TIME equality

These Are the Best and Worst States for Women’s Job Equality

Women in D.C. have a median income of $60,000

Washington, D.C., is the best place for women’s workforce equality in the U.S., according to new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

 

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Courtesy of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

 

According to the report, women in the District have a median annual income of $60,000, which is double the median income of women in West Virginia, the state ranked lowest in women’s employment and earnings. Each state was given a letter grade based on the median annual income of women who work full time, the earnings ratio between full-time men and women, the percent of women in the labor force and the percent of women in managerial or professional occupations. In each category, the District of Columbia ranked first, with neighboring state Maryland nabbing the second highest ranking in percent of employed women and median annual income.

Among the other top-ranking states: Minnesota, Colorado, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey.

“Top ranked states are doing a better job of making use of women’s economic contributions,” Heidi Hartmann,President of IWPR, said in a release about the report, “Ensuring women have access to training and education, working to place women in top jobs.”

She adds, “While these factors impact women individually, they also contribute to overall economic growth and strong economies in these states. Public policies also make a difference and voters and candidates should pay attention to these results.”

The majority of the 14 states that received the lowest ranking were in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee all joined West Virginia in receiving grades of D+ or lower. The report came out ahead of the IWPR’s 2015 report on the Status of Women in the States.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Secret to Not Flubbing a Job Interview

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A phone interview can be a convenient first step for job-seekers and employers alike because it takes less time and expense than an in-person meeting. Be aware, though, that phone interviews present some unique pitfalls.

Want the edge on your fellow applicants? Read on. If you’re looking for a job, here’s what experts say you need to do to make sure that time on the phone gets you a call back.

Do your homework. “Have handy a copy of the job description, talking points about your qualifications, and the questions you’ve prepared for the interviewer,” says Amanda Augustine, job search expert at mobile career network TheLadders. Read over them before the interview to refresh your memory.

Find someplace quiet. “Make sure you are in a quiet place with the doors closed so no one can barge in and disrupt the call by creating noise,” says Scott Dobroski, a career trends analyst at jobs and salary site Glassdoor. A crying baby or barking dog in the background isn’t going to help you project the professional image you want.

Don’t use, like, verbal filler. “Avoid verbal crutches like “um,” “like,” and “uh” that can undercut your communication skills and make you sound like you’re not confident,” says Robert Hosking, executive director of staffing service OfficeTeam.

Make clarity a priority. “Over the phone, the interviewer needs to be able to hear what you are saying as clearly as possible,” Hosking says. “Make sure you have at least one glass of water before the interview so your voice doesn’t crackle or become dry,” he says. It’s not a bad idea to keep a glass of water at hand in case you get a tickle in your throat, too.

Practice “verbal nods.” “Remember, the interviewer can’t see you shaking your head through the phone,” Augustine points out. This means you’ll need to give the interviewer verbal cues that take the place of a nod. Phrases like “I understand,” “Sounds great,” “Alright” and “That makes sense” will all do the trick, Augustine says. “Basically, you’re making sure the person on the other end of the line knows you’re following along with the conversation and on the same page,” she says.

Keep on track. Since people tend to ramble when they’re nervous, Hosking says it’s important to make sure you get to the point quickly. “While you certainly don’t want to give a series of one-word responses, aim to be thorough, yet succinct. It’s OK to pause and collect your thoughts before you begin to speak,” he says.

Sound confident. “Your interviewer is likely trained to glean from your conversation your level of self-confidence, personality and ability to communicate effectively,” Arnie Fertig, founder and CEO of Jobhuntercoach, writes in US News & World Report. Don’t rush through your replies to the interviewer’s questions, ramble during pauses in the conversation or slip into overly colloquial language. “At the same time, do show something of your personality,” he says.

TIME

Planning for Unretirement and Why It Pays Dividends to Work Longer

It pays to invest in your human capital, maintaining your skills and adding to your education

Several years ago I picked up a book published in 1920 by Simon Wilson Straus, president of the American Society for Thrift. His description of the popular image of thrift in History of the Thrift Movement in America still rings true nearly a century later. “Penny-counting, cheese-paring, money-hoarding practices were looked upon by the public as the ideals sought by those who tried to encourage thrift,” wrote Straus. “The man who practiced this virtue, it was felt, was he who hoarded his earnings to such an extent that he thrust aside every other consideration in order to keep from spending his pennies, his dimes, and his dollars.” Who wants to live a “cheese-paring” life? Sounds bad, doesn’t it?

But an emphasis on thrift doesn’t mean living cheaply– far from it. Thrift or frugality is really shorthand for an approach grounded in matching our money with our values. Straus defines thrift this way: “It is the thrift that recognizes that the finer things of life must be encouraged,” he writes. “The skilled workman, the artist, the musician, the landscape gardener, the designer of beautiful furniture, the members of the professions — all those, in fact, who, through the devotion of their abilities, contribute to the real betterment of mankind, must be given support through our judicious expenditures.”

Here’s how David Starr Jordan, founding president of Stanford University, defined thrift at the 1915 International Congress for Thrift in San Francisco. He told the assembled audience that thrift “does not involve stinginess, which is an abuse of thrift, nor does it require that each item of savings should be financial investments; the money that is spent on the education of one’s self or of one’s family, in travel, in music, in art, or in helpfulness to others, if it brings real returns in personal development or in a better understanding of the world we live in, is in accordance with the spirit of thrift.”

Who didn’t have a moment during the Great Recession of looking around their home or apartment, opening closets and drawers, gazing into garages and storage bins, and wondered, “Why did I buy that? Is this how I want to live? I’m paying off credit card debt for that?” The modern Mad Men have done a bang-up job equating the good life with owning lots of stuff paid for on an installment plan. Didn’t we always know this wasn’t quite right? By thinking through “What really matters to me?” the unretired movement will come up with far more sensible answers to the question “How much is enough?” than the financial services industry. Harry West, the former CEO of Continuum and current senior partner at Prophet, hit on the thrift mindset. In our conversation he remarked on the flexibility that comes with minimal expenses and debts. “When you talk to boomers, what you find is that freedom is really, really important. And you think about that because they grew up in the ’60s or were born in the ’60s, which was a time of freedom,” says West. “Freedom is a low overhead.” That expression should be a mantra for young and old workers alike.

The frugal mindset is spreading, thanks to growing awareness of sustainability. The term sustainability has many shades of meaning, but several themes have emerged in recent years. An awareness of global warming. The desire to cut down on waste. Concerns over the health of the environment. Worries about the vibrancy of local communities. My favorite definition of sustainability comes from the late actor and non-profit entrepreneur Paul Newman: “We are such spendthrifts with our lives,” said Newman. “The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” Sustainability has gone mainstream and, for growing numbers of people, being frugal is green and being green is frugal.

There is nothing cheap or penny pinching behind the pursuit of judicious expenditures, thrift and sustainability. Instead, thrift is a mindset for trying to match your spending with your values. “In some ways, that what’s financial independence is. You don’t have to answer to anyone because you have enough,” says certified financial planner Ross Levin. “When I am working with clients as they get older or near the end of life, they talk about the things they wish they had done. They talk about their regrets, and the regrets always focus on experiences. It’s always something like, ‘I wish I had done more with the kids when they were younger.’ It’s never ‘I wish I had bought a Mercedes.'”

The urban scholar Richard Florida, in his book The Great Reset, looked at potential economic changes in the U.S. following the Great Recession. His bottom line forecast could have been addressed to aging workers. “The promise of the current Reset is the opportunity for a life made better not by ownership of real estate, appliances, cars, and all manner of material goods, but by greater flexibility and lower levels of debt, more time with family and friends, greater promise of personal development, and access to more and better experiences.”

Unretirement will change not only how an aging population thinks about old age but also how it plans the elder years. Over the past three decades the baby boom generation has been taught to equate planning for retirement with savvy investing. In essence, the retirement planning mantra has been stocks for the long haul, asset allocation and picking mutual funds. But for the typical Main Street boomer the equation has always been wrong and, deep down, we’ve always known we couldn’t rely on Wall Street’s lush return promises. The core of unretirement planning is jobs, and the new unretirement planning mantra is encore careers, networking, and delay filing for Social Security. “You should be looking for the kind of jobs you could do that are challenging and interesting and offer an acceptable income,” says Arthur Koff, the septuarian founder of Retired Brains. “The time to do it is while you’re working.”

Next Chapter in Kansas City, Kansas is housed in a small brick building reminiscent of a bank in a section of town that houses the courts. Karen Hostetler is director of Next Chapter. She turned 65 in 2013. Next Chapter is a small grassroots organization with a mission of helping older workers in transition toward unretirement. I met with Next Chapter activists Pat Brune, Cris Siebenlist and Hostetler in a conference room in the fall of 2013. It was a lively conversation and at one point planning for unretirement came up.

Siebenlist: “Frankly, not everyone will figure it out. They’ll do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Other people will float around for awhile and say, Is this all there is?”

Hostetler: “You need to plan. It takes commitment to figure it out.”

Brune: “If I could change my transition to what I did, it would have been to be more intentional. I said yes to what came along.”

Hostetler: “Don’t jump into the first thing that comes along.”

Bruning: “I only see my intentions looking back. It’s only later that I see how the dots are connected.”

The work longer message means it pays to invest in your human capital, maintaining your skills and adding to your education. Maybe you’d like to stay at your current company, but put in fewer hours or shift over to a different division. If you want to move on, know your employer is likely to hand you a pink slip soon, or want to start your own business invest in researching your options, from hiring a career coach to investigating temp agencies to picking up a book like Marci Alboher’s The Encore Career Handbook: How To Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life.

Most importantly, invest in your networks of family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Scholars have documented that about half or more of all jobs come through informal channels–connections to friends, families and colleagues. You may also want to create new connections to ease the transition into the next stage of life.

Take this example from Ralph Warner, the founder of Nolo.com, the self-help legal guide business, and author of Get a Life: You Don’t Need A Million to Retire Well. Let’s say it’s a dream of yours to work on environmental causes in retirement, says Warner. The pressures of daily life stop you from getting engaged, however. You’ll get to it, tomorrow. Now you’re 65 or 70 years old. You head toward an environmental organization you admire and say, “Here I am. How can I help you? The answer is going to be probably not much,” says Warner. Maybe help out with the phones or mailings. “Now, take that same person who in their 40s or 50s gets involved with several local environmental groups and at age 70 is a respected senior person. They’re valued and they’re needed. They earned it.”

They’ve just won the aging boomer trifecta: an income, a community and a mission.

Don’t get me wrong: Saving is important. Max out your 401(k) and IRA. Create a well-diversified, low-fee retirement savings portfolio. Savings is your margin of safety because life has a way of upending well-thought-out plans. An unexpectedly ill parent. A divorced child moving back home with the kids. For Robert Lawrence, it was a detached retina.

Lawrence was a teacher at Jefferson Community and Technical College (now Kentucky Community and Technical College) in Louisville. He taught there for about 20 years, commuting up to 10 weeks every year to visit his partner in New York City. Lawrence planned on retiring at age 66. Just after his 64th birthday, he stopped by a colleague’s office for a brief “hello” and ended up listening to a long, detailed explanation why his colleague planned working until age 70. The conversation convinced Lawrence to hold off retirement for another six years.

That is, until two months later. His retina detached and several surgical repairs didn’t hold. He retired at age 65 in 2005, sold his home, downsized and moved into his partner’s condo in Jackson Heights, Queens. His partner, age 75, is a consulting engineer, often putting in 40 hour workweeks. “If it had not been for health reasons I certainly would have been working,” says Lawrence.

A surgeon in New York fixed his retina. Lawrence now volunteers at a hospice in Manhattan, visits with grieving caregivers after the death of a loved one, and helps out at his local church. With a comfortable pension and some savings he chose flexibility over pay. The reason: Lawrence and his partner are railroad “rare mileage” collectors. “We’re railroad fanatics,” he says. They ride the rails throughout the U.S., often seeking out obscure lines to collect their miles. “The only reason I did not seek out teaching in New York is my partner didn’t want me to because of these trips,” adds Lawrence. “He’s in command of his own time as a consultant. If you’re teaching, you’re not.”

When it comes to retirement planning, the goal should be to put your savings on auto-pilot as much as possible. Instead, spend your time creating opportunities for an income and meaning later in life. The return on the unretirement investment will dwarf anything you’ll get from picking a good mutual fund.

Chris Farrell is a contributing economics editor for Bloomberg Businessweek and senior economics contributor for public radio’s Marketplace Money, Marketplace, and Marketplace Morning Report. Excerpted from Unretirement, copyright 2014 by Chris Farrell. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury.

TIME Careers

America’s Fastest Growing Jobs

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

By Robert Serenbetz

After the recession wiped out millions of jobs, the American labor market has at least partially recovered. So far this year, the United States has added roughly 1.6 million jobs. And in the 10 years through 2022, the BLS estimates that employment will grow by over 15 million jobs, or by 11%.

Some jobs are expected to better capitalize on economic, demographic, and workplace trends than others. For example, industrial-organizational psychologists are expected to grow 53.4%, the fastest in the nation, and occupations in the health sector are also anticipated to disproportionately grow. Based on estimated employment figures and projections for 2012 and 2022 published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for more than 1,000 occupations, 24/7 Wall St. identified the fastest growing jobs in America.

Click here to see the 10 fastest growing jobs.

The jobs with the largest expected growth are often those that benefit from America’s changing demographics. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist for the BLS, noted that the effects of an aging population, which has access to Medicare, “combined with innovations that provide new treatments” has led to increases in health care spending. In turn, more spending creates “a high demand for jobs to provide these services,” he added.

In fact, the average of all health support occupations is expected to grow 28% by 2022. Six jobs within the top 10 are in the health care sector.

Some of the fastest growing jobs are expected to receive a boost from economic trends. For example, the BLS expects that a continued economic rebound will lead to greater demand for construction and renovations. While construction laborers and helpers are expected to grow 25%, jobs such as masons’ helpers are expected to grow at a considerably higher rate of 45%.

Government and private sector initiatives are also expected to contribute to growth in specific occupations. New federal health care legislation is expected to increase access to health care and, in turn, to the scale of the health care industry. Meanwhile, mechanical insulators are expected to benefit from an increased focus on environmental sustainability.

Most of the occupations with the highest estimated growth rates are not especially large. Only two occupations, home health aides and personal care aides, are estimated to be among the larger jobs by number of people employed in 2022.

There does not appear to be wage or educational trends among the jobs with the largest growth rates. These occupations all have various levels of median wage as well as differing educational requirements.

To determine the jobs with the highest forecast rate of employment growth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed BLS Employment Projections program data for 2012 and 2022. In order to qualify, occupations needed to reference a specific job rather than a broader classification. Figures from the BLS for 2012 represent estimates, while figures for 2022 represent forecasts and may be revised. Further information on each occupation came from the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

These are the fastest growing jobs in America.

1. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 53.4%
> Number employed, 2012: 1,600
> Number employed, 2022: 2,500
> Median annual income: $83,580
> Educational qualification: Master’s degree

Industrial organizational psychologists are anticipated to be the fastest growing job in the U.S. in the 10 years through 2022. The BLS estimates that in the 10-year period through 2022, employment of industrial-organizational psychologists will rise more than 53%, dramatically higher than the growth rates for all jobs and for other psychologist professions. The use of psychology is expected to increase across the nation as individuals and institutions look for help in solving or managing problems. Industrial-organizational psychologists address issues relating to workplace productivity, organizational developments, and employee screening. Becoming an industrial-organizational psychologist typically requires a master’s degree, as well as an internship or residency. Despite the forecast growth rate, the actual number of jobs expected to be added is very small — just 900 by 2022.

2. Personal Care Aides
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 48.8%
> Number employed, 2012: 1,190,600
> Number employed, 2022: 1,771,400
> Median annual income: $19,190
> Educational qualification: Less than high school

Similar to home health aides, personal care aides provide individualized home health services to elderly clients living at home. However, personal care aids are restricted to providing only basic medical services and will often work in conjunction with nurses or social workers. The BLS expects that over 580,000 jobs for personal care aides will be created in the decade through 2022, the most out of any of America’s fastest growing jobs. Yet, the median annual wage for personal care aids was just $19,910 as of 2012, well below the nationwide median of $34,750 for all occupations.

3. Home Health Aides
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 48.5%
> Number employed, 2012: 875,100
> Number employed, 2022: 1,299,300
> Median annual income: $20,820
> Educational qualification: Less than high school

An aging population will likely result in a greater need for home health aides, who provide individualized daily client care. The number of such aides is expected to grow by over 48% in the 10 years from 2012 and become one of the most commonly-held jobs by 2022. Home health aides typically work for a medical institution and keep a record of services performed and the client’s conditions, in addition to providing home care and companionship. For elderly clients, home health care is increasingly popular because it offers a “less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals,” the BLS notes.

MORE: The Best (and Worst) Countries to Find a Full-Time Job

4. Mechanical Insulation Workers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 46.7%
> Number employed, 2012: 28,900
> Number employed, 2022: 42,400
> Median annual income: $39,170
> Educational qualification: High school diploma

While the BLS forecasts above average growth in construction employment, the estimated growth rate of mechanical insulation workers is projected to be more-than twice that, at 47%. Unlike other types of insulators, mechanical insulation workers require greater specialty given the challenges of applying insulation to pipes and ducts in all types of buildings. Increased emphasis on energy efficiency will result in growing demand for mechanical insulation workers instead of non-mechanical insulation workers.

5. Interpreters and Translators
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 46.1%
> Number employed, 2012: 63,600
> Number employed, 2022: 92,900
> Median annual income: $45,430
> Educational qualification: Bachelor’s degree

The BLS pointed to increased globalization and greater diversity within the United States as the primary driver of growth for the profession. Although computers have greatly increased the efficiency and productivity of interpreters and translators, technology cannot provide the specific nuances of human translation. Demand will likely remain strong for frequently translated languages, but most growth will likely be due to greater need for translators in American Sign Language and emerging market languages. According to the BLS, “growing international trade and broadening global ties” will create new jobs for interpreters and translators.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

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TIME Time management

6 Ways to Take Control of Your Schedule

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Reduce your stress levels with these important tips

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

By Jordana Jaffe

Way too often, we feel like our days and hours guide us, rather than vice versa. Our schedules are the master and we their abiding servants.

But not only does that arrangement not feel great, it can also only last so long. When you and your energy, needs, or desires aren’t aligned with your schedule, you will crash and burn sooner rather than later. To help you avoid that crash, or even better, to stop the madness once and for all, here are some things that you can start doing right now to finally feel in control of your time.

1. Take inventory.

Get super clear on what’s going on in your day right now. If you already have an organized calendar, get clear on where your time is spent. If you don’t, spend the next few days keeping a time journal: write down everything you do and to the minute how long each task takes you. It may feel a bit tedious, but the results will astound you.

2. Identify what’s not working.

Where is too much of your time being spent? What do you absolutely dread doing? What are the time wasters in your calendar? Make a note of all of these things and also jot down how much time you currently spend on all of them.

3. Write down what you would rather be doing.

Have you been craving going to that yoga class? Are you longing to catch up on weeks’ worth of your favorite shows on DVR? Write a list of all of the things you would love to start including in your schedule as well as the time commitment for each.

4. Reevaluate.

Now it’s time to make some changes. Look back to what’s not working in your schedule: how can you delegate or outsource some of these things?

Here are two great resources for outsourcing:

  • Fancy Hands: For $45/month, you are given 15 virtual tasks that you can delegate. From setting up doctor’s appointments to booking tickets for a show to researching where to find that dress you love, this resource is a must (note: it may seem like all of these tasks shouldn’t take you very long, but trust me, they add up).
  • Task Rabbit: This is for all of those tasks that you need an actual person to help you with. For example, building the baby’s crib, dropping those envelopes at FedEx, or even picking up groceries.

Now think about all of the time wasters you can eliminate all together. If you’re having a problem prying yourself off of Facebook, ask yourself why. What is Facebook giving you? Entertainment? Connection? Consider seeking those feelings from something more fulfilling.

5. Makeover time.

Now it’s time to start including all of that stuff you’ve actually been wanting to do. Fit these activities in the white space you now have thanks to eliminating the time wasters and outsourcing everything you don’t absolutely need to be doing.

6. Live into it.

Making a change takes time, no matter how badly you may want it. See how your new schedule is working out. Figure out what is working really well and what needs to be adjusted, and then shift things accordingly. Above all, make sure to be gentle with yourself. Progress always trumps perfection.

TIME

27 Pinterest Boards That Will Actually Make Your Life Better

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Seriously life-changing

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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

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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

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

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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

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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”?

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

MONEY College

The Important Talk Parents Are Not Having With Their Kids

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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?

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