MONEY

5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Yourself in Job Interviews

Job interview interrogation
Henrik Sorensen—Getty Images

These "A" traits commonly put otherwise great candidates out of the running, says career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

The letter “A” is often associated with good things: bring your A-game; get an A rating; be on the A-list.

But when it comes to job interviews, it’s a scarlet letter. Remember—and avoid—these five deadly traits starting with A. The worst thing possible for your chances is to have the hiring manager describe you as…

Anxious

You might be nervous in an interview, but you don’t want to show it. The interviewer will doubt your ability: Can I put you in front of senior executives? Can you handle top customers? Can you perform in high stakes events?

How to avoid appearing anxious: Role play in advance with a friend, mentor or coach (ideally someone who has hired before). This way, the actual job interview is not the first time you are selling yourself, explaining your body of work and answering tough questions. Your rehearsal also lets you practice being nervous and performing well anyway.

Arrogant

Ideally you demonstrate confidence—knowledge of the industry, company and role at hand—instead of anxiety. However, you don’t want to be overconfident, which can be interpreted as arrogance. No one wants to work with a know-it-all.

How to avoid appearing arrogant: Watch out for making sweeping recommendations that might conflict with inside knowledge you won’t know as someone who doesn’t work there yet. Don’t correct the interviewer or ask such probing questions about the company that you turn the conversation into an interrogation.

Angry

You might be looking to leave your job because you don’t feel challenged or there’s no room to advance or you are at odds with the company strategy. So you might be tempted to say so when the interviewer asks what is missing from your job. Or maybe you just get put on the spot with a question like, “What don’t you like about your boss?” or “Who is your most difficult client or colleague?” Beware of coming across as negative or judgmental, as these qualities can be interview killers. People hire people, and people especially hire people that they like and who seem approachable.

How to avoid appearing angry: Stay neutral in your tone of voice. Minimize the talk about your old job and focus on the job at hand, specifically your interest and excitement for it. You have to respond to negative questions if the interviewer asks, but point out a constructive recommendation instead of complaining: I would love to work on emerging markets, but this isn’t the company’s focus. I do my best work with more autonomy but my boss is more hands-on. My clients are terrific, but I’d like to focus on the Fortune 100 and our company serves middle-market. My colleagues are terrific, but I’d like to see more resources devoted to X and there isn’t budget for that right now.

Apathetic

Some candidates think that remaining apathetic will help them negotiate better offers because they look like they can take or leave the job. But employers want to hire people who want them. A job interview is not the time to be coy about your interest in the job.

How to avoid appearing apathetic: Tell the interviewer why this company is where you want to work and why this role is exactly what you want to do. Keep your energy high. You never want the interviewer to think you don’t really want the job. In the above example, you can use your high level of interest to keep from going negative: I’d like to focus on emerging markets, and that’s why this role is of particular interest to me. I work best autonomously, and your company culture is well-known for its entrepreneurial spirt.

Available

Displaying neediness or desperation is a turn-off. You want to make yourself seem busy and in demand—that you could walk away from the table if need be. While you want this employer 100%, you are not waiting by the phone for a Saturday night date!

How to avoid appearing too available: Beware of going overboard on enthusiasm—the too-available person will ask to start tomorrow, as if they have nothing better to do. Also don’t talk about working on your job search, even if that’s all you’ve been doing. You want to talk about projects you are on, people you are meeting, conversations you are having, news you are reading. All of this will give the sense that you are actively networking with their competitors, pursuing other opportunities, and staying busy. That said, the unavailable person will always say that will make time for the ideal employer, that they will find a way to work together: I would love to collaborate in some way. Let’s keep the discussion going.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

 

MONEY first jobs

Marissa Mayer’s First Job Was Working as a Checkout Clerk. Tell Us Yours.

Did you have a terrible first job — or a summer gig that launched a career?

Everyone has to start at the bottom of the ladder. For Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, that rung was the County Market in Wausau, WI, where she worked as a grocery checkout clerk the summer she turned 16. She told Fortune,

I learned a lot about family economics, how people make trade-offs, and how people make decisions on something fundamental, like how to eat. And, quirkily, I picked up the habit of turning all the bills in my wallet to face and be oriented the same way, because we needed to do this as we counted out our tills at the end of our shifts. It still bothers me to this day if a bill in my wallet is turned the wrong way.

At MONEY, we’re looking for the funniest, grossest, and most heartwarming stories about first work experiences. Tell us yours. What was your first job? What did you learn? What advice do you have for kids today?

Tweet us at @Money with #firstjob, or write us using the form below, and we might publish your response. (Answers may be lightly edited for length and clarity.)

MONEY hiring

This is the Easiest Way to Put $2,000 More in Your Paycheck

140826_CAR_BonusBuddies
Maybe you should wait to do this until after you've collected your bonus... Baerbel Schmidt—Getty Images

Companies struggling to find talented workers are increasingly paying their employees referral bonuses, a new survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas reveals.

Raises are expected to be measly for most folks in the coming year, but a new survey out today reveals an easy way to get a bump up in your compensation: Recruit your friends.

As the job market rapidly improves, many employers are struggling to attract talent, according to the survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Three-quarters of human resources execs polled said they were having difficulty filling open positions because of the shortage of skilled and experienced workers.

So, to unearth talent, Challenger reports that nearly 40% of employers are offering referral bonuses to encourage their own workers to send good job candidates their way. A survey in June by human resources association WorldatWork put the number even higher: That survey found that 63% of companies had referral bonus programs, up from 60% in 2010.

If you work for one of these firms, the payoff can be pretty juicy, as you can see here:

image (1)
Source: WorldatWork

Of course, these are only averages and for one level of position. Your take can be higher if you work in a complex field or position for which there is a lot of demand. For example, in Detroit, some accounting firms are paying workers as much as $5,000 for CPA referrals, Crain’s Detroit Business recently reported.

One-third of all hires come via internal referrals, according to recruiting consultant CareerXRoads. Hiring managers like internal referrals because they are a less costly way to find workers, and those hires have better retention rates. People already on staff have a good sense of the job and are more likely to reach out to passive candidates who might not be in the job market but would move for the right opportunity.

The bonus isn’t the only way you can benefit from making a good referral. Workers who find talent for hard-to-fill jobs are also valued as problem solvers.

Just don’t give that referral lightly. If the person doesn’t work out, it can reflect poorly on you. And you’ll typically need the person to stick it out in the job to collect your loot—the majority of companies don’t pay out the bonus until the new employee has been on the job between one and a half and six months, according to WorldatWork.

MONEY workplace etiquette

This is the Grossest Thing Someone Can Do at Work

Man clipping his nails
Rolf Bruderer—Getty Images

Q: How do I address a coworker who clips his finger nails at work? —Nancy Duray, Westbrook, Maine

A: The best way to handle this disgusting habit—which tops the list of workers’ office pet peeves, according to a survey by temporary staffing firm Adecco—is to be direct. “It should be addressed immediately, politely, and privately,” says Tina Fox, a general manager at staffing agency Accountemps.

Start by asking your clipping co-worker to chat in a conference room, rather than trying to have the conversation at the person’s desk. “That sets the tone that it’s a serious issue,” Fox says.

Your colleague probably doesn’t realize that the nail clipping is annoying you, says Fox. She suggests starting the conversation with that point: “You may not be aware of this, but when you clip your nails at your desk, it bothers me. I’d appreciate it if you did it at home or in the bathroom instead.”

If it happens again, ask your boss to send out a memo about office etiquette and to specify the behaviors that aren’t acceptable. As a manager, Fox says she deals with issues like this all the time. “Whether it’s wearing inappropriate clothing at work, flossing at your desk or talking loudly next to colleagues trying to work, people are often just unaware that their behavior is bothering others,” she says. “Usually it’s just a matter of spelling it out.”

Half of workers in that Adecco poll said that nail clipping at the desk offended them more than other questionable in-office habits, including brushing one’s hair, putting on makeup at one’s desk and taking one’s shoes off in the workspace. So, says Fox, it’s very likely that “your co-workers will be glad you spoke up.”

MONEY Small Business

3 Important Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Macall B. Polay—HBO via Everett Collection

There's a lot that real-life startups can take away from the Emmy-nominated fantasy series.

The acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones—which is up for 19 awards at tonight’s Emmys—provides interesting commentary on the modern state of politics and warfare. But speaking as the founder of an online folder printing company, I’ve noticed that the show also demonstrates some valuable lessons for first-time entrepreneurs.

These might not help you become king of a fantasy kingdom, but they’ve been invaluable to me throughout my more than a decade of successful entrepreneurship.

(Reader beware: This article contains several spoilers.)

Lesson #1: Knowledge is power

In Westeros: The Game of Thrones characters who are most likely to survive are the ones with the best information: Where would Varys be without his network of spies gathering secrets from all across the Seven Kingdoms, for example? Would Cersei and Littlefinger still be around if they didn’t have dirt on their enemies?

In your business: Knowledge is your best asset. But that doesn’t mean you need to train swaths of children to uncover your competitors’ deep, dark secrets a la Varys. You simply must to get to know your industry inside and out, so that you can identify what it is that you can provide your consumers that others aren’t already providing. When you understand your field and the needs that aren’t being met, you’ll be better positioned to fulfill those needs.

For me, recognizing an unmet need was the impetus for starting my own company. After discovering that those seeking custom presentation folders faced extremely limited choices, I set out to provide materials of more variety and greater quality.

Lesson #2: Unearned confidence can be dangerous.

In Westeros: Pride often precedes a fall. Ruthless, arrogant King Joffrey mocks his enemies and abuses his subjects in a display of power and privilege, only to be poisoned at his own wedding. Viserys Targaryen shamelessly proclaims his superiority to the people around him, one of whom happens to be a powerful warlord who “crowns” him with molten gold. Even fan favorite Oberyn meets a messy, head-crushy end when he lets his careless bravado get the better of him.

In your business: Know the difference between confidence and an overgrown ego. Starting a successful business requires boldness, determination, and trust in your own abilities and resources, but be careful not to let it turn into hubris. Make sure your actions are grounded in fact or reason; check yourself against someone you trust before making any rash moves. Overconfident people take risks that they can’t afford, and they often don’t listen to their peers’ good advice (“Trust me, Oberyn, wear a helmet”).

Back when my company was first beginning, I did a lot of different odd jobs on the side. A friend of mine told me that I should concentrate on my core competency: custom printed folders. I didn’t listen to that advice, and it ended up losing my business money in the long run. Once I started concentrating on folders, the company grew much stronger.

Lesson #3: A good mentor helps secure your success.

In Westeros: Each of the Stark children has flourished with the help of mentors, albeit unconventional ones. Arya Stark learned swordplay from her “dance instructor” Syrio; Bran has developed his psychic powers with the help of mysterious companion Jojen; and even Sansa seems to have picked up some lessons in court intrigue from Littlefinger.

In your business: Reaching out to a mentor can be a little scary, since it means acknowledging your own weaknesses as an entrepreneur. But remember that the person helping to guide you probably achieved their success with the help of a mentor of their own. When you make the choice to work for yourself, the only people you have to turn to for guidance are those who have already done the same.

Many of my friends are successful business owners, so I make it a point to consult with them periodically. Learning from their experiences helps me to avoid common pitfalls and ensure that my company is running as efficiently as possible.

Mentors aren’t just there to make you feel good about the work that you’re doing, though; they should have enough experience to tell you when you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes the advice that you need most comes from someone as bluntly honest as the Hound—though ideally, your mentor will be a bit more supportive.

Can you think of more business lessons to be learned from Game of Thrones? Share your thoughts on Twitter, with the hashtag #GoTbizadvice

Vladimir Gendelman is the founder and CEO of Company Folders, an innovative presentation folder printing company.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs. YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.

MONEY job search

How to Cold Call Your Way to a New Job

Phone Book
Lisa Noble Photography—Getty Images

Get a stranger to give your career a boost with these three easy steps from career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Cold calls are not just for salespeople.

In the course of your job search, business launch or other career transition, you will need to reach out to people you don’t know. You may be looking to get their insights, to expand your network, or to get information you need to make you a better candidate.

Don’t be afraid. If you’re respectful of their time, you focus on your commonality, and you are specific in your ask, you should be able to engage a stranger’s attention fairly easily. Use this three-step guide to a concise but captivating cold call or email.

1. Establish your common bond.

The first thing you have to do is introduce yourself. But don’t just default to your standard professional introduction. Pick the description of yourself that establishes what you have in common with the person you approach, even if it’s not career-related. For example, I’m a Money.com blogger but also a business owner, career coach, recruiter, Barnard graduate, wife, mom, stand-up comic, et cetera.

If I am approaching a Columbia alum, I may open with Barnard graduate, even though I attended years ago. If I contact a journalist, I may open with Money.com (or some other publication if we both wrote for that other one).

The best choice is dictated by the person you are contacting, not what you typically use as your pitch.

2. Explain why they are “the one.”

In the above example, the Columbia or journalism connection is the first step in my hypothetical cold call, but it’s still incomplete. There are lots of Columbia alums and lots of journalists. Why am I contacting this particular one?

Perhaps I read an article that cited them. Perhaps they work in a company or in an area that I am researching. Perhaps they gave a talk somewhere, and I am following up on something they said.

You need to explain why the person you are contacting is unique, so there is urgency for this person in particular—not some other alum or journalist—to get back to you.

3. Pick a small and specific request.

Once you have established a common bond and explained to your cold contact why he or she is the only one who can help you, you need to explain how he or she can help.

Your ultimate goal may be a job or a sale or a career change. But don’t ask people for any of these.

A job lead, for example, is too big a request this early in the relationship. This is also not a specific enough request: Does it mean you want to speak to HR? Are you inquiring about a particular opening? Are you asking this person to hire you?

Your new connection won’t be able to get you directly to your end goal on the first call, but there are many small, specific steps in-between that he or she may be able to help with.

For example, if you reach out to someone because they work at your dream company, ask about the organizational structure of the specific department you are targeting. Ask about the person who runs that group. Ask about projects in the pipeline or key objectives. The answers to all of these questions will enable you to better position yourself for the job, but these requests are not in themselves about getting a job.

By asking for a job, you put your cold contact on the defensive. By asking about the business, you demonstrate that you care about making an impact.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

 

MONEY

What The Simpsons Characters Taught Us About Money

Tune in to "The Simpsons" marathon for laughs—and also for lessons about careers, consumerism, college majors, and what should and shouldn't be used as toilet paper.

Thursday, August 21, marks the kickoff of an absolutely epic marathon of “The Simpsons” on the FXX channel. Starting at 10 a.m., the network will show every Simpsons episode ever (#everysimpsonsever in social media-speak) back-to-back in chronological order, with “The Simpsons Movie” thrown in as well. That’s a total of 552 episodes—25 seasons of the longest-running sitcom and longest-running animated show ever—running 24 hours per day for 12 straight days, ending on Labor Day, September 1.

In honor of the marathon, we thought it would be fun to reflect on what some of the most colorful and memorable characters on “The Simpsons” have taught us by their good (or, more likely, bad) examples. Here are 11 money lessons from “The Simpsons,” each with a memorable quote to bring the message home.

 

  • Homer Simpson

    Homer Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    Fox

    Homer: “If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike, you just go in there every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”

    Lesson: Job security can be wonderful thing. Homer said these words to his daughter Lisa during a teacher strike at her school, and they bring to mind how amazing it is that an inept, clueless worker like Homer can avoid being fired from his job at the nuclear power plant. By extension, the takeaway is that workers should not underestimate employment fields that come with decent job security. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer lines of work are immune to forces like the economic downturn and increased automation across all industries. So pretty much everyone should always have an updated resume at the ready, and be prepared to launch a second career at a moment’s notice. Oh, and do try to do your job well rather than “half-assed,” to limit the odds you’ll get fired in the first place.

  • Kent Brockman

    Kent Brockman on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Kent Brockman: “Things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors—useful people are starting to feel the pinch.”

    Lesson: Choose a practical major and career. TV news anchor Brockman, the face of journalism in Springfield, is known for tone-deaf reports like this one, delivered during a season five episode when a casino was proposed to revitalize the local economy. (A concept that quite a few U.S. communities have glommed onto lately, by the way.) His offhand swipe at liberal arts majors obviously calls to mind how important it is for students to choose a college and college major wisely.

  • Marge Simpson

    Marge Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Marge: “We were using $50 bills as toilet paper and toilet paper as dog toilet paper.”

    Lesson: Don’t go overboard when success comes your way. Marge is usually the voice of reason on “The Simpsons,” but even she could go off the deep end—like in the casino episode mentioned above, when she became addicted to playing the slots. (Money-hungry Monty Burns, who of course owned the casino, explained that legalized gambling was “the perfect business: People swarm in, empty their pockets, and scuttle off.”) The quote above from Marge was related during a “Behind the Music”-type episode, when the gang reflected on how famous and rich they became at the height of “The Simpsons” craze. The simple moral is: Don’t let success or sudden wealth change who you are, nor what you consider appropriate material for wiping your butt. For that matter, the whole career of Springfield celebrity Krusty the Clown, who built and lost fortunes many times over—once betting everything he had that the Harlem Globetrotters would lose (“I thought the Generals were due!”)—is a cautionary tale about how not to handle success.

  • Waylon J. Smithers, Jr.

    Smithers on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Smithers: “Your new duties will include answering Mr. Burns’s phone, preparing his tax return, moistening his eyeballs, assisting with his chewing and swallowing, lying to Congress, and some light typing.”

    Lesson: Do what you need to do to impress the boss to get ahead. OK, so you might not want to mislead Congress or get quite as up close and personal with your boss as Smithers does with Mr. Burns. (Smithers’s quote is directed at Homer, who temporarily took over Smithers’s duties.) But less extreme ways of buddying up to the boss can yield serious benefits in your career.

  • Bart Simpson

    Bart Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Bart [speaking as Steve Mobs]: “You are all losers. You think you’re cool because you buy a $500 phone with a picture of a fruit on it? Well, guess what? They cost $8 to make, and I pee on every one! I have made a fortune on you chumps, and I’ve invested it all in Microsoft.”

    Lesson: Don’t be suckered into buying overpriced technology you don’t need. Bart skewers Apple—and trendy overpriced tech in general—by subbing in his voice for Steve Mobs, a turtleneck-wearing stand-in for Steve Jobs, speaking from a big screen to a crowd of over-the-top fanboys at a “Mapple” store. Guess who is also being mocked here? Early adopters who blindly buy whatever gadgets are hottest, most hyped, and splashed in front of them at the moment.

  • Millhouse

    Millhouse on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Millhouse: “I kind of traded your soul to the guy at the comic book store.”

    Lesson: Understand the true value of things. Bart sells his soul to Millhouse for a mere $5, and Bart thinks he took his pal for a sucker in the deal because there is no such thing as a soul. (“It’s just something parents made up to scare children, like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson,” Bart says.) After Bart realizes the error of his ways, it’s too late to get his soul back because Millhouse swapped it—for pogsfeaturing TV alien Alf, of all things. The “joke” here is that both the boys have dramatically and foolishly underestimated the value of the soul, which should not be sold at any price. If indeed the soul does exist, that is.

  • Mr. Burns

    Monty Burns on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Mr. Burns: “Eternal happiness for one dollar eh? Hmmm… I’d be happier with the dollar.”

    Lesson: Some things are more important than money. The richest man in Springfield is the ultimate miser, who loves money above all else and reluctant to part with a dollar even for a seemingly “eeeeexcellent” reason. Mr. Burns probably has more quoted lines about money than any other Simpsons character, including “What good is money if it can’t inspire terror in your fellow man?” and the one above, spoken in response to Homer’s telemarketing plea promising eternal happiness for just a buck. Occasionally, though, Mr. Burns gets his comeuppance for his stingy and crooked ways, most notably when he was shot by Maggie when trying to take her lollipop—yep, he was stealing candy from a baby.

  • Moe

    Moe on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Moe: “Sure, Homer, I can loan you all the money you need. However, since you have no collateral, I’m going to have to break your legs in advance.”

    Lesson: Borrow money responsibly, from a reputable source. After Homer loses all his money investing in pumpkin stocks when they tank after Halloween—another money lesson entirely—he goes in seek of a loan to keep up with his mortgage payments. He deems a loan from Moe, the local bar owner, as less than ideal, before turning to an arguably worse resource: his gruff, spinster sisters-in-law Patty and Selma. They give him the money, but turn him into their servant and make his life a living hell. All in all, if you need help with your mortgage or are dealing with debt collectors, try not to be like Homer, and steer clear of characters like Moe, Patty, and Selma.

  • Apu

    Apu from THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Apu: “Pardon me, but I would like to see this money spent on more police officers. I have been shot eight times this year, and as a result, I almost missed work.”

    Lesson: Have a strong work ethic. The Springfield Kwik-E-Mart seems to never close, and its proprietor, Apu, never takes a day off. Not even when he’s shot on the job. And sure, he’s overworked, but at least his dedication and hard work helps him run a successful business. In the quote above, Apu is weighing in on what Springfield should do with a $3 million fine paid by Mr. Burns for dumping nuclear waste illegally. The town doesn’t heed Apu’s suggestion, and instead falls for the pitch of a mysterious huckster named Lyle Lanely, who convinces Springfield to build a boondoggle of a monorail. There are some lessons to be learned in there too, of course.

  • Lisa Simpson

    Lisa Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Lisa: “My administration will focus on the three R’s. Reading, writing, and refilling the ocean.”

    Lesson: Your circumstances shouldn’t dictate your ambitions. In episodes that show the future, we find out that Lisa, the bright and plucky middle sibling stuck in the nutty, underachieving Simpson household, winds up being president of the United States. If she can make it given her surroundings, anyone can.

  • Comic Book Guy

    Comic Book Guy on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Comic Book Guy: “I’ve spent my entire life doing nothing but collecting comic books… and now there’s only time to say… LIFE WELL SPENT!”

    Lesson: Follow your passion. While some say that “follow your passion” is horrible career advice, Comic Book Guy, quoted from “The Simpsons Movie,” seems to have no regrets doing what he loves most, even if others think it’s silly. Then again, awkward, friendless Comic Book Guy is basically a miserable character, and at times he admits as much. “Oohh, I’ve wasted my life,” he reflects on one Halloween episode. We still say follow your passion, so long as your passion isn’t a complete waste of time.

  • Making Homer and Marge Simpson Speak French

MONEY Business Travel

How to Keep Fear of Flying From Grounding Your Career

An anxiety filled flight can make it tough to give your best at work. Jupiter Images—Getty Images

If your job requires you to get on a plane, this anxiety could hold you back at work. Here's how to cope with your worries.

It’s understandable if the recent spate of high-profile airplane crashes around the world has made you nervous about flying.

Three airline disasters in eight days last month have pushed the number of dead or missing this year to more than 700, putting 2014 on track to be the worst year for airline fatalities since at least 2010. With 464 fatalities, July was the fifth worst month in aviation history, according to the Air Safety Network.

In the aftermath of these tragedies, aviation experts and many news outlets issued the standard post-crash reassurance that flying is still much safer than most forms of travel, including driving a car.

But even if flying isn’t more dangerous, the fear of it can have a big impact on your life and your career. If you’re anxious about air travel, you may turn down opportunities to attend important business conferences. And even if you can get on the plane, you may be too anxious to sleep and emerge from the trip exhausted. If you need to work during the flight, anxiety can sap your productivity.

The medications you might take to cope can leave you fuzzy just when you need to be sharp for a client meeting or a speech. At its worst, a fear of flying may keep you from rising the corporate ladder.

“The impact on careers is pretty clear and often striking,” says Dr. James Abelson, director of the Anxiety Disorders Treatment program at the University of Michigan. “We regularly see people who shy away from jobs that would require them to fly and even turn down promotions.”

Who Suffers the Most

Exactly how many people suffer from a fear of flying is unknown. Some surveys find that about 25% of people are nervous about air travel. In a July poll, 36% of Americans said that recent political turmoil has made them afraid to fly internationally. But true aviaphobics make up just 6% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Whatever the stats, there’s no doubt that millions are anxious about getting airborne.

The phobia is more common among those who are successful, says Dr. Martin Seif, a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders and operates a fear of flying program called Freedom To Fly. That may be because people with hard-driving, Type-A personalities get uncomfortable when they aren’t in control. Plus, workers in management and executive positions are more likely to have to get on a plane for the job, says Seif.

Indeed, a number of successful celebrities, from sports stars like Wayne Gretzky to entertainers like Aretha Franklin, suffer from a fear of flying that has affected their careers.

What You Can Do

Whether you’re a celeb or a worker bee, you can take advantage of online resources, in-person programs, and even apps to get your fears under control and limit the damage to your career.

Several airports and airlines offer workshops to help nervous flyers, according to USA Today. At Phoenix Sky Harbor International, a fear-of-flying class convenes monthly, with an advanced session that allows students to test their coping strategies on an actual flight. Captain Ron Nielson, a commercial airline pilot for 40 years, runs the Fearless Flight program. Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport’s Overcome Your Fear of Flying program is headed by Dr. Michael P. Tomaro, an aviation psychologist and certified flight instructor. San Francisco’s International airport hosts a fear-of-flying clinic that will run five workshops this year. A few international airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, also offer programs.

Seif’s Freedom to Fly program is airport based. Students go through the airport security, board the plane, and take short flights to learn how to deal with anxiety management. He also offers individual counseling sessions.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers a number of articles and lists resources for overcoming fear of flying.

SOAR, an organization started in 1982 by Captain Tom Bunn, a licensed therapist and airline captain, sells DVDs and one-on-one counseling sessions. It has also developed an app to manage anxiety on the go, with videos, relaxation exercises, and turbulence forecasts for your flight. The VALK Foundation, a Dutch institute that studies and treats the fear of flying, also has an app to help anxious passengers.

Simple techniques, such as doing slow controlled rhythmic breathing, can also help. The best cure for fear of flying: flying.

“The active ingredient in overcoming any fear is exposure,” says Seif. “The more you fly, the easier it is.”

TIME

4 Extremely Easy Ways to Fake Confidence

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Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

Expert advice to bluff your way to the top

Confidence is crucial for advancing in your career, but a lot of Americans today are suffering from a lack of confidence with their jobs and the state of the economy. This doesn’t mean that you’re relegated to the sidelines until circumstances improve, though. You’ll just have to fake it. Afraid you’ll be as obvious as Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally? Here’s some advice from experts on how to bluff your way to confidence.

Be shameless. “Confidence rarely equates to competence,” points out Tom Hayes, founder and owner of marketing company Riley Hayes. “sometimes the most competent people are the least confident and that the most confident people are the least competent.” Research shows that people unconsciously defer to people who project an air of confidence, regardless of whether or not they “should be” in charge. Yes, taking those first steps can be excruciating, but if you can just get the ball rolling, your colleagues will automatically perceive you as having confidence and leadership qualities.

Spend your down time studying what leaders do. Even if you’re not feeling it, having the right tools to project an air of confidence can go a long way, suggests Heidi Golledge, co-founder and CEO of CareerBliss.com. “We have noticed employees using their free time to join ToastMasters… programmers reading the latest management and technology books as well as taking a weekend to join a conference in their field lead by creative industry leaders,” she says.

Or don’t. Doing something you enjoy in your free time — an activity or hobby that has absolutely no bearing on your job — can still have a positive impact on your career confidence, Golledge says. So what if you’re a database manager or an administrator — if taking art classes or running obstacle races revs you up, go for it. Then, when you’re back in the office, recall the confidence boost that comes from doing something you like, even if you’re never going to become an expert.

Focus your efforts. If you’re an introverted type, faking confidence and being “on” all the time can be exhausting. In a Harvard Business Review blog post, consultant and speaker Dorie Clark suggests grouping your to-do list so you’re not facing social interactions where you have to project confidence every single day. “Batching my activities allows me to focus, and alternating between social and quiet time enables me to be at my best when I do interact with people,” she writes. If you can pick a day’s worth of tasks that won’t require you to put on a “game face,” you’ll be refreshed for the next time around.

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