TIME Business

How Do I Know If It’s Time for Me to Change Jobs?

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Paul Bradbury—Getty Images/Caiaimage

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

Instead of a pros-and-cons list, try this

Should you change jobs? Even make a radical career change? Most articles on the subject offer a checklist or pros-and-cons list. Here I offer a different approach: an internal debate.

Person: I’m sick of my job. I’m ready for something new and there’s too little opportunity here.

Alter ego: But I don’t have the time or energy to look for another job when I’m working 45 hours a week already. It can take months, sometimes longer to find a good job, especially if I try to change careers. And I doubt anyone wants to hire a newbie at anywhere near my salary.

Person: But, God, I don’t want to stay at Western Widget Works, Inc. forever.

Alter ego: No, but I worry that after all that job hunting, I won’t even like my new job or career any better.

Person: I need to remember that I don’t have to take that new job. I just need to take a little time to see if I can find something better. If not, I’ll stay put. I’ll just start networking.

Alter ego: But I hate networking and I’m lousy at it. I just don’t make a good first impression, no matter how much I practice. I’m better off spending the time improving my skills: tech stuff, public speaking.

Person: Okay, maybe I should do that, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be looking for a job. If I don’t want to network, I’ll just answer some on-target ads, one a week.

Alter ego: But if that’s all I do, a year or two from now, I’ll probably still be at Western Widget. Ugh.

Person: So, fine. I’ll apply to three jobs a week.

Alter ego: But every job opening gets so many applications.

Person: I really have to make mine better—Write a cover letter that, point by point, explains how I meet the job’s requirements.

Alter ego: But if I’m changing careers, I won’t be meeting most of the requirements.

Person: Okay, then I’ll include a white paper, like a term paper, on a topic related to the new job that would interest that employer. That will show current chops and interest, and a concrete work sample.

Alter ego: But that will take a ton of time.

Person: No it won’t. A few-page white paper is like one of those papers I wrote in college. One day I knew nothing about the topic and two days later, I knew a lot and cranked out a good paper.I need to stop complaining. It’s better than staying at Western Widget. Right?

Alter ego: Maybe. What if the problem isn’t the job but me? If I’m honest with myself, as I look back on all my jobs, I’ve always struggled.

Person: Do I have to face that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed?

Alter ego: That may be part of it. I know that I can’t seem to make myself consistently care enough about work. I do my job but I can’t seem to maintain the fire in my belly. I’m not sure I can change that.

Person: So maybe I need to downscale my job aspirations. Up isn’t the only way. I fought my way to be a manager, but maybe I’d be happier and more successful if I did something less demanding.

Alter ego: Am I the poster boy for the Peter Principle, rising to my level of incompetence?

Person: Maybe. I’ve always tried to compete with my high-achieving friends. Isn’t that silly? Maybe by trying to be what I’m not, I’m making myself miserable and ensuring I don’t succeed.

Alter ego: But what should I do?

Person: Maybe I should go back to being an individual contributor or a support person. I’m organized and good at details. Maybe I should go back to being a coordinator, a marketing coordinator. Maybe I should talk with my boss or HR about getting that kind of job at Western Widget?

Alter ego: Actually, I don’t give a crap about marketing widgets.

Person: I need to remember that as long as the widget is worth marketing, it’s worth doing.

Alter ego: Stop with the pious preaching.

Person: How sure am I that I’ll care more about work if I were doing something else? I say I care about gifted kids being ignored in today’s elementary schools but would I really, after a honeymoon period, be that much more motivated to work hard on some job related to that, or will my laziness come along with me wherever I go?

Alter ego: I don’t want to think I’m doomed to mediocrity. I can’t be sure whether I’ll be any happier on behalf of gifted kids but maybe I should try.

Person: That’s probably right. I should volunteer a few hours a week at some school with a lot of bright kids or maybe even for a school district’s director of programs for the gifted. I should do a little networking, make the case that my skills in marketing and being organized and detail oriented would be valuable there. I should apply to jobs anywhere I might be willing to live that excite me. If I get hired, fine. And if not, I’ll feel better for having tried. And who knows? In spending time around those people quite different from those at Western Widget, I may learn about something or about myself that I wouldn’t know if I just kept on keeping on with my same-old routine.

Alter ego: I’ll think about it.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY managing

4 Ways to Make Millennials Happier at Work

Workplace Birthday
Colleagues celebrating birthday in office Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz—Getty Images

A new survey from Payscale and branding expert Dan Schawbel offers insights into what managers can do to retain Gen Y employees.

Managers, get ready: By 2030, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And a new survey from Payscale, led by Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding, finds this generation to be more ambitious than those who came before them. Nearly three quarters of Millennials say that an ideal job would offer some career advancement, more than Gen X and boomers. The report also pinpoints the specific types of conditions and leadership Gen Y’ers crave at work.

Play to those needs and your business may also be able to boost retention, Schawbel says.

His report finds that 26% of Gen Y workers believe employees should only be expected to stay in a job for a year or less before seeking a new role elsewhere. As an employer, that kind of turnover can be pricey. “It costs about $20,000 to replace each Millennial,” says Schawbel.

And considering the time it takes to fill that position and the stress workers take on to cover for the job in that time, it’s worth keeping a talented Millennial happy at work, he says.

As managers, here are four ways to give in to this demographic—while still getting what you need out of them.

1. Lead with the Positive

Remember, this is the generation that still got trophies when they lost a little league game. Their parents flashed bumper stickers stating that “Junior Made the Honor Roll.”

For this cohort, it’s more effective to give constructive feedback that points out what they’re doing right ahead of what they’re doing wrong. “Millennials want feedback, but they don’t want criticism,” says Schawbel.

An effective manager sets up expectations from the beginning, and offers compliments before giving negative feedback. “The tone is really important,” he says.

2. Treat them like Family

Gen Y thinks of their boss as their “work parent” and coworkers as “work relatives,” notes Schawbel.

In fact 72% want a manager who’s friendly and inviting. That compares to 63% of Gen Xers and 61% of Baby Boomers.

Reciprocate and play to those needs via team-building exercises, office happy-hour outings, volunteering opportunities and mentorship programs. The goal is to make it so there’s a real cost to them for quitting, says Schawbel. “They lose that family and they lose that culture for leaving.”

3. Promote from Within

Millennials want to lead. Therefore, demonstrating to your staff—particularly the 20-something set—that there’s a strong chance for upward mobility is imperative. If you constantly hire externally for advanced positions, how can you expect them to want to stay?

Besides engendering loyalty, raising up someone internally is a lot cheaper. Bringing in an outsider is “1.7 times the cost of internal hiring,” says Schawbel.

4. Give Them Ownership

This is not to say that you should give them a fat equity stake or a seat on the board.

The majority of Millennials say they want the opportunity to learn new skills and freedom from their managers. They want to own their projects from start to finish. To that end, an “intapreneurship” program—where you encourage workers to develop ideas for new products and services in an in-house incubator—can go a long way in keeping Millennials happy.

LinkedIn, Google and Lockheed Martin have their own versions of this kind of program.

How it works: Employees to come up with a business plan and pitch it to executives. For Millennials such projects offer the best of both worlds—they get to experiment freely like entrepreneurs but within the comforting structure of a 9 to 5 (dental included).

Farnoosh Torabi is a contributing editor at MONEY and the author of the book When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. More of her columns and videos for MONEY.com:

TIME Business

How to Get the Most Value From a Career Counselor

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nullplus—Getty Images

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

They're likely to help you the most after you've landed a job

Many people consider career counselors a joke: “They give you B.S. tests that, in the end, always say you should be a funeral director or a forest ranger.” While that’s stretching it, career counselors are often less useful than they could be.

Choosing a career

The most likely reason you’d choose to see a career counselor is because you’re still not sure what you want to be when you grow up even though you’re already a grown-up. Alas, career counseling clients too often don’t end up contentedly employed because:

  • No one career stands out.
  • Too many careers stand out.
  • Their goal is too popular. For example, they want to work in media, entertainment, or for the environment but so does half the continent. Career counselors’ unofficial motto, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” often ends up being untrue.
  • Their goal sounded good but once in the career, they dislike it because the field or particular job turned out different than the career counselor suggested it would be.

Part of the problem is that career counselors’ main tools, career inventories, poorly predict how successful and happy you’ll be in a given career. For example, the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, administered to over 2.5 million people each year, severely lacks reliability, let alone predictive validity. Penn-Wharton Professor of Psychology, Adam Grant, in a Huffington Post review of the Myers-Briggs, concluded, “we all need to recognize that four letters [the Myers-Briggs' 16 categories each have four letters] don’t do justice to anyone’s identity. So leaders, consultants, counselors, coaches, and teachers, join me in delivering this message: MBTI, I’m breaking up with you.”

Now in my 30th year as a career counselor and coach, despite honors and praise from most clients, I wonder whether helping people pick a career is a cost- and time-effective use of people’s money and time. Do career counselors, especially paid ones, often-enough add sufficient value over what you might get by simply using software such as O*Net or Eureka, which inventory your skills and interests and then provide descriptions of matching careers, including training requirements, and supplementing that with some Googling and informational interviews?

Landing the job

Career counselors tend to be more effective in helping you land a job. They can teach the art of networking, how to create a good LinkedIn profile and how to write a good resume and cover letter. Indeed, some counselors cross the ethical line and write or so heavily edit your work that it more represents the counselor’s writing, thinking and organizational skills than yours. Career counselors can prep you for interviews, helping you craft ideal answers for likely interview questions and videoing you to show you when you don’t appear credible and winsome.

Even if the counselor doesn’t write your resume and cover letter nor feed you model answers, much job-search coaching, despite its ubiquity, in my view, is unethical and inimical to the common good. The people willing to pay a job-search coach are disproportionately those who, on their own, failed to find decent employment, a pool that, on average, is less intelligent, less skilled, less motivated and/or more high-maintenance than the pool of people that get hired without paying a job coach. So when career counselors do the aforementioned packaging of a client, they’re often making an applicant look superior to more worthy candidates. As I mentioned in a recent TIME article, that’s, of course, unfair to the better candidates, especially to low-income ones that can’t afford a job-search coach. That’s also unfair to employers who thereby are deceived into hiring a worse employee than they otherwise would have hired. And that hurts all of us: The quality of the goods and services we receive is affected by the quality of people that get hired. There will always be a percentage of people who are unemployed. In an ideal world, they’d be the people who’d be the worst employees. But job-seeker packagers mitigate that. So, ironically, job-search coaching, which would seem to be a pro-social profession, may, overall, actually make the world worse.

Where a good career counselor or coach may most help

Most career counselors don’t continue to work with you after you’ve landed a job. Ironically, that’s when one is most likely to do the most good. Fortunately, some, by temperament and training, can help clients succeed on the job. You might want to hire someone to help you with one or more of these:

  • Onramping. The first 30 days are crucial. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. To onramp successfully, you must quickly learn that workplace’s unspoken rules and culture, what to prioritize and the quality of work expected. You must develop relationships, especially with key people, who may or may not appear key on the organizational chart, for example, that veteran administrative assistant who has seen it all. Such skills are often not taught in college.
  • Communication. Many people think they’re more effective communicators than they, in fact, are. For example, they may be unclear, or clear but lacking in emotional intelligence. They may be long-winded. Their speech and writing may too often embed anger.
  • Time management. Managing time and avoiding procrastination is key to career success but tough for many people.
  • Organization. No, you needn’t be a neat freak but being functionally organized is important and, in some people, lacking.
  • Management and leadership. The art of supervising people and budgets requires much subtlety. Also, one must know how to develop processes that are detailed enough but not unduly constraining, and how to manage and lead more by inspiring than micromanaging.

Many career counselors and coaches, while rich in counseling skills, are lacking in these areas and might be wise to acquire them, whether via self-study, courses, and/or real-world experience as an employee of an organization.

The takeaway

If more career counselors and coaches focused on the sort of work proposed in the previous section, they could greatly improve our worklives, for our own betterment, employers’, and society’s.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

What Employers Get Wrong When It Comes to Hiring

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

How to attract and vet for the best employees

Pat was well-qualified for the job. So, without puffery, her resume, cover letter, interview and references made that clear.

Chris wasn’t qualified for the job but wanted it, so hired a professional resume writer who not only sanitized his job history as much as possible but made Chris look far more intelligent, organized and detail-oriented than is true. A job coach gave Chris model answers for likely interview questions and then, on video, pointed out when the delivery didn’t seem credible. (For free, the government also often provides resume and interview coaching, including video.) Having been fired from the previous jobs for incompetence, laziness and lack of ethics, Chris had no legitimate good references and so pressured his Uncle Al to pretend to be Chris’s former boss so that when a prospective employer called for a reference, Uncle Al would say, “Chris was a fabulous employee.”

It’s probably rare that someone uses all those deceptions, but too often the Chrises of the world get the job over Pats. When this happens, it’s devastating not just to the Pats but to society. Hiring a Chris in the private sector means the goods and services we buy and pay for are worse. When the government hires Chrises, it means that everything from education to police is compromised.

Employers could do far better when it comes to hiring. Here’s how.

Outreach

Wise employers realize that it’s safer to hire someone referred by an employee or friend because they’re unlikely to recommend someone bad. There’s greater risk in hiring an unknown.

But many employers ill-advisedly focus on unknowns by placing job ads. A report by CareerXroads, a consultancy to corporations on hiring, found that in 2013, 34.5% of hiring by the 250 large companies surveyed came from career sites and job boards. Ads often poorly describe what’s required of an employee. A wise employer, if using an ad, will list only the job’s central and difficult requirements. That results in clearer, fairer communication with job seekers. Also, an ad should post a salary range—for example, “$85,000-$100,000 depending on the candidate’s qualifications.”

Employers should think twice about requiring a degree. Yes, a degree is an objective criterion but too often a invalid one. Sometimes, the boldest thinkers and self-starters are those who decided that the years and cost of the degree would be more wisely spent outside the halls of academe. The wise employer doesn’t automatically exclude such candidates.

The application

Require all applicants to take an online test that simulates the job’s difficult, important tasks. To reduce cheating, applicants would be informed that the interview will include a parallel exam, proctored. That is typically a far more valid screening criterion than a cover letter or resume, which could have been ghost-written.

The wise employer might want to not require a resume. Even if the candidate doesn’t use a hired gun, aggregations of survey results by Statistic Brain and Grad School Hub show that a large percentage of resumes contain misleading information or outright lies. Remember, too, that excellent candidates may not be actively looking for a job. They’re well employed and don’t need to spend the time developing a resume. If they saw a job opening that was appealing and it didn’t require the hours it takes to create a resume, they might be more inclined to apply.

Ban professionally written resumes. As mentioned earlier, even if professional resume writers don’t stretch the truth, they often make candidates seem like better thinkers and writers and more organized and detail-oriented than they are. Those attributes are key to a large percentage of white-collar jobs. Resume writers claim that it’s ethical to write someone else’s resume. If so, why don’t they write, “Written by John Jones, professional resume writer”? For the benefit of the job seekers who want to do their own work, including the poor that can’t afford to hire a resume writer–as well as for employers who want the right person for the job, and for society, which benefits when the right people for the job are hired–employers would be wise to prohibit resumes crafted by professional resume writers or require that its author be acknowledged.

The interview(s)

It’s a mistake to ask questions that applicants could reasonably anticipate, such as “Tell me about yourself,” “Why the employment gaps?” “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses” and “What project are you proudest of and least proud of and what did you learn from that?” Because such questions are so common, there’s a fair chance the interviewee is spewing a scripted answer found in an interviewing guide or provided by a job coach.

After the proctored job-simulation exam, the interview should consist mainly of actual simulations of difficult, common tasks in that job. For example, if it’s a candidate for a managerial position, you might ask the candidate to run a meeting. Or say, “Pretend I’m your supervisee and my work is of poor quality and my work ethic is bad. Role play that meeting.”

Requiring more than two, maximum three, interviews, is likely to turn off strong candidates. And it’s too demanding of candidates’ and employees’ time. The simulation-centric exam and two simulation-centric interviews with key stakeholders should be enough.

Don’t skip the background check. With the amount of deception in applications, a background check is essential. Thanks to the online availability of so much data, a professional background checking service can, at low cost, verify much of what’s stated on the application plus other key factors, for example, if s/he is on the list of registered sex offenders.

Reference checks. For fear of a lawsuit, many employers will only verify dates of employment and whether the person left voluntarily. Alas, even the latter may not be trustworthy because, to get a bad employee to leave without suing, the employer may have agreed to tell subsequent employers that the employee left voluntarily.

But it’s still worth trying to get a meaningful reference. Do it by phone rather than by email. The tone with which an employer says, “She left voluntarily” can speak volumes. Do try to get more than that. One way is to make your request in a human way, for example, “The person I hire will work closely with me. It’s really important I get someone competent, hard-working, ethical, low-maintenance and kind. Do you think I’ll be happy with this person?” Again, the reference may not say a lot but you can learn a lot from tone.

The hiring decision. It’s wise to base your decision more on intelligence and drive than on degrees and experience. A person could be great at school and lousy in the workplace. He could have 20 years of experience, but have been a low-quality employee for those 20 years. It’s much easier to teach skills than to increase someone’s intelligence and drive.

Responding to applicants.

Too often, employers don’t even give applicants the dignity of a rejection letter, leaving them hanging indefinitely. And candidates deserve a rejection letter that’s more helpful than, “We’ve had many qualified applicants.” Candidates put much time and emotional energy into applying. They deserve at least a bit of brief honest feedback.

Too often, when employers give feedback, they don’t give the real reason but something hard to argue with like, “You’re overqualified,” “We wanted someone with more direct experience” or “We chose someone with a master’s degree,” when in fact if the candidate showed better reasoning skills, drive, technical expertise or ethics, she would have been hired.

Honest feedback benefits both candidates and society. Imagine how much growth to people and society would accrue from simply giving all rejected candidates a bit of honest feedback. Yes, giving the true reason(s) you rejected them may result in some of them arguing with you, but that seems a small price to pay.

The upshot

In sum, the proposed model is simple: get your pool of applicants by referral, not ads; screen them using simulation rather than the cheat-prone resume, cover letter and interview questions; and treat all applicants with respect: not too many interviews and prompt, honest feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

That model requires less time while increasing the likelihood of a worthy person being hired. That serves not only employees and employers, but all of us.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

Read next: 3 Most Important Things to Know When You’re Hiring Somebody

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME career

Being Rich Is Not a Priority for Women, Survey Shows

In a global survey, a majority of women did not list wealth as their top goal

When women are asked to imagine success, becoming extremely wealthy is not the first thing that comes into their minds. Instead, across countries and continents, mothers, daughters and wives are more concerned about financial security for their families.

That’s one of the main findings of a survey of women and men ages 21 to 69 in the United States, United Kingdom, China and Brazil. While economic concerns among both sexes continue to decline, most respondents are still worried about just getting by.

Nearly 80% of women said they’d rather have more money than power or sex in their lives, according to the survey, which was backed by public relations firm FleishmanHillard and Hearst media. Yet a deeper dive suggests the drive behind the money is for security as opposed to excelling financially.

The results have dramatic implications on not just women’s ability to accrue wealth, but also on financial planners. Women are expected to earn $18 trillion in the U.S. this year — 50% more than they earned five years ago. On a global level, by 2030, women will control two-thirds of our nation’s wealth. As taking smart risks with their money falls to the wayside in place of more practical bets like planning a family trip or going out to eat, women are less likely to invest their money.

What’s more is that women feel increasingly untrustworthy of financial institutions. Only about a third of women surveyed in the U.S. said they were loyal to one financial services company. That figured dropped to just 16% among women in the U.K. Also, more than half of women in the U.S., U.K. and China reported to be “overwhelmed” by the products and choices available today for financial services.

The cautious and overwhelmed attitude toward financial planners breeds an attitude of self-reliance, says Steve Kraus, senior vice president and chief insights officer Ipsos MediaCT’s audience measurement group, the third-party organization that conducted the report’s research. This leads women to believe that saving their money for a rainy day is better than taking it to a big bad bank.

“It is men who are more likely to say that they want to start spending again, and it is men that are most likely to say that I am going to invest in the coming months,” says Kraus. “There is not a lot of trust in financial brands right now, and we see growing numbers of women feel more self-reliant.”

Eve Ellis, a financial adviser with the Matterhorn Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, says it is too easy to generalize among an entire group of women about their attitudes toward financial planning and investing. Yet she has seen some women, in their desire for financial security, be overly cautious in their investment choices.

“Sadly, investors who are too cautious as they invest in the markets may miss opportunities to achieve the very security they seek,” she said. “The old credo too often stands true: No risk, no gain.”

The report did include a silver lining for financial planners looking to recruit more female clients. More than ever since the end of the Great Recession, women are thinking longterm about their financial strategy. Some 75% of women would opt out of a significant promotion if their child could get into a top college. This gives financial advisors a clue of how to talk to women about their future.

Fidelity is the most-trusted financial services brand among American women, according to the report. Kristen Robinson, senior vice president of women and young investors for personal investing at Fidelity, said women are looking for a holistic approach to investing. Partly to solve the common problem of feeling overwhelmed by investment choices, Robinson said the company is also working to increase its visibility among professional women by hosting more educational workshops.

“Women work very hard to make progress in so many ways. Yet only when they have the ability to control their own financial futures will they realize the full extent of their true power,” Fidelity CEO Abby Johnson and President of Personal Investing Kathy Murphy wrote in the October 6th issue of Fortune.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME career

How One Woman Got Over the Fear That Ruled Her Life

Eleanor Clift in 2005 in Park City, Utah.
Eleanor Clift in 2005 in Park City, Utah. J. Countess—WireImage

Watch enough old movies and you'd think every journalist was an over-the-top, cigar-chomping chatterbox. Not so, says veteran reporter Eleanor Clift. Here, she explains how she went from being afraid to raise her hand at a PTA meeting to arguing her views on national TV

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

My parents came to America from the tiny island of Föhr in the North Sea off the coast of Germany and Denmark. My father worked as a clerk in New York City delicatessen stores and by the time my two older brothers and I were born, he had his own store. He dealt with the customers while my mother worked in the kitchen, making rice pudding, custards and potato salad. Their work ethic was incredible. And they never sought applause or praise for it.

To the contrary, they poked fun at other people—especially those they perceived as bragging or showing off. I adopted their cultural aversion to drawing attention to oneself, and throughout my early school years, I spoke when called upon but rarely volunteered to speak.

(MORE: New Poll Shows Parents Are Really Stressed… And Really Happy)

That worked until one day in fifth grade when I needed to stand in front of the class and summarize a news article. In anticipation of this event, I awoke feeling nauseous—what my mother called a “nervous stomach.” I imagined all sorts of things that could go wrong: I would forget my place, my classmates would laugh at me for some real or imagined transgression. Nothing catastrophic happened. But I can still recite the start of that speech. I spoke in a complete monotone, every bit of spontaneity squeezed out of my delivery.

This experience didn’t cure my fear of public speaking. Over the years to come, I dreaded everything from raising my hand in a classroom as a student to speaking out on behalf of my own children at a PTA meeting. Even at press conferences that I attended as part of my job as a magazine reporter, I hung back and watched as other journalists shouted questions.

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The only thing worse was speaking before an audience of the people who knew me best, like my family or close friends. I imagined they would see right through me if I acted too full of myself (my mother’s words).

When I was in my early thirties, the magazine I worked for began experimenting with storytelling on television. Correspondents would go out with a film crew and narrate their stories, a new experience for reporters accustomed to working with a pad and pencil. Reading these scripts aloud was hugely difficult for me. I was told my delivery was too-sing-songy. Speaking assertively would have meant challenging those elemental fears about stepping on stage and owning my persona.

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I couldn’t do it alone. So I signed up for an adult education course, called “How to face an audience without taking a tranquilizer.” The instructor, Sandy Linver, was a pioneer in what was then a new field of communication development. She had founded an organization called the Speakeasy, which was as much group therapy as speech coaching. When we gathered, each member would give a talk and the others would gently offer a critique. The talks were videotaped, and we could see ourselves as others saw us. What I saw surprised me: a woman with long blond hair pulled back into a ponytail—perfect for the park, but not the podium. “Eleanor, earth mothers are out,” said Sandy, urging me to cut my hair, seeing it as a metaphor. I did, and it was a transformative experience. When I showed up with shoulder-length hair to my next class, everyone clapped. I realized I didn’t have to be stuck in an outdated image. I could free myself to command the spotlight.

(MORE: 30 Secrets Your Body Language Gives Away)

The Speakeasy course taught me that the key to public speaking was just doing it, over and over again, and learning to understand the anxious feelings that come with it, and how they dissipate. I learned that a few deep breaths can work wonders, as can mentally repeating a comforting thought or a childhood prayer. I do not strive to be free of all stress when making a public presentation, though, because anxiety can be positive, it pushes me to excel as long as it’s kept in check. That’s the balance to seek.

Even once I was able to speak in small groups, though, I never expected I’d end up talking before millions of people on TV. That came as a surprise—one of many on March 30, 1981. I was in the small pool of reporters accompanying President Reagan to the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C, where he was to give a speech. That day, he and his press secretary James Brady were shot. I was invited to appear that evening on a news program on PBS to recount the tragic events. As I sat in the studio fighting my anxiety, suddenly the image of the gravely wounded Jim Brady lying on the sidewalk and the awareness of how we almost lost the president jolted me. How could I think about my own minor fears after what I had witnessed? This wasn’t about me. That simple revelation eased my stage fright that night, and has continued to help calm me in many situations to this day. It’s not about me; it’s about the information that I wish to impart, or (in other settings) the argument that I want to make.

(MORE: 7 Tips to Keep You Calm)

I’m still not immune to the fear, even all these years later. Those early feelings of terror still surface with regularity. And there’s still always that moment when I wonder if what I have to say is relevant to the audience, but I have learned that people are forgiving, they’re not expecting perfection. But now that rush of anxiety is replaced with a sense of confidence that I can do this. And when it goes well, there is an almost physical high that comes with conquering my fears.

(MORE: Busting 10 Diet Myths)

TIME celebrities

Glenn Beck Reveals 5-Year Health Battle That Made Him Feel ‘Crazy’

Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck attends a Tea Party Patriots rally on June 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck attends a Tea Party Patriots rally on June 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, adrenal fatigue, and Addison's disease, among other ailments

Glenn Beck has revealed a shocking secret he has kept for five years: He’s battling several serious medical conditions that have wreaked havoc on his brain functioning.

The conservative pundit came clean about his health problems on his network, TheBlaze TV, on Monday night, explaining why he was slowly slipping away from the spotlight – and how he has miraculously recovered.

“I was told by doctors just this last spring … that I could no longer work the way I had been working because it was literally killing me,” he said, tearing up.

About five years ago, Beck, now 50, began “to have a string of health issues that quite honestly made me look crazy,” he said. “And quite honestly, I have felt crazy because of them.”

The right-wing media personality was plagued by vocal cord paralysis, couldn’t sleep but never felt tired and struggled with his eyesight (one symptom he did disclose publicly). He’d forget names and faces and suffered from seizures.

“We didn’t know at the time what was causing me to feel as though, out of nowhere, my hands or feet or arms or legs would feel like someone had just crushed them,” he said, “or set them on fire, or pushed broken glass through my feet.”

After countless medical tests and consultations with the country’s top doctors, Beck moved his family from New York to Texas, discovering a local rehab facility, Carrick Brain Centers. He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, adrenal fatigue, and Addison’s disease, among other ailments.

But now, he seems to be back on track.

“After months of treatment and completely changing the way I eat, sleep, work and live, along with ongoing hormone treatment and intensive physical therapy, I have reversed the process,” he said. “Some of the physical scars will be with me for the rest of my life … but my brain is back online in a big way.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME advice

8 Ways to Stay Super Productive When Working at Home

Home office
Getty Images

Stick to a schedule

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

More than 10 percent of U.S. employees are now regularly working at home, according to a survey by Stanford University, and that number is increasing. As someone who’s been working from home a lot lately, I (and a few experts) have come up with some tips that will help you be more productive if you find yourself working from home.

1. Get out of bed.

I know some people’s beds are literally their pride and joy, but you can’t work from bed. Well, not productively. You need a desk or a table and to be upright.

2. Get dressed.

A lot of people make the mistake of staying in their pajamas all day, and it won’t help you. Getting dressed helps you get into work mode. You don’t have to put on a pencil skirt and heels, but just a pair of jeans or workout clothes will help. If you have a video call or conference, you’d better be totally business from the waist up.

3. Stick to a schedule.

This really depends on the person’s work habits and what kind of clients they’re working with regularly. What’s important is that you get used to some kind of schedule so your body and brain can get accustomed to this schedule. If you find sleeping ’til 10 a.m and then working until 9 p.m. works better for you then go for it, but many people tend to find that the classic 9 to 5 or around then works best.

4. Tidy up.

For most, having an established and neat work area will help you be more productive. You really need to set up an office, or at least a makeshift one. “Today, telecommuting is something that enters many of our work worlds, [so] we should all create spaces at home that are conducive to working there,” says Heath Boice-Pardee, EdD, associate faculty member at the University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies and community manager of the PhoenixConnect® academic social network.

And if you have a Skype call, be sure that your background is presentable. Levo writer Katrina Taylor wrote, “Take a few minutes to de-clutter your surroundings and remove any potentially embarrassing items. Translation? Forgetting to relocate the naked mannequin torso that lives behind your office chair won’t win you any brownie points. (Fortunately, my co-workers have a sense of humor.)”

(MORE: 5 Ways to Make Your Commute More Productive)

5. Communicate clearly.

Sometimes when you’re home, you fall into home mode. This may translate into your emails not being as clear. Because you’re not with people in the office, you’re already automatically at a disadvantage. Be articulate and clear in all communication and make sure it’s well thought out.

6. Don’t multitask your breaks.

Just because you think you can catch up on Orange is the New Black while you write invoices doesn’t mean you actually can or that it’ll help you. Take a real break and watch TV or go on a walk. Don’t mix work with a leisure activity. Set clear boundaries.

7. Try to talk with at least one human being every day.

Even though you may have hated all your co-workers and boss and are thrilled to not be in an office with them anymore, you’ll start to crave interaction. Humans are social by nature. Instead of just writing long emails, ask to have a phone call or even meet in person.

8. Go to a coffice.

Working from home doesn’t mean you actually have to work from home. Some people just need to get out of the house every day. They need the ambient noise of a coffee shop along with just seeing other people around. Writer Malcolm Gladwell has a perfectly lovely office at The New Yorker, but he prefers a coffee shop. In his acknowledgments in Blink, he thanked the staff of Savoy in SoHo where he wrote a big portion of his book. “They have these huge windows and they open them out so that people on the street are walking right by you. You feel the traffic; you feel in the middle of things and paradoxically I find it very calming.”

(MORE: 4 Productive Habits That Will Build Your Personal Brand)

TIME

4 Ways to Go From Underemployed to Getting the Job You Want

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People standing in line at Job and Training Fair Yellow Dog Productions—Getty Images

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

What to do about America's employers eliminating, automating and offshoring jobs

Most of us have heard of:
  • College graduates doing menial work. A caller to my radio program last week graduated a year ago from the University of California, Berkeley, and the best job he’s been able to land is pizza delivery person. Alas, according to a report in The Atlantic, he’s far from alone; 53.6% of college graduates under 25 are doing work they could have done without college or are unemployed.
  • Middle-age professionals are losing their job: It was offshored, automated or, if s/he was lucky, it was converted to a “consultant” position in which they’re hired only for a project and with minimal benefits after which they’re back pounding the pavement. According to an AARP report, three years after the recession, 45% of the 50- to 64-year-olds surveyed reported a decline in income.
  • Itinerant professors. Colleges tout the importance of treating labor fairly, yet they don’t practice what they preach. Increasingly, they replace tenure-track faculty with people hired, without benefits, to teach just one or two courses at pittance pay. As a result, countless highly and expensively educated Ph.D.s must drive from university to university to cobble together a living smaller than they could have made without any degree, let alone a Ph.D. An Inside Higher Ed/Gallup poll found 65% of college provosts said their institution relies “significantly on non-tenure-track faculty for instruction.”

America’s employers–for-profit, non-profit, and government alike–are eliminating, automating and offshoring as many jobs as possible. And the remaining jobs are, ever more often, converted into part-time or temp work. This is the dejobbing of America

The broader picture

It’s tempting to feel things are better because the unemployment rate is down, but that masks the fact that many people have stopped looking for work. Those people aren’t counted in the unemployment rate. Nor does the unemployment rate consider people who are working but earning less income.

These statistics are more revealing: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate, the percentage of adults 16 to 64 that are employed or actively looking for work, is 62.7%, the lowest since early 1978.

And those who are working are, on average, making less. An analysis of government data on income and poverty last month found that, “After adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999.”

The numbers hide the human toll. Work is key to people’s psychological as well as financial well-being. Without work, in addition to not being able to pay for food, shelter, transportation and health care, you can feel useless.

Solutions for the individual

Personally, I love the liberal arts. I enjoy reading novels, looking at paintings, listening to classical music and contemplating life’s Big Questions. Alas, we’re living in times in which those seem less valued than they used to be. A report this month by the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that the four majors most in demand by employers at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level are business, engineering, computer and information sciences, and sciences, with liberal arts trailing badly—just above agriculture and natural resources. Another survey in that NACE report found that employers are demanding even more problem solving expertise and quantitative analysis skills.

So I bear the bad news that, to avoid long periods of un- and underemployment, you may have to ratchet up your game. And even if you do, you may need to use more aggressive techniques to land a job than not long ago. A pretty, hired-gun-written resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter may not cut it any more. But these things might help:

  • In answering ads, include a job sample: a proposal for what you might do if hired, a white-paper on a topic of compelling interest to the boss and/or a portfolio of relevant work.
  • Try to get in through the back door. The front door (answering want ads) has a long line of wannabes. So try to connect with people with the power to hire you when they’re not advertising a job. Write an email asking for advice. They may create a job or at least foot-in-the-door project for you. Ask for a job, they’ll feel pressured and just give you advice or ignore your request.
  • Make an offer they can’t refuse. Offer to volunteer for a fixed amount of time. If after that, they like you, they agree to hire you. If not, they got free labor with no strings attached.
  • Not for the faint-of-heart: Walk in. For example, a client wanted the security of a federal job. So at 8:00 AM, when all the federal workers were arriving, she asked a friendly looking one if she might get her through security by saying, “She’s with me.” Two said no but the third said yes. She then schmoozed her way around the building and got useful inside information, which enabled her to write a great application for a position, which she then got.

Macro solutions

  • Assistance Army. Companies, nonprofits, and government should collaborate in creating an “Assistance Army.” Each sector would create societally beneficial jobs that even many low-skilled workers could do: for example, student mentor, community garden raised-bed builder, health-care system docent and mural creator to brighten gritty neighborhoods. Additionally, the three sectors would develop a campaign to encourage individuals to hire personal aides: tutors for their children, housekeeper, personal assistant and technology explainer for themselves, elder companion for their older relative, etc.
  • A world-class K-16 entrepreneurship curriculum. Permanent jobs get created mainly by starting and expanding private-sector businesses. Government jobs require tax dollars, which thus reduce private-sector jobs. To increase business creation, we must go beyond the born entrepreneurs, hence the proposed entrepreneurship curriculum. That should consist heavily of students creating and running businesses, plus online simulations, in which students get instant feedback on their business decisions.
  • Expanded apprenticeship programs. Despite the rampant un- and underemployment among college graduates and the relative shortage of skilled (and offshore-proof) blue-collar jobs, we’re sending young people a message that everyone should go to college, even students that struggled in high school. In fact, according to Clifford Adelman, senior statistician at the U.S. Department of Education, if you graduated in the bottom 40% of your high school class, your chance of graduating college is less than one in four, even if given 8 ½ years. And if you graduate, it’s likely to be from a third-tier college with a major that is likely to make employers yawn, thus setting you up to be one of the aforementioned 53.6% of college graduates doing work they could have done without college or who are unemployed.

Instead, we need to expand our system of apprenticeships so it’s a major initiative, like that in Germany and in England: a partnership between the schools and employers that creates a high-quality experience for high-schoolers whose track record indicates they’re more likely to succeed in a practical curriculum than by calculating calculus integrals, deciphering the intricacies of Shakespeare and interpreting stochastic processes.

A perhaps hyperbolic call to action.

Good jobs are at the heart of a satisfied citizenry and viable society. Our rapidly dejobbing America is prioritizing short-term profit over long-term survival. Many people consider climate change our most urgent threat. I believe dejobbing is an even greater one.

Marty Nemko is an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME health

Why So Many Women Are Crying at the Gym

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Yoga mudra Stefano Oppo—Getty Images

For a generation of stressed-out working women, exercise is as much about emotional release as it is physical training.

“Let it out! Let out the sludge!”

It’s 7am on a Tuesday, at a small dance studio in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, and Taryn Toomey is stomping her feet into the floor like thunder. “Get rid of the bullsh*t!” she shouts. “Get rid of the drama!”

Two dozen women in yoga pants and sports bras sprint in place behind her, eyes closed, arms flailing. Sweat is flying. The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” is blaring in the background. There are grunts and screams. “Hell yes!” a woman bellows.

When the song ends, Toomey directs the group into child’s pose, torso folded over the knees, forehead on the floor, arms spread forward. Coldplay comes on, and there is a moment of rest. “Inhale. Exhale. Feel your center,” Toomey says. Heads slowly come up, and suddenly, tears are streaming down the faces of half the room. A woman in front of me is physically trembling. “I just let it all out,” a middle-aged woman in leggings and a tank top whispers.

This is “The Class”—one part yoga, two parts bootcamp, three parts emotional release, packaged into an almost spiritual… no, tribal… 75 minutes. It is the creation of fashion exec turned yoga instructor Toomey, and it is where New York’s high-flying women go for emotional release (if, that is, they can get a spot).

“During my first class I didn’t just cry, I sobbed,” says McKenzie Hayes, a 22-year-old New Yorker who has become a regular in the class. “Whether it’s your job or your relationships, I literally picture my emotional problems being slowly unstuck from my body and moved out.”

Toomey calls that “sludge”: it’s the emotional baggage we carry in our muscles that has nowhere else to go. She’s not a doctor. But week after week, she encourages participants to sweat, scream and cry out those emotions, in the company of a group of mostly women who are doing the same. “I’ve had classes where people are literally on all fours sobbing,” Toomey says. “But it’s not just my class, it’s happening everywhere. Emotional release in public can feel very uncomfortable. But I think there’s a growing movement of people who want to find a space for it.”

Indeed, the message to women has long been to hide your tears lest you look weak. (Among the tactics: jutting out your jaw. Breathing exercises. Chewing gum. Drinking water.) Yet while crying in the office may remain a feminine faux pas, tears at the gym seem to have lost their stigma — to the extent that there are a bevy of fitness courses that even encourage it.

For Asie Mohtarez, a Brooklyn makeup artist, it began in hot yoga. The music was on, the floor was warm, the instructor was standing over her encouraging her to let go. “I was in child’s pose and I just lost it,” she says. Then, two weeks later, it happened again – this time at Physique 57. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack came on and it was waterworks again. “There’s something about these classes that feel safe,” says the 33-year-old. “I can’t cry at work. I’m not emotionally distraught enough to cry in the shower. I can’t just burst into tears in front of my husband. So, what does that leave you with?”

You could go to therapy – or you could hit the gym. Women are getting teary in SoulCycle, and misty-eyed at Pure Barre. They are letting out wails in yoga and rubbing the shoulder of the weepy woman next to them at CrossFit. “I think people have started to notice that their clients are just showing up to class and just unloading, and so they’re tailoring their classes to create space for this,” says Hayes, who is a pilates instructor by day. “When I take private clients I end up feeling like a therapist for them.”

These fitness instructors aren’t trained in that, of course. But they’ve probably been there.

“I usually just go over to the student after class and quietly ask how they’re feeling,” says Kristin Esposito, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles who sees criers often. “My classes are focused on release so it feels pretty natural.”

Physiologically, it is: Exercise releases endorphins, which interact with serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals that impact mood. In yoga, deep hip openers – like the “pigeon pose” – are meant to stir emotions (yogis believe our emotional baggage lives in our hips).

But many of the newer courses are specifically choreographed to release emotion, too – making it all that much more intense. The lights are dim, candles flicker in the background. It’s not an accident that just as you’re starting to relax, coming down from the adrenaline, you’re blasted with a throaty ballad. Those playlists are meticulously constructed. “I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, so I’ve basically seen it all: crying, laughing, throwing up, overheating,” says Stacey Griffith, a Soul Cycle instructor. “There are moments in the class that are directly programmed for that reason – but it’s not like we’re trying to get people to cry. We’re giving them the space to step outside of themselves.”

And indeed, that may be necessary. We’re busier, more stressed and more connected than we’ve ever been. Simply finding the time to have that “space” can be near impossible, making the release that these courses offer – packaged neatly into an hour – a kind of fix. “The night before, I can’t wait,” says Hayes of Toomey’s class. “I already know what will be the flood that I’m working through. And sometimes conversations with friends just don’t cut it.”

Getting those emotions out is a good thing – at least in moderation. Emotional tears contain manganese, potassium, and a hormone called prolactin, which help lower cholesterol, control high blood and boost the immune system. Crying reduces stress, and, according to one study, from the University of Minnesota, actually improves the mood of nearly 90 percent of people who do it. “You really do feel lighter after,” says Hayes.

“To me, it’s a sign of being present, it’s a sign of feeling your feelings, of being in the moment,” says Toomey, just after “the class” has ended. Plus, shoulder to shoulder in a hot room, there is almost a sense of communal release. Of high-charged emotional camaraderie. “I so needed this,” a woman tells her on the way out, with a hug. And, of course, with that much sweat, the tears are almost hidden anyway.

Read next: I Taught Fitness and Failed a Fat Test

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