Why boring jobs are popular

You might think that the only reasons people choose boring jobs is because it’s a bad economy, they need money, and they have no choice. New research shows those aren’t the only reasons, though.

Money, it turns out, does play a role in selecting boring jobs, but not always for a reason you’d think. Some people pick boring because they feel they should get paid more for the additional effort of an interesting job. Even if the monetary difference between a boring job and an interesting job isn’t enough to sway the decision, people will pick a boring job over an interesting job if the boring job involves less effort.

This study – conducted by Peter Ubel and David Comeford at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business – could have a big impact on peoples’ willingness to open businesses. Starting a small business is inherently a labor-intensive proposition. Although the monetary rewards can be pretty significant, the endeavor can also be a complete financial flop.

If you want to be happy in your career choice, though, Ubel and Comeford suggest ignoring the inclination that you should get paid more for working more hours. Comeford said, “I can see lots of good reasons why your gut would tell you not to work unless you get paid more than you’d get for doing nothing, but the lesson I take from these studies is that that reaction risks leaving you bored and unhappy.”

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Career development in the hyperconnected world

In this day and age, nobody thinks of his or her current job as a lifelong commitment. Not only is this mindset no longer practical for the average worker, it’s also downright unappealing: people want careers that span different roles across different organizations and that tap into their deeper desires and potential. The changes in the nature of work are simultaneously extremely exciting and a bit scary. How does today’s professional navigate and continue to develop a career that will involve changing course multiple times? (more…)

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How humor can boost your career

Some people think of work as a place that should be devoid of humor. Work and play, however, don’t have to be entirely mutually exclusive. In fact, there are some really good reasons why bringing a little humor with you to work can actually help boost your career. Here are just a few of those reasons:

1. Humor helps relieve stress. Humor actually changes the way that your brain perceives stress factors. Once you inject a little humor into your worldview, bothersome co-workers or clients just become amusing anecdotes for later instead of depressing annoyances.

2. Humor helps creative thinking. Humor helps you see the world less rigidly and removing the rigidity from your thinking seriously boosts creativity. Humors is both relaxing and inspiring, so it helps foster the right creative mentality you need to be the most productive team members you can be.

3. Humor helps build trust. Because humor makes you seem more likeable, it will also make people more likely to trust you. When you display your sense of humor, people detect the authenticity in your approach and they are more likely to find your trustworthy than your more reserved counterparts, who may come off as distanced or stuck-up.

4. Humor increases productivity. By helping create a work environment that is cheerful, your employees or co-workers will spend less time thinking about how long it is until five o’clock and more time thinking about how to offer maximal contribution to the company. People will approach their work with more passion, and in turn be more productive and offer better results.

5. Humor is a great equalizer. Humor makes you seem human, so if you’re an administrator or boss trying to connect with your employees, humor is a great way to do just that. Of course, it probably goes without saying that humor at the expense of your subordinates or co-workers is NOT a good idea.

6. People will like working with you. Bringing a good sense of humor to your job can really help with team-building. People want to like the people they work with – and when your co-workers like you, you will find your job to be more enjoyable. Again, though, don’t offend people with your humor.

7. Humor can help your customer relations. Just as humor can help humanize company leaders, humor can also help humanize your company as a whole. Humor can help your truly connect with your customers in a way that can generate a large loyal following.

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5 things you should never say to your boss

1. “This is just a paycheck.” If this is actually true, there’s a good chance your boss has some inkling of it – but there’s no need to remind them.

2. “I can’t get anything done with you over my shoulder.” That may be true – especially if your boss is a chronic micro-manager – but this is not the right way to indicate this.

3. “I promise I’ll get it done.” You shouldn’t need the reassurance of a promise with your boss. If you say you’ll get something done, it should be understood that you will do so. If you have to add in that this is a promise, you might want to take a look at your past track record of on-time delivery and think about why every completion date doesn’t feel like a promise.

4. “I can’t believe I scored this job.” In this economy, everybody is grateful to have a job, but don’t go overboard expressing your gratitude – especially not in a way that possibly implies your own incompetence or lack of belief in yourself.

5. “I could be doing something else.” Of course you could – and maybe you have been secretly playing Candy Crush all day, but saying this will just make you sound bratty and unmotivated.

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3 career ideas from the world’s most iconic brands

Whether you are an investor following companies’ quarterly performances to evaluate stocks or whether you are simply up to news with your favourite brand, you have all the knowledge about these leaders. You discuss it on your morning coffee breaks, nights-in with friends, and even read about it on your daily commute. The curiosity unravels information, and you start embedding in your mind, but the most amazing part of this whole process is taking that information and incorporating it in our daily lives.

Every now and then, you want to succeed and overachieve on those sales quotas, you want to show the world you are a leader they should hire, you want to prove you can make the difference and be creative, and you want to believe your life is beautiful. Here are 3 ideas to borrow from the world’s most iconic brands of today and make yourself a winner:

Be Approachable. In other words, be user-friendly.

There was a time when Nokia was the leader in telecommunications. The idea behind Nokia was connecting people, and the comfort that people found in using Nokia reiterated that people preferred the connection through this stellar Finnish brand. This ideology was then picked up by Samsung. Totally overshadowing Blackberry which had been the ‘business-trendy’ phone that was considered cool and techy, Samsung beat Apple in the Global Brand Simplicity Index 2013. The brand-war has been won with this battle, as Samsung becomes the simplest smart-phone.

People like simple, they like easy to access, they like approachable. This does not mean that you start advertising yourself with too many smiles, too many conversations and a too eager to help attitude. You are demonstrating what a great individual you are, not attracting stalkers and psychopaths. Making eye contact while talking shows presence, a firm hand-shake expresses determination, an audible and clear voice (no mumbling) displays command. Employers and thought-leaders are looking for confidence, for dedication and for smart minds, minds that don’t shy away or are unclear.

Build Up Your Arsenal. Having too many skills is never a bad choice.

What do P&G, PepsiCo, Volkswagen and Johnson & Johnson have in common? They are mass producing giant parent companies with many successful brands under their umbrella. Volkswagen owns Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat brands. PepsiCo has the entire Frito Lays Line as well as Quaker and the fast-food restaurants group along with its beverages and others. J&J have too many brands, and P&G’s list is practically endless.

What you need to do: Deploy tactics to absorb as many skills as possible, so as to attract a larger audience. The job market today seeks individuals who know a couple handful of programming languages, are masters in financial analysis and forecasting, have had sales experience, understand pivot tables from Excel, InDesign, Illustrator and what not. Chances of rejection are visibly lessened when you try to acquire the skills, and it is good to be prepared to meet the future that we all can predict will have integrated services and functions. Diversification makes you stand out from the clutter, and helps you advance further than someone who is a specialist. You can retain your authority in one field, and gain knowledge about the others.

Know Your Consumer.

The biggest example of this is Google. Though a little intrusive at times, Google understands consumers’ needs, has built a search engine with a predictive text feature because it knows what its people like and by digging scrupulously, has unearthed the perfect way to communicate with its customers.

In your case, you have to do the same. Research, research and research. Understand the job description every time you apply, use those keywords that are in it to connect to the employers, by understanding their needs. Before any interview, carefully review the organization, understand what it has accomplished and how it reached there. Once you process that information, your next step is to understand where they want to go and how you can get them there with your abundance of talent, creativity and prowess. You want to kill your interviews and get that job, now you know how.

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How to evaluate a new job opportunity

Obviously, for many employees, pay is a major – if not the primary – factor considered in the job hunting process. However, choosing your job only by pay and potential for future pay is a great way to end up in the miserable job situation, like something out of Office Space. There are a number of things you need to consider when evaluating the suitability of a job, and pay and pay potential is only one of them. What else should you evaluate?

People.

Are the people at the company a good team? It can be difficult to evaluate the state of office politics when you’re just looking into a job, but finding out about the cohesiveness of a team is extremely important. You won’t necessarily like everyone that work with, but the important thing is that everyone works well as a team.

Passion.

Is the job something about which you can be passionate? Your ability to bring your all to your job will have a huge influence on your actual level of success there.

Product.

Is the company committed to giving the best product or service possible? Companies that place profits above products or services often provide less satisfying work experiences.

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Do you know your goals?

A common problem among people seeking guidance for career development is an inability to focus on a particular vocation to strive for. Instead, talented individuals will dissipate their potential dabbling in a lot of different fields, becoming a kind of “jack of all trades and master of none.” Avoid building castles in the clouds, and start with a solid terrestrial foundation. (more…)

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Complex career paths

For a vision of what’s happening to the corporate promotion structure, consider Deloitte’s Mass Career Customization program. Beginning as a way to keep talented women productive during and after pregnancy, the program offers flexibility, allowing Deloitte employees the ability to make lateral moves. Sometimes these moves would involve a change of roles, or an increased focus on telecommuting. Depending on the nature of the move they may involve a pay raise or a pay cut. More employees, and not just women, require this kind of flexibility. The old “move up or move out” philosophy no longer applies. Instead employees’ careers follow more complex paths, moving from side to side and up and down as life situations dictate.

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4 traits of a bad boss

When you have a bad boss, figuring it out eventually is inevitable. Here is a list of some of the common types of bad bosses, though, so that you can spot the problem early on – and maybe consider switching jobs. If you are a boss, keep reading – so you know what not to do.

1. The Control Freak – Control freak bosses micromanage their employees, both wasting company time and resources and preventing employees from having the opportunity to develop their own ideas and shine.

2. Pseudo Best Friend – Some bosses try way too hard to be every employee’s best friend. A truly cool boss is great, but when that amiability isn’t sincere, it can make the entire relationship awkward and lacking in trust.

3. The Eternally Unavailable – Bosses are busy, but there’s a difference between busy and negligent. It can be incredibly frustrating from an employee’s perspective and it can slow down the company’s productivity when workers have to deal with a supervisor who takes a week to respond to simple emails.

4. The Incompetent Lackey – Some people only end up becoming bosses because they knew the right people or diligently served as somebody’s lackey for far too long. When they actually get promoted to a supervisory role themselves, they’re completely incompetent – and often extremely difficult to handle given their virtually unfireable lackey status.

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The art of reputation management

Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot of solid reputations go down the tubes in the space of time it takes a message to leave a phone. Of course, certain congressmen with itchy twitter fingers are the most obvious cases, with careers that took years of meticulous work to build leveled in mere moments due to a seemingly minor indiscretion. However, It’s not just politicians who have to worry about their reputations these days, and it doesn’t take a scandal to do heavy damage. Every professional with a public face needs to manage his or her reputation. Online reputation has become what your credit rating was twenty years ago; if you’re not paying attention to yours, you might soon see the doors of opportunity closing on you.

According to PriceWaterHouseCoopers, 63% of corporate CEOs believe that reputation is essential to success in our new interconnected world. The more successful you become, the more important managing your reputation is. Keep in mind that anyone with an interest in working with you will Google you. What they find will directly inform their decision.

You may be a perfect angel of an executive, with a sterling résumé and stellar reputation amongst your peers. However, you can’t assume that your online presence is going to reflect that. This will come into play when there is a public relations problem or other difficult situation. If you’ve managed your reputation well, your track record will help vindicate you with investors, consumers and possibly regulators. If not, you may find multiple Pandora’s boxes opening as your every searchable attribute is thrust into the limelight.

This is especially important to keep in mind in light of today’s shifting economy and increasingly competitive job market. More executives are finding that they can’t count on their current job being there for the long term. Be it from an unexpected merger or a leadership shakeup, executives are more often finding themselves in search of employment. One needs only look at the rapid succession of Mark Hurd, Leo Apotheker, and now Meg Whitman at HP to see what I’m talking about. You can rest assured that this problem is not an isolated one, and that uncertainty of employment is a real problem business professionals will continue to face as corporations struggle to contend with a changing landscape.

The key is preparing in advance for this kind of rupture. Whether you run a multi-million dollar enterprise or manage a small business, there are a number of simple steps that are absolutely essential in managing your reputation.

As a first step, it is important to define and establish your personal brand. By personal brand, I largely mean what keywords are associated with your online presence in a Google+ or LinkedIn search. Since this is how potential employers will likely find you, you want your brand to match their search terms. It behooves you to think hard about how you want to define yourself, your leadership style and your skillset, and make sure you include the corresponding keywords in the right places in your profile. Again, you should not wait until you’re out of work or in a precarious situation to do this. Start today.

However, simply establishing keywords is not enough. To create a viable and authentic web presence, it is essential that you create diverse content across multiple platforms. This does not mean copying and pasting your résumé and qualifications all over the web. You need to be proactive, and get involved in social media. Comment on blogs, post reviews on Amazon, and assert your thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of topics in your own personal blogs. This creates a multidimensional portrait of you as a person and a professional and is fast becoming the standard.

Employers are increasingly holding out for the best of the best, and an impressive online presence is an easy way to give yourself a leg up over the competition. The length of the interview process for corporate jobs has expanded recently as employers evaluate the finer grains of potential applicants’ qualifications. Data from Glassdoor.com indicates that the average length of the interview process at companies like General Mills, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines has almost doubled since 2010. Make sure that you give your potential employers ample material to chew on between those seventh and eighth interviews!

Finally, there are situations where all the preparation in the world can’t protect you. Malevolent bloggers, dissatisfied consumers and really anyone with a chip on his or her shoulder can mar your reputation and searchable content with a few keystrokes. In some cases it may be enough to simply ask the person or provider to remove this content, but it isn’t always an option. Reputation management companies like reputation.com and Metal Rabbit Media have grown immensely in the past several years and are really a bellwether of a near future in which everyone will have to manage their reputation online lest they fall victim to slander. It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s the reality we face and a side effect of the benefits of new media.

To this end, availing yourself of these services may not be a bad insurance policy. Additionally, they can serve as an outsourced method of building your reputation. If you find yourself flabbergasted by the preponderance of social media sites you need to monitor and keep updated all while carrying out your executive responsibilities, then buying into one of these products is absolutely requisite.

In the long run, however, you need to get used to the fact that social media savvy has become just as important as your MBA, and that companies are looking for people who understand this fact and can navigate the social media landscape with ease. Remember that your reputation is intricately tied up with the reputation of your company, and a blunder or oversight on your part can turn into a liability for the organization at large.

Reputation management can be intimidating, but at heart it’s exactly what it sounds like: management. If you do the research and apply your management skills to your reputation, you’re bound to succeed.

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