MONEY

How to Compete for an Out-of-Town Job

illustration of station wagon pulling office desk
Mikey Burton

You can improve your chances of finding a new job by taking your search on the road, but you’ve got to be strategic in selling yourself.

Three out of four hiring managers recently surveyed by Challenger Gray & Christmas reported a shortage of local talent. So theo­ret­ically you could have better luck finding the job of your dreams if you’re willing and able to move.

Problem is, many companies are hesitant to hire out-of-towners because of concerns over relocation, money, and local knowledge. But you can put hiring managers at ease by preemptively addressing these three issues in your application:

How Willing You Are to Move

Transparency is crucial. “If a recruiter in Pittsburgh sees you’ve been working in L.A. for 10 years, they’ll want to know why you’re applying,” says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet, a professional coaching firm.

Don’t skirt these issues or, worse, lie by using a local pal’s address. Instead, write beside your address that you would be eager to relocate to the area for the right career opportunity, recommends Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources, a New York HR consulting firm.

What It Will Cost the Company

Hiring costs are top of mind for recruiters when evaluating long-distance applications. So pay your own way for an in-person interview if you can swing it, says Stefanie Wichansky, CEO at Randolph, N.J., management consulting and staffing firm Professional Resource Partners. A subtle approach: Indicate that you are frequently in the area and can make yourself available at the hiring manager’s convenience.

Definitely don’t bring up needing relocation assistance in your cover letter. “That makes your candidacy less attractive, as you’ll be a more expensive hire compared to the local competition,” says Wichansky. Wait to raise the issue until the company has determined that you’re the best candidate. “You’re in a better position to negotiate once you’ve proven the value you can bring to the organization,” she says.

How Well You Know the Area

Unless you have a skill set that’s unique or in high demand, you’re going to need to convince a hiring manager that you’re not ­hampered—and wouldn’t hamper the company—by your lack of knowledge of the local market, says Yeager.

One way to tap into the market from afar, besides following local news and blogs, is to join region-specific industry networking groups on LinkedIn. Start discussions to gain an insider’s perspective, then demonstrate this knowledge in your cover letter. An out-of-towner looking for work in commercial real estate, for example, might study neighborhoods and establish relationships with local developers to show he can hit the ground running.

 

TIME France

France Considers Scrapping Its 35-Hour Working Week

The French 35-hour working week might be under threat in light of the country's economic woes

France has long had the reputation of taking a lax approach to working life. But now, the New York Times reports that the country is reconsidering the official 35-hour working week amid reports that the policy is abused by employers and creating financial hardships for employees.

The shorter working week was implemented in 2000 by the then-Socialist government as a way to stimulate job creation. But according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, French employees work an average of 39.5 hours per week, just shy of the eurozone average of 40.9 hours per week. According to the Times, the shorter working week hasn’t kept unemployment down — which is at 10.2 percent in France — and might even have led to the rise in part-time contracts, which employers increasingly use to avoid having to pay full-time staff overtime.

[NYT]

MONEY Health Care

6 Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up for a Health Plan This Year

tweezers and pill
Geir Pettersen—Getty Images

Employers are changing your health insurance options more than ever. Rushing through your open enrollment paperwork could cost you.

You don’t get a pass this year on big health insurance decisions because you’re not shopping in an Affordable Care Act marketplace. Employer medical plans—where most working-age folks get coverage—are changing too.

Rising costs, a looming tax on rich benefit packages, and the idea that people should buy medical treatment the way they shop for cell phones have increased odds that workplace plans will be very different in 2015.

“If there’s any year employees should pay attention to their annual enrollment material, this is probably the year,” says Brian Marcotte, CEO of the National Business Group on Health, which represents large employers.

In other words, don’t blow off the human resources seminars. Ask these questions.

1. Is my doctor still in the network?

Some employers are shifting to plans that look like the HMOs of the 1990s, with limited networks of physicians and hospitals. Provider affiliations change even when companies don’t adopt a “narrow network.”

Insurers publish directories, but the surest way to see if docs or hospitals take your plan is to call and ask.

“People tend to find out the hard way how their health plan works,” says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Don’t take for granted that everything will be the same as last year.” (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

2. Is my employer changing where I get labs and medications?

For expensive treatments—for diseases such as cancer or multiple sclerosis—some companies are hiring preferred vendors. Getting infusions or prescriptions outside this network could cost thousands extra, just as with doctors and hospitals.

3. How will my out-of-pocket costs go up?

It’s probably not a question of if. Shifting medical expense to workers benefits employers because it means they absorb less of a plan’s overall cost increases. By lowering the value of the insurance, it also shields companies from the “Cadillac tax” on high-end coverage that begins in 2018.

Having consumers pay more is also supposed to nudge them to buy thoughtfully—to consider whether procedures are necessary and to find good prices.

“It gets them more engaged in making decisions,” says Dave Osterndorf, a benefits consultant with Towers Watson.

How well this will control total costs is very unclear.

Your company is probably raising deductibles—the amount you pay for care before your insurance kicks in. The average deductible for a single worker rose to $1,217 this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One large employer in three surveyed by Marcotte’s group planned to offer only high-deductible plans (at least $2,600 for families) in 2015.

Employers are also scrapping co-payments—fixed charges collected during an office or pharmacy visit.

Once you might have made a $20 copay for a $100 prescription, with the insurance company picking up the other $80. Now you might pay the full $100, with the cost applied against your deductible, Marcotte says.

4. How do I compare medical prices and quality?

Companies concede they can’t push workers to shop around without giving information on prices and quality.

Tools to comparison shop are often primitive. But you should take advantage of whatever resources, usually an online app from the insurance company, are available.

5. Can I use tax-free money for out-of-pocket payments?

Workers are familiar with flexible spending accounts (which aren’t that flexible). You contribute pretax dollars and then have to spend them on medical costs before a certain time.

Employers increasingly offer health savings accounts, which have more options. Contribution limits for HSAs are higher. Employers often chip in. There is no deadline to spend the money, and you keep it if you quit the company. So you can let it build up if you stay healthy.

Don’t necessarily think of HSAs as money down the drain, says Osterndorf. Think of them as a different kind of retirement savings plan.

6. How is my prescription plan set up?

Drugs are one of the fastest-rising medical costs. To try to control them, employers are splitting pharma benefits into more layers than ever before. Cost-sharing is lowest for drugs listed in formulary’s bottom tiers–usually cheap generics—and highest for specialty drugs and biologics.

If you’re on a long-term prescription, check how it’s covered so you know how much to put in the savings account to pay for it. Also see if a less-expensive drug will deliver the same benefit.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

 

MONEY Workplace

Why Coworking Is Hot

shared workspace
Hero Images—Getty Images

These shared workspaces for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent workers tend to feel hip, fun, and casual -- but their success is about much more than cool design.

Coworking spaces – where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent workers pay a fee to share a workspace and benefit from working in the presence of one another – are hot. More than 160,000 people worldwide are members of over 3,000 coworking spaces, according to a recent report by DeskMag.com and Emergent Research, up from just 20,000 workers in 500 spaces in 2010.

My colleagues Gretchen Spreitzer and Lyndon Garrett and I set out to understand what draws people to coworking and what accounts for its success. We surveyed members from over 40 coworking spaces around the United States, analyzed the websites of over 100 U.S. coworking spaces, visited a handful of spaces in major U.S. cities, and spent several months as participant observers in one local coworking community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Given the coolness factor of coworking spaces – especially those that attract members with hip design and high levels of service – we figured that their design had something to do with the success of the phenomenon. But we wondered what other factors drove the success of the coworking model. Several interesting insights emerged.

Coworking fosters personal growth and community building

In his recent book, The Purpose Economy, social entrepreneur Aaron Hurst writes how coworking spaces are a powerful tool for cultivating community among a new class of workers who are driven to organize their professional lives around continuous personal growth, meaningful relationships, and the service of something greater than themselves.

One of the aims of the coworking movement is to provide people with a safe space where they can be themselves at work. But it also encourages members to explore shared interests with one another and collaborative opportunities that go beyond daily work routines. Grind, for example, a New York-based coworking space that participated in our study, offers tips to its members on how to move beyond their natural comfort zone and meet fellow members.

We also found learning to be a necessary component of what makes coworking a successful model. Member education is an explicit part of the mission of many coworking spaces. We saw spaces supporting member education, member support networks, and access to professional development opportunities and mentorship. Many spaces also host social events like happy hours, networking events, and guest lectures in order to reinforce learning and community building.

The most successful build “just right” communities

That is, just right in that they involve newcomers as much or as little as they want, without any pressure.

Unlike a traditional shared rental office where people largely want a quiet professional space to work without being bothered by others, many coworking spaces curate an experience that allows potential members to try the space and meet other members to see if there is a fit.

But unlike a traditional work organization that does this through the hiring process, coworking has low switching costs for members and doesn’t actually commit them to any aspect of the work experience that is meaningless to them. The result is that coworking gives a non-overbearing sense of belonging to those who want to be part of the community.

Coworking isn’t just for start-ups and freelancers

Although the earliest coworking communities were organized to provide an alternative to coffee shops or working at home to freelancers and entrepreneurs, we learned that coworking spaces are reaching diverse segments of the workforce. We found some spaces catering to writers and artists by emphasizing affordability and an atmosphere of creativity, for example. Others, including some of the most welcoming communities in our sample, attract women entrepreneurs.

But coworking also helps people keep good jobs with conventional employers in cases when, for example, they are forced to move for a spouse’s job change. In fact, 21% of U.S. sites explicitly market to remote workers, and one-third of our survey respondents were employed full-time by some other company. On average, these individuals are spending 65% of their time working from a coworking space.

“We have seen individuals who come in to avoid the commute to their traditional office space,” says Michael Kenny, managing partner of San Diego-based Co-Merge, a space that participated in our study. At Co-Merge, users from Accenture, Groupon, and Citrix are using the space on a regular basis. Co-Merge also has members who remotely work full-time for companies in other major cities such as Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington.

It’s the authentic sense of community where intrinsically motivated people who experience a sense of purpose in their work and thrive together that substantiates the coworking movement. Given these qualities, we expect to see a growing number of flexible workers try coworking — and a growing number of employers embracing coworking as a tool to help their increasingly mobile and flexible workforce to do their best work.

Peter A. Bacevice (@Bacevice) is a researcher with the Center for Positive Organizations (@PositiveOrg) at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business (@MichiganRoss) and senior design strategist with the New York office of HLW International (@HLWIntl). Gretchen Spreitzer is the Keith E. and Valerie J. Alessi Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Lyndon Garrett is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

 

MONEY managing

4 Ways to Make Millennials Happier at Work

Workplace Birthday
Colleagues celebrating birthday in office Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz—Getty Images

A new survey from Payscale and branding expert Dan Schawbel offers insights into what managers can do to retain Gen Y employees.

Managers, get ready: By 2030, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And a new survey from Payscale, led by Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding, finds this generation to be more ambitious than those who came before them. Nearly three quarters of Millennials say that an ideal job would offer some career advancement, more than Gen X and boomers. The report also pinpoints the specific types of conditions and leadership Gen Y’ers crave at work.

Play to those needs and your business may also be able to boost retention, Schawbel says.

His report finds that 26% of Gen Y workers believe employees should only be expected to stay in a job for a year or less before seeking a new role elsewhere. As an employer, that kind of turnover can be pricey. “It costs about $20,000 to replace each Millennial,” says Schawbel.

And considering the time it takes to fill that position and the stress workers take on to cover for the job in that time, it’s worth keeping a talented Millennial happy at work, he says.

As managers, here are four ways to give in to this demographic—while still getting what you need out of them.

1. Lead with the Positive

Remember, this is the generation that still got trophies when they lost a little league game. Their parents flashed bumper stickers stating that “Junior Made the Honor Roll.”

For this cohort, it’s more effective to give constructive feedback that points out what they’re doing right ahead of what they’re doing wrong. “Millennials want feedback, but they don’t want criticism,” says Schawbel.

An effective manager sets up expectations from the beginning, and offers compliments before giving negative feedback. “The tone is really important,” he says.

2. Treat them like Family

Gen Y thinks of their boss as their “work parent” and coworkers as “work relatives,” notes Schawbel.

In fact 72% want a manager who’s friendly and inviting. That compares to 63% of Gen Xers and 61% of Baby Boomers.

Reciprocate and play to those needs via team-building exercises, office happy-hour outings, volunteering opportunities and mentorship programs. The goal is to make it so there’s a real cost to them for quitting, says Schawbel. “They lose that family and they lose that culture for leaving.”

3. Promote from Within

Millennials want to lead. Therefore, demonstrating to your staff—particularly the 20-something set—that there’s a strong chance for upward mobility is imperative. If you constantly hire externally for advanced positions, how can you expect them to want to stay?

Besides engendering loyalty, raising up someone internally is a lot cheaper. Bringing in an outsider is “1.7 times the cost of internal hiring,” says Schawbel.

4. Give Them Ownership

This is not to say that you should give them a fat equity stake or a seat on the board.

The majority of Millennials say they want the opportunity to learn new skills and freedom from their managers. They want to own their projects from start to finish. To that end, an “intapreneurship” program—where you encourage workers to develop ideas for new products and services in an in-house incubator—can go a long way in keeping Millennials happy.

LinkedIn, Google and Lockheed Martin have their own versions of this kind of program.

How it works: Employees to come up with a business plan and pitch it to executives. For Millennials such projects offer the best of both worlds—they get to experiment freely like entrepreneurs but within the comforting structure of a 9 to 5 (dental included).

Farnoosh Torabi is a contributing editor at MONEY and the author of the book When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. More of her columns and videos for MONEY.com:

TIME Careers & Workplace

Not Taking a Vacation Is Costing You an Insane Amount

201407_SPE_VACATIONBOX
R. Kikuo Johnson

It won’t even help you get a raise.

Last year, American workers walked away from $52.4 billion in unused vacation time, forfeiting a total of 169 million paid days off, according to the U.S. Travel Association. While it’s well-known that American companies are less freewheeling with paid time off than their counterparts in other industrialized countries, it seems that a lot of workers here don’t even take the allotment they do get.

The amount of vacation we take as a nation is at a 40-year low, USTA says. As recently as 2000, the average worker took roughly 20 vacation days a year. By last year, that had fallen to 16 days. For most workers, wages and income have stagnated since the recession. But for all the complaining we do about our paltry paychecks, a lot of us are willing to literally work for free.

By giving up vacation, “U.S. employees are serving as volunteers for their companies,” Adam Sacks, founder and president of the tourism economics division of Oxford Economics, the group that prepared the report, said in a statement. In total, American workers essentially donate just over 1% of their salary back to their companies in the form of vacation days they give up. (Of course the USTA is hoping you’ll take more vacation.)

Another survey, this one conducted by Harris Interactive for the job and salary site Glassdoor, says we only take about half the time off we’re entitled to, and 15% of workers who get vacation don’t take any of it.

People forfeit their vacation for a variety of reasons, Glassdoor found. On a related survey question about people who take vacations only to work through them (which about six in 10 workers do), a third of respondents said they do so because nobody else can do their job, and about 20% said they do so in the hopes of getting a promotion.

The new USTA survey finds, though, that people who don’t take vacations are actually less likely to get ahead in the workplace. People who forfeit between 11 and 15 days are actually 6.5% less likely to get a raise or bonus than colleagues who take all their vacation.

That might be because they’re too stressed to do their jobs well. Survey respondents who leave behind more than two weeks of paid vacation are more likely to say they’re “very” or “extremely” stressed at work. “America’s work martyrs aren’t more successful,” says USTA president and CEO Roger Dow. “All work and no play is not going to get you ahead — it’s only going to get you more stress.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

1 Trick to Remember Even the Most Boring Information

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Katie Black Photography—Getty Images/Flickr RF

If you're not curious, you should be

Facing the unpleasant task of having to commit some dull facts or figures to memory? Now you don’t have to be that person fumbling for their notes or clicking frantically through slides during an important presentation. To kick your ability to recall information into overdrive, try piquing your curiosity, a new study suggests.

People are better at learning and remembering information they’re genuinely interested in, but researchers have discovered that a state of curiosity has a kind of halo effect on other, incidental or unrelated information we’re exposed to at the same time.

An NPR article points out this principle is useful for teachers who want to engage students by framing a lesson as a story or riddle, but as it turns out, the idea also might benefit grown-ups in the workforce.

“I think there are some useful ideas that can come out of our study with regard to adult learning,” says Charan Ranganath, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis and one of the study’s authors, although he does caution that this is speculative.

Ranganath and his co-authors presented experiment subjects with both interesting and incidental information, and watched how these people processed it using MRIs. They found that a state of curiosity stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers.

What’s so special about curiosity that it has such a powerful effect? Ranganath suggests it’s an evolutionary response. “We are starting to think that the feeling of curiosity reflects a natural drive to reduce uncertainty in your understanding of the world,” he says. “So when you know something about a topic, but then find there is a gaping hole in your knowledge, you will feel the itch to get to the bottom of it,” he says.

Ranganath and his colleagues theorize this might be why we’re more receptive to remembering ancillary details unrelated to the object of our curiosity. “Our work suggests that the motivational state of high curiosity can help you more effectively retain what you learn,” he says.

If you’re faced with a memory task that doesn’t grab your attention, Ranganath suggests tricking your brain into engaging with the information by pinpointing a gap in your knowledge about a topic that interests you, then investigating it, before tackling the chore at hand. “If you have to learn something, it is important to stimulate your curiosity,” he says.

MONEY Earnings

The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs and How Much They Pay

Delivery van driver
Two in five workplace deaths are transportation related. Kali Nine LLC—Getty Images

Few of the occupations that put workers at high risk are especially lucrative.

Loggers. Commercial fishermen. Firefighters. It’s not surprising that these occupations top the list of the most dangerous jobs.

But when research engine FindTheBest set out to identify how well high-risk jobs pay, one occupation that doesn’t involve such extreme working conditions landed on the list: truck drivers and delivery drivers. The reason: Transportation-related incidents are the number one cause of on-the-job fatalities across all job categories, accounting for 40% of deaths, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

People who spend long days behind the wheel, such as workers making regular store deliveries or restaurant take-out drivers, are at a higher risk of having an accident. Truck drivers and a group the BLS calls driver/sales workers together rank as the ninth most dangerous profession. Two other transportation-related jobs also landed relatively high on the list: Taxi drivers and chauffeurs come in at No. 16.

As for how much these dangerous occupations pay, FindTheBest found that few risky jobs will make you rich. To see how much workers in these professions earn, FindTheBest combined data from the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) with median wages from the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook and Occupational Employment Statistics Report.

According to the BLS Occupational Handbook, the median wage for all professions in 2012 was $34,750. According to FindTheBest’s analysis, only four of the top-10 high-risk jobs pay at least $10,000 above that; three pay about the median and three pay less.

The most well-compensated workers in the top 10 are aircraft pilots and flight engineers, who make a median salary of $129,600 a year. Many pilots fly routine routes for commercial airlines, while others fulfill more dangerous roles, such as assisting firefighters, transporting freight to remote areas, and performing search and rescue operations. A higher number of those pilots, who also earn less, die on the job.

None of the remaining professions pay nearly as well as being a pilot, but agricultural managers, electrical power-line installers and repairers, and steel workers all make a median wage that’s more than $10,000 above the median for all professions.

Farmers and agricultural managers face all sorts of risks, from charging animals, to tractor accidents and even asphyxiation from falling into bins of grain. Electrical power-line installers and steel workers operate at extreme heights, which puts them at risk of falling and slipping—the third most common reason for death in 2013.

The remaining six professions on the list pay only slightly above the overall median wage, or even below it.

Roofers, waste collectors, and construction laborers make a median salary of about $35,000, yet these workers face a risk of death that’s five to 12 times greater than the overall U.S. rate of 3.4 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers.

Logging workers, fishers, and sales and truck drivers earn less than the median wage but face a fatality rate between 6.5 and 37.5 times higher than the risk for all jobs. The lowest paid in the top ten: sales delivery drivers, who earn just $27,530 a year.

Chainsaw accidents and falling logs and branches are among the main dangers loggers—the number one most dangerous job in 2012—face. Fishermen encounter many hazards as well, such as slippery decks, swinging equipment, and capsizing boats.

But there has been improvement in these grim numbers. The fatality total in 2012 (4,628) was the second lowest since the CFOI was first conducted in 1992 and a slight improvement from 2011. Some new technologies such as non-rollover tractors for farmers, foot straps for roofers, and improved safety training overall have helped reduce fatality rates.

Here are details on fatality rates and wages for the ten most dangerous professions. To see data for all professions, click on the link at the bottom of the table.

 

Read next: What Can You Learn From the Toughest Leadership Job on Earth?

TIME

Quiz: How Does Your City Affect Your Happiness?

Answer these 13 questions and find out

Happy CityIn his book Happy City, Charles Montgomery offers evidence that where you live has a powerful effect on how you feel. From our commutes to our neighbors and our daily routines, where we choose to live can influence our feelings in ways most of us never imagine.

mcgill_logoThe following quiz will ask you 13 questions about your life. After answering each one, you’ll see how thousands of others have answered the same question. This survey will help us reveal new insights about the relationship between cities and happiness. All responses are completely anonymous.

The quiz was developed by Montgomery, Chris Barrington-Leigh of McGill University, along with TIME.

The data for average happiness scores will update as more readers take the survey. Current results based on 3,302 respondents. Data may also be used for a future study by Barrington-Leigh on happiness across the United States.

Read next: What Your Zip Code Says About You

TIME Careers & Workplace

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

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Sam Diephuis—Getty Images/Blend Images RM

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

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

Until now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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