TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Job Search Tricks That Will Change Everything You’ve Been Doing

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Invaluable advice from the pros

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

Finding the right job opportunities—and standing out in a competitive market—is tough. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and hacks out there that are built to help you find your dream job, more quickly and easily than ever.

From an app that helps you optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems to a site that’ll keep all your applications in order, here are 10 tools and tips you’ve probably never heard about that can give your job search a serious boost.

1. Create a Twitter Job Search List to Track Job Listings From Thousands of Sources

Every day, recruiters are tweeting jobs they need to interview candidates for—making Twitter a seriously untapped resource for job seekers. To make sure you’re in the know about these leads, create a Twitter job search list that includes recruiters, hiring managers, company hiring handles, and job search websites. Then, review their tweets daily for potential opportunities.

2. Use JibberJobber to Keep Track of Information You Collect During Your Job Search

It’s easy to get disorganized during a job hunt. So, use a free tool such asJibberJobber to keep tabs on everything that’s going on. You can track the companies that you apply to, note each specific job that you apply for, and log the status of each application (date of first interview, date thank you letter sent, and so on).

3. Use LinkedIn Resume Builder to Create an Updated Resume Fast

If you’re like me, your LinkedIn profile is much more up to date than your actual resume. But if you need to update your resume fast for an available opportunity, don’t spend hours on your computer. Instead, export your LinkedIn profile into a classy looking resume using LinkedIn’s Resume Builder.

4. Put a Short and Unique LinkedIn URL on Your Resume to Stand Out to Recruiters

Instead of using the URL that LinkedIn assigns you with letters and numbers, customize it so it contains your name and the career field or job title you want to go into. (You can do this by clicking “edit profile” and clicking “edit” next to your LinkedIn URL.) This extra keyword will help when recruiters are searching for you, and sticking the URL on your resume will encourage recruiters to head to LinkedIn to learn more about you.

5. Use Resunate to See How Your Resume Scores on an Applicant Tracking System

Sick of not knowing if a human being is even reviewing the resume you worked so hard on? Resunate is web-based software that shows you how your resume would score on the applicant tracking system—and helps you improve it for every job you apply for.

6. Use SocialMention to Manage Your Online Reputation

While job searching, it’s important to keep your reputation crystal clear. To monitor what’s being said about you online, check out Social Mention, a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user-generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.

7. Use LinkedIn Groups to Contact Someone You Don’t Have an Email For

If you want to contact someone at your dream company but can’t find the right contact information anywhere, check out the person’s public LinkedIn profile and see what groups he or she is part of. Then, join the group where you share a mutual interest. Once you are in the same group, you can send a message through LinkedIn. Just make sure you include something about your common interest in your message—it’ll make you seem like a networker, not a stalker.

8. Use Insightly to Manage and Organize Business Cards You Collect

Insightly is a free CRM system that helps you manage your key contacts and relationships—and it’s a great tool for your job search. After you meet someone, put his or her contact information in this system, and write down important information you learned from your conversation. Then, create a reminder in the system to follow up on a certain date in the future.

9. Use Contactually to Create an Automatic Follow-up System

A big job search mistake is to only focus on meeting new people and forgetting about the people you already know. In fact, it’s extremely important to keep up with your current relationships! Contactually helps you consistently reengage with the most important people in your network by sending you automatic reminders to email people you haven’t talked to in a while.

10. Update Your LinkedIn Status Daily to Stay Top of Mind

This will make sure that you’ll stay on the radar of everyone you know—read: that they’ll remember you when an available opportunity opens up. How to do this without being annoying? Share an article, a quote, or a project you’re working on. Other ways of showing up in the LinkedIn news feed are by getting recommended, by adding a new connection, by joining a group, or by changing your photo.
Put these simple “hacks” into practice, and you’ll quickly see an improvement in your job search results. Meaning: You’ll land that dream job oh-so-much faster.

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Things the Smartest Leaders Do

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These simple strategies create organizations that are flexible, resilient, and attractive to top talent

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

In previous posts, I’ve described what smart bosses believe, what smart bosses know about people, and the words that smart bosses never say. This piece describes the specific strategies I’ve observed CEOs apply inside the most consistently successful companies:

1. They encourage diversity of thought.

Smart CEOs build organizations in which a diversity of opinion and background produce alternative approaches to solving problems and building opportunity.

Average CEOs build organizations in which everyone looks and thinks the same way. This reduces conflict but results in a brittle organization that can’t adapt.

2. They sacrifice their cash cows.

Smart CEOs realize that a successful product becomes obsolete even while it’s still selling well. As a result, they kill off and replace their most profitable products.

Average CEOs keep their cash cows alive even if it means that competitors will capture the next product generation.

3. They build symbiotic relationships.

Smart CEOs seek out situations in which customers and partners mutually benefit because everyone’s growth depends upon how well that she or he can cooperate.

Average CEOs think of business as a zero-sum game, where being a winner means that somebody else must be a loser, even if it’s a customer or partner.

4. They physically connect with employees.

Smart CEOs walk the halls, shake hands, and speak one-on-one with line employees, sincerely thanking them for their contributions.

Average CEOs send out pep-talk emails filled with biz-blab like “employees are our greatest resource.”

5. They encourage social interaction.

Smart CEOs encourage social activities with intergroup mingling. They want employees from sales, engineering, and finance (for instance) to know and like one another.

Average CEOs have management retreats in fancy resort hotels and give regular employees free passes to the local Six Flags park.

6. They foster hands-on community involvement.

Smart CEOs want employees to become involved in personally helping the local community deal with whatever problems exist.

Average CEOs run contests to see which manager can arm-twist the most employees into donating money to United Way.

7. They increase flexibility by dispersing power.

Smart CEOs push authority as far down the organizational chain as possible, so that those closest to a situation have the power to make the best decisions.

Average CEOs obsess about checks and balances so that nobody takes a risk without first getting approval from higher-ups.

8. They encourage informality.

Smart CEOs create collegelike work environments in which employees feel relaxed, as if they’re among friends and mentors.

Average CEOs create factorylike environments in which everyone feels like a cog in the corporate machine.

9. They keep job descriptions fluid.

Smart CEOs let individuals, teams, and organizations define their roles as necessary to accomplish the job at hand.

Average CEOs expend vast effort writing detailed job descriptions and defining how the “system” is supposed to work.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Hardest Job Interview Question—And How to Answer It

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Here's how to start dealing with the dreaded query

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

Like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is sure to come up in an interview.

And, even if it doesn’t, if you want the job you should get this sentiment across regardless. So, really, there’s no way around figuring out how to string together a coherent thought about why this being in this position makes sense for you (and for the company).

Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way to go about answering this question effectively without having to go through every big moment or transition in your life and career that’s brought you to this interview. Here’s a smart framework for how you should structure your answer.

Step 1: Express Enthusiasm for the Company

First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.

Say you’re interviewing for a small quantitative asset management company. The start of your answer might sound something like this:

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, the team is small, and you run a variety of long- and short-term strategies in the U.S. equities markets using a quantitative approach.

Especially with smaller companies, it’s always impressive when a candidate knows a thing or two about what goes on at the company. And the best thing about this is you rarely have to go beyond reviewing the company website or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee to learn enough to sound like you’ve been following the company for a while.

Step 2: Align Your Skills and Experiences With the Role

Next, you want to sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can do this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you to this point) or your skills (especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).

Try to pinpoint what the main part of the role entails, plus a couple of the “desired skills” in the job description, and make sure you speak to that. Follow up your introduction to how excited you are about the company with why you’re a good fit:

But the part that really spoke to me about this position was the chance to combine both the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer and my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that actively lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management.

Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills or relevant stories throughout the interview—and just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.

Step 3: Connect to Your Career Trajectory

Finally, you want to show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Show that you’ll be around for the long haul, and your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you:

I’ve been interested in switching to finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant shop makes sense to me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to use my technical skills and spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to learn more and see how I’ll be able to contribute the firm.

Of course, you don’t have to state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to how the job makes sense for you now and that it continues to make sense for the foreseeable future.
String these three components together, and you have a response that will impress on three fronts: your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company, your relevant skills, and your general fit with the position. Plus, this framework has the added benefit of not stopping the flow of the conversation the way going through your entire life story would.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Things You Should Be Doing to Have an Insanely Productive Week

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A few pointers that could radically change your week

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

A productive week depends largely on what you focus on every working day and how much time you allocate to activities that take up your time (i.e. busy work). Working harder does not necessarily mean you are being productive. There will always be a better way to complete that task. Find it, work smarter and get more done in your working week.

These are a few things can do to have an insanely productive week this and every other week.

1. Stop planning, start doing.

It’s okay to make time to plan what needs to be done in the week or month but when you get back to the planning table often, you lose precious productive hours.

So instead of plan, just do it. The option to work on a task in the future instead of now seem comfortable but not prudent. While you keep telling yourself you don’t have to do it now, that task won’t go away. And somebody will have to eventually account for it. So instead of procrastinating, get on with it and check it off your to-do list.

Related: 8 Steps to Having Wildly Productive Mornings

Also, are your meetings really worthwhile? Most people spend too much time in meetings, when they should be working and getting things done. To ensure you are making the most of your time, create a time budget. This will help you realize how much time you are losing to meetings or planning when you should be doing actual work. You will be surprised at how much you can get done every week if you start tracking how much time you spend planning or meeting.

2. You don’t have to say “yes” to every request.

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.” — Warren Buffet.

Saying “yes” to a request seem easier than a simple “no”. Yet every time you agree to do something for somebody that brings low or no result, it makes it difficult to have a schedule you can really control. You don’t want that. You can achieve more if you know what you have to do, when you have to it and what you expect to accomplish. All that can be done in controlled schedule.

3. Don’t be a perfectionist.

If you keep chasing perfection, it could take you longer to get your tasks done – and you will most likely be less productive than you planned. The reason being is when you activity strive for perfection you spend more time on a single task than required, causing your other responsibilities to get pushed back. This will cause you to lose time and possibly annoy your immediate boss in the process. Perfectionism is even higher when you don’t account to anyone but yourself, as the fine tuning never ends.

Related: 10 Ways to Become the Most Productive Person Around

4. Get everything out of your head.

Don’t rely heavily on your memory. It will fail you when you need it most. Instead, write things down.

There are hundreds of options for taking notes — everything from the good old sticky notes to applications like Evernote, Any.do, andWunderlist. By jotting down everything that needs to get done in the week, you will have a better picture of what needs to be accomplished – and set priorities accordingly.

5. Review and measure your accomplishments.

Just before you close the week and prepare for next week, review your achievements, along with everything else that needed to be done, to see if you really got work done. Get back to your to-do list and check them off and find out what you were not able to do and why. Celebrate your accomplishments, take note of everything you postponed and learn from your mistakes. You will be better prepared for the following week.

Related: 4 Ways to Max Out the 40-Hour Workweek

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Exact Perfect Amount of Time to Take a Break, According to Data

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The right amount of mental detachment now and again can actually make you much more productive

A lot of productivity gurus advise taking breaks during the day to keep from burning out. But how often should you take breaks, and how long should they be? That’s not as easy an answer.

Until now.

Productivity app DeskTime lets employers see if their people are working or goofing around on Facebook or Buzzfeed. It sifted through the computer activity data of its 5.5 million daily logs to come up with the 10% most productive workers, then it took a peek at how they spend their time during the day.

The result: The most productive workers engage in job-related tasks for 52 minutes, then take a 17-minute break. That 15-to-20-minute window is productivity’s “golden hour” (or quarter-hour, as the case may be). It’s long enough for your brain to disengage and leave you feeling refreshed, but not so long that you lose focus and derail momentum on what you were doing.

The key to getting the most out of those breaks is to throw yourself into your work during those 52-minute increments, since you know there’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

“The notion that whatever you do, you do it full-out,” DeskTime says on its blog. “During the 52 minutes of work, you’re dedicated to accomplishing tasks, getting things done, making progress. Whereas during the 17 minutes of break, you’re completely removed from the work you’re doing – you’re entirely resting.”

Giving your brain some down time to avoid losing focus and making sloppy mistakes that slow you down has proven benefits. Wharton School doctoral student Hengchen Dai, discussing her new research, tells the Harvard Business Review that breaks make people more diligent. “The more relaxed and disengaged from work people feel during a break, the more likely they will be to benefit from taking time off,” she says.

In a study of doctors, Dai and her co-authors found that those at the end of their shifts washed their hands less frequently — a mistake that could put themselves and patients at risk.

So don’t feel guilty about taking a walk around the block or checking your fantasy football stats. As long as you jump back into work with both feet, that physical and mental disengagement makes you more productive.

TIME

18 Ways to Send the Right Message With Body Language

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Use nonverbal communication to your advantage

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

In addition, it’s especially important to make a good first impression. Why? Because within the first few minutes of meeting someone, we are already making decisions about what the other person’s intentions are, and whether or not the person is credible and someone we want to do business with.

Therefore, the way you present yourself–especially the way you communicate nonverbally in those first few crucial minutes after meeting someone new–could make or break what could potentially be a very important business relationship.

Here are 18 ways you can use your body language to communicate your credibility and intentions in a way that will set you up for success every time.

Positive body

1. Begin with your posture–back straight but not rigid, and shoulders relaxed so you don’t look too uptight.

2. Align your body with the person you’re talking to–this shows you’re engaged.

3. Keep your legs apart a bit instead of crossed–this demonstrates that you’re relaxed, and research shows that you retain more information when you keep your legs uncrossed.

4. Lean in a bit–this shows focus and that you really are listening.

5. Mirror the body language you are observing, showing you are in agreement and that you like–or are sincerely trying to like–the person you are with.

Positive arms and hands

6. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides, showing you are open to what someone else is communicating, and as with your legs, keep your arms uncrossed in order to absorb more of what’s going on.

7. Use your hands to gesture when you speak–this improves your credibility with the listener. In addition, there is evidence that gesturing with your hands while speaking improves your thinking processes.

8. Always remember to greet others with a firm handshake–but not too firm. A firm handshake is probably one of the most important body language moves, because it sets the tone for the entire conversation. Who wants to shake hands and then have a conversation with a wet noodle?

9. Be aware of different cultural greetings and closures prior to your meeting.

Positive head

10. With appropriate nods and genuine smiles, you are showing the speaker that you understand, agree, and are listening to his or her opinions.

11. Laughter is always a great way to lighten the mood when used appropriately, and once again, it shows you’re listening.

12. Keep good eye contact by looking the person in the eye when he or she is communicating. Keep eye contact going when you speak, because this shows you are interested in the conversation. Watch your eye contact, though–if you don’t take breaks to contemplate your next answer, your eye contact could be viewed as staring (translation: aggressive or creepy).

13. Beware of blinking too much. Rapid blinking could communicate that you are feeling uncomfortable with the current conversation.

14. Mirror the other person’s facial expressions, because once again, this demonstrates that you are in agreement and like–or are making an effort to like–the other person.

15. Monitor your voice. Keep it low, and don’t end every sentence as if it’s a question. Take a deep breath and speak slowly and clearly.

The little extras

16. During your meeting, take notes. This will demonstrate that you are engaged and care about what the other person is saying, but remember to make eye contact regularly so the speaker knows you’re still with him or her.

17. Watch the body language of others, as they may be communicating to you through their body language that they would like to conclude the meeting. People are much more likely to engage you in future conversations if you observe and act on their body language cues.

18. End the meeting with a firm handshake and eye contact, showing you enjoyed your time and hope to meet again.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Ways to Stop Feeling Overworked and Overwhelmed

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Everybody feels that way--so why not do something about it?

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

After reading an early version of a new book, I decided to do a quick survey during a speaking engagement. I asked the audience, “How many of you feel overworked and overwhelmed?”

As far as I could tell, every hand was raised.

That’s what I expected. We all feel overworked. We all feel overwhelmed, at least some of the time. (Even if by other people’s standards we have it easy, we still feel overworked.)

Effectively managing our professional and personal lives is a problem we all struggle with. Maybe that’s because we look outside ourselves for solutions: software, apps, devices, time management systems, etc.

All of those can help, but as Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, says, “The only person who is going to keep you from feeling overworked and overwhelmed is you.”

So how do you pull it off? It starts with making one overriding commitment: You must commit to intentionally managing your time so you have a fighting chance of showing up at your best–your most inspired, your most productive, and your most “in the flow.”

So how do you do that? Here are Scott’s tips:

1. Recognize and overcome the tyranny of the present.

People who are always “in the moment” don’t look ahead and make plans to pursue their goals and dreams. Though there are certainly things you need to do every day, much of what you think you need to do isn’t particularly important–especially where your long-term goals are concerned.

That’s why you should…

2. Ask, “Is this really necessary?”

Challenge your basic assumptions about your regular habits. Do you need to have that meeting? Do you need to create that report? Do you need to respond to that email? In many cases you don’t, but you do anyway simply because that’s what you’ve always done.

Eliminate as many “nice to do” tasks as possible–not only will you have more time, you’ll also have more time to be effective where it really matters.

3. Push reset on your calendar.

Sometimes the answer to “Is this really necessary?” is “Yes, but not right now.” What is the most important thing you need to do today? What tasks will keep you from getting that done?

The same is true if something important pops up: Immediately reset your calendar and reprioritize. Getting stuff done is fine, but getting the right stuff done is what really matters.

4. Understand and set your operating rhythm.

We all work differently. Some like to hit the ground running. Others like to start the day by reflecting, meditating, and thinking. Some like to work into the night.

The key is to understand not just how you like to work but also how you work best. You might like to work late at night, but if you’re tired or frazzled by a long day, you won’t perform at your best.

Do some experiments to figure out what works best for you. While you won’t always be able to stick to your plan, you will always have a plan to return to.

5. Schedule the most important tasks first.

What are your priorities for the month? The week? Today? Determine what they are and do those things first.

Why would you work on less important tasks when the truly important items are where you create the most value–whether for your business or your life?

6. Give yourself time for unconscious thought.

Giving yourself time for unconscious thought is key to making smart decisions when you face complex problems. Research shows people tend to make their best decisions when they have an opportunity to review the data and facts and then focus their thought on something else for a while.

How? Take a walk. Do a mindless chore. Exercise. Do something where your body goes on autopilot and your mind does too. You’ll be surprised by the solutions you can dream up when you aren’t purposely trying to be creative.

7. Set boundaries.

No one can or should be on 24/7. Yet you probably feel you are–because you allow yourself to be.

Set some boundaries: the time you’ll stop working, certain times you’ll do things with your family, certain times you won’t take calls, etc. Then let people know those boundaries.

Other people won’t respect your time unless you respect your time first.

8. Be strategic with “yes” and “no.”

You can’t say yes to everything. (Well, you can, but you won’t get everything you say yes to done–so in effect you’re still saying no.)

Sometimes you simply need to say no. Other times you can say, “No, unless…” and add stipulations. The same is true with yes: Saying, “Yes, but only if…” creates guidelines.

Always consider the effect of a request on your most important goals. An automatic yes also automatically takes time away from what you need to get done.

9. Tame your distractions.

Most people are distracted over 30 times an hour: phone calls, emails, texts, office drop-ins… The list is endless.

Schedule blocks of time when you’ll turn off alerts. The only way to stay on schedule is to work on your own schedule–not on that of other people.

10. Remember your impact on other people.

If you’re a leader–and since you run a business, you definitely are–you naturally impact other people. You set a direction. You set a standard.

You’re a role model.

Be a great role model: a person who gets important tasks done, who stays on point, who focuses on achieving goals and dreams … and who helps other people achieve their goals and dreams.

That’s reason enough to manage your time so you’re consistently at your best.

TIME leadership

The 10 Worst States for Women

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The United States is one of just a handful of nations where maternal mortality actually rose over the last decade

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

Based on recently released Census Bureau data, women made up almost half of the workforce last year. Yet, even working full-time and year-round, they were paid only 79 cents for every dollar men made. The wage gap varies considerably between states. Women receive 86 cents for every dollar men make in New York, for example, while in Louisiana, women are paid just 66% of what men earn.

Income inequality is only one of the challenges women face. Across the nation, women are less likely to serve in leadership roles both in the private and public sectors. Health outcomes among female populations also vary considerably between states. Based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis, Mississippi is the worst state for women in the nation.

Click here to see the 10 worst states for women

In all of the worst rated states, women were less likely than their male peers to hold private sector management positions. In two of the worst states — South Dakota and Utah — women held fewer than one in three management jobs. According to Ariane Hegewisch, study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women are discriminated not just in base pay, but also lack career opportunities available to men. “A lot of [the wage gap] is also promotions, recruitments, and networking,” Hegewisch said. Perceptions of performance can also be affected by gender, meaning “the more the pay is related to performance and bonuses, the bigger the wage gap.”

Women in the worst rated states were also less likely to have leadership roles in government compared to women in the rest of the country. Only six of the 10 states had any female representation in Congress. Many of these states were among the nation’s worst for female representation in their own state legislatures as well. State Senates usually have between 30 and 50 Senators. Of the 10 states on this list, however, only Kansas had more than 10 female senators.

While the United States is among the most developed countries in the world, it was one of just a handful of nations where maternal mortality actually rose over the last decade, according to a recent study published in The Lancet, a respected medical journal. Pregnancy related mortality rates vary considerably between states.

To determine the worst states for women, 24/7 Wall St. developed on a methodology based on the Center for American Progress’ 2013 report, “The State of Women in America.”

We divided a range of variables into three major categories: economy, leadership, and health. Data in the economy category came from the U.S. Census Bureau and included male and female median earnings, the percent of children enrolled in state pre-kindergarten, state spending per child enrolled in pre-kindergarten, and education attainment rates. The leadership category included data on the percent of women in management occupations from the Census. It also includes the share of state and federal legislators who are women, and states that currently have female governors. The health section incorporated Census data on the percent of women who were uninsured as well as life expectancy. Infant and maternal mortality rates came from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Data on the expansion of Medicaid, as policies towards maternity leave, sick days, and time off from work came from the National Partnership for Women and Families.

State rankings on each of these measures were averaged to determine a score for each category. Possible scores ranged from 1 (best) to 50 (worst). The three category scores were averaged to create an indexed value that furnished our final ranking.

These are the 10 worst states for women.

10. Kansas
> Gender wage gap: 79 cents per dollar (25th best)
> Poverty rate, women: 15.2% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 24.8% (25th highest)
> Infant mortality rate: 7.5 per 1,000 births (15th highest)

A typical man in Kansas earned $45,463 last year. The median earnings among women in the state, on the other hand, were just $35,869, or 79% of male earnings. The ratio was roughly in line with that of the nation. In addition to economic inequality, women in Kansas were far less likely than women in other states to hold leadership roles. Nearly 64% of management positions, for example, were held by men, one of the higher rates nationwide. Women, by contrast, held 36.2% of management occupations, one of the lower rates. Unlike the majority of the worst states for women, however, Kansas has a fair number of female state-level politicians. Of the 40 state senators, 12 are women, more than all but a handful of states.

ALSO READ: The 10 States With the Worst Quality of Life

9. Alabama
> Gender wage gap: 79 cents per dollar (12th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 20.5% (5th highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 14.3% (4th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 9.2 per 1,000 births (2nd highest)

With just five women out of 35 in the Alabama State Senate, and just 15 women out of 105 members in Alabama’s House of Representatives, few states have less of a female presence in their legislature. Alabama also ranks poorly in several measures of health that impact women. The state had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, with 9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Alabama also had one of the lowest female life expectancies in the country, at 78.2 years as of 2010. The state also lacks any of the family-friendly workplace health policies identified by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

8. Indiana
> Gender wage gap: 74 cents per dollar (7th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 17.5% (20th highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 20.0% (16th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 7.4 per 1,000 births (16th highest)

While nationwide women earned roughly 80% of a man’s salary last year, women in Indiana earned less than three-quarters of a man’s wages, one of the worst pay gaps nationwide. Child rearing may be occupying what might otherwise be paid labor for women in Indiana, as the state offers little support for new mothers. State-funded preschool is not available for children under five years old. Also, less than 25% of women had completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of last year, one of the worst rates in the country and much lower than the nearly 30% of women nationwide.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 States Where Life Is Just the Best Right Now

United States of America on Blackboard
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Based on the nine determinants of well-being—education, jobs, income, safety, health, environment, civic engagement, accessibility to services and housing

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The United States is one of the world’s most prosperous economies, with a gross domestic product that exceeded that of any other country last year. However, a vibrant economy alone does not ensure all residents are well off. In a recent study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), U.S. states underperformed their regional counterparts in other countries in a number of important metrics that gauge well-being.

The OECD’s newly released study, “How’s Life in Your Region?: Measuring Regional and Local Well-Being for Policy Making,” compares nine important factors that contribute to well-being. Applying an equal weight to each of these factors, 24/7 Wall St. rated New Hampshire as the best state for quality of life.

Click here to see the 10 states with the best quality of life.

Click here to see the 10 states with the worst quality of life.

Monica Brezzi, author of the report and head of regional statistics at the OECD, told 24/7 Wall St. considering different dimensions of well-being at the regional level provides a way to identify “where are the major needs where policies can intervene.” Brezzi said that, in some cases, correcting one truly deficient measure can, in turn, lead to better results in others.

In order to review well-being at the regional level, the OECD used only objective data in its report, rather than existing survey data. Brezzi noted that current international studies that ask people for their opinion on important measures of well-being often do not have enough data to be broken down by region.

For example, one of the nine measures, health, is based on the mortality rate and life expectancy in each region, rather than on asking people if they feel well. Similarly, another determinant of well-being, safety, is measured by the homicide rate rather than personal responses as to whether people feel safe where they live.

Based on her analysis, Brezzi identified one area where American states are exceptionally strong. “All the American states rank in the top 20% of OECD regions in income,” Brezzi said. Massachusetts — one of 24/7 Wall St.’s highest-rated states — had the second-highest per capita disposable household income in the nation, at $38,620. This also placed the state among the top 4% of regions in all OECD countries.

However, the 50 states are also deficient in a number of key metrics for well-being. “With the exception of Hawaii, none of the American states are in the top 20% for health or for safety across the OECD regions,” Brezzi said. Minnesota, for instance, was rated as the third best state for health, with a mortality rate of 7.5 deaths per 1,000 residents and a life expectancy of 81.1 years. However, this only barely placed Minnesota among the top third of all regions in the OECD. Similarly, New Hampshire — which was rated as the safest state in the country, and was 24/7 Wall St.’s top state for quality of life — was outside the top third of all regions for safety.

Across most metrics the 50 states have improved considerably over time. Only one of the nine determinants of well-being, jobs, had worsened in most states between 2000 and 2013. Brezzi added that not only was the national unemployment rate higher in 2013 than in 2000, but “this worsening of unemployment has also come together with an increase in the disparities across states.”

Based on the OECD’s study, “How’s Life in Your Region?: Measuring Regional and Local Well-being for Policy Making,” 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the best quality of life. We applied an equal weight to each of the nine determinants of well-being — education, jobs, income, safety, health, environment, civic engagement, accessibility to services and housing. Each determinant is constituted by one or more variables. Additional data on state GDP are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and are current as of 2013. Further figures on industry composition, poverty, income inequality and health insurance coverage are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. Data on energy production come from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and represent 2012 totals.

These are the 10 states with the best quality of life.

10. Wisconsin
> Employment rate: 74.8% (9th highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $29,536 (23rd highest)
> Homicide rate: 2.72 per 100,000 people (15th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 73.6% (2nd highest)

Based on nine distinct well-being measures, Wisconsin is one of the top states in the nation for quality of life. Like nearly all top-ranked states, Wisconsin’s housing score was quite high. A typical home had 2.7 rooms per person. Additionally, nearly three-quarters of households had broadband Internet access, both among the higher rates nationwide. Residents are also more politically active than people in a majority of states. The state reported a 74% voter turnout rate, better than almost every other state.

9. Washington
> Employment rate: 67.8% (21st lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $31,307 (16th highest)
> Homicide rate: 2.55 per 100,000 people (11th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 65.6% (16th highest)

Nearly four in five Washington residents had broadband Internet access last year, tied with New Hampshire for the highest rate in the country. Washingtonians also enjoy exceptional air quality and a relatively healthy environment. Just 4.1 mg of airborne dangerous particulate matter per cubic meter was recorded in the state, nearly the lowest level of pollution measured. Washington also leads the nation for renewable energy production, with more than 1,012 trillion BTUs produced in 2012, far more than any other state.

ALSO READ: America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

8. Maine
> Employment rate: 72.7% (11th highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $28,333 (22nd lowest)
> Homicide rate: 1.88 per 100,000 people (8th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 68.6% (9th highest)

Based on OECD metrics, Maine — which advertises itself as “Vacationland” — is far more than merely a tourist destination. Like more than half of the best states for quality of life, Maine received a nearly perfect score for its housing. Maine homes had an average of nearly three rooms per person, more than all but one other state. Spacious households are likely favored by Maine residents as the state’s long winter can keep people indoors for long periods. And while heating costs can be a burden, falling U.S. crude oil prices have considerably reduced the financial strain of buying home heating oil, which is more-widely used in Maine than in any other state.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Email Rules That Will Change Your Life

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Adhering to these handy rules can help you stand out from the pack

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

It might be one of the least sexy skills on the planet, but the ability to weave a flawless email is an enviable trait. Because so much of communication is derived from nonverbal cues such as body language, an effectively-written email is particularly important: without those nonverbal cues, emails can so easily get misinterpreted, at best leading to minor misunderstandings, and at worst, derailing important business projects.

Depending on what type of job you hold, email etiquette can vary significantly. In many corporate cultures, the tone is formal and messages are very matter-of-fact, whereas other companies are accustomed to informal interactions involving smiley faces and cute “xoxo” sign-offs. But wherever where you work, one thing remains the same: your email manners matter.

Here are 5 general rules to follow to master the art of emailing:

  1. Be direct.

If your inbox is anything like mine, chances are it’s flooded by a ridiculous number of emails per day. Given that, it’s imperative that all your outgoing emails have a clear subject line. Also, in the body of the email make sure you get to the point using as few words as possible. Lengthy messages typically scare more people off.

“It’s very simple; emails should deliver information and, if needed, send out a call to action,”says Deb Merry, marketing expert and entrepreneur.

Speaking of delivering information efficiently: when a long email exchange morphs into a new topic but the subject hasn’t changed, it’s time to edit the subject to make the thread easier to find in the future.

  1. Know your audience.

Lindsey Pollak, email etiquette consultant and author of Getting From College to Careerexplains, “Your e-mail greeting and sign-off should be consistent with the level of respect and formality of the person you’re communicating with.”

Pollak advises writing “for the person who will be reading it–if they tend to be very polite and formal, write in that language. The same goes for a receiver who tends to be more informal and relaxed.”

Before reaching out to any potential clients or customers, it’s important to do your homework. In other words, you need to develop a mental image of who they are and what they’ll respond to, and write your email accordingly.

  1. Add a personal touch.

Adding a personal touch is usually very effective. For example, if you are reaching out to an author to request a book for reviewing, it’s a good idea to compliment some of his previous work. Not only does it make him feel good, but it shows you put in the effort to learn about him. Who wouldn’t want to do business with someone like that?

If you’re using a tool like Salesforce or Contactually to send out a number of emails at once, be sure to personalize before sending. A mass mail that feels like a mass mail is a major turn-off.

  1. Follow up and express your gratitude.

In many cases, your initial exchange will require a follow up. It’s one thing to establish a connection, but learning how to maintain relationships is another skill entirely.

Following up after a pitch meeting? A short, unique email showing your appreciation for the other parties’ time will go a long way. Responding to press? Your follow up “could be as simple as a quick email or tweet saying thanks, or it could be following up with feedback about the coverage,” Crew Blog reports.

Follow-up emails are a great opportunity to say thank you and leave on a positive note so you can continue doing business together.

  1. Don’t just ask–give.

Whether you’re following up with someone or just checking in with a contact you’re out of touch with, it usually feels less obtrusive if you try to add value in some way. If there is a product they might be interested in, let them know. If there is news relevant to their industry, let them know. If you have a suggestion for their business that can help them improve their profitability, let them kn- well, you get the idea.

You never want to be the type of contact who only gets in touch when you want something; that’s a great way to keep your professional network small.

Of course, these are just my top five. How would you rate yourself on the email etiquette scale? What else would you say has been a key to your email success?

 

 

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