TIME

27 Pinterest Boards That Will Actually Make Your Life Better

155379730
Reza Estakhrian—Getty Images

Seriously life-changing

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.
TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Sure-Fire Signs They’re Planning to Replace You

200437037-001
A J James—Getty Images

What to look out for and how to deal with it

LinkedIn Influencer Liz Ryan published this post originally on LinkedIn. Follow Liz on LinkedIn.

There’s lot of wildlife in Boulder. I was gobsmacked the first time bear came into our yard, after living in Chicago and New York for years. It got to be more normal, and then we had a mountain lion on our street. Now there’s a mother lion and two cubs wandering the neighborhood. We didn’t have this kind of thing in New Jersey.

They say that a prey animal’s nervous system shuts down when the prey animal is snatched by a predator. Humans have a bit of that going on, too. We tune out signals that should alert us to be on guard and on our feet, at home and at work.

Most of us are so tuned into the next thing on our to-do list and the general crush of daily obligations that we shut down our antennae for new information, especially scary information. We don’t take it in, for example the signals that tell you “You are not going to have this job much longer.”

Every day in our office we hear people say “I was completely blindsided. I got called into someone’s office, they gave me papers to sign and I wasn’t tracking with the conversation, I was so overwhelmed.”

When you lose your job suddenly, you’re in shock. It’s normal. When you get bushwhacked, how else would you react?

When you turn on your antennae to be mindful of signals in the energy field around you, you’ll be in a better position whether you’re working for someone else or for yourself.

The more information you can take in and attend to, the better. The closer you can keep an ear to the ground and all your other senses working at a high level, the stronger your position will be.

When people get in a rut at work it’s called falling asleep on your career. Your spidey sense weakens. Your old street muscles from the playground or the basketball court atrophy. You forget how to pay attention to what’s going on around you, and the press of your work makes that inattention even more likely.

Just then you get the lightning bolt and you’re out of a job without warning. Two weeks later when your body has had time to process everything, you’ll say “Actually, there were signs. I missed them.”

I don’t want to make you paranoid, but every time I write about this topic we get letters from people who say “I was guided to read your column today. I see it now. I’m putting the breadcrumbs together. My boss wants me out.”

That early warning helps you get centered. When you see the storm swells forming as you look out across the water, you can prepare. You can be proactive then. First we’ll walk through the six signs they’re planning to replace you, and then I’ll tell you what to do about them.

You’re Pulled Off a Big Project for No Reason

Be suspicious when you’re on a big project doing fine, and all of a sudden you’re off the project for no reason. That’s not a sensible business move, unless they can tell you what you’re doing next and why that’s good for your employer (and you). If you ask why you were pulled off the project and the answer is mushy and non-committal, get your job-search engine going and start building your mojo for a job search.

All of a Sudden, Your Knowledge is Valuable

God bless our colleagues who lack emotional intelligence, because they broadcast their intentions. One way they do it is to suddenly have an interest in everything you know about your job.

They’ll say one random day “Why don’t you train Elissa, our temp, on how you create newsletters and marketing brochures, and teach her how to do trade shows?” Cross-training is great, but there should be a particular need for it, because cross-training takes a lot of time. If you feel sketchy about somebody’s sudden desire to pick your entire brain, trust your feelings.

Former Strategic Conflicts Disappear

Knowledge work can get us emotionally and philosophically attached to our jobs. We care about decisions made at work when we’re connected to our power source there. Strategic disagreements can get fierce and personal at times.

If you’ve been in a wrangle with someone and suddenly it’s all forgotten, there’s no discussion and everything is fine, the word may have come down that you aren’t staying.

You Can’t Get Forward Visibility

Most folks outside the executive suite don’t get formal employment agreements unless they’re contractors, but we like to have some visibility a year or so into the future. We like to know what the organization is trying to do, and to hear as often as possible how well it’s doing with its goals.

If you can’t get a hint from your manager about your future, that’s a bad sign. Most people would rather waffle than tell you something and have to backtrack later. They may keep you treading water until they’re ready to toss you out of the pool completely.

Your Red-Hot Project Goes Suddenly Cold

A screaming neon sign of an upcoming personnel switch-out is for a person’s pet project which was high-priority suddenly to slip to the back burner almost without mention. It typically means that the leaders still still love the project but don’t want you running it, for whatever energetic-disturbance reason they have. They’ll low-key the project until you’re gone and then rev it back up.

Don’t take it personally. It isn’t about you. Your flame can grow from an experience like that, even if you leave. Look what influence you had! Your great ideas travel with you wherever you go.

You Just Feel It

Humans are an old species. Once I traveled to visit a friend, and on the last day of my visit she scheduled a half-day off work to show me her city. In the morning she had a meeting to attend at work, and she said “Come to my office and meet everyone. There’s a spare office where you can work.”

She went into her meeting and I sat in her office working. I felt a chill. I was in a private office but the door was open to a suite of three other offices in a corner of the building. I stopped typing and felt it. Something in the looks of my friend’s co-workers when they walked by — I couldn’t put my finger on it. I scribbled on a Post-It Note “Went down the street for coffee. Call me.”

My friend called me an hour later and said “Which coffee shop are you at? I’ll join you. I just got fired.”

The bad energy was in the air – the tension. It drove me out. You will feel things and your job is not to judge or pooh-pooh them but to let them sit in your right brain and percolate for a few days. Is there a change in the air temperature? If so, you’ve got to mention it.

What To Do If It Happens?

What if you see some of these signs, or all of them? Take the bull by the horns and find your center. Set up a time to talk with your boss and warmly ask him or her what’s up.

Jump here for a script to guide you.

Liz Ryan is the CEO and Founder of Human Workplace.

TIME Careers & Workplace

This Is Exactly How to Make Sure Your Resume Gets Seen

172965881
nazdravie—Getty Images

The gatekeepers between you and the job you want are often digital first, human second. Here’s how to approach both

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Anne Fisher

Dear Annie: What exactly is an applicant tracking system? I’ve applied for several job openings where my qualifications match the job descriptions for each position precisely, yet I’ve gotten called in for an interview only once (so far). A colleague at my current job told me he read somewhere that computerized applicant tracking systems reject most resumes before a human being even gets involved in the process. Is that true? If it is, how do you get past that and reach an actual person? — Left Hanging in Houston

Dear L.H.H.: An applicant tracking system (ATS), as the name implies, is how many big companies keep track of the hundreds or thousands of resumes that are constantly coming in. Designed to follow each candidate through each stage of the hiring process, from application to start date, the systems usually begin with computer software that “reads” each resume and weeds out the ones that don’t match up with specific job openings.

Unfortunately, that’s usually a lot less efficient than it sounds. That 75% rejection rate your friend cited probably came from a study by a job search services firm called Preptel (which was founded by its CEO Jon Ciampi, an alumnus of ATS maker SumTotal Systems).

The huge number of rejections is due to some, shall we say, quirks in the software that screens resumes before they arrive on a hiring manager’s desk. You could be the perfect prospect for a given job, using all the right keywords, and still be kicked aside by the system because it couldn’t quite make out parts of your resume — like work experience, for instance.

For the rest of the story, please visit Fortune.com.

TIME

How to Achieve ‘Flow’ in Your Work

flowing river
Getty Images

You want to be experiencing “flow.” It’s when you’re so wrapped up in what you’re doing that the world fades away:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity… The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described… as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.

When do you usually feel flow? It’s when you’re challenged but not beyond your skill level. Passive activities don’t create flow. Neither do overwhelming challenges.

Via Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life:

Flow is generally reported when a person is doing his or her favorite activity – gardening, listening to music, bowling, cooking a good meal. It also occurs when driving, when talking to friends and surprisingly often at work. Very rarely do people report flow in passive leisure activities, such as watching television or relaxing.

There are a handful of things that need to be present for you to experience flow:

Via Top Business Psychology Models: 50 Transforming Ideas for Leaders, Consultants and Coaches:

  • Clear goals that, while challenging, are still attainable.
  • Immediate feedback.
  • Knowing that the task is doable; a balance between personal skill level and the challenge presented.
  • Strong concentration and focused attention.
  • The activity is intrinsically rewarding.

Finding that balance between challenge and skills is best illustrated by this chart:

This balance creates a pleasurable state for our brain. We’re not happy when our mind wanders and we’re not happy when we’re doing nothing. We’re happier when we’re busy.

 

What can you do to increase the flow you feel at work?

First, figure out what brings you flow already and think about how to maximize those moments. Dan Pink offers an excellent exercise to help with that

Via Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:

Set a reminder on your computer or mobile phone to go off at forty random times in a week. Each time your device beeps, write down what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and whether you’re in “flow.” Record your observations, look at the patterns, and consider the following questions:
  • Which moments produced feelings of “flow”? Where were you? What were you working on? Who were you with?
  • Are certain times of day more flow-friendly than others? How could you restructure your day based on your findings?
  • How might you increase the number of optimal experiences and reduce the moments when you felt disengaged or distracted?
  • If you’re having doubts about your job or career, what does this exercise tell you about your true source of intrinsic motivation?

Second, do your best to take your regular work activities and add in the factors that create flow.

Via Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life:

…almost any activity can produce flow provided the relevant elements are present, it is possible to improve the quality of life by making sure that clear goals, immediate feedback, skills balanced to action, opportunities, and the remaining conditions of flow are as much possible a constant part of everyday life.

Third, significantly increasing the amount of flow you experience is often the result of using your unique talents — your “signature strengths.”

Via UPenn happiness expert Martin Seligman’s book, Authentic Happiness:

  • Identify your signature strengths.
  • Choose work that lets you use them every day.
  • Recraft your present work to use your signature strengths more.
  • If you are the employer, choose employees whose signature strengths mesh with the work they will do. If you are a manager, make room to allow employees to recraft the work within the bounds of your goals.

For more on flow, check out these books:

 

Related posts:

What does it take to become an expert at anything?

6 things that will make you more productive

Which people are most likely to experience “flow”?

Join 25K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

MONEY College

The Important Talk Parents Are Not Having With Their Kids

College tuition jar
Alamy

The new Fidelity College Savings Indicator survey reveals that parents are only on track to pay a third of college tuition—and that they're keeping mum on the topic.

Moms and dads expect their children to pay for more than one-third of college costs—but only 57% of parents actually have that conversation with their kids, according to a new study out by Fidelity today.

The cost of college has more than doubled in the past decade, and parents are having a hard time saving for it, Fidelity’s 8th annual College Savings Indicator study shows. While 64% of parents say they’d like be able to cover their kids total college costs, only 28% are on track to do so.

That jibes with reality: For current students, parents’ income and savings now only cover one-third of college costs on average, according to Sallie Mae’s recently released report How America Pays For College. Kids use 12% of their own savings and income. Loans taken by students and parents account for 22% of the funds, while another 30% comes from grants and scholarships.

Experts urge parents to have a frank conversation well in advance with their children about how much college costs and how much they are expected to contribute, either through summer jobs, their own savings or part-time jobs while in school. “If children know that they are expected to contribute to their college funds, they are more likely to save for it,” says Judith Ward, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price.

A T. Rowe Price study released earlier this week found that 58% of kids whose parents frequently talk to them about saving for college put away money for that goal vs. just 23% who don’t talk to their parents about how to pay for school.

There’s also reason to believe that parents shouldn’t feel so bad about not being able to take on the full tab. A national study out last year found that the more money parents pay for their kids’ college educations, the worse their kids tend to perform. In her paper “More Is More or More is Less? Parent Financial Investments During College,” University of California sociology professor Laura Hamilton found that larger contributions from parents are linked to lower grades among students.

Apparently, kids who don’t work or otherwise use their own money to pay for school spend more time on leisure activities and are less focused on studying. It’s not that these kids flunk out, according to Hamilton. She found that students with parental funding often perform well enough to stay in school, but they just dial down their academic efforts.

Given all these findings, parents should feel less pressure pay the full ride for their kids—especially if it means falling behind on other important goals like saving for their own retirement. “Putting your kids on the hook for college costs is better for everyone,” says Ward.

MONEY 101: How much does college actually cost?

MONEY 101: Where should I save for college?

TIME

4 Extremely Easy Ways to Fake Confidence

125770273
Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

Expert advice to bluff your way to the top

Confidence is crucial for advancing in your career, but a lot of Americans today are suffering from a lack of confidence with their jobs and the state of the economy. This doesn’t mean that you’re relegated to the sidelines until circumstances improve, though. You’ll just have to fake it. Afraid you’ll be as obvious as Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally? Here’s some advice from experts on how to bluff your way to confidence.

Be shameless. “Confidence rarely equates to competence,” points out Tom Hayes, founder and owner of marketing company Riley Hayes. “sometimes the most competent people are the least confident and that the most confident people are the least competent.” Research shows that people unconsciously defer to people who project an air of confidence, regardless of whether or not they “should be” in charge. Yes, taking those first steps can be excruciating, but if you can just get the ball rolling, your colleagues will automatically perceive you as having confidence and leadership qualities.

Spend your down time studying what leaders do. Even if you’re not feeling it, having the right tools to project an air of confidence can go a long way, suggests Heidi Golledge, co-founder and CEO of CareerBliss.com. “We have noticed employees using their free time to join ToastMasters… programmers reading the latest management and technology books as well as taking a weekend to join a conference in their field lead by creative industry leaders,” she says.

Or don’t. Doing something you enjoy in your free time — an activity or hobby that has absolutely no bearing on your job — can still have a positive impact on your career confidence, Golledge says. So what if you’re a database manager or an administrator — if taking art classes or running obstacle races revs you up, go for it. Then, when you’re back in the office, recall the confidence boost that comes from doing something you like, even if you’re never going to become an expert.

Focus your efforts. If you’re an introverted type, faking confidence and being “on” all the time can be exhausting. In a Harvard Business Review blog post, consultant and speaker Dorie Clark suggests grouping your to-do list so you’re not facing social interactions where you have to project confidence every single day. “Batching my activities allows me to focus, and alternating between social and quiet time enables me to be at my best when I do interact with people,” she writes. If you can pick a day’s worth of tasks that won’t require you to put on a “game face,” you’ll be refreshed for the next time around.

TIME technology

Here’s a Radical Way to End Vacation Email Overload

Maldives - Places To Visit
Woman sitting on Villingili beach, working with a notebook and mobile phone, surfing in the internet. The island is owned by the luxurious Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Hotel on September 27, 2009 in Male, Maldives. EyesWideOpen--Getty Images

A German company has introduced an auto-delete program for emails to out-of-office workers. Should the the U.S. follow suit?

Picture your dream vacation. It probably doesn’t include desperately searching for an available wi-fi signal so you can check your work emails, does it? Yet these days, going away on vacation doesn’t usually mean leaving the office behind. Many people often find themselves tapping away on their smartphones, either in an attempt to field urgent questions, or to avoid the dreaded scenario of going back to work to hundreds of unread emails. Either way, many of us end up working when we’re supposed to be getting away from it all.

This is no longer a problem for employees at the German company Daimler. The car and truck maker has implemented a new program that allows employees to set their email software to automatically delete incoming emails while they are on vacation. When an email is sent, the program, which is called “Mail on Holiday,” issues a reply to the sender that the person is out of the office and that the email will be deleted, while also offering the contact information of another employee for pressing matters.

“The idea behind it is to give people break and let them rest,” says Daimler spokesman Oliver Wihofszki. “Then they can come back to work with a fresh spirit.” Not to mention, an empty inbox.

Unsurprisingly, the program — which is optional — has gone down well with the company’s German employees, about 100,000 of which have company email addresses, according to Wihofszki. He says that although the company hasn’t done any polling as to whether the service is popular, anecdotal feedback has been positive. “A colleague used it a few weeks ago and she loved it.”

Though it might seem radical, Daimler’s program fits into a wider phenomenon that’s spreading across Germany and other parts of Europe. Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom, for example, have made efforts to stop emailing their staff during the evenings. Germany’s Labor Ministry has started encouraging managers to stop emailing or contacting employees outside of working hours by implementing a practice within its own ministry so that no one “who is reachable through mobile access and a mobile phone is obliged to use these outside of individual working hours.”

And then there’s France, which earlier this year was the source of many incredulous news headlines for its stance on post-6 pm work emails. No, despite what the headlines said, France didn’t “ban” work emails after hours. But a federation of employers and two unions of workers did form an agreement to allow employees the right to completely disconnect from their work for a set number of hours a day.

It might be easy to dismiss German and French companies embracing limits on work email as a typical European view of work, along with shorter work weeks and longer stretches of paid vacation time. But it’s not as if worker productivity in either country is pitiable. In fact, according to figures from the OECD, German and French productivity is among some of the highest in Europe and not all that far behind productivity in the U.S.

But while this sounds all well and good and oh so European for French and German workers, is a limit on out of the office work email something that U.S. businesses should try to adopt?

After all, Americans definitely deal with their share of work email. A poll conducted by Right Management, more than half of the respondents said that they’d been sent work emails by their managers or bosses in the evenings, weekends or while on vacation.

“The boundaries of the workplace are expanding and now reach deeper into employees’ lives, especially now that mobile technology is taken for granted,” said Monika Morrow, the senior vice president of career management at Right Management. “Many find they can no longer just leave the office at the office, and instead will get emails or calls while commuting or shopping, or even sitting down to dinner.” Morrow also asks, “this a convenience or an imposition?”

Whether people view after hours work emails an imposition or not, many do report that spending a lot of time checking emails does impact their stress levels. From a recent Gallup poll:

U.S. workers who email for work and who spend more hours working remotely outside of normal working hours are more likely to experience a substantial amount of stress on any given day than workers who do not exhibit these behaviors. Nearly half of workers who “frequently” email for work outside of normal working hours report experiencing stress “a lot of the day yesterday,” compared with the 36% experiencing stress who never email for work.

Yet, despite the polls and examples set by the Europeans, there doesn’t seem to be much groundswell support for implementing limits on after hours work email in the U.S. So, sadly, it doesn’t look like Americans are going to be getting any reprieve from the late-night emails or Sunday afternoon memos. Let’s hope, however, that some people can take some inspiration from the Germans and maybe, just maybe, stop checking their inbox while on vacation.

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are America’s Best Companies to Work For

The Latest Mobile Apps At The App World Multi-Platform Developer Show
The Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. company logos are seen on an advertising sign during the Apps World Multi-Platform Developer Show in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

A surprising number one

247-LogoVersions-114x57
This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Douglas A. McIntyre, Alexander E.M. Hess, Thomas C. Frohlich, Alexander Kent, Brian Zajac and Ashley C. Allen

No one knows more about a workplace than its employees. Employee opinions reflect basic measures, such as pay, perks, benefits, and hours worked. But they are also influenced by factors such as a company’s culture, internal politics, and even general mood — intangibles that can be lost in internal audits and consultancy surveys.

While companies have websites, public relations teams, and recruiters to tailor their message to prospective hires, employees have far fewer forums to communicate their views. Glassdoor.com, a career community website, provides the opportunity for employees to give their own opinions, and for potential employees to research the company. To identify the 75 Best Companies to Work For, 24/7 Wall St. examined company ratings provided by current and former employees to Glassdoor.com. (See how we made our list on the last page of this article.)

MORE: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

Employees in certain sectors are far more likely to offer a positive opinion of their employer than others. Technology companies are certainly well represented among the highest-rated employers, as are consulting firms. Of the 75 best companies, only 12 received an average rating of 4.0 or higher out of 5. Of these, four are in the technology space — Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Riverbed Technology — and three are consulting firms.

Being a market leader also appears to help. Many well-reviewed companies are the leaders in their respective industries, and as a result are financially successful. Apple, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney are all among the top-rated employers on Glassdoor.com and among the largest public companies in the world by market capitalization. Others are leaders in public relations, like Edelman and auditing giant EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

Many of the best companies to work for have cultivated an extremely strong reputation among the broader public as well. American Express, Facebook, Google, and SAP are all among the best companies to work for and among the top companies by brand value, according to brand consultancy BrandZ. Top employers also perform well according to other measures of brand awareness, such as CoreBrand and Interbrand.

MORE: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

Not surprisingly, companies with strong employee reviews also give CEOs good grades. It would seem leadership matters, not just for running a company and producing returns for shareholders, but also for promoting employee satisfaction. Among the 75 best companies to work for, 38 have CEOs with an approval rating of 90% or higher. In all, just 10 CEOs have an approval rating below 80%, and all have the endorsement of at least two-thirds of their employees.

Employees at these companies also frequently cite a good office culture and work-life balance. In many cases, employees also praise a company if it promotes learning or training opportunities and career development. At several of these companies, employees also note a good benefits package, which is uncommon in many industries, such as retail.

These are America’s Best Companies to Work For

1. LinkedIn
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 97% (Jeff Weiner)
> Employees: 5,045
> Revenue: $1.5 billion

According to the company: “Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. With over 300 million members worldwide…LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.”

LinkedIn is the nation’s best company to work for, based on ratings awarded by current and former employees at Glassdoor.com. Of course, high pay doesn’t hurt employee morale. According to Glassdoor.com, the average software engineer reported an annual salary of $127,817, while the average senior software engineer reported an annual salary of $145,192. Like other technology companies, LinkedIn has excellent perks and good, free food, but employees at the company also rave about good work-life balance and a confident, inspired leadership. In fact, 97% of reviewers have a high opinion of CEO Jeff Weiner, higher than all but a few other CEOs. However, LinkedIn is also proof no employer is perfect — the company recently agreed to pay $6 million to hundreds of employees for unpaid overtime, plus damages.

2. Facebook
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 96% (Mark Zuckerberg)
> Employees: 6,337
> Revenue: $7.9 billion

According to the company: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”

Facebook is a rapidly growing and highly profitable company. It is also increasingly successful at reaching users on their mobile phones. The company’s success has not only captivated investors — Facebook’s market capitalization is currently $189 billion — but also potential employees. In fact, technology giant Google was so worried about employees leaving for Facebook that it began to provide a counter offer to employees recruited by Facebook within one hour, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Strong benefits and perks are just one of the repeatedly mentioned advantages of working at Facebook, according to Glassdoor.com. A relatively flat hierarchy and a fast-paced workday are other characteristics of the company that employees enjoy.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Shame

3. Eastman Chemical
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 91% (Mark J. Costa)
> Employees: 14,000
> Revenue: $9.4 billion

According to the company: “Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day.”

Specialty chemicals maker Eastman receives rave reviews from employees. Workers at Eastman frequently cite work-life balance, helpful colleagues and strong teamwork, as well as a good corporate culture in their reviews. Workers also praise the company’s dedication to workplace safety. According to the company, safety forms one of Eastman’s core values. The company publicly tracks and discloses its own safety track record, as well as its internal goals for workplace safety. The small town nature of Kingsport, Tennessee, where Eastman is headquartered, is among the few complaints occasionally mentioned in Glassdoor.com reviews.

4. Insight Global
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 94% (Glenn Johnson)
> Employees: N/A
> Revenue: $918 million

According to the company: “Through a nationwide network of 37 regional offices, Insight Global provides clients exceptional IT technicians and consultants to meet the demanding technology challenges of today.”

Insight Global is an IT staffing firm, filling over 20,000 positions a year, according to the company. Workers who were assigned jobs through the company rave about its staffing practices, noting that Insight Global’s recruiters are polite and exceptionally helpful. Many reviewers on Glassdoor.com also note that they were placed very quickly. In one such review a worker notes, “I literally got a job in under 24 hours!” Insight Global says it is on track to exceed $1 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2014.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Fame

5. Bain & Company
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 99% (Bob Bechek)
> Employees: 5,500
> Revenue: $2.1 billion

According to the company: “Bain & Company is one of the world’s leading management consulting firms. We work with top executives to help them make better decisions, convert those decisions to actions, and deliver the sustainable success they desire.”

Bain & Company is the highest-rated consulting firm on this list, surpassing rivals McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group. Bain notes on its website that, historically, client companies have dramatically outperformed the S&P 500. Also indicative of the company’s success, current worldwide managing director Bob Bechek received a nearly unanimous approval rating of 99%. Employees praise the company on multiple fronts, citing its emphasis on professional development and the quality of the workplace culture at Bain. When employees do complain, it is about long hours and demanding travel schedules.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

Read more from 24/7 Wall St.:

Volkswagen’s Sales Disaster Continues

Americans Watch Only 17 TV Channel

What to Do If You Won the $149 Million Powerball Lottery

TIME privacy

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

There’s plenty you can do to make sure the best parts of your virtual self pop up on that first page of search results.

When was the last time you Googled your name? If you haven’t, it’s a good habit to get into, because it’s exactly what a potential employer is likely to do when they’re sifting through a pile of resumes. “The stuff people care most about is what they find when they Google you,” says Michael Fertik, CEO and founder of online reputation-management firm Reputation.com.

That’s why it’s important that you own what you look like online. Depending on what you (or others) post on social networks or personal sites, what a search engine turns up may not reflect the accurate or professional picture you want it to.

But there’s plenty you can do to make sure the best parts of your virtual self pop up on that first page of a Google search. Here, we’ll walk you through how to do everything from maintaining current social media profiles to ensuring that your professional information appears first.

Decide What You Want Out There

While Facebook posts and photos might be for the eyes of friends and family only, privacy settings on more-public networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter can be more beneficial when relaxed. After all, you don’t want to be completely invisible on the Internet. “It’s weird for people in this day and age not to have an online profile,” Fertik says.

But if you haven’t been refining your Internet footprint over the years, your online profile may also include nuggets like ancient MySpace photos, an out-of-date company staff page, even out-of-context rants on old blogs — all of which can give someone the wrong impression.

Deleting these may not necessarily clear the Internet of the detritus. In an age of retweets, shares, and linkbacks, the same photo can exist on many sites across the web. So instead of wasting time and energy cleaning up a digital backlog, focus on strengthening existing profiles, which will help them beat the less-flattering stuff to the top of the search page.

Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Surveys indicate that anywhere from 88% to 97% of recruiters go to LinkedIn to find candidates. LinkedIn profiles also turn up very high in Google search results, most likely due to the site’s high traffic, how often it’s linked to, and the amount of content users post everyday. So it’s not only a good idea to have a public LinkedIn profile, but to also ensure that it’s accurate, current, and grabby.

LinkedIn trainer and speaker Viveka von Rosen says that the Headline field (the line beneath your name) is the easiest — and most-often overlooked — place to grab attention when building a profile. “Rather than going with the default (your title at your current company) take the opportunity to say what it is that you do. Something like, ‘graphic artist working with startups in the Sudan,’” Von Rosen suggests.

Using keywords related to your field when describing yourself in the Summary and Experience sections can also help your profile turn up on Google if someone is searching for particular skills.

Once your profile is spruced up, you want to make sure it’s visible on the web. Head into Settings and select Edit Your Public Profile. Then check that reads “Make my public profile visible to everyone.” You can then reveal (or conceal) specific information within your public profile.

Von Rosen suggests allowing your Name, Photo, Headline and Summary to be open, while remaining cautious about revealing too much. “With identity theft, I limit what’s visible publicly – for example, in a page of Google search results,” she says.

Get Active on Twitter

If you’re on Twitter, regular posts relevant to your field can help build up your online profile for prospective employers. Like LinkedIn, Twitter profiles often turn up on the first page of Google search due to the site’s traffic and content flow.

Reputation.com’s Fertik suggests picking a Twitter username as close to your real name as possible. That way when someone searches for your name, it’s your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles that pop up alongside your personal website and company blog.

Changing your username is simple: Head to Account and enter the new name. If it’s available, it’s yours.

If your Twitter page is very personal — say, intended for friends and home to some off-color opinions — it might make more sense to limit access to only followers you approve.

Being cautious in that way can do a lot to boost your chances. A CareerBuilder survey found that two in five employers check social-media during the hiring process. Forty-three percent of employers rejected candidates based on inappropriate or discriminatory content on their profiles. On the flipside, 19% of recruiters who scanned social-media profiles hired candidates based on positives they found within.

To stop your off-color Twitter feed from showing up on Google, head to Settings, then Security and Privacy, and select Protect. Bonus: This also prevents the Library of Congress from archiving your tweets.

Dial Up the Facebook Privacy Settings

“Recruiters use Twitter to post jobs, LinkedIn to source candidates, and Facebook to eliminate candidates,” von Rosen says.

Many employers take Facebook profiles into account, even if they shouldn’t. A North Carolina State University study mapped Facebook behavior against personality traits. The researchers found that there’s often little correlation between a person’s real-life personality and how they portray themselves on Facebook, so employers could likely misjudge a candidate based on his or her profile alone.

To keep your Facebook profile out of search engine results, head into Settings, Privacy and select “No” in response to “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?” question.

Facebook no longer allows users to hide their profiles from the website’s own search, but you can control how much of your profile will show up. For example, changing who can see your posts and photos to “Friends Only” means that a potential boss would see only your cover photo, profile photo, plus any About info — where you live, work, or went to school — that you’ve allowed to be public.

If a potential boss is in your extended Facebook network, you might want to change who can see future and past posts. We recommend setting updates as viewable to Friends Only — at least during the application process.

You can also clean up your feed post-by-post. Under Settings, Timeline and Tagging, there’s an option to check how your timeline looks to the public (note that this includes anyone logged into their Facebook account). If the photos and statuses displayed aren’t career-friendly, you can change individual visibility by selecting the photo or status, clicking edit, then changing “Public” to “Friends” or “Only Me” from the drop down menu.

If you have a fan page or are the administrator for a group with a lot of fans, allowing these pages to hit the search engines is good for boosting your online profile. For these pages, head to Settings, General, and make sure that “post targeting and privacy” is turned off. You can also lift any country or age restrictions (the page default settings are open and public).

For more on Facebook privacy settings, including how to limit what’s shown to the Facebook public, check out our comprehensive guide.

Pull Up the Positive, Push Down the Negative

Outside your own profiles, there’s content on the web that’s out of your immediate control. Things like rants from ex-employees, customer complaints, or unwanted photos from a past flame can paint a negative picture.

If you find an unflattering photo or inaccurate info on someone else’s site, the best first step is to contact the site owner and request it be removed or updated. In most cases, the site owner will comply.

However, negative reviews and undesired content that has been posted on sites like newspapers, Yelp, Amazon, or Angie’s List might be harder to take down. These larger companies are unlikely to grant a request unless you can prove the content is defamatory or inaccurate.

If they won’t budge, you can try what services like Reputation.com do: publish more content to push the offending article out of the first page of search results. For example, publish a blog post, put up a photo set on Flickr, or add information to a public social profile, such as LinkedIn or Google+. “Make sure your latest and greatest resume info is posted in short narrative and bullet format on a variety of resume sites,” Fertik says.

For bigger cleanup jobs, Reputation.com (and agencies like it) can take on the task for a fee (from $100 depending on the scale of virtual damage). Reputation.com uses patented algorithms to publish search engine optimized content. For example, the service might write and publish your professional details and biography at a selection of websites they say are picked especially for your field. By publishing lots of high-quality content with good keywords, the negative content should be pushed further down the search results list.

Depending on the industry you want to work in, other social network accounts on less popular portals, such as Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr, can help build an even more rounded online profile. If you work in fashion or design, for instance, a Pinterest profile can both show off your work and help you engage with fashion and design followers (i.e., potential customers).

Increasing the right kind of visibility — and diminishing what’s less appealing — is key to putting your best face forward online. “If you’re not findable by your subject matter and name,” says Fertik, “people aren’t going to be able to give you the opportunities.”

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

TIME career

10 of the Most Under-Appreciated Professions

David Zweig's book Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion

Everything from perfumers to ghost writers to UN interpreters

Your job may not be as thankless as you think it is—at least maybe not when you compare it to this list. All of these professions have one thing in common: no one usually notices them until something goes wrong.

According to a new book by David Zweig, Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, the most successful people with these careers share three common traits: “ambivalence toward recognition,” “meticulousness,” and “savoring of responsibility.” In other words, people who do these jobs well don’t care that you don’t know their names because they take pride in their work being done well. What a concept.

Thanks to their shared ambivalence, here are 10 under-appreciated professions that you might never have heard of:

Wayfinders

Have you ever taken note of the impressive signage at an airport? Probably not because when “wayfinders” do their job well, you’re able to arrive at the baggage claim or arrivals terminal seamlessly thanks to their system of signs, which are each designed with a specific color, font, or shape in mind to help you arrive at your destination.

Cinematographers

The Academy Awards gives out an Oscar for outstanding cinematography, but you probably used that part of the show as your snack break. Also known as the “Director of Photography” or “DP,” cinematographers are in charge of lighting the sets of movies and television series. The precision needed to do it well requires a meticulous and intelligent mind—as long as it belongs to a person who doesn’t mind staying out of the director’s spotlight.

Perfumers

People don’t usually pick up their Chanel No. 5 and wonder who calibrated the exact combination of ingredients needed to create that scent. However, that is the work of perfumers, or “noses” as they’re known in their industry. They work tirelessly to ensure that the fragrance matches the brand, and the more invisible they are, the more credit (and money) the brand receives.

Structural Engineers

Most people have never heard of Dennis Poon, but by 2020, he will have designed the structure for ten of the twenty tallest buildings in the world. Poon is a structural engineer, which means that his meticulous work allows a building to stand. While most of the credit for a building’s structure (if any is doled out) goes to the architect, Poon is more than happy to stay in the shadows.

Guitar technicians

Pete Clements, known as Plank, makes possible the sound magic of the world-famous band Radiohead as their chief guitar technician. Fans do not often consider the man behind the English rock band’s many effects pedals for their three guitars, but they certainly would if even one step was missed, which could throw off the entire sound system. Luckily, Plank takes much pride in his invisible work and does it well.

UN Interpreters

Possibly the most famous (infamous, actually) interpreter to date was Thamsanqa Jantjie, who attracted global negative attention after he fake-signed Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. That’s because when simultaneous interpreters, such as the UN’s Giulia Wilkins Ary, do their job well, they slip entirely below the radar. However, without Wikins Ary and her colleagues’ work, which research has shown to be one of the most grueling tasks a mind can take on, very little could get done at the international headquarters.

Graphic designers

The importance of this profession made national headlines in 2000, when the poor design of Florida’s presidential ballot confused voters and likely cost Al Gore the election. Theresa LePore, who created the misleading ballot, received hate mail and death threats, but she also brought attention to the silent art and brilliance of many successful graphic designers.

Anesthesiologists

While more people have heard of anesthesiologists, Dr. Joseph Meltzer of UCLA points out in Invisibles that they often aren’t the ones receiving the “fruit baskets” when a surgery goes particularly well. “It’s funny how on TV the surgeon is the leader of the OR, but in reality, during an emergency they’re often the ones freaking out, looking to me for assurance,” said Dr. Albert Scarmato of New Jersey. To excel in this field, one must epitomize the first of the three traits: ambivalence toward recognition.

Understudies

The role of the understudy got somewhat of a bad rap from the 1950 movie All About Eve, in which Eve Harrington schemes her way from understudy to lead actress. Zweig shows how understudies can take pride in being a part of a production, regardless of whether they ever step in front of the audience. But acting and the understudy’s lack of recognition seem directly at odds, which is why award-winning actor and director Ray Vitta said, “It’s not for the faint of heart.”

Ghost Writers

Did you think that celebrities like Serena Williams or Ed Koch wrote their own books? Although they are often largely assisted by talented ghost writers, it is often just the star’s name that appears on the cover. “To me it doesn’t matter,” said ghost writer Daniel Paisner. “It’s the joy of the work and the accomplishment that rewards me.” And I’m sure Serena and Ed are grateful for that, too.

You can read more from Zweig here.

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