MONEY salary negotiation

The Foolproof Way to Make Sure You Land a Big Raise This Year

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Resolved to increase your pay in 2015? These steps can help you scoop up a better-than-average bump.

A few years ago, you might have been grateful just to have a paycheck—even if it wasn’t as fat as you deserved. Today, you finally have the upper hand again when it comes to asking for a raise.

You can thank the rapid improvement in the job market in the last year for that. Unemployment is expected to drop to 5.4% by the end of this year, and 57% of companies say they are worried about retaining workers, up from 20% in 2010, according to PayScale.com’s Compensation Best Practices Report.

That’s putting pressure on employers to boost compensation: 82% plan to increase salaries for current employees this year, up from 73% last year, according to CareerBuilder’s latest jobs forecast.

“Workers should be feeling pretty good about their chances for getting a raise this year,” says CareerBuilder’s Mary Lorenz. Music to your ears, right?

The average worker should see a salary bump of 3%, according to estimations from Mercer’s 2014/2015 U.S. Compensation Planning Executive Survey. But those who are top performers or have in-demand expertise could see their paychecks rise even more. The average boost for the most valued employees will top 5%, according to Mercer.

To go from a so-so raise to a big bump up, here’s what you need to do:

Get on Your Boss’s Calendar

Don’t wait until performance-review time, typically in the spring, to ask for a raise. Not only will you have more competition from coworkers then, but budgets will already have been decided—which will make it harder for your supervisor to get you more cash even if he or she believes in your cause.

Assuming you and your company have had a good year—the latter also being a must—schedule a meeting with your supervisor ASAP before your window for the year closes.

Sure, even the most confident of workers may find it intimidating to call a meeting with the boss and ask for more money. But the odds are good that your boldness will pay off: A recent PayScale survey found that 44% of people who asked for a raise received what they asked for, and 31% more still got a raise, just less than they requested.

Collect Some Evidence

In the meantime, to help make your case, gather accolades from the past year.

Pull together emails of praise from higher ups, ask happy customers or clients to write testimonials for your work, and make a list of your major accomplishments, quantifying them as much as possible. Bottom-line-focused supervisors will especially want to hear about how you’ve boosted revenue or cut costs.

Put a Number On Yourself

“It’s important to go in with a number in mind,” says CareerBuilder’s Lorenz. “You should know your value and be able to go in with an idea of what you think you deserve and be ready to explain why.”

Your ask should be based around what others are getting, since you’ll shut down the conversation fast if you request a boost that’s out of the ballpark.

Start by seeing where your salary falls compared to others in similar jobs with the same skill set and years of experience, using sites such as PayScale.com and Glassdoor.com. Keep in mind that top performers may earn 10% to 15% more than these averages.

Put your findings in perspective by determining what’s realistic at your company. If you have a manager you’re close with, a higher up mentor, or a friend in HR, ask for insight on salary ranges for people at your level or on how much the company is budgeting for raises this year on average. If you’re a top performer and can prove it, you should feel comfortable asking for more than the average.

Make Your Ask

You’ve got your proof and your number, so you’re ready, right? Not quite. Ideally, you’ll want to do a run through of the conversation with someone, since practice will make you more comfortable when you’re in the moment.

You might start the conversation something like this: “Hey Jane, my department had a really great year in 2014, and I was hoping to get your feedback, talk about ideas going forward, and discuss my compensation.”

Then, dig into your successes. Since your boss may not realize all that you’ve accomplished, you should make him or her aware by pointing out a few key highlights from the “to-done” list you made. You could say, “I don’t know if you’re in the loop on everything I’ve accomplished this year, so I just wanted to point out of few of my biggest successes…” Bring up the testimonials where relevant.

Talk not only about your achievements but also about what you are going to tackle next. Your boss is more likely to reward you if you’ve got a plan for what you will do for the company, not just what you did.

Have a Plan B

The best outcome is a permanent boost in your salary. But if that’s not possible, ask for a bonus. One-time rewards, including spot bonuses and project completion bonuses, are on the rise as more companies worry about retaining employees, the WorldatWork Survey of Bonus Programs and Practices 2014 found.

Spot bonuses typically range from $2,500 to $5,000.

Be aware that income taxes can lop off up to 40% of the bonus, so ask if your company will “gross up” the reward so you actually get the whole amount.

Be Ready to Jump

You’re not always going to get what you want. If budgets are tight or layoffs are looming, your manager’s hands may be tied.

So you may have to leave to get that raise. But the good news for you is that even in good times, the biggest pay jumps come when you switch to a new job.

Job switchers simply have more leverage when negotiating salary, especially since the number of employees voluntarily quitting is at its highest since April 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quits rate measure.

That leaves employers with a lot of empty positions to fill, and they are showing their eagerness to put bodies in these slots: The average wage growth for job changers rose from 4.3% at the start of 2013 to 4.5% at the end of 2014, according to a report by the Kansas City Federal Reserve.

So whether you stay or go, the chances are good that you’ll make more money in 2015.

More on financial resolutions:

MONEY salary negotiation

New Study Reveals the Odds You’ll Actually Get the Raise You Ask For

Your boss's decision to grant—or deny—your request could be influenced by a lot more than your performance.

Perhaps you’ve resolved to make 2015 the year that you finally get a big bump up in pay.

If so, you’ll first have to clear the biggest hurdle standing in your way: You.

Less than half of working Americans ever even ask for a raise and close to 30% are uncomfortable negotiating salary, according to a new study by Payscale.

It may help you feel more confident to go after what you want if you know the odds are generally in your favor. Of people who have put themselves out there to request better compensation, three quarters saw their paychecks go up: 44% received the amount they asked for and 31% got an amount that was less than they asked for. (Hey, that’s still something!)

That Payscale study also broke down the likelihood that those who ask shall receive based on annual salary, job, degree level, college major and state of residency.

You’ll have the best shot if you…

 

  • …Already Earn a Decent Wage

    Once again, it’s good to be rich. The higher your annual salary, the more likely you are to have asked for a raise and the more likely you are to have received the raise you requested.

    Individuals earning $150,000 or more a year were the most likely to see their employer match the exact raise they requested, with a 70% success rate. Only 8% of these high-earners saw their request for a raise go unfulfilled.

    Meanwhile, only 25% of those earning between $10,000 and $20,000 saw their incomes increase by the amount they asked for, while 51% had their request for a pay raise denied entirely.

    Somewhere in the middle? The good news is that if your annual income tops $70,000, you have at least a 50% chance of getting the pay raise you request.

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  • …Wear a White Collar

    Unsurprisingly, those who work in higher-paying jobs also have a better shot at having their compensation wishes granted.

    Chief executives were 76% successful in getting the exact pay raises they wanted. First-line supervisors in the construction trades had their requests granted 62% of the time. Other high-wager earners such as financial analysts and electrical engineers rounded out the top five professions most likely to receive a requested raise.

    Those with jobs that commanded lower annual salaries tended to have their requests for raises denied more frequently. Nursing aides and orderlies have the worst chance of getting the raise they want followed by security guards and cashiers. Below are the top five and bottom five occupations for getting a wage increase.

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  • …Went to Law School

    While the level of education a person has obtained didn’t have much impact on their willingness to ask for a raise, it did affect the likelihood that their wish would be granted.

    Those with post-graduate degrees were most likely to be successful in their requests, though success rates were highest for those with an M.B.A. (55%) and a law degree (59%).

    Go figure that attorneys are good at negotiation.

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  • …Got a B.S. in Social Work

    Surprisingly, English language and/or English literature majors were the most likely to have asked for a raise (51%)—call it their way with words. Their requests paid off 49% of the time.

    Those who studied public administration and social services were the most lucky in terms of receiving, getting what they wanted 56% of the time

    Those whose college majors tended to land them jobs in the public sector, such as homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting and other protective services were least likely to have asked for a raise—perhaps because these jobs typically have set pay structures. Workers who came from these majors who did ask were only met with a yes 18% of the time, giving them the lowest success rate.

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  • …Live in Juneau

    Alaska residents are the most likely to push for a raise, with 53% of the population having requested one (and they’ll need it to offset those heating bills). Residents of Rhode Island come in second with 51%, followed by Oregonians and West Virginians, with 48%. Dwellers of Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Idaho tied for fifth with 47% advocating for a raise.

    South Dakotans were least likely to ask for a pay increase, (31%), followed by residents of Arkansas (34%), Nevada (37%) and Nebraska (37%).

    Alaskans’ assertiveness pays off, apparently, as they are also the state residents most likely to receive the pay increase requested. Delawareans were the least successful in their requests with only 32% getting the amount they were after. Below are the top six and worst six states for getting a raise request approved:

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    More from this series on Money.com:

MONEY technology

Intel’s $300 Million Tech Diversity Plan

CEO Brian Krzanich announced an initiative to bring more women and minorities into the tech industry.

TIME Careers & Workplace

45 Quick Changes That Will Help Your Resume Get Noticed

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If you have gaps of a few months in your work history, swap out the usual start and end dates for each position with years only

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

There is certainly a time and a place for a resume overhaul. Taking a couple hours to really clean up your resume is worth doing before you start a job search, or even just once a year as a tune-up.

But sometimes, you don’t have that kind of time. Sometimes, you just have a few minutes, and you want to spend them giving your resume a quick polishing-up. And for those times, we made you this list of resume updates that only take a few minutes, but that can make a big difference in making your resume shine.

Choose how much time you have, pick a (mini) project, and get ready for your resume to be that much more eye-catching.

If You Have 2 Minutes

  1. If it’s not done already, switch the font of your resume to Helvetica, Arial, or Times New Roman—in other words, make sure it’s not hard to read (or stuck in Word’s standard Calibri). Using a common, clean font may not make your resume the prettiest out there, but it will make it more readable (and less likely to be rejected by applicant tracking systems).
  2. Remove “References Available Upon Request” (if they want references, they’ll ask for them!), and use the extra space to add a detail about your abilities or accomplishments.
  3. Delete the career objective. That boring boilerplate “I am a hard working professional who wants to work in [blank] industry” is a bit obvious—why else would you be submitting your resume?—and takes up valuable space.
  4. Spell check (fo’ serious), and correct any mistakes.
  5. Save your resume as a PDF if it’s in any other format. That way, the formatting won’t get messed up when your resume is opened on a different computer.
  6. Change the file name from “Resume” to “[First Name] [Last Name] Resume”—it makes things easier for hiring managers and ensures your resume doesn’t get lost in the crowd.
  7. Remove your address. If you’re not local, recruiters might not look any further. If you are, recruiters may take your commute time into account and turn you down if they think it would be too long.
  8. In its place, add a link to your LinkedIn profile, as well as any other relevant social media handles (Twitter if it’s professional, Instagram or Flickr if you’re applying to social media or creative positions). Caveat: Never include Facebook, no matter how clean you keep it.
  9. Don’t want to drop your whole ugly LinkedIn URL onto your resume? (Hint: You shouldn’t.) Create a custom URL to your public profile using simply /yourname (or some similar, simple variation if somebody already has your name). LinkedIn has instructions on its website.
  10. Make all of your hyperlinks live. Your resume is most likely going to be read on a computer, so making things like your email address, LinkedIn and other social profiles, and personal websites clickable makes it easier for the recruiter to learn more about you.
  11. Omit any references to your birthdate, marital status, or religion. Since it’s illegal for employers to consider this when looking at your application (at least in the U.S.), they can’t request it (and offering it makes you look a little clueless).
  12. If you’re more than three years out of college, remove your graduation year. Recruiters only really want to know that you got a degree, and you don’t want them to inadvertently discriminate based on your age.
  13. While you’re at it, do a little rearranging, and move education down below your experience. Unless you’re a recent graduate, chances are your last one or two jobs are more important and relevant to you getting the job.
  14. To improve readability, increase the line spacing (also called leading) to at least 120% of the font size. To do this in Word, go to Format and select Paragraph. In the pulldown under Line Spacing, choose Exactly and set the spacing to two points above the size of your font (so, 12 if your font is 10 point).
  15. Need a little more space to work with? Reduce your top and bottom margins to 0.5″ and your side margins to no less than 0.75″. This will keep your resume clean and readable but give you more room to talk about what you’ve got.

If You Have 5 Minutes

  1. Remove anything high school-related unless you’re a year out of college or need to bulk up your resume and did something highly relevant (and awesome) during your high school years.
  2. Update your skills section. Add any new skills you’ve gained, and remove anything that is a little dated (nobody wants to hear that you have Microsoft Word experience anymore—they expect it).
  3. If you have lots of skills related to a position—say, foreign language, software, and leadership skills—try breaking out one of those sections and listing it on its own (“Language Skills” or “Software Skills”).
  4. Double check that formatting is consistent across your resume. You want all headers to be in the same style, all indentations to line up, all bullet points to match, and the like. You don’t want the styling to look sloppy!
  5. Find any acronyms, and write out the full name of the title, certification, or organization. You should include both, at least the first time, to make sure the recruiter knows what you’re talking about and so an applicant tracking system will pick it up no matter which format it is looking for. For example: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
  6. Unless you are a designer or are submitting a (carefully crafted) creative resume, remove any photos or visual elements. On a more traditional resume, they generally just distract from the information at hand (and can confuse applicant tracking systems).
  7. If you have gaps of a few months in your work history, swap out the usual start and end dates for each position with years only (e.g., 2010-2012).
  8. Swap out a couple of your boring verbs for some more powerful (and interesting) ones (check out our list if you need inspiration).
  9. Swap out a couple of generic adjectives or titles (words like “detail-oriented” or “experienced” are overused and don’t tell a recruiter much) with stronger language that better describes your more unique strengths.
  10. Worked multiple jobs within the same organization? Learn how to list them right on your resume, then update it as such.
  11. As a rule, you should only show the most recent 10-15 years of your career history and only include the experience relevant to the positions to which you are applying. So if you have anything really dated or random, remove it and use the space to bulk up other sections or add something more relevant.
  12. Go through line by line and take note of any orphan words (single words left on a line by themselves). See how you can edit the previous line so they can fit—making your resume look cleaner and opening up extra lines for you to do other things with.
  13. Make your document easier to skim by adding divider lines between sections. Check out section three of this great guide to resume formatting from LifeClever for instructions.
  14. Include any numbers on your resume? Go through and change them all to numerical form, instead of written out (i.e., 30% instead of thirty percent). Even small numbers that are often spelled out should be written numerically—it makes them pop to the reviewer and saves space.
  15. Read your resume out loud. This will not only help you catch any spelling or grammar errors, but it will also help you notice any sentences that sound awkward or that are hard to understand.

If You Have 10-15 Minutes

  1. Look at your resume “above the fold.” In other words, take a close look at the top third of your resume—the part that will show up on the screen when the hiring manager clicks “open” on that PDF. That’s what’s going to make your first impression—so make sure it serves as a hook that makes the hiring manager eager to read more.
  2. Make sure you have no more than 6-7 bullet points for any given position. If you do? Cut and condense. No matter how long you’ve been in a job or how good your bullets are, the recruiter just isn’t going to get through them.
  3. Give your resume to someone who doesn’t know you well to look at for 30 seconds. Then ask: What are the three most memorable things? What’s the narrative? Take this feedback and think about how you can adjust your resume to get it closer to where you want.
  4. Similarly, drop your resume into a word cloud generator and see which keywords are popping out. If the most prominent ones aren’t what you want to be remembered by, or if there are important words that aren’t present, think about how you can tweak your resume to make that more clear.
  5. Go through your bullet points, and add as many numbers and percentages as you can to quantify your work. How many people were impacted? By what percentage did you exceed your goals? (And, yes, it’s OK to estimate as long as you can roughly prove it.)
  6. Pick a few statements to take one step further, and add in what the benefit was to your boss or your company. By doing this, you clearly communicate not only what you’re capable of, but also the direct benefit the employer will receive by hiring you.
  7. Consider adding a qualifications section. (Perhaps in lieu of your now-deleted “Career Objective?”) This should be a six-sentence (or bullet pointed) section that concisely presents the crème of the crop of your achievements, major skills, and important experiences. By doing this, you’re both appeasing any applicant tracking systems with keywords and giving the hiring manager the juicy, important bits right at the top.
  8. Update your resume header to make it pop. You don’t have to have a ton of design knowledge to make a header that looks sleek and catches a recruiter’s eye—check out this example for some simple, text-based inspiration. (Hint: Use this same header on your resume and cover letter to make your “personal brand” look really put together.)
  9. Need to fill up more space on your resume, or feel like you’re light on the experience? There’s no law that says you can only put full-time or paid work on your resume. So, if you’ve participated in a major volunteer role, worked part-time, freelanced, or blogged? Add a couple of these things as their own “jobs” within your career chronology.
  10. If you need more space on your resume, check and see if any of your formatting decisions are taking up unnecessary space. Does your header take up too much at the top? Do you have any extra line breaks that you don’t really need? Tinker around with the formatting and see how much space you can open up (without your resume looking crowded or messy).
  11. Look at each bullet point and make sure it’s understandable to the average person. Remember that the first person who sees your resume might be a recruiter, an assistant, or even a high-level executive—and you want to be sure that it is readable, relevant, and interesting to all of them.
  12. Make sure all of the experience on your resume is updated. Add any awards you’ve received, new skills you’ve taken on, articles you’ve published, or anything else awesome you’ve done.
  13. Hop over to your LinkedIn profile, and make any updates you’ve just made to your resume to your summary and experience sections there.
  14. Email three of your friends or professional contacts asking (nicely!) for a peek at their resumes. You might be able to get some inspiration for your own (or even help them out).
  15. Get that baby out there. Find an awesome job to apply to with one of our partner companies, then get started on your cover letter with our easy-to-follow guide.

More from the Muse:

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Ways to Write Better Emails (and Just Maybe Change the World)

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Try to include one “big idea” per email

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

Want to make a new year’s resolution that you can actually stick to?

One that will instantly improve your life and career, make your colleagues’ lives easier—and maybe change the world?

Commit to writing better, simpler, clearer emails.

The kinds of emails that people actually look forward to reading.

Chances are, you’re going to spend over a quarter of your workday dealing with emails, so if there’s one thing you choose to upgrade in the new year, you might as well start with your communication skills.

Here are 10 ways to take your emails from mediocre to majorly awesome—while inspiring other people to step it up, too:

1. Announce Your Intentions Upfront—and Get to the Point

“Hey! I know you’re busy getting ready for the conference, so I’ll get right to the point. I am writing today because…”

2. Try to Include One “Big Idea” Per Email

“The main thing to remember is…”

“The key takeaway from our conversation is…”

“The one thing I need from you, right now, is…”

3. Try to Use Statements, Not Open-Ended Questions

This: “I think launching the new campaign on Thursday is the best choice. If you agree, write back to say ‘yes,’ and I’ll proceed. If not, let’s talk.”

Not this: “So, what do you guys think? I’m open to everybody’s ideas!”

4. Be Surprisingly Generous

“Congratulations on your promotion. Very exciting. P.S. I left an inspiring book on your desk. Just a little something to usher in the next chapter. Enjoy…”

“I was thinking about your new project. Here’s a free resource that might help…”

“I’ve got a free guest pass for a local co-working space. I want you to have it. Enjoy…”

5. When Delivering Criticism, Be Respectful and Specific

“Thanks for all of your work. We’re getting closer, but the logo still isn’t feeling quite right. Here are three specific adjustments that I’d love for you to make.”

6. Show Your Humanity

“So sorry to hear that your dog passed away. Mine went to doggy-heaven last year. If you want to talk about it, I’m here. If you want to not talk about it (and go out for a coffee or do something fun), I’m here, too.”

7. Tell Your Reader What You Need—and When You Need It—Upfront

“Hey! Here’s a quick recap of our conversation—plus two questions for you at the end. I’d love to receive your responses by [date] so that we can keep moving forward on schedule.”

8. Occasionally, Send Emails That Include a Compliment, Not a Demand or Request

“Hey. You did a terrific job at the press conference. You were funnier than Ellen DeGeneres and totally nailed the message. Thanks for making our company look great!”

9. Whenever Possible, End With Some of the Most Beautiful Words on Earth

“No rush on this.”

“For your information, only. No action necessary.”

“No response required.”

10. Above All: Astonish People With Your Brevity

It’s not always possible, but try to express yourself in three sentences or less. Or as close as you can get. (Think haiku, not memoir.)

If you’re struggling to keep it brief, you might want to pick up the phone, have a face-to-face conversation, or spend a little more time thinking about what you really want to say. (My free workbook, Feel. Know. Do., can help you to organize your thoughts before you hit “send.”)

When you write better emails, you set a new barometer of excellence—inspiring everyone around you to communicate more clearly and effectively, too.

You might not be destined to be the next Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa, but helping to remove friction, irritation, and time-wasting misunderstandings from your workplace? That’s a big deal.

After all, one well-written email can change someone’s day, shift someone’s attitude, nudge a project into motion, or even change someone’s life. You never know what the ripple effects might be.

So, lead the charge. Be the change. Show your colleagues how awesome emails can be.

More from the Muse:

TIME advice

When Collaborating Actually Makes Sense (and When It Doesn’t)

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Just because you like someone doesn’t mean you have to collaborate

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This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

We won’t sugarcoat it: collaboration is a buzzword of the highest, buzziest order. Every company and every leader we’ve ever met swears by it, vouching for how essential it’s been in getting them and to where they are today. Yet rarely do we hear, in concrete terms, what it actually takes to create a collaborative environment. Even more elusive is when, as we navigate opportunities to collaborate, we should say yes to collaboration and when we should say no.

We thought this problem needed remedying. So for our #LYBL series with lululemon athletica, we asked three leaders we admire for the honest truth about collaboration. Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria and founder of Uncharted Play Jessica Matthews; Head of Social Innovation and General Counsel at Warby Parker Anjali Kumar; and EVP of Business Development & Partnerships at Superfly Presents Chad Issaq shared their insights below. Their hard earned lessons will demystify the cult of collaboration and help you, our dearest readers, know a good collaboration when you see one.

1. Collaboration is Not Cooperation

For a collaboration to really work, no one can feel like they are compromising, shares Chad Issaq. When everyone involved gets to stay true to themselves, you’ve stumbled upon a collaboration worth keeping.

2. Some Problems are So Complex You Can’t Do It Alone

Tackling sustainable energy in developing nations has led Jessica Matthews to discover that sometimes you just need more partners in your effort. “Your resources, your smarts, none of it matters” as much as having many motivated people working toward the same goal. Importantly, it’s your purpose that ties you together.

MORE Build Your Relationships by Making Introductions

3. The No Judgement Zone

Collaboration requires a safe environment for everyone. Be supportive and follow the “yes, and” rule of improvisation to foster a collaborative mindset, suggests Chad. At Warby Parker, shares Anjali Kumar, there’s no judgment and no such thing as a stupid idea.

4. Don’t Force a Collaboration That Doesn’t Make Sense

Because what she does is so damn cool, people are constantly trying to work with Jessica—even when it doesn’t makes sense. When that happens, someone will end up frustrated because their expectations aren’t met. At the end of the day, a collaboration that doesn’t align with your mission or business goals just isn’t worth it. Instead, just support each other! As Anjali told us, “Just because you like someone doesn’t mean you have to collaborate.”

MORE 9 Tips for Novice Networkers

5. Open Yourself Up to Your Blind Spots

When you’re going at something on your own, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why Jessica seeks out experts in the areas she’s looking to learn more about, turning them into co-collaborators of her journey. The key is to be open to being challenged. Invite the hard questions and truly test your ideas with collaborators.

6. It Shouldn’t Be Hard

Some collaborations might initially make sense, but somehow everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Maybe it’s bad timing, or maybe you have fundamentally different approaches. But if it’s difficult for you, chances are it’s difficult for your collaborator too. Cutting things off will be a little painful but ultimately, it will be a relief for everyone. Like a great relationships, when things make sense you’ll just know.

MORE The 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Business

TIME advice

Hate Your Job? Here’s What to Do

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Focus on what you can control

First of all, you’re not alone. That sinking feeling you get on Sunday nights when you know you’re only 8 hours away from staff-meeting hell is shared by many. But, you can’t just keep whining forever without making a real change. Here are a few tips on what to do next.

1. Think before you quit.

Elene Cafasso of Enerpace, Inc. Executive Coaching, says that though it may be tempting to throw in the towel and tell off those who have made your life miserable while you’re at it, only consider leaving without another job lined up if you’re in one of the following situations.

Do you have six to 12 months living expenses saved? Do you have an employed significant other and can live on one paycheck for at least six to 12 months? Are you rushing to leave because you’re in a physically/emotionally abusive environment?

If not, consider refreshing your perspective on your current situation to make the best of your position while you look for another job. Cafasso offers help with this as well.

“Focus on what you can control,” she says. “ Maybe it’s the marketing plan you’re in charge of that will be a crucial addition to your portfolio in order to get yourself that new job.”

2. It’s not me, it’s you.

If your coworkers or work schedule is what you dislike the most, Robyn McLeod, Principle at Chatsworth Consulting, reminds us that your frustration may be coming from necessary conversations you’re avoiding.

“The old adage, ‘you won’t get it if you don’t ask’ is true. Often we complain about our work life, but do nothing to change it. The best way to change your situation is to be brave enough to have conversations with the people who can help you get what you want.” McLeod said.

“One client of mine was on the verge of quitting his job because he was working very long hours, was frustrated with problems on his team, and unhappy,” McLeod continued.

“He was afraid to talk to his boss about the situation, but I convinced him that, at that point, he really had nothing to lose. He met with his boss and had a productive conversation. It turns out his boss was not aware of the problems my client was facing and thought very highly of him. He was able to get additional resources for his team and a flexible work schedule that gave him the time with his family that he needed.”

3. The work…I can’t.

But, what if your responsibilities are what you hate about your job, not the team, client or managers? How do you figure out what career change you should be pursuing if any? Cafaso says:

“Write down every job you’ve ever had–even going back to your childhood lemonade stand. Make two columns and jot down what you loved in one column and hated in the other. What patterns or commonalities do you see? What does that tell you to look for in your next job? What types of jobs are rich in the things you love?”

This will make your strengths and interests clearer, and help you target the job that’s perfect for you.

Kimberly Ramsawak, founder of Tourism Exposed, an online community that helps students and career changers find their dream jobs in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, suggests that your best bet in terms of next steps is to develop a targeted list of five to 10 companies that you are interested in based on your desired career niche, job function or job title.

“Then, use social media like LinkedIn and Twitter to research and find current and former employees at those companies, and to see how you’re connected to them and get their email addresses as your first point of contact. Reach out to them too via email to request informal informational interviews (or coffee meetings) in order to learn more about their companies, their jobs, to get the inside scoop on the industry overall and job opportunities that exist before they are made public,” Ramsawak says.

This kind of networking is more effective than just talking to anyone and everyone about how you’re looking for a job or submitting your resume to online job boards and then hoping and praying you’ll get a call for an interview.

Now, you’ve got a guide to determining what you hate about your job, if it’s fixable, and what to do about it if it’s not. Wow, look at how quickly you’ve got it all figured out. Good luck (as if you need it)!

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

To Create a New Habit, First Know You’re Going to Break It

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One of the key parts of building habits might be to know that you will not flawlessly create your habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

I’ve been obsessed with thinking about, adjusting and building upon my habits for a long time now, and working on good habits is probably one of the things that’s helped me the most to make progress with my startup. In addition, it seems like habits are now becoming popular again. This is a great thing, and books like The Power of Habit are helping lots of people.

Perhaps one of the things that is rarely discussed with habits is failing with them. How do you keep going with building habits when you fail one day, or you have some kind of momentary setback?

I thought it might be useful for me to share my thoughts on habits, and particularly the aspect of failing with habits.

Building an awesome habit

There are the steps I’ve found that work best to create a new habit:

  1. Start so small you “can’t fail” (more on the reality of that later)
  2. Work on the small habit for as long as it takes to become a ritual (something you’re pulled towards rather than which requires willpower)
  3. Make a very small addition to the habit, ideally anchored to an existing ritual

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How I built my most rewarding habit

The habit I’m happiest with is my morning routine. It gives me a fantastic start to the day and lots of energy. To build it, I took the approach above of starting small and building on top.

I started my habit a few years ago when I was based in Birmingham in the UK. The first thing I started with was to go to the gym 2-3 times per week. That’s all my routine was for a long time. Once I had that habit ingrained, I expanded on it so that I would go swimming the other two days of the week, essentially meaning that I went to the gym every day at the same time. I’d go around 7:30, which meant I awoke at around 7 a.m.

Next, I gradually woke up earlier, first waking up at 6:45 for several weeks, and then 6:30. At the same time, I put in place my evening ritual of going for a walk, which helped me wind down and get to sleep early enough to then awake early. Eventually, I achieved the ability to wake up at 6 a.m. and do an hour of productive work before the gym. This precious early morning time for work when I was the freshest was one of the things that helped me get Buffer off the ground in the early days.

The next thing I made a real habit was to have breakfast after I returned from the gym. I then worked on making this full routine a habit for a number of months. I had times when I moved to a different country and had to work hard to get back to the routine after the initial disruption of settling in. It was whilst in Hong Kong that I achieved being very disciplined with this routine and wrote about it.

My morning routine

Today, I’ve built on top of this habit even further. Here’s what my morning routine looks like now:

  • I awake at 5:05am.
  • At 5:10, I meditate for 6 minutes.
  • I spend until 5:30 having a first breakfast: a bagel and a protein shake.
  • I do 90 minutes of productive work on a most important task from 5:30 until 7am.
  • At 7 a.m., I go to the gym. I do a weights session every morning (different muscle group each day).
  • I arrive home from the gym at 8:30 a.m. and have a second breakfast: chicken, 2 eggs and cottage cheese.

It may seem extremely regimented, and I guess perhaps it is. However, the important thing is the approach. You can start with one simple thing and then work on it over time. I’m now working to build around this current habit even more.

Failing while building your awesome habit

One of the most popular and simultaneously most controversial articles I’ve ever written is probably The Exercise Habit. It’s one that has been mentioned to me many times by people I’ve met to help with their startup challenges. I’ve been humbled to find out that a number of people have been inspired by the article to start a habit of daily exercise.

Whilst in Tel Aviv, I met Eytan Levit, a great startup founder who has since become a good friend. He told me he had read my article and was immediately driven to start a habit of daily exercise. I sat down and had coffee with him while he told me about his experience, and it was fascinating.

He told me that he did daily exercise for four days in a row, and he felt fantastic. He said he felt like he had more energy than ever before, and was ready to conquer the world. Then, on the fifth day Eytan struggled to get to the gym for whatever reason, and essentially the chain was broken. The most revelatory thing he said to me was that the reason he didn’t start the habit again was not that he didn’t enjoy the exercise or benefit greatly from doing it. The reason he failed to create the exercise habit was the feeling of disappointment of not getting to the gym on that fifth day.

Get ready and expect to break your habit

“I deal with procrastination by scheduling for it. I allow it. I expect it.” – Tim Ferriss

What I’ve realized is that one of the key parts of building habits might be to know that you will not flawlessly create your habits. You are going to break your habit at some point. You are going to fail that next day or next gym session sooner or later. The important thing is to avoid a feeling of guilt and disappointment, because that is what will probably stop you from getting up the next day and continuing with the routine.

In a similar way to how Tim Ferriss deals with procrastination, I believe we should not try so hard to avoid breaking our habits. We should instead be calm and expect to break them sometime, let it happen, then regroup and get ready to continue with the habit.

Perhaps we took too much on, and we cut back a little or try to add one less thing to our habit. Or maybe we just had a bad day. That’s fine, and a single failure shouldn’t stop our long-term success with building amazing habits.

This article originally appeared on Buffer.

TIME advice

How to Discover Your Calling in Life

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Use these 6 steps to find your passion and seek the job you love

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This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

We’ve all heard it before: “Do what you love.” “Follow your passion.” “Find a job that you would do for free.”

Yet “passion” is one of those concepts that is difficult to explain, hard to find and impossible to measure. It’s something that’s unique to each of us, with no one scale to determine it or map to guide us to it

In a world that is evolving so quickly, a good education no longer guarantees work and a job no longer provides stability. We may be losing the structure and simplicity of the past, but we are exchanging it for the freedom to create our own future.

As exciting as this is, we’re not necessarily ready for that responsibility. As much as we embrace freedom, we also seek the comfort of guidance. In order to discover our passion and unlock that freedom, we need some direction and a better understanding of what we are looking for.

What is Passion?

Your calling in life may be something you are born knowing, but it may also be something you discover over time. We all know the person who knew back in high school they would be a doctor, teacher or a dentist. They were fortunate enough to discover their calling at a young age and carry it with them going forward. For most of us, that understanding is discovered throughout our life.

Passion is something that will stem from your beliefs, be enhanced by your skills and sustained by the value that you are able to provide.

What you are passionate about will depend largely on the particular time it is in your life. Yes, this means we can breathe easy knowing that there is more than one dream job for us out there!

If you have not found your calling yet, don’t worry. When you do recognize it, it will come at the right time. Never wish you had uncovered it sooner, as the passion you discover today is not what you would have desired a decade ago. The knowledge you have acquired over this time is what will enable you to recognize the right opportunity when it comes your way.

Finally, when searching for your passion, understand that it is not the same as a job title or a company. There is a field of work out there connected to a certain mission that will resonate with your beliefs and align with your unique set of skills.

MORE Underutilized & Unappreciated at Work? Here’s What You Can Do

What are Your Beliefs?

Everything that we experience in life from a young age is what determines our belief system. These beliefs shape how we think, how we approach situations and how we see things in life. For instance, if you grew up with frugal parents who worked to make ends meet, you will have a different approach to your finances and career than someone who had a wealthy upbringing. Your beliefs are created from your past and form your opinions of the world. It is important to pursue something that supports these beliefs but also aligns with your current views.

That said, how exactly can you translate your beliefs into the actual thing you want to do professionally?

Here are 6 Steps to Discover Your Passion:

1. Understand Why You Are Unhappy in the First Place

It is critical to understand what you don’t like about your current job, so you can make the appropriate change in your next role.

There are many factors to consider, such as: your position, your manager, salary, professional development opportunities, schedule, colleagues, the industry, product offering, location, growth potential, company size, the overall direction the company is headed and many more. Once you have pinpointed the source(s) of pain, think through if they have been issues in past jobs.

If any of these are significantly off, they can completely disrupt the experience you have with that job. You may be in the right position, but a bad boss can ruin your perception of it all.

2. Make Something out of the Time in Your Current Job

Learn, learn, learn! Take advantage of this time to advance your skills, try new things and attack any fears you have. If you are in sales, try new pitches; if you are in marketing, present new ideas; if you are a developer, take on a completely different project. You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain as you prepare for your next role.

MORE How to Infuse Creativity into a Stale Job

3. Research

What you learn from the above analysis will determine which direction you want to go in next. Discovering your passion will require some trial and error, but it all starts with high level research. If you are planning on changing industries for example, begin to explore different sectors. If something peaks your interest, see if it resonates with your beliefs and who you are. If you love your company but don’t like your current responsibilities, envision how you would fit into the different roles and departments available.

4. Submerse Yourself

When you find a path you want to pursue, kick the research into overdrive. Attend networking events, watch online seminars, connect with contacts who are in that field, job shadow, find ways to volunteer your time for free, ask lots of questions and jump on any opportunity that will get you some exposure. You will never know if this is your passion unless you take risks and dive right in. Take advantage of the free time you have outside of your day job to fully apply yourself.

5. Master a Skill:

Most people are better able to hone in on their passion after they’ve mastered a skill in a particular industry; when you have a high level of competence, it raises your confidence, increases satisfaction and enables you to forge your own path. Mastering a certain skill may be spark you need to get going.

6. Provide Value:

Everyone on this planet has a desire to feel like they matter and have some level of importance. You get this when you provide value to others. When you find a mission that resonates with your beliefs and is supported by your skills, your ability to produce results will only deepen your interest in the field. That will ignite a hunger within you to want to advance your business and share this new found passion with others… who might just turn in to your customers.

MORE A Gap Year Can Refocus Your Life

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