MONEY Workplace

How Your Coworkers Can Help You Succeed

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Building better work relationships can raise your visibility—and your salary

To nail that big promotion, you might want to get to know your colleagues better. Studies show that workplace friendships not only can increase job satisfaction and decrease stress, but can also boost productivity and job commitment. “Top employees don’t produce results in a vacuum,” says Marie McIntyre, author of Secrets to Winning at Office Politics. Take these steps to cultivate valuable, authentic relationships—and turn co-workers into co-conspirators.

Move in the Right Circles

Avoid aligning yourself too closely with poor performers. “You want to build your brand and reputation by associating with hard workers,” says Philadelphia executive coach Julie Cohen. Better yet, says McIntyre: Create an “influence map”—a short list of employees within and outside your department who could have a positive impact on your career. Assess which of these relationships need nurturing and target your efforts. Cozying up with a peer in HR, for example, can be very valuable; though he may not have decision-making power, he’ll know when a high-profile job opens.

Take It to The Next Level

Attending the happy hour will help you build camaraderie, but meet with key co-workers one on one to establish deeper connections, says Peggy Klaus, executive coach and author of The Hard Truth About Soft Skills. Start with lunch or coffee. For those you don’t know well, you might say, “I’m interested in how your division works. Do you have 15 minutes to chat over a latte?”

Since misery loves company, commiserating about work can also solidify a relationship. After a tense meeting, you might say, “That was a rough one! Do you have time for a debrief?” The trick is to avoid person-specific critiques and to steer the conversation in a positive direction, says Cohen.

Additionally, since helping others builds their loyalty, offer to cover for your pal when she’s on vacation. And make sure you sing her praises in front of VIPs after a major win (“Did everyone notice how sales took off since Mary’s campaign launched?”).

Leverage the Relationships

By having high performers as pals, you’ll know early about their high-profile projects. Offer to assist when you have relevant expertise so you can join in their successes.

Your friends can also help you nab the title and pay you want: Ask them to role-play negotiation conversations with you, suggests Spencer Harrison, professor at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. The office stars are likely to know best what the boss values.

Finally, keep in touch when your buddies move on, says Harrison. They might go work for a desirable employer one day, which will give you entrée there too.

MONEY Careers

6 Super Ways to Shape Your Online Reputation

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Get a digital image makeover

Searching for another person’s online profile is common practice these days. Employers routinely use search engines to screen potential candidates. We even Google ourselves. It’s totally expected and normal!

Knowing that bits and pieces of information about your identity are floating around cyberspace should compel you to ensure your online reputation is in tip-top shape. And it’s easy with these reputation management tools.

1. Get YourName.com

The number one way to control your search results is by purchasing your own domain name. If you have a name that is unique (like mine), this will be cut and dry. For people with more common names, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. If the name Kim Smith is taken, incorporate your professional title. For example, Kim Smith, MBA could try www.kimsmithmba.com, or www.kimsmith-mba.com.

2. Get on LinkedIn

Adding your profile to popular social media sites is a surefire way to ensure the real you (that you wish to portray) shows up at the top of search results. LinkedIn is the largest social networking platform, with over 347 million users, and has great SEO power.

Creating a profile provides the unique advantage of getting your very own, customizable vanity URL. For example, if your name is Jane Smith, your personal LinkedIn page would look something like www.linkedin.com/en/janesmith. Because the LinkedIn network spans more than 200 countries worldwide, the letters preceding your name will represent your country’s code.

3. Get on Google+

If you don’t already have a Google account, it’s time you get one to start taking advantage of the super searchable features of Google+. It allows you to “share and [be] discover[ed], all across Google.” In many ways, it combines the features of popular social media networks. Users can create circles, add updates, and share posts and photos similar to Twitter and Facebook. And when someone searches for your name, your Google+ profile will be one on the first results to appear in search.

4. Setup Google Alerts

The Google Alerts tool allow you to monitor content on the web by inputting the search terms you want to track. Input your name to detect any new information that appears about you. You’ll be notified via e-mail with a link to the source whenever something new is found. If you’re unhappy about the content, you can use tools like the ones below to bury it in search rank.

5. Use Brand Yourself

With Brand Yourself, users can sign-up and personally manage their online profiles or receive the guided support of a reputation management expert. The free account has limited features that allow you to control your search results by “boosting” three URLs you want to appear at the top of search results. Paid accounts come with more boosts and additional features. You also get instructions on how to improve the rank of certain URLs, which you can apply to all of your reputation management efforts.

6. Use ReputationDefender

ReputationDefender is a company dedicated to helping its clients improve their online reputation. Though it’s a paid service, it can help you remove or minimize unwanted search results and boost positive search items. If you have serious online reputation concerns, this may be one of your best bets.

More From Wise Bread:

TIME Transportation

Hired for Their Looks, Promoted For Their Heroism: The First Flight Attendants

Church Schroeder
AP Photo Ellen Church and Virginia Schroeder, another flight attendant, pose in front of a modern 12-ton United Mainliner on May 14, 1940.

May 15, 1930: Ellen Church, America’s first stewardess, works her first flight

Ellen Church could fly, but the airlines weren’t interested in hiring women pilots in 1930. In fact, they weren’t convinced that women could do any job aboard a plane, as the New York Times later noted.

So Church, who was a registered nurse as well as a licensed pilot, appealed to the chauvinism of airline executives to help women find work in the skies, as she herself hoped to do. She recommended that nurses be hired to perform some of the tasks then handled by co-pilots, like hauling luggage and handing out lunches, as well as to help put the public at ease about the dangers of flying on the clunky, crash-prone early passenger planes.

Who better than nurses to put fearful passengers at ease, and who better than women to show men it was safe to fly? Or as Church put it, per the Times, “Don’t you think that it would be good psychology to have women up in the air? How is a man going to say he is afraid to fly when a woman is working on the plane?”

Officials with Boeing Air Transport, the predecessor of United Airlines, went for her pitch, and agreed to hire eight women, conditionally, for a three-month experiment. On this day, May 15, in 1930, Church and seven others began their first day of work as the country’s first flight attendants. Four flew from San Francisco to Cheyenne, Wyo., and the other four flew from Cheyenne to Chicago.

After the three months had ended, the original eight stayed on — and other airlines began recruiting their own stewardesses. According to TIME’s 1938 analysis, the jobs were highly competitive, and the hiring process was steeped in sexism. “To get their $100-to-$120-a-month jobs, applicants for the 300 stewardess posts [since 1930] had to be pretty, petite, single, graduate nurses, 21 to 26 years old, 100 to 120 lbs,” TIME notes. “Many of them found husbands right after they found jobs; few married pilots.”

The work itself was much more than pouring drinks and looking pretty, however. Stewardesses cleaned the cabin, helped fuel the planes and bolted down the seats before takeoff. And while they normally drew on their medical training only minimally, in assisting airsick and panicked passengers, they occasionally played the part of first responders in an emergency — as when 22-year-old TWA stewardess Nellie Granger ministered to critically injured passengers and then stumbled through snowy mountains in search of help after her flight crashed in Pennsylvania in 1936. (TWA rewarded her heroism with a paid cruise in the West Indies, along with a promotion.)

Church’s proposal was a success by most measures. Hiring female attendants paid off so handsomely in the air, in fact, that railroad executives followed suit, hoping to bring some of their glamor down to earth. But TIME’s 1937 dispatch about a recruitment drive for hostesses on the New Haven rail line reveals that while Church’s pioneering efforts might have opened new doors for female workers, only those with pageant-winning looks and charm were allowed to walk through — in the air or on land. As the story explains:

Candidates are required to be unmarried, 5 ft. 7 in. to 5 ft. 10 in. tall, aged 24 to 35, 115 to 135 lb. in weight. College graduates are strongly preferred. They must pass a “personality test”—i.e., be reasonably personable as well as amiable. Because Superintendent H. W. Quinlan of the New Haven’s dining cars believes that grace of carriage and movement is important, he insists on modeling experience as well as hostess experience.

Read the full story, here in the TIME archives: Women on Wheels

MONEY Workplace

H&M’s Very Un-American Vacation Policy

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European-style vacation makes inroads.

Fast-fashion retail giant H&M launched its first national recruiting campaign on Thursday, hoping to attract thousands of new employees to help it open 61 U.S. stores this year. The bait the company is using to net these new workers: a higher-than-minimum-wage salary and distinctly non-American benefits package.

While the hourly pay—about $12 for full-time employees— is more in line with that of its retail competitors, it’s the vacation policy that betray’s H&M’s roots as a European company. Full-time employees start with up to three weeks of paid vacation per year, with the opportunity to earn up to five weeks’ vacation, plus seven paid sick days and six paid holidays, and your birthday off.

Unlike European countries, which require employers to give workers at least 20 days of paid vacation each year, “the U.S. is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation,” according to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Austria and Portugal, for example, legally require employers to give workers 22 days of paid vacation time and 13 paid holidays. Sweden, the birthplace of H&M, offers 25 days, and Australia and New Zealand both grant at least 20 vacation days per year to their citizens.

Some countries go even further—France gives its citizens 30 paid vacation days and one holiday, while the United Kingdom mandates 28 days for its workers. Even our close neighbor Canada grants every worker 10 paid vacation days and 9 paid holidays.

If you include legally mandated paid holidays, the gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world becomes even more pronounced. Most of the wealthiest nations guarantee at least six paid calendar holidays per year. The U.S. and Japan alone offer none.

The average private sector worker in the United States receives 10 days of paid vacation and six paid holidays per year. Nearly 25% of U.S. workers have no paid vacation or paid holidays at all.

Only half of low-wage workers have any paid vacation, compared with 90% of high wage workers. Those low-wage workers who do receive vacation benefits typically get nine paid vacation days each year, vs. 16 days for high-wage workers. If you compare across all workers, the average for low-wage workers drops to four days and 14 days for high-wage workers.

So while it’s great that individual companies like H&M have decided to offer employees more competitive compensation packages, perhaps it’s time for the U.S. as a whole to join our economic peers and give workers a much-needed paid break.

MONEY Shopping

H&M Tries Luring New Workers With Fat Benefits

Low-price fashion retailer H&M is aggressively recruiting employees, offering up to five weeks paid vacation.

MONEY Careers

Should I Ask About Maternity Leave During a Job Interview?

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I am interviewing for a new job. I hope to start a family soon. When is it ok to ask about a company’s maternity leave policy?

A: Family leave policies have been getting a lot of attention lately, especially because of a new proposal by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. In a speech in Annapolis Wednesday, Mabus unveiled a host of initiatives to improve quality of life for sailors and Marines, including doubling the amount of paid maternity leave from six weeks to 12 weeks in a bid to attract more women to the services.

But growing awareness of the issue doesn’t change the fact that it’s a tricky one to raise when you’re trying to land a new position.

First of all, it’s generally not a good idea to ask about benefits—any benefits—during your initial job interview, says Rose Stanley, senior practice leader for WorldatWork, an association of human resource professionals. If you want the job, your entire focus should be on convincing the would-be employer that you’re the best candidate. “The hiring manger wants to know why you want the job and what you bring to the table,” says Stanley, “not talk about what’s in it for you.” In general, save questions about benefits and other company perks for later in the interview process, or even for after you get an offer.

But, of course, asking about maternity leave is an especially tricky case because, unlike 401(k) plans and health insurance, using this benefit involves an extended absence from the office. It’s long been illegal to fire pregnant women or otherwise discriminate against them thanks to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) passed in 1978. And last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidelines by, among other things, clarifying that a company cannot refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant or may become pregnant in the future. (If you think that’s the reason you aren’t hired for a job, you can file a complaint with the EEOC.)

Not even these legal safeguards, however, can guarantee that a potential leave won’t (consciously or unconsciously) count against you. That kind of discrimination, after all, is difficult, time consuming, and costly to prove. So if maternity leave is an important issue for you, do all you can to learn about a company’s leave policies even before you go for an interview.

Start by knowing the rules by which every company must abide. Unfortunately, compared to other countries, the U.S. does not guarantee much in the way of paid time off for new parents. But the federal Family and Medical Leave Act does entitle eligible U.S. employees to 12 weeks of family unpaid leave during any 12-month period, after which they are entitled to get their job back. (To be eligible, you have to have worked at the company for at least 12 months and at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.) Some states, meanwhile, guarantee even more parental leave rights; California, for example, mandates paid leave.

Some private companies do offer new parents paid time off, usually through a combination of short-term disability, sick leave, vacation time, and personal days. A good place to start inquiring is the careers pages of the corporate website, where many companies proudly tout their benefits. If that isn’t the case, you can try using your network to contact people who work at the company and who may be able to enlighten you about its policies.

Then there are external sources. Some job sites such as Glassdoor provide details about corporate perks and benefits. Working Mother publishes a list of the 100 best companies for working mothers. And Care.com has a list of companies with the best family leave.

Even if you can’t find detailed info about your target company, it’s worth collecting benefits information about other companies in the same industry and local companies of around the same size. If you end up with an offer, you can use what you find as a benchmark for negotiations. Good luck!

 

MONEY Ethics

Help! Should I leverage offers from recruiters to ask for a raise?

Here's your chance to give advice in the pages of MONEY magazine.

Did you ever want to be a personal-finance advice columnist? Well, here’s your chance.

In MONEY’s “Readers to the Rescue” department, we publish questions from readers seeking help with sticky financial situations, along with advice from other readers on how to solve those problems. Here’s our latest reader question:

Is it OK to use recruitment offers to push for a raise even if I don’t want to leave my current job and know my company can’t afford to pay me more right now?

 

MONEY Careers

Elon Musk Denies Scolding New Parent for Missing Meeting

A new biography claims Elon Musk criticized an employee who missed a work event to witness the birth of his child. The man behind Tesla and SpaceX says it never happened.

MONEY financial advisers

A Good Financial Planner Is Like This Year’s Hot Pitching Prospect

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Nick Turchiaro—USA Today Sports/Reuters Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Daniel Norris throws a pitch during first inning in a game against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre.

Like the Blue Jays' Daniel Norris, a good financial planner is true to him- or herself.

“Stop asking questions, Maurer, and do what I tell you to do,” said the general agent for the Baltimore region of a major life insurance company.

At the time, early in my career, I was sure this guy watched Glengarry Glen Ross every morning before work. His lines were a little different, but they were no less rehearsed.

“I made over a million dollars last year!”

“I buy a new Cadillac every two years — cash on the barrelhead.”

I was told how to dress: Dark suits, white shirts, and “power ties” that weren’t too busy. Light blue shirts were allowed on Wednesdays. Never wear sweat pants, even to the gym. Enter and exit the gym in a suit. Your hair should never touch your ears or your neck. Facial hair was strictly forbidden. Jeans, outlawed.

When you have a “big fish on the hook,” invite them to the Oregon Grille, one of the nicer restaurants in the rolling horse country north of Baltimore. Get there a half-hour early and tell the maître d’ your name so that he can use it when you return shortly with your guest. Ask where you’ll be seated and pre-greet your waiter. Also let him know your name — along with your “regular” drink, so that you can ask for it momentarily.

As one in a class of newly minted “financial advisers,” who was I to argue with this six-foot-five collegiate lineman as he passionately outlined his method of perception manipulation? Who was I to argue with a million-dollar income and cash on the barrelhead?

Who was I to be original in a world that ranked sales and profit above, well, everything? Who was I to be myself?

This is the old school, and, thankfully, a new school is emerging. The new school doesn’t eschew teamwork, but it questions uniformity. The new school doesn’t worship individuality, but it also doesn’t fear personality. The new school isn’t anti-profit, but it refuses to elevate sales above the personhood of the advisor or the best interest of the client.

While the old school is proprietary and exclusive, the new school is open-sourced and inclusive. The old school insists while the new school nudges. The old school deflects questions and denies suggestions for improvement while the new school welcomes both.

The old school crafts a narrative to which it requires conformity. The new school sees the benefit in allowing advisers to tell their own story and attract the clients who resonate with it.

The financial services industry is not the only realm where this is true. Insistence on conformity may be even more evident in professional baseball, where one of the MLB’s most promising young pitchers is putting convention to the test.

Daniel Norris is a 22-year-old surfer dude who lives in a WalMart parking lot. His ride, a 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia, doubles as his residence. His manner and method might cause any prospective employer to hesitate before bringing him into the fold. But his ability to mow down major league batters with a fastball consistently in the mid-90s earned him a $2 million signing bonus and a spot on the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster. Of course, he’s instructed his agent to limit his allowance to only $10,000. Per year.

Here are three reasons why nonconformity is working for Daniel Norris and could also work for you:

1. He’s authentic. He’s not being different just for the sake of being different. He’s not rebelling against convention as much as he’s being true to himself and his values.

The point isn’t to not be everyone else, but to be yourself. This means that if dark suits, white shirts, power ties and Cadillacs are your thing, that’s what you should wear and drive. But if you prefer no ties—or bow ties—and Levi’s, well, you get the idea.

2. He’s a great teammate. There are certainly players who’ve questioned his unorthodoxy, but no one questions his dedication. “He’s in great shape. He competes on the mound,” says Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava. “He has great values, and they’re working for him.” And for Toronto.

Being yourself doesn’t mean being on an island. Some, like Norris, might thrive off of extended periods of solitude, but our greatest work often complements and affirms the great work of others.

3. He’s good. Really stinkin’ good. His 11.8 “strikeouts per nine innings” ratio was the best in the minors last season, according to ESPN. And he’s competing for a starting role in the majors ahead of schedule. If Norris were just another dude living down by the river in an old VW bus, we’d never have known about it. That he throws a 96-mile-an-hour fastball low in the strike zone — while doing so in a way that is true to his values — is what makes him special.

If you do things differently, especially in the financial industry, you may well encounter some resistance. You’ll likely have to work harder to prove yourself. But if you do so with a high degree of excellence, you’ll earn the respect of your peers.

There are a growing number of financial advisers who have diverted from the conventional path, and to good effect.

Carl Richards drew criticism from many in the industry when he confessed his greatest financial sin, but a willingness to acknowledge his imperfection endeared him to those skeptical of the industry’s propaganda campaign regarding adviser infallibility (read: everyone).

Carolyn McClanahan gave up her career as a medical doctor when she failed to find a financial adviser who would focus on her as much as her investments. She went back to school and started a planning firm that centers on clients’ values and goals. She’s also become a recognized expert in all things money and medicine.

Recognizing the dearth of women in the advisory realm, Manisha Thakor seems to personify much that the field is lacking, this imbalance considered. Manisha became an industry thought leader, a voice for women advisors and clients.

Michael Kitces is, at heart, a nerd. He struggled with individual client interaction, but turned his passion for education and teaching into a thriving business as the adviser to advisers. “To do anything other than what I do, given my story, would feel like a violation of myself and who I am,” he told me.

How might your life and work look different if you took the same conviction to heart?

Financial planner, speaker, and author Tim Maurer, is a wealth adviser at Buckingham Asset Management and the director of personal finance for the BAM Alliance. A certified financial planner practitioner working with individuals, families and organizations, he also educates at private events and via TV, radio, print, and online media. “Personal finance is more personal than it is finance” is the central theme that drives his writing and speaking.

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