TIME Careers & Workplace

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

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Klaus Vedfelt—Getty Images

Everything you need to know, nothing you don't

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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

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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

TIME Careers & Workplace

This Is the Simplest Way to Figure Out What You Should Do With Your Life

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

By Lily Zhang

When people find out I’m a career counselor, the next thing they inevitably ask is, “So, what should I be doing with my life?” I must admit: I never know what to say to this. Sure, I help people figure that out for a living, but that doesn’t mean I can offer near-strangers real career wisdom or guidance in a five-minute conversation.This situation has always stumped me—until this weekend, when I attended the National Career Development Association’s annual conference. It was a fantastic professional development experience—from networking with other career counselors to presenting at my first national conference, I can’t imagine an experience that would allow me to grow as much as the NCDA conference did. But more importantly, I learned a way to answer, “What should I do with my life?” that’s as helpful for me at cocktail parties as it is for you when thinking about your career goals.As an exceptionally well-established career counselor, Richard Leider had a few tricks of the trade to share in his keynote speech. In over three decades of career coaching, I don’t even want to know how many times people have half jokingly, half seriously demanded to know what they should be dedicating their life to. To address this, he’s developed a handy napkin test.He grabs something to write on—maybe a napkin—and jots down, “G+P+V=C” and passes it to whomever he’s talk to. He then explains:

  • “G” stands for “gifts”
  • “P” for “passions”
  • “V” for “values”

Together, they form your calling. “Gifts” prompts you to consider your strengths. It’s always good to start with what you’re good at. Next, “passions” is essentially asking: What do you care about? Are there issues or communities in the world that resonate with you more than others? And finally, “values” are all about your lifestyle and personality. What is nonnegotiable about they way you work? According to Leider, altogether, using your gifts toward something you are invested in and in an environment that suits your values will lead you to your calling.

The formula’s simple enough, though figuring out what goes into those variables might take some trial and error—and undoubtedly some serious self-reflection. But hey, it’s a great starting place if you’re really trying to figure out your next move (and a great way to get me out of a tricky situation).

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

This Is the Ultimate Secret to an Email-Free Life

These tools and tips can help you keep your head above the rising tide of emails. Photo: Shutterstock

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

There’s no doubt that a large chunk of anyone’s job involves reading and responding to dozens of emails every day. Tasks, promotions, email newsletters: Your inbox is never given a break—and neither are you.

But what if there was a way to stop stressing about all of those work emails? Or, what if you could do the impossible: quit emailing cold turkey?

This is exactly what entrepreneur Claire Burge recently did. After using RescueTime to track her workday activities and realizing that, because of email, she was productive for only about 23% of the day, she decided to stop emailing altogether for 10 months.

How? Burge realized that there were three different types of email she was receiving through the day: task-related, push notifications (just “FYI” sorts of emails that required no action), and collaborative messages. All of these messages, she concluded, could be communicated through other means, like a simple phone call, a tweet, or a task management system.

Additionally, Burge found that an email inbox isn’t as efficient as having specific and targeted task management systems. “With an inbox, everything flows into one pool; there isn’t any difference in any intelligent way,” she told Fast Company. “Using task management systems or social media platforms, messages are automatically sorted and are handled during times specified for those tasks.”

While Burge didn’t end up cutting out email for good after the experiment, she found a way to tame, reduce, and manage it, making email the exception, rather than the rule.

Don’t think you can kick email altogether? There’s still a lot you learn from Burge’s experiment. For one thing, start thinking of ways you can cut unnecessary email time out of your life. Make it a point to only check email a couple times a day or stop when you leave the office or by a certain time every night. (Let’s be real here: Would you rather be answering emails or watching the latest episode of Suits?) Or, like Burge, figure out if there’s a better way to get your tasks and messages across to others. A task management system or other app could in fact be saving you time and stress.
What can you do today to start cutting email out of your life?

About the author: Lily is co-founder of The Prospect, a college admissions and high school and college lifestyles website. In addition to her work with The Muse, she also does work with Her Campus, HelloFlo, and the Huffington Post, all while balancing being a student at Wesleyan University. You can follow The Prospect on Facebook and Lily on Twitter.

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 Tech

6 Tools That Will Make Your Inbox Way More Awesome

These tools and tips can help you keep your head above the rising tide of emails. Photo: Shutterstock

Don't let the stress of a flooded inbox hold you back

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

Your email inbox is the nerve center of your professional life. It’s your Rolodex, information repository, and primary means of communication with contacts and colleagues all wrapped into one.

But too often, just like the physical in-bin on your desk, your email inbox can get piled high with unorganized messages. When you’re confronted with a jumble of disordered memos and random dispatches every time you check your work email, you waste valuable moments just trying to locate the information you’re seeking out.

Plus, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by not enabling your inbox to perform in prime condition. A clean, uncluttered inbox can do more than receive and categorize newsletters and notes; it can amp up your contact database, streamline your to-do list, and more.

The thing is, thanks to a few cool apps and plugins, you can actually turbo-charge your email power on the cheap. Here are six tools that will keep your inbox spic-and-span and optimized for professional powerhouse status.

Any Email Provider

1. FollowUp.cc

Do you have the same bad habit I do of keeping emails you’ve already read in your inbox as a reminder for an action item? Or maybe you obsessively file emails away into folders, only to forget when you need to follow up since they’re not readily available in your inbox. Enter FollowUp.cc (available for Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo!, and AOL), which lets you forward your emails into the future to remind yourself to, well, follow up.

You just CC or BCC a date-specific@followup.cc email address, like “june23@followup.cc,” and when the day arrives, the email will reappear at the top of your inbox. You can even schedule regular email reminders to say, order flowers for your mom before Thanksgiving, using everynovember25@followup.cc.

2. CloudMagic

You probably spend almost as much time checking your work email on your phone as you do on your computer. But your native smartphone email app has limitations, no matter your operating system. Give CloudMagic a try; available on iOS and Android, it’s an email client that also lets you complete work while you’re checking messages.

For example, right within the app, you can see Salesforce info for contacts, create a note within Evernote, save a link to Pocket, subscribe a contact to your MailChimp newsletter, and more. You’ll be amazing how much more productive your emailing on the go gets.

Gmail Only

3. Taskforce

I’ve always wished Gmail’s built-in task manager was more robust. Taskforce addresses that need in a major way. It’s a productivity system, available for individuals and teams, that lets you slice and dice your emails into separate tasks in different workspaces, which are basically the equivalent of separate computer desktops that you can categorize however you’d like.

No more languishing emails, which lead to by-the-wayside follow-ups. No more to-dos that get lost in the sea of information. You can also tag teammates and colleagues in tasks, who will then be notified, making it easier for you to remind them how you divided up work in that confusingly long email thread.

4. Notes For Gmail

The aptly named Notes For Gmail lets you affix notes and tags to any email message. Don’t tell me you’ve never wished you could do that!

You can also pin notes to any email thread, or at the top of your sent-emails view, starred-emails view, or really anywhere else in your inbox. With a tool like this, you can turn your inbox into a personal CRM system.

5. Rapportive

You know a digital tool is working for you when you stop noticing its inclusion in your routine. Rapportive is one of those for me. It’s a free Chrome plugin that displays your contacts’ social networking information right inside your inbox.

You can connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter without even leaving Gmail, in addition to seeing a punch list of recent emails from them and recording private notes to attach to their addresses in your account (giving you a way to remember facts and information about them that will help build the relationship).

6. Gmelius

Like Gmail on steroids, Gmelius is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera that majorly boosts your Gmail experience with everything from a cleaned-up interface (no more ads!) to the ability to block email trackers to protect your privacy.

One of the most useful elements, from a work perspective, is the option to quickly categorize each email you receive or send using hashtags, which are much more easily searchable than Gmail’s built-in labels.. Another favorite feature is the automatic “Unsubscribe” button that replaces Gmail’s “Spam” button whenever Gmelius detects a mailing list.

What tools do you swear by to make your email inbox work better for you?

About the author: Allison Stadd (@AllisonStadd) works in marketing & communications and is also a freelance blogger, digital life coach, and social media consultant. She’s a fan of good books and good beer with equal enthusiasm, and when she’s not slinging tweets, pins, and posts, you’ll find her at the nearest concert hall.

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 Business

The One Question All Successful People Can Answer Immediately

And it's not "what's your biggest weakness?"

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

If starting multiple businesses people love is any measure of success for a serial entrepreneur, Tina Roth Eisenberg has got it made. Known as Swiss Miss, she runs a popular design blog, created a company making temporary design tattoos Tattly, and founded Creative Mornings, a breakfast talk series held in 80 cities (and growing!) around the world.

At the recent 99U Conference, Eisenberg shared stories from her journey as designer turned creative entrepreneur—and one question that’s helps keep her going. It’s a simple question, but one that she says gives her a lot of focus and clarity:

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Don’t worry: This isn’t another one of those curveball interview questions. She says that all the most successful people she’s met have been able to answer this question immediately: John Maeda, who led the MIT Media Lab and Rhode Island School of Design, responded with “curiosity.” Maria Popova, who curates the popular Brain Pickings blog by reading 12-15 books a week, said “doggedness.” Eisenberg’s own superpower? Enthusiasm.

Knowing your superpower means you know yourself well enough to have a focus, and that’s the same competitive advantage that makes you so great at what you do. It’s the quality you’re most proud of, the one thing that makes you stand out, and what gives you an edge over everyone else.

So, if you haven’t ever considered what your superpower might be, do! Having an answer to this question shows that you’ve thought hard about your best personal qualities, and you’ll even have something prepared for the “What’s your greatest strength?” question at your next interview.

And if your current answer doesn’t sit well with you? Well, there’s no better time to think about what you want to be known for and start getting to that next level.

About the author: Before joining The Muse, Sarah worked in social business innovation for Virgin Unite in London, strategy and innovation at Market Gravity, sustainability research in the Dominican Republic, and business development for a NYC startup. Wrapping up her time at Columbia University, she’s headed to McKinsey & Company after graduation. Say hi on Twitter @sarahlichang.

Read more from The Muse:

Are You Truly Reaching Your Potential?

How to Turn a Setback into a Stroke of Creativity

What Anyone Can Learn From a Trip to Space

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