TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Guaranteed Ways to Kill Your Credibility

Frustrated businessman sitting at desk with head in hands
Paul Bradbury—Getty Images/OJO Images

These common mistakes make others wonder whether you're worthy of their attention


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.

Your ability to influence others is directly dependent upon how credible you seem. If meeting attendees don’t perceive you as intelligent, competent and trustworthy, they’ll want to do business with somebody else.

With that in mind, here are nine common meeting-room behaviors to avoid:

1. Phrases that imply deception.

Beginning a statement with “In all honesty,” “Honestly,” or “To be honest,” it implies that up until that point, you’ve been lying

2. Words that sound sales-y.

Most people don’t trust salespeople (wrongly, in my view) so using words like “guarantee,” “discount,” and even “solution” makes you seem less trustworthy.

3. Excessive corporate-speak.

The occasional use of words like “leverage,” “impact,” and “reach out” is no big deal but it sounds ridiculous when every sentence is splattered with biz-blab.

4. Overuse of acronyms.

Acronyms are OK as shorthand, but if you use them too much, people get lost in the alphabet soup and start wondering if you actually know what you’re talking about.

5. Non-commitments.

Phrases like “I’ll try” or “I’ll see what I can do” make you appear unsure of your own ability to deliver. Either commit or don’t commit; there is no “try.”

6. Riffing.

When you admit ignorance, your credibility may suffer, but not nearly so much as when your improvised answers are revealed as a huge pile of BS.

7. Inappropriate humor.

A little light humor never hurt anyone, but any “joke” that references race, sex, gender, politics or religion is best left unsaid.

8. Repeatedly interrupting.

It makes you look both insecure AND disrespectful when you keep inserting yourself when someone else is speaking. The absolute worst: finishing other people’s sentences.

9. Failure to take responsibility.

Mistakes don’t help your credibility but trying to fix blame elsewhere is far worse. It’s always smarter to ‘fess up than finger-point.

Read more from Inc.com:

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

14 Tactics for Reading People’s Body Language

The One Trait That Guarantees a Good Hire

7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

Sheryl Sandberg and the Hypocrisy of Lean In

MONEY working in retirement

Don’t Buy Into the Retirement Gloom

Senior in the workplace
Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

In the emerging Unretirement movement, you are your best investment.

This story was originally published at Next Avenue.

Gray wave. Age wave. Geezer tsunami. (Pick your favorite — or most hated — euphemism.) Catchphrases like these capture the realization that we’re living longer and that older Americans make up a growing share of the population. As economist Laurence Kotlikoff and columnist Scott Burns say in The Coming Generational Storm: “The aging of America isn’t a temporary event. We are well into a change that is permanent, irreversible, and very long term.”

Living longer should be a trend worth celebrating. But many people believe that America’s boomers can’t afford retirement, let alone a decent retirement. They fear that aging boomers are inevitably hurtling toward a lower standard of living.

And here’s their evidence: We’ve just been through the worst downturn since the 1930s, decimating jobs and pensions. Retirement savings are slim. Surveys show that boomers aren’t spending much time planning for retirement. The prediction that the swelling tab for Social Security and other old-age entitlements will push the U.S. government and economy into a Greece-like collapse seems almost routine.

The Unretirement Movement

Don’t buy into the retirement gloom. I’m not.

Here’s why: The signs of a grassroots push to reinvent the last third of life are unmistakable. Call it the “Unretirement” movement — and it is a movement.

Unretirement starts with the insight that earning a paycheck well into the traditional retirement years will make a huge difference in our future living standards. You — and your skills and talents — are your best retirement investment. What’s more, if society taps into the talents and abilities of sixty-somethings and seventy-somethings, employers will benefit, the economy will be wealthier and funding entitlements will be much easier.

The Unretirement movement is built off a series of broad, mutually reinforcing changes in the economy and society that are transforming an aging workforce into a powerful economic asset. Boomers are the most educated generation in U.S. history and they’re healthier, on average, than previous generations. A century-long trend toward a declining average age of retirement has already reversed itself and — it’s safe to say — you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

“Many people aren’t slowing down in their 60s and 70s,” says Ross Levin, a certified financial planner and president of Accredited Investors in Edina, Minn. Adds Nicole Maestas, economist at the Rand Corp., the Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank: “Yes, America has an aging population. The upside of that is a whole generation of people who are interested in anything but retirement.”

Your ‘Next Big Thing

Just ask Luanne Mullin, 60. She has done marketing for a dance company, opened a theater company and run a recording studio. These days, Mullin is a project manager at the University of California, San Francisco, overseeing the construction of scientific laboratories (she does mediation at the school on the side).

“I think there’s more and more of us at 60 who are saying, ‘OK, what’s my next career? What do I want to do that’s fulfilling?’” Mullin told me. “I’m all for what’s my next big thing.”Mullin loves her work, but she’s also wrestling with the same questions as many of her peers. “What is this aging thing?” she wonders. “Am I living fully? Is this the second half of life I dreamed of, or if not, how do I pull it together?”

When Unretirement is Tougher

For many in their 50s and 60s, the transition to Unretirement is much tougher — especially for those who are involuntarily unemployed, like Debbie Nowak.

She didn’t see the layoff coming. Nowak worked for more than 30 years in customer relations for the pensions and benefits department at Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., In November 2011, at 58, she lost her job there.

Nowak, who has a high school diploma, let herself grieve until the holidays were over. In the New Year, she got her severance, went on unemployment and began thinking about embracing something completely different from her old job. “I never thought of myself as a risk taker,” she says. “After 30 years, I thought I should take a risk.”

Nowak had a stained glass hobby, making window panes, mosaic trays, and other objects. That led her to the idea of working in the wood finishing and furniture-restoring business. Last year, she got a certificate from The National Institute for Wood Finishing at Dakota Community Technical College in Rosemount, Minn. To pay for it, Nowak took out a loan and the state chipped in from its displaced workers fund.

Today, she has a part-time job at small furniture-restoration company. “It’s a crap shoot, a risk I was willing to take,” says Nowak. “This is also a way to produce additional income in retirement.”

As Mullin and Nowak demonstrate, we’re living though a period of experimentation while redefining retirement. Many people are stumbling about, searching for an encore career, a part-time job or contract work that offers them meaning and an income.

Some find it extremely tough to get hired, cobbling together a job here and a contract there, assuming they’re healthy. Especially vulnerable are less-educated workers who never made much money or never had jobs with employer-sponsored retirement and health benefits.

How Society Will Change

The rise of Unretirement calls for a whole cluster of changes in how society rewards work, creates jobs, shares the wealth and deals with old age. Unretirement will affect where Americans live out their lives, too, as they seek communities and services equipped for them.

Taken altogether, boomers will construct a new vision of their retirement years, which will impact how younger generations will think about their careers.

“People tend to learn from examples or stories handed down from previous generations — but there are few stories to navigate the new context of old age and retirement for the baby boomers,” writes Joseph Coughlin, the infectiously enthusiastic head of MIT’s AgeLab, a multi-disciplinary center. “When there are no set rules you make them up. The future of old age will be improvised.”

Send Your Unretirement Questions

This blog aims to take a first draft at the Unretirement improv act. I’ll particularly focus on the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications of the movement. I’ll talk about successes and failures, the impediments of age discrimination and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income in their next chapters.

Most of all, I hope to hear from you and find out about your experiences so I can address your questions in future columns. Send your queries to me at cfarrell@mpr.org. My twitter address is @cfarrellecon.

Peter Drucker, the late philosopher of management, noted that every once in a while, society crosses a major divide. “Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself — its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions,” Drucker wrote in Post-Capitalist Society. “Fifty years later there is a new world.”

The transformation of retirement into Unretirement marks such a divide. Welcome to a revolution in the making.

Chris Farrell is economics editor for APM’s Marketplace Money, a syndicated personal finance program, and author of the forthcoming Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He will be writing on Unretirement twice a month.

Related Links:

‘Partial Retirement’ Is On the Rise

A Manual for Encore Careers

 

MONEY Careers

New Degree, No Job? 4 Steps Grads Should Take to Jumpstart the Search

Now that commencement's over and real life is about to begin, career coach and former HR exec Caroline Ceniza-Levine offers strategies to get your career in gear, stat.

As a former recruiter, I have hired thousands of new graduates into their first full-time jobs, so I’ve seen the hiring process up close, inside and out.

Some industries—like management consulting and investment banking—do the bulk of their hiring well before graduation. If you have classmates entering these fields, you might be anxious if you don’t have your own first career step confirmed. (This goes for parents, too!)

Temper your anxieties by keeping in mind that the vast majority of companies only hire as needs arrive. Some of those companies are looking to fill entry-level slots right now, just a few heartbeats after commencement. So it may not be long before you (or your child) is launched—assuming you’re strategic. Take these four steps to take now to get the search in gear:

Figure out the finances first

You need to have time for your search. Even in the best-case scenario, it may take a month or two for you to go through the interview and vetting processes and land your first gig. In that time, you need to have a stable living environment where your basic needs are met so that you can be confident and relaxed as you meet with employers.

That requires answering this question first: How are you going to cover your expenses as you look?

Talk to your family about how long you are welcome to stay. If you have student loan payments that had a grace period while you were in school, find out when the first payment is starting and how much it is. Sketch out the rest of your budget, so you know what you’ll need to cover yourself.

Pick the low-hanging fruit

If money is tight, you’ll need to land something quickly and start earning. But even if you have the finances to support a longer search, you’ll want to avoid a long gap on your resume.

People who already know, like and trust you will more readily hire you or refer you for positions. So start your search by reaching out to family, friends, former employers from past internships or side jobs, even professors. Let them know you’re available.

Employers get inundated with resumes, but if someone the hiring manager knows personally refers you as a candidate, there’s a better chance your resume will get noticed.

Don’t discount “stopgap” jobs

First jobs do not have to be exactly in your area of interest to be valuable.

One of my coaching clients worked a retail job after she graduated, while searching for something in her target area (media). That job not only gave her the means to support herself, but also introduced her to other recent graduates working the store; and as her fellow store clerks got hired into their corporate jobs, she got introductions to those companies.

One new graduate I hired had been referred to me by a senior executive—she had babysat for his kids, and he was impressed by her work ethic.

In other words, these so-called stopgap jobs can set the stage for bigger career moves.

Keep going after your ideal job

Block out specific days and times for the search for your ideal job, even if you take that retail job or freelance project in the meantime.

Identify the companies you’d want to work for, check their websites regularly and follow them on social media to hear about openings. Also, use LinkedIn to find people in your network who work there and can introduce you or at least give you more information about the company to make you a more informed (read: more competitive) candidate.

Additionally, join a professional association in your target industry or a broader networking group like your university alumni club. The member events allow you to get comfortable in professional settings and meet new people, some of whom might work for your ideal companies. You never know who might help get you your first job—or your next one.

_____________________________________________________

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

MONEY Careers

Want to Boost Your Salary? Try Learning German

140604_FF_SkillsLanguage_1
Fluency in German could boost your pay by 4%. Sehr gut! RJ Sangosti—The Denver Post/Getty Images

Fluency in foreign tongues may increase your job options — and your pay. Interpreters and translators are among the top five fastest growing occupations

The rewards of learning other tongues are many: more potential friends, easier travel, and even, some studies suggest, better decision-making. But what about greater earnings potential?

Research from Wharton and LECG Europe found that studying a second language is correlated with about 2% more in annual income.

That’s a pretty low return, on the face of it—and probably not even as good as the minuscule raise your boss gave you this year. As study author Albert Saiz points out in a recent Freakonomics podcast, for someone making $30,000 annually, 2% amounts to only about $600 more per year. But Robert Lane Greene at The Economist shows that once you factor in compounding, a foreign language could mean nearly $70,000 more in savings by retirement. Put that way, it’s not too shabby.

Of course, broad correlations aren’t so helpful if you’re looking for a concrete pay bump in the real world. But there are many specific cases where a second (or third) language could increase your job opportunities and income.

For example, interpreters and translators are among the top five fastest growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with opportunities expected to increase by 46% between 2012 and 2022. And for those who dream of being a real-life Jason Bourne, the C.I.A. loves polyglots.

When it comes to money, members of the U.S. military can earn up to $1,000 more per month if they are proficient in multiple languages.

A foreign language can also amp up your desirability—and therefore your pay—in business or law, particularly if you speak Chinese or Japanese, says Charles Volkert, executive director of the legal department of staffing agency Robert Half. Recently, 42% of employers at top law firms surveyed by Volkert’s team saw an increase in legal jobs requiring a second language.

“With so few qualified candidates, there’s a huge demand for professionals who can speak Asian languages, particularly at globalized auto and tech companies,” says Volkert.

If learning a whole new alphabet sounds intimidating, there is good news: Saiz’s study found that the pay premium for learning German was higher than the average, at 4%. And if you, say, want to test drive Deutsch before committing to a costly class—some top programs charge thousands of dollars to get you proficient—there are plenty of ways to learn beginner language skills for free.

Duolingo, for example, starts off by teaching you to read, write, and speak basic phrases like “Ich bin ein Junge,” then ramps up difficulty—while giving you opportunities to compete with Facebook friends who are also learning languages. Next stop might be one of the BBC’s well-reviewed free online courses. After that, you might want to shell out—either for Berlitz or plane tickets.

MONEY online shopping

Boycotting Amazon: A Brief History

140603_EM_Amazon_Grinch_1
Amazon employees in Germany staged a strike over wages and working conditions during the holiday shopping season of 2013. UWE ZUCCHI—AFP/Getty Images

Throughout its history, Amazon has been the target of attempts to get you not to shop there. Here's a look at past boycott efforts against the retailer, and how they fared.

The recent rallying cry for a boycott of Amazon.com is hardly the first of its kind. It’s also not the first time the world’s largest e-retailer has been accused of using bullying, unfair, tone-deaf business practices.

To put the current “boycott Amazon” campaign—as promoted by The Stranger, Reuters, Gawker, and others—in perspective, here’s a brief retrospective of previous efforts to put Amazon in place by not giving it any of your money.

1999
The Free Software Foundation urged a boycott of Amazon because the site claimed a patent on one-click purchasing—something of a novelty at the time—and was suing other e-commerce companies (including BarnesandNoble.com) that used a one-click purchasing process. “Amazon has sued to block the use of this simple idea, showing that they truly intend to monopolize it,” a widely circulated e-mail that called for the boycott stated. “This is an attack against the World Wide Web and against e-commerce in general.” A couple years later, Amazon seemed less inclined to bother using its patent to threaten competitors, and the boycott was dropped.

2007
Around 2007—the year that NFL quarterback Michael Vick was suspended and sent to jail for running an illegal dogfighting ring—animal lovers began loudly calling for a boycott of Amazon because the site sold videos, magazines, and books about dogfighting and cockfighting. At least two of the titles described as “torture guides” by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are still available for purchase on Amazon.

2010
In late October 2010, a self-published e-book went on sale at Amazon with extremely disturbing subject matter, summed up in the title: The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct.

At first, despite massive protests online and calls for a broad boycott of Amazon, the e-retailer refused to remove the item from the site. The company released a statement with its justification to keeping the e-book for sale, explaining, “Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable.” Within a few days, however, Amazon relented and stopped selling the pedophilia book.

2010
After U.S. political leaders pressured Amazon to block Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website known for leaking classified security documents, Amazon relented, and stopped hosting the site. Free speech advocates including Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers, promptly called for a consumer boycott of Amazon.

2011
For several years, Amazon was in the habit of spending millions of dollars lobbying various states to cut off local efforts to start charging sales tax on online purchases. To small business owners, the fact that sales tax was not automatically charged for e-commerce purchases gave e-retailers such as Amazon an unfair advantage—customers could easily save 7% or whatever the local sales tax rate was simply by purchasing online. (Sure, those consumers were later supposed to pay the sales tax they owed to the state, but almost no one did that.) In 2011, while California approved the installation of a sales tax on online purchases but hadn’t yet put the policy in practice, Amazon was actively trying to get the law overturned. The company’s efforts were met with a call to (surprise, surprise) boycott Amazon.

The boycott never really gained steam, and as of mid-September 2012, the campaign was totally moot, as Amazon began charging sales tax in California. Amazon customers in many other states who once could skip out on sales tax are now automatically charged sales tax on e-commerce purchases as well.

2011
In the fall of 2011, reports spread about deplorable worker conditions at Amazon warehouses and shipping centers around the country. An investigation by the Pennsylvania Morning Call showed employees at the Amazon warehouse in the Lehigh Valley enduring sweatshop-like conditions, including indoor temperatures so hot (over 100 degrees during summer heat waves) that the company arranged for ambulances to parked outside, waiting to treat workers for dehydration or other heat-related issues.

“Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain,” the Morning Call reported. “Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said.”

After consumer and worker groups got wind of Amazon worker complaints, a boycott was called for during the 2011 winter holiday shopping season. Some 12,600 consumers pledged to boycott Amazon for the holidays, if not indefinitely. If nothing else, Amazon stated that it has since installed much-need air-conditioners in warehouses, when appropriate.

The U.S. isn’t the only country where Amazon workers have voiced gripes against the company. In late 2013, for instance, Germany’s Amazon.com workers went on strike and staged protests outside the company’s Seattle headquarters due to “low wages, permanent performance pressure and short-term contracts.” Many have called for a boycott of Amazon among German consumers because of the company’s treatment of workers.

2012
Calls for a consumer boycott Amazon, as well as Starbucks and Google, throughout the UK started spreading in 2012, continued through 2013, and gained more traction in spring of 2014, with Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee in the UK, personally calling for consumers to avoid doing business with these companies.

Why? Due to a range of strategies employed by the companies, they pay relatively little in corporate taxes. Amazon, for instance, paid £4.2m in UK taxes in 2013, or 0.1% of its UK revenues. “It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax,” said Hodge. “They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere.”

2013
In September, Boston-based author Jaime Clarke launched an odd website to help sell his new novel, Vernon Downs. The site’s url was PleaseDontBuyMyBookonAmazon.com. Clark said he was motivated to create the site because he wanted help independent publishers such as Roundabout Press, which published Clarke’s book.

“Most indie publishers rely on Amazon to sell their books, and to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, the price is high,” Clarke said in a Q&A with CNET. “Indie publishers realize a fraction of the purchase price and are at the mercy of Amazon’s discounting policies.”

What’s more, Clarke just so happens to be the co-owner of Newtonville Books, which just so happens to be an independent bookstore—the ranks of which have been depleted during Amazon’s rise to power. “Independent bookstore owners loathe Amazon and its bald-pated founder, Jeff Bezos,” a Boston Globe story on Clarke explained.

2014
The most recent boycott Amazon push is related to the company’s ongoing battle with the Hachette Book Group. Essentially, Amazon wants to sell Hachette e-books at a lower price than the publisher wants, and to get its way, Amazon has stopped selling preorders of Hachette books, and it has slowed down the process of customers buying and shipping other Hachette books. For many, this clash epitomized the view that Amazon has too much power, is verging on a monopoly, and is perhaps just plain evil. And for many, this clash is what finally makes them feel that it is time to buy stuff elsewhere.

MONEY Obamacare

How Obamacare Is Making Exiting Your Job Trickier

140603_FF_QA_Obamacare_illo_1
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

You now have more health insurance options to sort through if you quit or face a layoff, and making the wrong choice could prove costly.

Q. When I leave my job, should I sign up for COBRA or buy my own health insurance?

A. With Obamacare in full force, you have a crucial choice to make when you quit or get the ax: pay to stay on your group health plan for up to 18 months (what’s called COBRA), or buy your own policy on a government-run online insurance exchange or directly from an insurer. In May the Obama administration informed all employers with 20 or more workers that they must tell you about both options when you exit.

Your first step should be to price out an individual plan on a government exchange via healthcare.gov and through private sites like gohealth.com and ehealthinsurance.com. Thanks to the health reform law, you’re guaranteed coverage regardless of your health. And you may qualify for a subsidized premium if you earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level, or $46,680 for a single, $62,920 for a couple, and $95,400 for a family of four. If so, you must shop at healthcare.gov. Open enrollment for 2014 coverage via the exchanges closed in March—but after a job loss you have up to 60 days to shop there.

The High Price of Staying Put

Stick with your employer plan through COBRA, and you’ll likely face sticker shock. You’ll owe both your and your employer’s share of the premium, plus a 2% administrative fee. On average, you pay only 18% of the annual premium while you’re working if you’re single, 29% for a family plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The average annual tab under COBRA: about $6,000 for singles and $16,500 for families. “COBRA can be a double whammy, because you have to pay the full premium at the same time you may have lost your job and your income,” says Bryce Williams, a managing director at benefits consultant Towers Watson.

The Pros and Cons of Buying Your Own Plan

Chances are you’ll pay a lower premium on the individual market, especially if you qualify for a subsidy. The trade off is that you’ll likely face a higher deductible, steeper out-of-pocket costs, and a shorter list of in-network doctors and hospitals than you would have with your old company group plan. Make sure your preferred hospitals and doctors are in a plan’s network. Provider directories from insurers were notoriously out-of-date even before this year’s slew of changes, so check with the insurer as well as your doctors.

Also factor in how much you’ll pay for drugs, particularly expensive speciality drugs to treat conditions like cancer. An analysis by the consulting firm Avalere Health found that more than half of mid-priced individual plans sold on the exchanges saddle consumers with a percentage of the cost, sometimes 50% or more. What’s more, consumers on the exchanges are twice as likely as group enrollees to need to take extra steps before a drug is covered, such as getting prior authorization from the insurer or trying another drug first.

Whatever you do, don’t mindlessly choose COBRA, figuring you’ll research your options when you have more time, says Michael Mahoney, senior vice president of marketing at GoHealth.com. “You can’t change it later,” he says. You’ll be locked into that plan until your next chance to enroll in an individual plan. For plans starting in January 2015, open enrollment begins on Nov. 15.

 

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Jobs Employers Are Desperate to Fill

Are you a skilled tradesperson? A teacher? Even a waiter or waitress? If so, you’re in luck: These all came up on ManpowerGroup’s newest annual Talent Shortage Survey as occupations employers around the country are scrambling to fill.

Overall, 40% of U.S. companies responding to ManpowerGroup’s survey saying they’re having trouble filling positions, just one percentage point more than last year.

There are some notable differences, though: The biggest reason companies cite is a lack of technical skills, but the percentage of companies who say that’s a culprit has dropped a little bit since last year. Meanwhile, employers are more likely to say this year that they can’t fill positions because workers want more money than they’re willing to pay, they can’t find people with the right experience or there’s a lack of applicants entirely.

“Talent shortage is clearly having a negative impact on employers’ abilities to drive value for their customers,” says Rebekah Kowalski, principal consultant with Right Management, a ManpowerGroup company.

This is pushing some companies to reevaluate how much they’re willing to pay for good workers, she says. “Employers are looking at salaries and making adjustments. I regularly talk with employers that are looking at their pay and workforce models and making strategic modifications,” she says.

Comparatively, American businesses are having a tougher time filling jobs than their overseas counterparts; globally, only 36% of companies say they’re struggling to fill open positions.

Here is ManpowerGroup’s complete rundown of the most hard-to-fill jobs in the United States, in order:

-skilled trade workers
-restaurant and hotel workers
-sales reps
-teachers
-drivers
-accounting and finance professionals
-laborers
-IT Staff
-engineers
-nurses

Tellingly, this year’s top 10 is not dominated by highly technical jobs; although fields like accounting and IT are still struggling with a shortage of good workers, companies in a much broader array of industries are looking for workers today.

“Restaurant and hotel positions are in demand and this is the first time these positions have been on our top 10 hardest jobs to fill list since 2010,” Kowalski says. “We view this demand as a good sign — consumers are spending more on entertainment, travel and dining.”

And Kowalski says that talent gap companies find when they try to fill those math and tech jobs is fueling demand for teachers, a job that jumped up six spots on this year’s top 10 list from last year. “It’s not a surprise there is an increase in demand for teachers; it reflects the need to develop bigger pipelines of qualified talent,” she says.

MONEY Careers

What to Do When You Find Out You Earn Less Than Your Predecessor

140602_FF_MakeLess_Abramson_1
Some sources say that the recent firing of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson—shown here with her predecessor, Bill Keller, in 2011—was owed in part to her complaints about earning less than Keller. FRED R CONRAD—The New York Times/Redux

How to tell whether you should march into your boss's office -- or just suck it up.

Q: I just found out my predecessor made more than me. My boss doesn’t know I know. What should I do?

A: Before you work yourself up into a fury, keep in mind that “it’s unusual for someone to come into a role and make the same exact salary as the previous person in the job,” says Lydia Frank, editorial director at compensation data provider PayScale.com. Also, there may be a good reason that you make less.

Many factors affect compensation. Employers typically stick within a general range for each position, and where you fall within that range depends a lot on what you bring to the table–your years of experience, your unique skill set and your education. Unless those attributes are identical to those of your predecessor, you shouldn’t necessarily expect to command the same salary. Additionally, as unfair as this may seem, the economy may play a role: The person you replaced may simply have been hired during more flush times at your company.

If after having weighed these factors you still see an imbalance, however, you should talk to your boss. But you’ll want to be careful about how you do it, as it can be a delicate dance to get your boss to see your side. (It’s been widely reported that one of the factors in the recent high-profile ouster of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was her complaints about earning less than the person she replaced.)

First, get some data behind you, since you want to avoid bringing up what you know about your predecessor’s pay. By mentioning that, “You’d be putting your boss on the defensive,” says Frank. “That’s not a conversation that’s likely to go well.”

There are several ways to find out what’s an appropriate income for your position. You can check salary sites, such as PayScale.com which crowd sources data on compensation, and Glassdoor.com, which posts company salary reports. You can also turn to your network and ask current or former colleagues for insight. (While it’s still taboo to talk about pay, it may be easier if you ask about a range.)

Then tell your manager that you’ve done some research on salaries in your position, and the data you’ve found indicates that you’re are at the low-end of the scale. From there, build your case about why you are a top performer and should earn more, using quantifiable examples of your successes and highlighting wins that align with your boss’s and the company’s goals. If your supervisor pushes back, ask what you can do to get to that next level: Get more training, add a particular skill or hit a sales target?

The bottom line: When it comes to your salary, what’s most relevant is whether you are making what you should based on the current market price for your position and your qualifications, not what the person before you earned.

TIME Careers & Workplace

15 Things Successful People Do on Monday Mornings

103631241
Jeffrey Coolidge—Getty Images

Those first few hours after the weekend are critical. Start your week off right


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.

Monday mornings are the most critical time of the workweek, as they set the stage for the day and week ahead.

“Because you’ve stepped away for a couple days, these back-to-work mornings are the most memorable for the rest of the week,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. “They influence your mindset in a positive or negative way, depending on what actions you decide to take.”

Most successful people are keenly aware of the typical Monday morning workplace dynamic of unanticipated events, overflow of communications, and general chaos. “But after weathering hundreds of them, they realize they must gain control and stay upbeat,” Taylor explains. “They take extra steps to compensate for this busy time of the week, and apply their best management skills to ensure that the day unfolds as smoothly as possible.”

Here are 15 things successful people do on Monday mornings:

They wake up early and exercise.

This gets your circulation going and helps you stay alert, putting you at an advantage for a productive week ahead. “You’ll get your endorphin rush, which will help your mood, too,” Taylor explains.

They eat a healthy breakfast.

On Monday morning, you want to handle everything you have control over. Eating breakfast is one of those things. “You don’t want to be staring at the clock, awaiting lunchtime as your stomach growls at morning meetings,” she says.

They arrive early.

Do not succumb to the snooze button. “Commutes are bad on Monday, so beat the odds,” Taylor says. Plus, getting in earlier than others will help make Monday morning seem more like the afternoon, because you’ll have had a chance to breathe before responding to the barrage of people and issues. “Being an early bird will give you some wiggle room for the unexpected at work, not to mention any important personal matters that may arise,” she says.

They clear their desk and desktop.

“Hopefully you already did this before you left on Friday,” Taylor says. “But if you didn’t, get this out of the way, or you might add to Monday stresses in a sea of disorganization.” Organize and prioritize your files. Put aside unimportant paperwork, and keep critical files easily accessible. You want to be prepared when you, your boss, or colleagues need something at the last minute.

They carve out time for unexpected projects and tasks.

Successful individuals expect the unexpected on Monday, she says. “Your boss, team members, or staff may have remembered some loose ends over the weekend,” she says, “so you’re wise to build in some extra downtime on Monday morning.”

They greet their team and boss.

This is important to do first thing every morning to keep morale high, but on Monday it’s particularly valuable, as your team needs a special boost. “Ideally, you’ll spend an few extra minutes with your colleagues on Monday mornings,” Taylor explains. “It reinforces a sense of purpose and community for everyone, including you.”

They update their to-do list and goals.

“Get yourself current on priorities and tasks,” Taylor suggests. Then set five to eight goals for the week.

“Accomplished professionals have several goals in mind for the day and week,” she says. “They know that if all goals aren’t achieved, they can take pride in accomplishing most of them, and there’s next week to achieve additional objectives.”

They visualize the week’s successes.

By envisioning the positive outcomes of various projects at hand, you can work backwards and determine the necessary steps to get your desired results.

They screen emails for urgent requests.

You can sink into email oblivion if you don’t scan your inbox for urgency, Taylor says. “Star emails that are priorities, and think quality, not quantity,” she says.

They tackle the tough challenges first.

The least desirable but critical projects are easy to put off, but your energy is stronger in the morning, so that’s the ideal time to confront the most difficult assignments.

They make an extra effort to smile.

“It might be the last thing on your mind, but overcompensating for the pressure-cooker morning will help you get through it,” she says. You may well stand out in the crowd, but your smile will likely be contagious, helping both you and team members relax.

They add a “blanket of humanity” to their emails.

It’s tempting to power through all your emails in the most efficient way on Monday mornings. But before you hit Send, read them over to ensure that they’re friendly and clear. “Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes,” Taylor says. “It’s relatively easy to appear curt when you’re in a hurry, along with the impersonal nature of emails and texts. You want to mitigate false starts and misinterpretations.” One way to do this: Start the email by saying “Hi” and “I hope you had a great weekend.”

They’re able to say no.

“On Monday mornings, there will be many distractions–from people to emails to calls, meetings, offers for meeting in the break room, and so forth,” Taylor explains. “Successful people can diplomatically and politely say no to colleagues by offering to engage at a later time.”

If your boss needs you, that is clearly an exception. However, if you have crucial calls to make or meetings to attend, give your boss the heads-up. “It’s stressful to be a people pleaser, particularly on Monday mornings,” she says. “Generally, no one ends up being pleased, as you can’t do your best work with conflicting priorities.”

They stay focused.

Successful people don’t dwell on any challenging events that occurred over the weekend or other frivolous thoughts. “Compartmentalize by putting them in a separate box as you start your week,” she says.

They remember that there is Tuesday.

“In all the chaos, it’s easy to believe that the world will cave if you don’t solve all Monday’s problems on Monday,” she says. “But when the dust settles at the end of the day, you may realize that certain tasks could have waited.” Sometimes, you obtain more information over time that enhances your decision-making process. Or you may find that certain problems you’re pondering will resolve themselves.

Monday morning can challenge even the most industrious, successful business leaders. “But if you compensate for all the anticipated distraction and intensity by remembering to focus, plan, and stay calm, you won’t relive Monday all over again on Tuesday,” Taylor concludes.

Read more from Inc.com:

The Most Important Success and Happiness Rules I’ve Learned From My Mom

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

Steve Jobs’s 13 Most Inspiring Quotes

17 Things Happy People Say Every Day

12 Words That Will Change Everything You Think About Entrepreneurship

TIME Careers & Workplace

Working Harder Not Really Worth It, Researchers Find

You might think turning in a project early, putting more effort into it or otherwise going above and beyond what you promise to do at work is a good way to get ahead. Save yourself the trouble: It isn’t.

“Breaking one’s promise is costly, but exceeding it does not appear worth the effort,” writes Ayelet Gneezy, an associate professor of behavioral sciences and marketing in the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. “Promise receivers consistently failed to recognize the additional effort required to exceed a promise.”

In a series of experiments, Gneezy evaluates how people respond to a promise that is broken, met or exceeded. If you don’t follow through on a promise, the person you let down is likely to see you as more selfish, less generous and less fair — not the kind of reputation you want to cultivate with bosses, coworkers or clients.

Unfortunately, though, exceeding a promise doesn’t earn you any more kudos than if you simply do what you pledged to do. Gneezy finds that this holds true even when the person to whom the promise is made benefits from the extra effort.

Where you do benefit by going above and beyond is exceeding expectations. In one experiment, Gneezy finds that people are happier when expectations are surpassed versus when they are simply met.

What’s the difference? It sounds like splitting hairs, but there’s an important distinction, Gneezy says.

“Promises are not merely expectations,” she says. As it turns out, we view promises as social contracts between people, which makes us unconsciously elevate their importance. “The contractual nature of a promise provides value above and beyond a promise’s tangible outcome,” Gneezy writes. And while contracts can be kept or broken, there’s no mechanism for earning extra credit.

“When companies, friends, or coworkers put forth the effort to keep a promise, their effort is likely to be rewarded,” Gneezy writes. Since just keeping your word is good enough, focus on that, she advises. You can damage your reputation if you break that promise, but you won’t get any advantage from exceeding it, even if the person you made the promise to benefits from your extra effort.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser