MONEY women

5 Ways Women in Tech Can Beat the Odds

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Corbis

The biases many female technologists face are unfair — but women in STEM fields can still get ahead by using smart, unintuitive strategies.

These are tough times for women in technology. Female workers are flooding out of tech company jobs, a phenomenon blamed in part on the industry’s patterns of sexism.

A recent Center for Talent Innovation study found that women in science, engineering, and technology are 45% more likely than male peers to leave their industries. Many cite a feeling of being stalled in their careers and excluded from their workplace’s culture; a whopping half say their coworkers believe men have a genetic advantage in math and science. And 44% agreed with the statement, “A female at my company would never get a top position no matter how able or high-performing.”

Meanwhile, a gender discrimination trial now under way has highlighted the ways female employees can be shut out of high-level positions in Silicon Valley. Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao is suing her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, alleging that senior managers systematically excluded her and other women from promotions available to less-accomplished male colleagues.

Though it’s unclear whether Pao will win—the bar is high to prove gender discrimination, and the firm is arguing that she simply was not qualified for the role—her story has undoubtedly struck a chord among many women with experience in the tech world.

If these scenarios resonate with you (or someone you care about), there’s still some good news: Despite the odds against women in technology, both research and anecdotal evidence suggest there are approaches female techies can use to rise up. Here are five of them.

1. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive

Most women in tech are pretty used to holding minority status at work. But that doesn’t make being the only female among many male peers any easier, says Kellye Sheehan, a Hewlett Packard senior manager and president of professional association Women in Technology.

“A lot of times I would be the only woman in the room, and I would notice patterns of male colleagues testing me,” Sheehan says. “One once tried to steal my employees and give me bad business advice.”

Being put in that sort of situation can feel like a Catch-22: If you fight back, you might be seen as overly sensitive or shrill, but if you do nothing, you could come off as weak.

Indeed, a recent study suggests that women with more “masculine” traits like self-confidence are seen as more competent than stereotypically “feminine” women—but they are also seen as less “socially skilled” and therefore suffer backlash effects.

The good news? The researchers found that when a “masculine” woman also exhibits social grace and self-awareness, she gets more promotions than other women and men. So while both men and women should of course keep it classy when they stand up for themselves, women have even more to gain by doing so.

As for Sheehan? She held off on responding right away and chatted with her husband, a fellow engineer, about how he’d handle the situation. He suggested she “throw a brushback pitch,” a move pitchers make in baseball to get batters to stop crowding the plate. That advice worked out, says Sheehan.

“In front of the group I said, ‘No, you can’t have Joe and Tom, and here’s why your advice doesn’t make sense,'” she says. “I spoke plainly and wasn’t overly aggressive and he stepped back immediately and said, ‘No harm meant.'”

2. Dream Big

A common mistake that female entrepreneurs make, says Women Who Code CEO Alaina Percival, is getting too hung up on the plausibility of their ideas. It makes sense: Being prepared with facts and figures seems like an important defense against those who don’t take you seriously.

“Women pitching to investors can be overly analytical, focusing more on reality than their vision,” says Percival. “The truth is you have to embrace a kind of ‘fake it til you make it mentality’ in tech. If you say your idea is worth 100 million dollars, an investor won’t ever imagine it as one billion.”

In fact, pitching yourself as a risk taker can really be a great move for women leading startup companies, a new study suggests. Researcher Sarah Thébaud of U.C. Santa Barbara found that switching a male name for a female name on a business pitch made people rate the idea lower, suggesting a bias against female entrepreneurs. But when she did the same experiment using proposals for especially unusual or novel startup companies, that bias was reduced significantly.

Such a finding is not immediately obvious. You might think that if a woman presents “a business idea that’s particularly risky, it might further undermine her ability to gain credibility and support,” says Thébaud. But instead, she found, “innovation signaled possession of the stereotypically ‘entrepreneurial’ traits and abilities women are otherwise perceived to lack.”

The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to share your bigger visions—they might just earn you big money.

3. Don’t Promise—Surprise

Conventional career wisdom is that you should always underpromise and overdeliver when trying to impress at work. That may seem especially true for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, who already have to overcome beliefs that they are less competent as leaders.

“You’ll often see, in a meeting of equal engineers, that women are asked to take notes,” says Percival. “Or when discussing a new position, people will use gendered language and say, ‘We need to hire a really awesome layout guy.'”

As a consequence, women may feel they have to do additional work to get the same recognition a man would get. But all extra effort is not created equal: Recent research suggests that you aren’t helped by going above and beyond what you commit to doing. That’s because the very act of making a promise mutes the potential happiness your boss or client will feel when you deliver—even if you exceed expectations.

The solution, according to study authors Ayelet Gneezy of U.C. San Diego and Nicholas Epley of University of Chicago: When you really want to impress, hold back on making any promises and just surprise people with your finished product.

4. Brag Better

It is often said that women in technology need to be better at “selling themselves” to compete with male peers, who typically find it easier to trumpet accomplishments. But that is easier said than done.

“Women are culturally expected to still come off as especially humble,” says Percival. “That makes it hard to overcome the embarrassment associated with bragging.” Sheehan agrees: “We stay quiet and hope that if we work hard and have lots of output, we will get promoted.”

The problem is that staying silent about your accomplishments often means you’ll get passed over, as others are rewarded with more responsibility and higher salaries.

Of course, the idea of boasting might make you uncomfortable—and rightfully so. (One of the criticisms Ellen Pao faced from her employer was that she was arrogant.)

One way to overcome your discomfort with bragging is to do it in writing, suggests Sheehan. You could send your boss an email, for example, documenting your team’s successes for the year, making it clear that you played a leading role. The benefit of email is that you can have a few trusted friends or colleagues read over it first, to help you fine-tune your tone.

And worst-case scenario, if you ever find yourself having to prove you were the victim of discrimination, it can’t hurt to have messages about your accomplishments—as well as your boss’s response—in writing.

5. Find Sponsors, Allies, and Resources

Many accomplished women in tech cite mentors and “women-helping-women” channels as key factors in their success. But getting ahead takes more than a little networking or advice. Having good relationships with your colleagues in general and garnering support from higher-ups makes a huge difference, says Sheehan.

“A mentor is someone who will teach you and help you learn and grow,” she says. “A sponsor is someone convinced of your abilities high up in the organization who will advocate for you when you are not there.”

A key factor in winning the support of bosses and coworkers is showing you are a team player and have a thick skin. Society teaches women to be sensitive to criticism, Sheehan says, so it’s especially important to show you are the bigger person after a disagreement. You might even want to take a page from the stereotypically male playbook and invite a difficult colleague (plus a group, if that’s less awkward) to grab a beer after work, which could allow you to hash things out in a more laid-back way.

Finally, consider the power of new female-friendly initiatives sprouting up all throughout the tech world. Half of women who leave the science, technology, or engineering industries keep using their training, whether at a startup, government or nonprofit job, or working for themselves. That suggests that opportunities outside of the box are growing more common.

For example, there’s PowerToFly, a company that matches women in technology with jobs they can perform remotely. Cofounder Katharine Zaleski has explained that she created the business in part because she felt biased against mothers in the workplace—until she became one herself.

“There’s a saying that ‘if you want something done, then ask a busy person to do it.’ That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now,” she wrote this week in a FORTUNE commentary. “If they work from home, it doesn’t matter if a kid gets sick.”

If you have tech skills you want to improve or showcase, there are engineering schools explicitly for women, such as Hackbright Academy, and contests like a new hackathon restricted to female entrants—starting today, March 6—in which women can compete for prizes like a MacBook Air or iPhone 6.

And when all else fails, don’t overthink it.

As Kelly McEvers at NPR wrote, perhaps the best way for women in tech to approach obstacles isn’t to “Lean In,” but “Lean To The Side, And Let It Pass By.” If you’re tired of all the unsolicited advice given to women in tech—as well as the balancing acts you’re asked to perform—just take a breath and remember you’re already beating the odds.

Read next: The 5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead

MONEY

5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead

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Alamy—Alamy

Be an ally—and benefit from your altruism, says Sheryl Sandberg.

Supporting women in the workplace is just a decent thing for men to do. But there’s also a selfish reason for men to care: Helping a woman get ahead on the job can help your career, too.

That’s the message from #LeanInTogether, a new campaign from Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s career empowerment organization LeanIn.org.

Coming on the second anniversary of the launch of Sandberg’s Lean In initiative, the campaign makes the case that changing women’s roles in the workplace can’t happen without a change in behavior from their male colleagues and partners. #LeaninTogether kicked off this week with PSAs from NBA and WNBA stars on ESPN (which has mostly male viewership) and an editorial in The New York Times.

“From stronger marriages and healthier, happier children to better outcomes at work, the benefits of men leaning in for equality are huge,” Facebook COO Sandberg and Wharton Professor Adam Grant wrote in the Times.

So, guys, are you ready to lean in together? These are the five best ways to be advocates for women—and indirectly, yourselves—in the workplace.

1. Be a Mentor.

Women often seek out other women as mentors. But research shows that women who also have male mentors get more promotions and make more money than those who have only female advisors.

A study of MBAs by Harvard Business School found having a mentor raised a man’s salary an average $9,260 vs. just $661 for women. That’s because the mentors for men tend to be male and higher up the corporate ladder (where there are fewer women) than women’s mentors, who are more likely to be female.

Offering to mentor an up-and-comer has some kickback for you as well: “Mentoring is a great way to identify future leaders, which can raise your profile,” says Anna Beninger from Catalyst, a nonprofit that works to expand opportunities for women in business.

2. Be an Advocate.

Look for ways for female employees to be better seen, heard and recognized, says Kathy Caprino, who runs a women’s career success and leadership coaching business.

For example, if you see female colleagues get interrupted in meetings, interject and say you’d like to hear them finish. Openly ask women to contribute to the conversation.

If you manage a team with women, give them chances to lead, present projects and manage others.

Women are less likely to toot their own horns, so help make sure your colleagues get the credit they deserve. So look for opportunities to acknowledge women when their ideas are implemented, both publicly and to higher ups. When you introduce female coworkers, emphasize their accomplishments.

3. Recruit women.

Hiring women can be a good thing for your company. One study found that start-ups that had more women on staff have greater odds of success. For start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed.

But know that some of the most promising candidates won’t come to you: Men will apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the hiring criteria while women wait until they meet 100%. So go after them, finding qualified candidates using LinkedIn and references.

Also when you see a job listing you think would be a slam dunk for one of your former colleagues, send it to her. She might not otherwise think of herself for it. Consider it good karma.

4. Promote women.

Make sure you’re helping to give the women who are already a part of your organization an opportunity to rise.

When it comes to performance reviews, be specific about what constitutes top performance so that both men and women equally know what to do to get ahead. Also get to know your female employees’ ambitions and make clear to them what they need to accomplish to get to the next step.

When you think a woman is ready for the next step and you’re not in control of the promotion process, tell her manager.

Tell her, too, so that she can advocate for herself. And push back when she says she’s “not ready” or “not qualified” for an opportunity—or when others say that about her.

5. Share the office housework.

Changing gender stereotypes about duties isn’t just for the home front.

Women often take on more “office housework”—things like taking notes at a meeting, organizing the office parties and training new hires. Those tasks steal valuable time away from core responsibilities and can keep a female colleague from participating fully, says Sandberg.

“The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point,” she writes on the LeanInTogether website.

Two-thirds of women in Fortune 200 companies are in support roles, but line roles with profit-and-loss responsibility more often lead to senior leadership positions.

Don’t fall into the trap of expecting women to take on stereotypical support roles like note taker. Raise your own hand. Not only will you make sure that a woman doesn’t get held back, but you may find yourself having new opportunities to collaborate with different coworkers and develop new skills.

Above all, understand that your actions can help set the tone for other men in the office. Be aware of your subtle biases when it comes to gender. You may not realize it about yourself – or others who work with you. “Walk the talk, be a role model,” says Caprino.

Read next: 5 Ways Women in Tech Can Beat the Odds

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MONEY Employment

Why It’s Time to Start Looking for Another Job

3 major economic indicators show why this might be the best time in a long time to start searching for other work.

Economists are pretty good at accounting for the unemployed and underemployed, but there’s one group that’s gone largely ignored during the economic recovery: people who have a job they don’t like, but are afraid to quit.

That’s probably because having a bad job was, at least until recently, seen as a pretty lucky problem to have. When times are tough and employment is scarce, any work is good work. But now the economy has sufficiently improved to the point where employees should stop feeling trapped in their current position and seriously consider making the change they’ve been longing for. Here’s why:

Hiring is way, way, up

Friday’s jobs report showed 295,000 jobs were filled in the month of February. That’s the 13th month in a row with more than 200,000 hirings, and the economy has added nearly 11.5 million jobs in the past five years.

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That’s a lot of jobs you could have instead of the one you’re stuck in.

Open positions are way up as well

Not only has hiring increased, but the number of positions has surged to a 14-year high. There were 5 million job openings at the end of last year, the most since 2001, and the ratio of unemployed job seekers to openings was 1.7, the lowest number since 2007.

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Employees are feeling more confident about quitting

A lot of smart people, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, think one of the best indicators of economic progress is whether people have enough faith in the labor market to quit their current jobs. That statistic, known as the quit rate, has been rising and is now closing in on pre-recession levels.

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If you’re feeling like it’s time to leave for greener pastures, you’ll have a growing amount of company.

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How to Catch the Eye of a Recruiter in Just 7 Minutes

500,000 Walmart Workers Are Getting a Raise. Here’s How You Can Get One, Too

MONEY Careers

The One Question Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Asks About Every Potential Hire

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveals the one question he always asks himself before he'll hire someone.

MONEY Warren Buffett

The 6 Most Important Quotes From Warren Buffett’s Greatest Shareholder Letter Ever

Warren Buffett
Nati Harnik—AP

Why did Berkshire under Buffett do so well?

Last week, Berkshire Hathaway released its 2014 shareholder letter. Warren Buffett’s letter, always closely followed, was particularly anticipated this year. Indeed, as this year will mark a half-century of Berkshire Hathaway under “current management,” Buffett had promised two “looking back/looking forward” analyses, one from his pen and one from that of his partner, Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.

Here are some of the key quotes from this year’s letter. (I’ve identified those that come from Munger.)

Buffett’s successor: one of two men?

With Buffett now 84, Berkshire’s succession plan is a matter of intense speculation. His latest comments on the matter (my emphasis):

Our directors believe that our future CEOs should come from internal candidates whom the Berkshire board has grown to know well. Our directors also believe that an incoming CEO should be relatively young, so that he or she can have a long run in the job. Berkshire will operate best if its CEOs average well over 10 years at the helm. (It’s hard to teach a new dog old tricks.) And they are not likely to retire at 65 either (or have you noticed?). … Both the board and I believe we now have the right person to succeed me as CEO — a successor ready to assume the job the day after I die or step down. In certain important respects, this person will do a better job than I am doing.

Who might the successor be? Munger offers a clue that appears to narrow it down to two individuals (my emphasis):

But under this Buffett-soon-leaves assumption, his successors would not be “of only moderate ability.” For instance, Ajit Jain and Greg Abel are proven performers who would probably be under-described as “world-class.” “World-leading” would be the description I would choose. In some important ways, each is a better business executive than Buffett.

Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance head Ajit Jain is 63, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy CEOGreg Abel is 52. In terms of age and expected tenure, Abel has the advantage.

The timing of the elusive Berkshire dividend

Another recurring debate in the financial media is the value and timing of a potential Berkshire dividend — although, as we shall see, it’s not much of a debate among shareholders. Buffett provides his first time-bound guidelines:

Eventually — probably between 10 and 20 years from now — Berkshire’s earnings and capital resources will reach a level that will not allow management to intelligently reinvest all of the company’s earnings. At that time our directors will need to determine whether the best method to distribute the excess earnings is through dividends, share repurchases, or both. If Berkshire shares are selling below intrinsic business value, massive repurchases will almost certainly be the best choice. You can be comfortable that your directors will make the right decision.

That doesn’t appear to be a problem for current shareholders:

Nevertheless [in response to last year’s proxy motion requesting a dividend], 98% of the shares voting said, in effect, “Don’t send us a dividend but instead reinvest all of the earnings.” To have our fellow owners — large and small — be so in sync with our managerial philosophy is both remarkable and rewarding. I am a lucky fellow to have you as partners.

Munger’s contribution to Berkshire

Although he has remained in Buffett’s shadow over the past 50 years, it’s almost impossible to overstate Munger’s contribution to Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett pays tribute to it:

From my perspective, though, Charlie’s most important architectural feat was the design of today’s Berkshire. The blueprint he gave me was simple: Forget what you know about buying fair businesses at wonderful prices; instead, buy wonderful businesses at fair prices. … Charlie never tired of repeating his maxims about business and investing to me, and his logic was irrefutable. Consequently, Berkshire has been built to Charlie’s blueprint. My role has been that of general contractor, with the CEOs of Berkshire’s subsidiaries doing the real work as sub-contractors.

The 4 keys to Berkshire’s success

Munger returns Buffett’s compliment:

Why did Berkshire under Buffett do so well?

Only four large factors occur to me: (1) the constructive peculiarities of Buffett, (2) the constructive peculiarities of the Berkshire system, (3) good luck, and (4) the weirdly intense, contagious devotion of some shareholders and other admirers, including some in the press.

I believe all four factors were present and helpful. But the heavy freight was carried by the constructive peculiarities, the weird devotion, and their interactions. In particular, Buffett’s decision to limit his activities to a few kinds and to maximize his attention to them, and to keep doing so for 50 years, was a lollapalooza. Buffett succeeded for the same reason Roger Federer became good at tennis.

Buffett was, in effect, using the winning method of the famous basketball coach John Wooden, who won most regularly after he had learned to assign virtually all playing time to his seven best players. That way, opponents always faced his best players, instead of his second best. And, with the extra playing time, the best players improved more than was normal.

And Buffett much out-Woodened Wooden, because in his case the exercise of skill was concentrated in one person, not seven, and his skill improved and improved as he got older and older during 50 years, instead of deteriorating like the skill of a basketball player does.

The Berkshire system: 15 rules for building a world-leading conglomerate

What is this “Berkshire system” Munger refers to, which has been at the core of Berkshire’s unparalleled success? He codifies it in 15 points:

The management system and policies of Berkshire under Buffett (herein together called “the Berkshire system”) were fixed early and are described below:

(1) Berkshire would be a diffuse conglomerate, averse only to activities about which it could not make useful predictions.

(2) Its top company would do almost all business through separately incorporated subsidiaries whose CEOs would operate with very extreme autonomy.

(3) There would be almost nothing at conglomerate headquarters except a tiny office suite containing a chairman, a CFO, and a few assistants who mostly helped the CFO with auditing, internal control, etc.

(4) Berkshire subsidiaries would always prominently include casualty insurers. Those insurers as a group would be expected to produce, in due course, dependable underwriting gains while also producing substantial “float” (from unpaid insurance liabilities) for investment.

(5) There would be no significant systemwide personnel system, stock option system, other incentive system, retirement system, or the like, because the subsidiaries would have their own systems, often different.

(6) Berkshire’s chairman would reserve only a few activities for himself. […]

(7) New subsidiaries would usually be bought with cash, not newly issued stock.

(8) Berkshire would not pay dividends so long as more than one dollar of market value for shareholders was being created by each dollar of retained earnings.

(9) In buying a new subsidiary, Berkshire would seek to pay a fair price for a good business that the chairman could pretty well understand. Berkshire would also want a good CEO in place, one expected to remain for a long time and to manage well without need for help from headquarters.

(10) In choosing CEOs of subsidiaries, Berkshire would try to secure trustworthiness, skill, energy, and love for the business and circumstances the CEO was in.

(11) As an important matter of preferred conduct, Berkshire would almost never sell a subsidiary.

(12) Berkshire would almost never transfer a subsidiary’s CEO to another unrelated subsidiary.

(13) Berkshire would never force the CEO of a subsidiary to retire on account of mere age.

(14) Berkshire would have little debt outstanding as it tried to maintain (i) virtually perfect creditworthiness under all conditions and (ii) easy availability of cash and credit for deployment in times presenting unusual opportunities.

(15) Berkshire would always be user-friendly to a prospective seller of a large business. An offer of such a business would get prompt attention. No one but the chairman and one or two others at Berkshire would ever know about the offer if it did not lead to a transaction. And they would never tell outsiders about it.

Both the elements of the Berkshire system and their collected size are quite unusual. No other large corporation I know of has half of such elements in place.

The continued success of Berkshire after Buffett

Will the “Berkshire system” ensure continued success, despite its size, and after Buffett? Buffett says yes:

Despite our conservatism, I think we will be able every year to build the underlying per-share earning power of Berkshire. That does not mean operating earnings will increase each year — far from it. The U.S. economy will ebb and flow — though mostly flow — and when it weakens, so will our current earnings. But we will continue to achieve organic gains, make bolt-on acquisitions, and enter new fields. I believe, therefore, that Berkshire will annually add to its underlying earning power.

Munger concurs:

The next to last task on my list was: Predict whether abnormally good results would continue at Berkshire if Buffett were soon to depart. The answer is yes. Berkshire has in place in its subsidiaries much business momentum grounded in much durable competitive advantage. Moreover, its railroad and utility subsidiaries now provide much desirable opportunity to invest large sums in new fixed assets. And many subsidiaries are now engaged in making wise “bolt-on” acquisitions.

Provided that most of the Berkshire system remains in place, the combined momentum and opportunity now present is so great that Berkshire would almost surely remain a better-than-normal company for a very long time even if (1) Buffett left tomorrow, (2) his successors were persons of only moderate ability, and (3) Berkshire never again purchased a large business.

These quotes provide some of the important lessons from this year’s letter, but the document is extraordinarily rich in business and investing lessons and will be analyzed and debated for years to come — including here on Fool.com. Be sure to check back in the next few days for more coverage of the 2014 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter.

MONEY Careers

The Suddenly Hot Job Market for Workers Over 50

Barclay's bank
Dominic Lipinski—PA Wire/Press Association Images

More companies are recognizing the value of mature workers—and they're starting to hire them.

Things are finally looking up for older workers.

The latest data show the unemployment rate for those over age 55 stands at just 4.1%, compared with 5.7% for the total population and a steep 18.8% for teens. The ranks of the long-term unemployed, which ballooned during the recession as mature workers lost their jobs, are coming down. Age-discrimination charges have fallen for six consecutive years. And now, as the job market lurches back to life, more companies are wooing the silver set with formal retraining programs.

This is not to say that older workers have it easy. Overall, the long-term unemployment rate remains stubbornly high—31.5%. And even though age-discrimination charges have declined they remain at peak pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, critics note that some corporate re-entry programs are not a great deal, paying little or no salary and distracting workers from seeking full-time gainful employment.

Still, the big picture is one of improving opportunity for workers past age 50. That’s welcome news for many reasons, not least is that those who lose their job past age 58 are at greater health risk and, on average, lose three years of life expectancy. Meanwhile, older workers are a bigger piece of the labor force. Two decades ago, less than a third of people age 55 and over were employed or looking for work. Today, the share is 40%, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

AARP and others have long argued that older workers are reliable, flexible, experienced and possess valuable institutional knowledge. Increasingly, employers seem to want these traits.

This spring, the global bank Barclays will expand its apprenticeship program and begin looking at candidates past age 50. The bank will consider mature workers from unrelated fields, saying the only experience they need is practical experience. The bank says this is no PR stunt; it values older workers who have life experience and can better relate to customers seeking a mortgage or auto loan. With training, the bank believes they would make good, full-time, fairly compensated loan officers.

Already, Barclays has a team of tech-savvy older workers in place to help mature customers with online banking. The new apprenticeship program builds on this effort to capitalize on the life skills of experienced employees.

Others have tiptoed into this space. Goldman Sachs started a “returnship” in the throes of the recession. But the program is only a 10-week retraining exercise, with competitive pay, and highly selective. About 2% of applicants get accepted. It is not designed as a gateway to full-time employment at Goldman, though some older interns end up with job offers at the bank.

The nonprofit Encore.org offers mature workers a one-year fellowship, typically in a professional capacity at another nonprofit, to help mature workers re-enter the job market. Again, this is a temporary arrangement and pays just $25,000.

But a growing number of organizations—the National Institutes of Health, Stanley Consultants, and Michelin North America, among many others—embrace a seasoned workforce and have programs designed to attract and keep workers past 50. Companies with internship programs for older workers include PwC, Regeneron, Harvard Business School, MetLife and McKinsey. Find a longer list at irelaunch.com. And get back in the game.

Read next: These Workers Landed Cool and Unusual Retirement Jobs—Here’s How

MONEY Earnings

The 3 Best Ways to Boost Your Earnings This Year

hand holding dumbbell with coin at the end
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images(2)

To pump up your salary, switch up your career routine.

Welcome to Day 8 of MONEY’s 10-day Financial Fitness program. By now you’ve seen what shape you’re in, bulked up your savings, and cut the fat from your budget. Today, add some muscle to your paycheck.

When you hit a fitness plateau, taking a new class or picking up a sport can be the key to breaking through to the next level. The same concept applies to your career. Landing a new job will likely result in a salary 18% to 20% higher than what you’d get via an internal promotion, according to a study by Wharton professor Matthew Bidwell.

Thanks to a rapidly rebounding job market, this is the best year since the recession to get a new gig. More than one-third of employers expect to add full-time employees in 2015, according to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast, up from one in four last year. Here’s how to stand out.

1. Get the Inside Scoop

Employee referrals generate a full 40% of new hires, according to the JobVite 2014 Recruiting Survey. So rather than scouring the job boards, talk to people you know and ask about openings at their firms. Love a certain company but don’t know anyone there? Reach out to your personal network or tap your LinkedIn contacts to see if anyone can connect you to an employee.

2. Make Yourself Poachable

Employers are increasingly courting passive job seekers, says John Hollon, editor of TLNT.com, which covers HR trends: “These are employed workers who may be willing to switch jobs but aren’t actively searching.” Recruiters like these candidates because they’re successful and valued at their current jobs. Interested? Get on hiring managers’ radar by peppering your LinkedIn profile with keywords related to the type of job you want. You can also sign up with the website Poachable, and get the Poacht app. List your dream job and resume for recruiters to browse.

3. Be Bold

That said, maybe you love your job or just can’t move right now. That doesn’t mean settling for a middling raise. While the biggest bumps do go to top performers, simply asking goes a long way. A new study from Payscale found that 75% of employees who requested an increase got one, with 44% landing the exact figure they asked for. The odds of receiving your requested amount are even better if you’re already a high earner: Those with a salary of $150,000 or more had a success rate of 70%. Before you ask, get a sense of the budget. You have more influence when you show you see the boss’s side, says career coach Lee Miller.

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MONEY job search

How to Catch the Eye of a Recruiter in Just 7 Minutes

LinkedIn on a mobile phone
Felix Choo—Alamy

An optimized LinkedIn profile can help you stand out from the crowd.

As part of our 10-day series on Total Financial Fitness, we’ve developed six quick workouts, inspired by the popular exercise plan that takes just seven minutes a day. Each will help kick your finances into shape in no time at all. Today: The 7-Minute LinkedIn Makeover

Nine out of ten recruiters use social media to find or check out candidates, especially LinkedIn. Your profile is 14 times as likely to be viewed if it has a picture. So find a professional-looking photo and upload it to your computer before you start the clock.

0:00 Log in to your LinkedIn account and select “Edit Profile.” Click on “Add Photo” to upload the pic you’ve selected. You’ll see a yellow square that you can drag to change the position and size of the picture. Make sure you’re centered and hit save.

1:05 By default, LinkedIn uses your job title as your profile headline. Instead, write your own bold wording. Stumped? When you highlight the field to change it, LinkedIn lets you peek at what others in your industry are using.

2:34 Check out your profile summary. Are you hitting all the keywords you’ll need to show up in recruiter searches? Take a minute to scan some job descriptions in your profession to make sure you’re using the right language.

5:00 Nothing says LinkedIn novice like an alphabetsoup URL.

Create a custom version by clicking the LinkedIn URL listed right beneath your photo on the Edit Profile page. You’ll be transported to the Public Profile page, where you can create your own. Stick with something simple, like your name.

5:35 Bulk up your recommendations politely. Write a sincere post for one of your contacts, and then email asking if she’d mind doing the same.

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MONEY Career Strategies

Why Your Potential Could Be More Important Than Your Accomplishments

trophy with crack in it
Jeffrey Coolidge—Getty Images

The surprising downside to achievement

Conventional wisdom is pretty clear on how to get ahead in one’s professional life. Rack up accomplishments, collect accolades, make your résumé as impressive as possible, we’re told, and rewards will follow. That all sounds nice—but it might not be true. In fact, social science suggests, the key to success might actually be to achieve less while promising more.

That’s the conclusion of a study by professors at Harvard and Stanford, who found that people tend to favor potential over demonstrated results. The researchers discovered that references to potential, such as “this person could win an award for their work,” appear to stimulate greater interest than similar references to actual accomplishments (“this person has won an award for their work”). This tendency, the paper states, “creates a phenomenon whereby the potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing.”

The professors demonstrated as much in a series of experiments in which test subjects were asked to choose between the proven and the possible. In one case, participants were asked to rate two job candidates: one with two years of experience and demonstrated leadership achievement, and the other with no experience but high leadership potential.

Despite the more experienced candidate having objectively superior credentials, subjects preferred the candidate with potential. They also implicitly predicted this candidate would be a better leader in his fifth year on the job than the more experienced candidate would be in his seventh year.

In another experiment, participants read two letters of recommendation for an applicant to a business Ph.D. program. Both versions were nearly identical, but one stressed possible talent (“Mark K. is a student of great potential”), while the other highlighted accomplishment (“Mark K. is a student of great achievement”). Once again, the subjects preferred the applicant with potential.

Why are people so drawn to the possible, even over proven results? The researchers suggest it’s simply a matter of uncertainty being more interesting than a sure thing. “Our finding is that people find potential to be exciting uncertainty,” says Zakary Tormala, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the Stanford School of Business. That makes a candidate with potential more stimulating than a safer choice, and often leads to a more positive impression.

Workers can use this quirk of psychology to their advantage by emphasizing their future value, in addition to past achievements, when applying for a job or asking for a raise. “One of the places we’ve encouraged people to make this happen is in their reference letters,” says Michael Norton, another of the study’s co-authors and professor at Harvard Business School. References “generally talk about what someone has done,” Norton says. “That’s not a bad thing to do, but it’s very important to also talk about their potential.” It can be particularly important for high achieving employees who might be more inclined to stress their accomplishments over their continued capacity for growth.

However, the professor notes, the allure of potential isn’t unlimited. In the recommendation letter experiment, researchers found that participants stopped favoring potential over success when claims of potential lacked sufficient evidence to back them up. Instead, it’s best to highlight a combination of past accomplishments and future possibilities, so no one suspects you’re hype without substance. “A mix is critical,” Norton explains. “There has to be some demonstrated sense that you’ve achieved things.”

Use it right, and our collective preference for potential can do more than get you a better job. Norton says it could also get you a date. “The classic terrible first date is the man drones on about achievements,” the professor jokes. “But if you talk about what you want to do, even if you’re not going to get there, it can be more exciting.”

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