cover letters alike, don’t go over a page. Unless you’re applying for a managerial or executive position, it’s unlikely a recruiter would look beyond your first page of materials anyway.

Instead

Keep it concise and, ideally, wrap up around three quarters of the way down the page. Remember that you’re not trying to get everything on one page—you’re trying to entice the hiring manager enough to bring you in for an interview. Think of your cover letter as the highlights reel of your career.

5. Over Explaining

Are you a career changer or doing a long distance job search? No matter how complicated your reasons for applying to a job are, it would be a mistake to spend an entire paragraph explaining why you’re moving to San Francisco from New York.

Instead

If your reasons for applying to a position would be made clearer with some added explanation, add them in, but keep them short. Limit yourself to a sentence either in the first paragraph or the last paragraph for a location change, and no more than a paragraph to describe a career change.

6. Focusing Too Much on Training

Maybe you just finished your master’s degree or finally got the hang of coding. Great! But even if your most relevant qualification is related to your education or training, you don’t want to spend the majority of your time on coursework. At the end of the day, what hiring managers care about most is your work experience—what you can walk through the door and deliver on Day 1.

Instead

Certainly mention your educational qualifications if they are relevant, but focus the bulk of your cover letter on experiences. Even if your most relevant experience is education, present it more in the form of projects you worked on and job-related skills you gained, rather than actually explaining course content.

7. Sharing Irrelevant Information

Cultural fit is one of those big buzzwords in the recruiting world now, and there’s no question that it’s important to tailor your cover letter to each company to show your compatibility. But it starts getting a little weird when you start writing about your bowling league or active social life. (And don’t try to tell me this doesn’t happen—I’ve seen it.)

Instead

A better way to show that you’re a good cultural fit for the job is to focus on values—not activities. Mine company websites for the way they describe their company culture, then use that intel to show how your own values align. (Here’s some moreon how to show you get the company culture in a cover letter.)

For the companies that have moved away from a cover letter requirement, an additional opportunity to show off what you have to offer is lost. But, for those that require cover letters or at least make them optional, you should absolutely make the most of them—and, of course, avoid these all-too-common mistakes.

Read more from The Muse:

What to Do When You’re Just Not That Into an Idea Anymore

The Best Ways to be Productive When Your Energy is Gone

What Your Facebook Profile Says About Your Personality

TIME Careers & Workplace

113 Best Pieces of Career Advice You’ve Never Heard Before

456580517
Klaus Vedfelt—Getty Images

Everything you need to know, nothing you don't

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Scott Dockweiler

Thankfully for your careers (and our jobs), there’s always new advice out there, and this week we went in search of just that. Check out the articles below for a collection of the most unique (but seriously helpful!) advice we’ve ever seen—but never heard before—along with our favorite tip from each article.

Read on to get inspired—and get the know-how you need to get ahead.

You don’t become a star doing your job. You become a star making things happen.

  • These 23 nuggets of wisdom will help you out no matter what level you’re at or industry you’re in. (Mashable)

Just when you think you’ve got it 100% right, you can be taken down.

It’s not what you know—or who—it’s who knows what you know.

Do the jobs no one else wants to do.

Take pride in who you are, but leave room for the pride of others…

Whether you realize it or not, you’re self-employed.

Never, ever cook fish in the office microwave.

Read more from The Muse:

What to Do When You’re Just Not That Into an Idea Anymore

The Best Ways to be Productive When Your Energy is Gone

What Your Facebook Profile Says About Your Personality

TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Ways to Deal With Someone You Really Dislike at Work

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Jennifer Winter

Most of the time, managing a team—or even just one person—can be super rewarding. As a manager, you have the opportunity to be a mentor to someone who’s eager to learn, and you’ll probably learn a few things yourself. But, what happens when you’re managing someone who isn’t quite your favorite?

You have a responsibility to mentor and manage every person on your team, whether you like them personally or not. But that doesn’t make the task any easier. I’ve had to manage several employees over the years that I most definitely would be happy to never see again. Here’s how I did it, without shirking my duties as a manager—or driving myself crazy.

Find Out Why

Sometimes, our least favorite employees are in that position at no fault of their own. I figured this out when starting a new job as a manager. I had one employee who was outgoing, ambitious, and hard working—and yet, I couldn’t stand her. For the longest time, I had no idea why.

So, I started making a mental note every time she did something that made me cringe and looked for patterns. It turned out, I found her most annoying every time she asked me a question—specifically one I couldn’t readily answer. I realized that, while her constant questions were definitely not on my favorite to-do list, the real issue wasn’t really with her, it was with me—I didn’t like feeling unprepared and put on the spot.

After that, I made a point to bone up on the issues she typically raised and enlisted her help in figuring out solutions to common snags the entire group faced. Not only did I improve my skills and knowledge as a manager, but I empowered her to take on more responsibility—and kept her busy in the process.

If you’ve got an employee you avoid like the plague, try to figure out what exactly it is about that person that’s driving you batty. The answer might surprise you, and trust me, once you realize what’s irking you, it’ll be much easier to address.

Grab a Pen

I’m a big fan of taking notes, and will rarely go anywhere around the office without my trusty notebook and pen in hand. While it’s obvious why this is beneficial in a meeting, I was surprised to realize my notebook had handy meditative powers, too.

A few years back, I was relatively new as a manager, so I hadn’t come across too many employees I didn’t really like, but one guy was a definite non-favorite. Among many other things, he was a talker. Every time he came by my desk to ask me “a question,” I’d find myself nodding off 20 minutes later, without a clue what he really needed. Not good.

So, I started keeping my notebook handy on my desk. Whenever he came by, I’d politely stop him, grab my pen, and start taking notes of our conversation.

My goal was twofold; first, I wanted to keep myself on track and force myself to pay attention to what he was saying—after all, I was still his manager, and I was there to help him—and secondly, I hoped that my furious note taking would help keep him on track, too. After all, it’s hard to ramble on and on when you know someone’s transcribing your every word.

One of the hardest tasks when dealing with your least favorite employees is making sure you give them the attention they deserve. Keep a pen and notebook handy, and you’ll not only make sure you’re paying attention, but you’ll have a sly diversionary tactic to keep your mind off how annoyed you are at the conversation.

Call For Backup

I know, this probably sounds strange, but if done correctly, it can be an elegant solution to dealing with your least favorite employee.

I stumbled across this tactic after I’d been a manager for a while and was lucky enough to have some great people working with me, including my second in command. She was always eager to learn and jumped at any opportunity to take on additional responsibilities. So, when I was getting frustrated with a particularly irksome employee, she asked if she could take a stab at coaching. The issue we were dealing with at the time was minor and, she suggested, a perfect opportunity for her to try her hand at managing.

This, it turned out, was a great approach. Not only did she get the chance to gradually test the management waters, I was able to observe and guide her throughout the process. And an unexpected benefit? I learned a ton watching her deal with this employee. She approached him in a completely different way, which he responded to quite well. I ended up adopting some of her techniques, and he and I eventually ended up getting along pretty well.

The lesson here is, when all else fails, don’t be afraid to call on someone else to pinch hit. Just remember, this should be used as a learning opportunity for both you and your (temporary) substitute, so don’t fall into the trap of just passing off all your difficult employees to other people.

When you manage, all your employees probably won’t be stars, and some of them will likely drive you crazy from time to time. Keep these tips in mind when you’re getting frustrated with one (or, um, all) of your employees, and they’ll never have a clue they aren’t your favorite.

Read more from The Muse:

What to Do When You’re Just Not That Into an Idea Anymore

The Best Ways to be Productive When Your Energy is Gone

What Your Facebook Profile Says About Your Personality

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,151 other followers