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7 Strategies for Women Who Want to be the Boss at Work

Even today, there are some unspoken double standards for women and men in the workplace. Sure, we’ve (hopefully) moved on from the worst of the Mad Men style of blatant sexism in the office, and these days you can find women working alongside men at all levels of an industry. Still, stereotypes and differences linger in every field, every industry, every job. So what can you do, as a professional woman, to help get through this minefield of professional issues and excel at work?

1. Dress the part.

This is definitely one of those double standard gray areas. Do you let yourself dress casually (or even on the slouchy side) like some of your male colleagues might do, to show that you’re their equal? Or do you lean into the idea that women should be dressing more nicely at work? It’s a valid debate, but whenever a work dress code is up for discussion, always err on the side of dressing up a notch or two. But unfairly or not, women are often held to a higher standard—and the more professionally you dress, the more professional you seem.

If you work in an office where jeans and sneakers are the unofficial uniform, you don’t need to bust out your fanciest pantsuit. A jacket or blazer over your jeans can bump up the professional factor in a super-cazh office, or that same blazer over crisp, tailored pants in a business-casual environment works as well. Always on the “don’t even think about it” list: low-cut anything, tops that show more skin than they cover, short skirts, and flamboyant jewelry or accessories. Wearing these things can distract attention from how well you’re doing your job, and give people a reason to take you less-than-seriously.

2. Don’t let others undercut your authority.

If you have direct reports or are in a position of authority, make sure people treat you accordingly. I’ve been in situations where clients would automatically start talking past me to my boss or to male colleagues in the room, when I was actually the one responsible for making day-to-day decisions and getting things done on the client’s behalf. If you can feel someone eroding your authority (and they may not even realize they’re doing it), firmly remind them of your role. Make sure that people understand what you’re bringing to the table: “As Chip’s supervisor, I’ll be the one making sure our team reports the sales.” “In my experience as a ________, I can see what the challenges will be here.”

You’ve worked hard to get to your role, and you deserve to be acknowledged for it.

3. Be assertive (but not overly aggressive).

In a perfect world, my advice would be “go for it, lady! Show them what’s what, in no uncertain terms!” In this imperfect world, however, women perceived as aggressive bosses or colleagues can quickly find themselves tagged as “witches” (or the similar word we all know), “ballbusters,” and the like. This can be just as damaging to workplace respect and progress than being a pushover. It’s totally unfair, because everyone has their own personal style, and some people are just aggressive—but these perceptions are a fact of professional life, at least for now. So how does one find that place where one is upfront about what one wants but isn’t perceived as some kind of monster? Where is that sweet spot of straightforward respect and authority?

Essentially, the best way to get there is saying what you want, but being careful about how it’s phrased. Making blunt demands, or giving feedback like “that’s wrong” is likely to turn off your audience, male or female. This is where stellar communication skills come in handy. Use a tone that’s non-confrontational, so that the other person isn’t automatically feeling defensive and ready to mutiny. And even when you disagree, try to find some common element that you can use as an olive branch before explaining what you want to do differently: “I see what you’re saying, and although I do agree that we need to raise revenue, I see it a little differently.”

One strategy is to ask questions instead of diving in with statements. That way, you can be part of starting a dialogue instead of something that can be perceived as an “attack.” Asking clarification questions like “where do you see this going?” or “how does this impact our goals?” opens up a communication line with the other speaker, and will give you an opportunity to say what you want to express as part of the back-and-forth.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

When I was younger, I was told things like “never disagree with your boss in public.” And now that I’ve been around longer, I think that’s true—to an extent. I’d modify it to, “if you disagree, do it respectfully—and pick your moments.” One of the biggest challenges facing many professional women (especially younger ones) is the idea that they should hang back and let more senior people hash things out. And while I don’t recommend inserting yourself into every single debate in every single meeting just for the sake of being heard, remember that you’re in the room for a reason. If you disagree with something being discussed, don’t be afraid to say so—but again, always phrase it as respectfully and diplomatically as possible.

And again, pick your moment. If your boss is giving a presentation in front of bigwigs, and you see that she’s wrong about something, don’t throw her under the bus in front of everyone, or give a loud and long dissent in the meeting. If you’re directly asked about your opinion, give it carefully. Or talk about it offline with your boss later. Your opinion is valuable, and your insights can earn you respect and acknowledgment if they’re expressed well.

5. Don’t let people talk over you.

We’ve all been there: you’re talking about something work-related, and a colleague (often older and male) breaks in and, in a dismissive tone, gives an opinion about why you’re wrong, without letting you finish the thought. Unless you’ve been filibustering the floor with a long monologue, this is poor form on the interruptor’s part. And no one likes this kind of bullying tactic. So how do you handle in the moment? Politely interrupt them back, and ask to finish your point, or try to turn it into a dialogue instead of a lecture.

6. Advocate for yourself.

This is, hands-down, one of the best things you can do to get respect at work. Knowing what you want, and how to ask for it, is a skill that will serve every professional (male or female) well throughout a career. Being able to negotiate is a key leadership skill, and one every woman should have at the ready as a professional. Asking for what you want is a great first step, but you also need to know how to navigate what comes next: an offer, a counteroffer, and when to agree or walk away.

7. Know when to fold ‘em.

If you’re in a work situation where you try all these strategies and you’re still not getting the level of professional respect you deserve, then it could very well be time to walk away. You’re not obligated to stay in a role where you are defined and treated according to stale old perceptions about what women are and should be, so if you find that you’re spending more time counteracting stereotypes than actually doing your job, it could be time to get out. There’s no shame in wanting to find a better environment for your skills and personality. And with your brushed-up negotiation skills, your next opportunity could be right around the corner.

Every professional deserves respect: male, female, young, old, green, experienced. Stepping up to request and take that respect, however, can be a big challenge. We still have a long way to go before everyone in the workplace is completely equal (even in the most gender-balanced fields and the most supportive companies, decades-old perceptions tend to die hard), but in the meantime, we hope you never stop striving to get everything you can out of your career.

The post 7 Strategies for Women Who Want to be the Boss at Work appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

7 Warning Signs Your Talent Is Being Wasted at Work

So you sought out a job, went through the interview process, and got hired. Whoo hoo, so exciting! What’s more, you even feel confident that you were the best out of the bunch of candidates. But all the same, maybe since you started you haven’t been quite sure that your talents and particular skills are being used to their full effect.

Take a look at the following warning signs that you are not reaching your full potential. If a few of these signs apply to you, you might want to consider seeking out a bigger pond, one where you can stretch your wings, challenge yourself, and reach the career goals you know you’re capable of reaching.

1. Your boss is threatened by your best ideas.

If all your ideas end up in the “Maybe Someday” file, and your manager seems to prefer bumping along with the status quo rather than pushing the envelope, you’re not going to get much traction. Maybe you’re hearing a lot of “but this is how it’s always been done” and not enough “that’s a great idea; we should try it,” or getting shut down (or outright ignored) by your boss for ideas you know to be good. If any of this is the case, then maybe it’s time to start to worry.

2. You work with automatons.

Instead of everyone pitching in to realize some long-term goal or vision, you find that all of your coworkers are merely on autopilot, doing task after task that doesn’t seem to generate any new sparks or momentum.

3. You never receive any sort of appreciation.

If you’re working hard and no one at work sees you for the superstar you are, then you A) haven’t shown them, or B) they’ve seen your talents and are choosing to ignore them. Your once bright future starts to grey.

4. You’re trapped.

Are you confined by your title? This could be your own fault or the fault of your workplace: you’re so hemmed in by your specific role and tasks that you don’t feel the freedom to be able to fluidly reach out to your team members and help with other projects and initiatives when necessary. Even if this kind of effort might require you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, it can be good for your growth.

5. Your boss is putting your light under a bushel.

Whether your boss is afraid of change or threatened by your rising star, perhaps he or she isn’t being the kind of mentor that lets you shine. Maybe they even call you in and tell you to hold back a little, or pipe down in meetings, instead of batting around your best ideas.

6. Your company values policy over passion.

You’re a rule-follower, and you’re feeling stifled. It’s possible that you’re very comfortable where you are, but still—biding your time and knowing real change and real challenge are too far around the corner to be feasible it a recipe for nothingness. Meanwhile, you keep on toeing the company line and following policies you don’t think are best practice. You’re going nowhere, and slowly.

7. You’re burnt out and bored.

After your first entry-level gigs, you should probably never be bored at work. If your job is boring you, it’s time to move on for sure. Watch for burn-out also; it’s not just for people in high powered careers that work too fast and too hard. It can strike anyone who’s been grappling with long-term demoralization and lack of inspiration. Remember, you’re a person, not a robot just completing tasks.

The post 7 Warning Signs Your Talent Is Being Wasted at Work appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

8 Signs You Need To Get Out of Corporate America

There are a lot of perks that come with working in corporate America: the pay is usually good, there are usually decent benefits, and sometimes you get to sit in beanbag chairs and get your work-out in during your lunch break.

But there are also a ton of drawbacks. Here are 7 reasons you’re probably not well suited to the corporate climate and might consider getting out. You shouldn’t necessarily quit and run off to join the circus, but, you know, start looking around for other opportunities.

1. You’re not a natural brown noser.

Schmoozing is a requisite for the corporate world. Your talent and skills and the work you deliver—no matter how top notch—is not enough to get ahead. You could be by far the strongest link on the team and still get passed up for promotion in favor of some guy who just knows how to kiss butt. If you’re not the type to cultivate this skill, or you find the whole process abhorrent, maybe corporate is not for you.

2. Phonies make you sick.

Ever had a conversation with someone in the business world where you can tell they’re not really listening, not really there? Laughing at jokes like a zombie chorus when the jokes aren’t even funny? Coming out with lines that sound right out of an HR ad? Spewing corporatese left and right with no idea what they’re really trying to communicate? If you can’t handle a world of fake smiles and meaningless buzzwords anymore, just remember: it’s not you, it’s them.

3. You yearn to be in charge.

You’re not in the driver’s seat for your career—the corporation is. It will look after itself first and foremost: its own health, goals, longevity, and profit margin. If you want more control or agency in the way your career moves forward, try smaller businesses or other career avenues.

4. Benefits go bye-bye.

You used to get great perks and full benefits packages in corporate gigs. But nowadays, more companies are cutting costs by passing those costs on to their employees. Keeping their workers loyal, healthy, and happy is not as much of a priority anymore compared with profit margins and appeasing shareholders. You’re just a cog after all—and totally replaceable. If you want to be valued for your loyalty, maybe start looking elsewhere.

5. You’re not into being cutthroat.

People are leaping over the backstabbed dead bodies of their colleagues to get ahead. And this type of behavior will always be rewarded. If you’re a bit too tenderhearted for this, then you should rethink where you’re working. Especially considering you’re not necessarily being rewarded for your talents.

6. It’s all about the money.

No one cares about you personally in a corporate job—and certainly not your partner, your aging parents, or your kids. No one really cares about making a difference or saving the world—despite what their commercials lead you to believe. What they care about is profit. That’s the bottom line. If you’re more altruistic, or just a little bit less profit-obsessed, maybe move along.

7. The hours are too much to handle.

It’s one thing putting in ridiculous hours for a job you really love, one that’s really doing something for your life and career goals, i.e. doing what you love. It’s another thing entirely to be slaving away nights, weekends, after hours, when you know you’re not personally valued and the work you’re doing isn’t making much of a difference in the world.

8. You’re too creative.

Never mind being too tenderhearted for the vicious Game-of-Thronesy work climates, you’re just too darned creative for the structure and the monotony of meetings and memos that comprise the corporate 9-to-5. Maybe you find yourself unable to focus with all the meaningless noise. Maybe you’re not productive on the normal daily schedule, and work best from, say, noon to six. Maybe your brain works best in fits of productivity, with plenty of time to roam around and do other tasks in between, to rest your juices. Maybe you’d be much better off getting paid a higher amount per hour, and working fewer hours. Maybe you just feel a cubicle is a cage for your brain. Maybe numbers aren’t your jam. And maybe, just maybe, you’re incredibly talented and need a bit of an unorthodox structure in a place that values your particular set of skills. Either way, you’re very likely to be stifled in the corporate world.

The post 8 Signs You Need To Get Out of Corporate America appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

6 Reasons Why Your Company Is Not Your Friend

We all want to believe that the company we work for has our best interests in career development at heart. We want the company to be our friend, our rock, our resource. We want trust. But the truth is, when it comes to your company, you are the resource. And the only thing you can really trust is yourself.

There are some rare companies out there that truly care about their employees. Yours might be one of them. That doesn’t mean you can let your guard down for any length of time. Loyalty used to be an important thing, but as employee tenure at different jobs has shrunk from long-term to medium-term and even shorter, and as layoffs and cutbacks become more common, you’ll have to look out for yourself.

Here are a few reasons to help convince you to remember you are number one.

1. Loyalty is a joke.

Imagine this scenario: you work late, come early, put in all the extra time and effort—thinking that will be rewarded. Then the wind changes and you’re tossed out on your very loyal rear end. Your employer gets to walk away thinking itself a shrewd and prudent business, and you’re left devastated. You should have kept your eye on the ball.

2. HR is likely not there for you.

You may think Human Resources are there for you—to help you, protect you. Think again. HR is really a mechanism to handle paperwork and payroll—and sometimes training or morale-building—so managers can concentrate on their own work. And though they are there to try and settle disputes, they will side with the company every time. They’re paid by the higher-ups, remember. Not by you.

3. You never know when…

A layoff or a merger or even just a wholesale staff-culling might be just around the corner. Don’t stop looking for a job just because you found one. Keep your feelers out there. Keep a few opportunities on your back burners at all times. You’ll never know when you might need one.

4. They need you more than you need them.

This may seem contradictory, but if you keep this mindset, you’ll be able to adapt better when things go awry. If you get stuck in a position and you start feeling desperate—and scared you might not be able to find another job quickly—then start looking to build your confidence and flexibility back up.

5. You’re never valued enough.

Again, there are outliers here. You might be valued every bit as much as you should be at your current job. But if you aren’t—and you start to feel as though you’ve faded into the wallpaper, or worse, you’ve become a doormat, remember that you should be looking out for you. Find yourself a better opportunity and make a change.

6. Opportunity doesn’t knock often.

If you’re so loyal that you find yourself passing up opportunities because your boss “needs” you or your company can’t do without you? Danger sign! Of course they need you. But you are almost always replaceable. And they will remember that when convenient for them—and most likely inconvenient for you. Make your path your priority instead.

Loyalty can cloud your perception of how things are going in your department. Don’t let it. Keep your eyes open for signs that your company is imploding. Get out with the first rats, rather than the ones that go down with the sinking ship.

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9 Reasons You Might Be Failing at Your Career—And How to Fix It

The time has come to talk about the “F” word. (No, not that “F” word.) Failure. No matter who you are or what you do, that word usually has the power to strike fear. If you suspect you’re already failing in your life (for example, you’re not where you thought you would be at this point, or you’ve experienced setbacks), that can be incredibly intimidating. It may keep you from shaking off bad habits and picking up new ones that would get you in a better place. This is especially true in your career. It can be super easy to fall into an inertia bubble and then find yourself shrugging helplessly when you know it’s time to get out.

Let’s look at some of the reasons you might think you’re failing at your professional life, and what you can do about them.

1. You feel helpless to make changes.

This is one I struggle with all. the. time. You may not think you’re helpless per se, but maybe you just feel overwhelmed by daily minutiae, and you feel like staying afloat is all you can accomplish. If you’re managing only what comes your way, you’re troubleshooting rather than improving.

What to do about it: Realize that you do have a say in your daily life, even at work where things might seem very regimented or non-negotiable. If you want to take more agency and control in your life, it starts with you. Learn to advocate for yourself, and negotiate what you want. You’d be surprised at what you can get if you learn to ask for it in the right way.

2. You’re too busy blaming other people.

I’d be much further along if Susan weren’t getting all the attention and good projects at work. I’d be making more money if Frank paid more attention to what I’m doing. I’d have a better job if it weren’t for my cat/my parents/my therapist.

What to do about it: You do you. Your career is yours, and yours alone. This means that ultimately, your decisions are your responsibility—not your cat’s, your parents’, or your therapist’s. It’s time to stop blaming, and instead start thinking about what it would take for you to get what you want: that raise, the good projects, the job you want. Blaming others takes up a lot of mental energy, which you should instead be using to do an internal audit of why things aren’t working out the way you want—and what steps you can take to make progress.

3. You’re settling for a mediocre status quo.

This is an especially insidious kind of failure. You’re comfortable enough, have a job that pays your bills, but you’re not really going anywhere. It’s settling for the good-enough-right-now, at the expense of what is good for you in the future.

What to do about it: Do things that scare you a little (within reason). You don’t have to go busting every piece of your status quo right now, but if you start by doing one thing every week that is outside your comfort zone, you’ll likely find that “status quo” expanding around you. Take on a project that is a bit of a stretch. Take a class in a new skill. Apply for that reach job. If you find yourself hesitating, ask yourself why, and what you have to lose if you go for it. And if the answer isn’t “it’s physically dangerous” or “this will cause a divorce,” then consider moving forward with it after all.

4. You don’t have the resources or education.

If you avoid applying for jobs because you don’t have the necessary skills, experience, or education, that feeling of failure may creep in while you’re browsing job openings. It’s hard not to feel like a failure if all you can see are closed doors.

What to do about it: Take a class! Going for a new degree (or completing an old one) just may not be feasible for everyone, but there are often ways to get around the traditional “going back to school” model. For skill-building, sites like Lynda.com offer free or relatively inexpensive courses you can take on your own time. There are also many universities and colleges that offer part-time degree programs, or non-degree courses online. There are so many ways to stay academically active and keep learning, even when time or money is tight.

5. You’re avoiding hard truths.

Facing reality is hard. That’s why we have 8 million things to distract our attention at any given time. Cat videos, TV, social media—we all have ways of decompressing and avoiding reality for a while. Those are all temporary, though. Ultimately you’ll have to think about new and different ways of doing things, or facts that make you uncomfortable. If you’ve been avoiding thinking about your professional future because it might lead to uncomfortable realizations about the choices you’ve made and the ones you will need to make in the future, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

What to do about it: Time for a little self-audit. Where are you in your career, what’s keeping you in it, and where do you want to be in five years? This is an exercise just for you—no one else will see or judge, so it’s important to be extremely honest about what you have, and what you want.

6. You think you’re too old to make changes.

We often pick our career paths pretty early in life, based on what we want to study in college, or what we think we’d be good at doing when we’re 18. And think about it: how well do many of the life decisions you made when you were 18 still hold up? How many of your hobbies and interests are the same? You’re not locked into a career that you chose because it seemed like a good idea at the time. As you change, you’re never too old to change your professional path.

What to do about it: If you feel stuck in a path that doesn’t interest you anymore, think about making a change—no matter how significant. Think about what it is you want to be doing, and start doing real research into what it would take—like education, certification, or skills. These are all things you can work on in the meantime, before you make any big moves.

7. Your fear of failure has you pinned down.

Failing because you fear failure? Is that a thing? Yes, yes it is. It’s possible to back right into failure while you’re on guard against it, avoiding risky changes or proactive steps that could result in failing. This kind of failure is sneaky, because it comes right from the place you thought you were watching.

What to do about it: Don’t be afraid to be bad at something, or to make a bad decision once in a while. Failure can actually be one of the great learning experiences, painful though it may feel in the meantime. By letting fear of failure paralyze you, it can kill your career progress. Your professional life thrives on both your successes and your failures.

8. You’re overestimating your abilities.

Full disclosure: I’m failing at being a ballet dancer. This is because I am the biggest klutz ever, I don’t have the right body type, and…oh yeah…I have very few ballet skills. So Misty Copeland’s title is probably safe. But if I expected to be a ballet dancer at this point in my career, I’d be making a fatal assumption that I could be one in my current state. It’s one thing to be confident in the abilities you have, but another thing entirely to be confident that you’ll be good at something without the education or skills to back it up. This kind of mindset lets you get comfortable in the idea that you don’t need to learn or do new things, because you’re the best the way you are.

What to do about it: Embrace your strengths, work on your weaknesses, and accept the need to be realistic about what you can do.

9. You’re not setting realistic goals.

If you’re not planning your career in a realistic way, of course you’re going to feel like a failure—you set it up that way yourself. Going from entry level to CEO in two years was never going to happen.

What to do about it: Time to set up some SMART goals. That’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Setting these career goals both in the short-term (say, for the next year) and the long-term (five years or beyond) will help you make progress that you can quantify. There are lots of apps and tools you can use to help you, but don’t underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned checklist, and the smug, well-earned sense of satisfaction you get as you check something off the list.

If you feel like you’re failing, it’s never too late to stop, figure out why, and start taking concrete steps out of the muck. Understanding why you’re failing is the most important first step you can take.

The post 9 Reasons You Might Be Failing at Your Career—And How to Fix It appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

Ask Yourself: Are You Happy In Your Current Job?

You’re happy to have a job, of course. But are you really happy in your job? If you want the best of all worlds—i.e. to live to work rather than work to live, then maybe it’s time to ask yourself whether you are actually happy where you are—or whether you could be happier somewhere else, doing something else.

Have no idea how to figure this one out? Try asking yourself the following questions.

1. What do you care about?

Step one is to identify your passion. Figure out what gets you really jazzed up. It might be in a whole different career field entirely—you’ll never know until you do the soul searching necessary to find out. What do you enjoy? Writing? Working as a group? Working with your hands? No idea is too stupid. Figure out what really makes you excited and then figure out how to pursue it as a second step.

2. What do you do best?

Identifying your strengths is a good next step. Can any of them work laterally? For example, can you move to a slightly different field or totally different position that’s more suited to what you really care about purely by repurposing the skills you already have? Think a bit differently about what you can actually do—not just what you’ve studies and what you’ve been doing.

3. Are you proud of your company?

Does the company culture make you feel great about working where you do? Is this a challenging environment that also offers rewards and some degree of fulfillment? If you can’t excel where you are, and are not empowered to achieve your very best, then you might consider moving around.

4. How’s your boss?

This actually makes a massive difference. If you have a good rapport and a relationship built on mutual respect and trust, that goes a very long way toward job satisfaction. If your boss isn’t helping you to grow, then perhaps your happiness will suffer.

5. What’s your role?

Are you part of the solution? In the challenges facing your company and the world, does your position matter? Does the work you do every day make active gains in working toward an answer? Or do you feel like you’re irrelevant—or just part of the problem? Look back at your job description. Is your role part of the company’s boarder mission? Are you doing work that includes what made you excited to work there in the first place? Or just pushing paper and twiddling your thumbs?

6. Is your network growing?

A good job is one that will help you to expand your network? If you’re constantly meeting new people and being inspired and challenged by what the other people in your industry are doing, you’ll be much less bored where you are. You might even have a great lead for where to end up next!

7. How’s communication?

Start paying attention to how your company communicates—with everyone. This includes the interview process. Are people personable? Professional? Punctual with responses to questions and their share of the work? Are the bosses totally hands off, or does everyone feel like they have a stake in the mission at hand? How are you and others evaluated? Fairly? Constructively?

8. How do your colleagues feel?

If everyone else is wildly thrilled where they are at your company, and you’ve determined that you’re at least in the right field or job, then perhaps there are deeper problems with your lack of satisfaction than can be fixed by switching careers. But if you uncover a lot of similar gripes to yours? It might be time to go back to Step 1 and start thinking about where you might go next.

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What You Need to Know About Returning To Work After Having a Baby

It’s awfully hard taking a leave from work to go and have a baby. It’s even harder leaving that baby behind to go back to work—even if you love your job! So whether you’re going back for monetary necessity, or because you have to keep your place in your career, or because you love what you do, here are a few tips to help ease your transition.

1. Start childcare plans early.

If you want in on a specific day care center, get on their waiting list ASAP—sometimes even before the baby is born. Either way, set up who will be caring for your child in advance of needing it. Visit the facility or meet the person in advance. Maybe even do a dry run to make sure things don’t all crash and burn the minute Mommy/Daddy leaves. Having a good, safe option that you and your family feel good about will help ease your jitters.

2. Stock up on supplies.

You’re going to need a bunch of supplies for whomever is taking care of your kid. Buy things like breast milk bags and nursing pads and diapers in bulk. Make a checklist of all the things your baby needs when going out of the house and make sure to pass it along to your child minder.

3. Start out slowly.

Don’t go right back into full time. See if you can do part-time the first week or two, just until you iron out all the kinks and get your family settled in the new routine.

4. Stay in touch.

It’s okay to ask for regular updates throughout the day—a quick text or photo will often do to help you keep from worrying and focus on your work. If you are the type to call in every day, go for it!

5. Talk to a lactation expert.

If you’re a mom who’s going to keep nursing, talk to a lactation consultant and start figuring out your pumping schedule. Make sure you’re comfortable with your system before you dive into it. Get your baby used to drinking your milk from a bottle—to make sure she takes it—especially from someone else. And make sure to have the pumping conversation with your boss so she’s best prepared to support you. Your HR department should make it very easy on you and find you somewhere private and dedicated for when you need to pump.

6. Plan everything the night before.

After bedtime is your best friend. Pretend like you’re back in school again: lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, prep breakfast, pack the diaper bag, get organized, etc. This time will be less harried than the morning and will also mean you get more quality time before heading off to work each day when you aren’t running mad with stress.

7. Don’t take work home.

Your boss should understand that you have a brand new family at home. Leave your job when you come home and don’t pick it up again until you arrive the next morning. Life is too short to be missing your already limited family time being glued to projects or emails.

8. Don’t feel guilty.

Work is important to sustain your family. Even if you don’t have to work for the money—maybe your partner makes more than enough to go around—if you’re going back to work because you love your job… that’s important. Either way, you’re setting a wonderful example for your kids.

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10 Traits That Will Kill Your Career

You know the basic rules: don’t lie or cheat or embezzle from the company. But there are a few character flaws and personal patterns or habits that could also seriously hinder your progress—and even kill your career.

Most people don’t even realize they’re doing themselves or their careers harm until it’s far too late. And most careers aren’t impacted by one big mistake or one cringeworthy comment. It happens little by little, in ways you might not expect. So keep an eye out for these subtle traits and traps that could already be bringing you down.

1. Narcissism

If you’re just thinking about yourself and how you can succeed, that’s self-absorption in the highest. You’ll go farther in your career if you consider how to help the company get ahead—and the company is made of people. It’s not all about you. Focus on being a better team player. In a rising tide, all boats rise.

2. Dishonesty

It doesn’t have to be one big whopper to count as lying. In fact, it’s often the smaller fibs around the edges that create a pattern making for a person a boss would likely write off as “dishonest.” Cultivate honesty as a virtue and a character trait. Be tactful, but not obsequious. Have the courage to accept responsibility when things are your fault. And keep your mouth shut—don’t spread rumors about your coworkers or friends.

3. Making False Promises

You either over-promise or under-deliver, but either way, you’re falling short of expectations and failing to do what you said you’d accomplish. Set reasonable, achievable goals for yourself. Make promises only that you’re certain you can keep. That way, if you get more done faster, you can give your boss a pleasant surprise instead of having to underperform.

4. Complacency

Otherwise known as: laziness. When was the last time you learned a new skill or took a refresher or other training course? When was the last time you certified yourself in something new? Or really dug into industry research to keep yourself on the cutting edge? If you don’t grow, you won’t be challenged and you won’t change. And you’ll never get ahead.

5. Pessimism

Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. If you find yourself focusing more on the negative side of everything, don’t be surprised when no one wants to work with you—and your boss doesn’t particularly want to see you succeed.

6. Apathy

Even worse than being negative or pessimistic is being apathetic. If you can’t bring yourself to care one way or the other, how can you expect anyone to trust you or want to work with you? Even if you hate your job, give it your best and move on. Otherwise you’ll be stuck, you’ll get a bad reputation, and you’ll never get ahead.

7. Fear of change

Keep your eye on the prize, the big picture. Weigh your daily and monthly priorities against your long-term goals. And don’t be afraid of changes in your company or industry. Learn to be adaptable. Roll with the tides. Don’t ever hear yourself saying, “But we’ve always done it this way.” Learn to grow and adapt as things progress—and keep your biggest dreams in the back of your mind at all times. Be flexible. Embrace the ever-changing nature of the working world.

8. Ego

You get a little success, it goes to your head, and all of a sudden you’re the star of every show. You’re arrogant. Full of yourself. Cocky. You’re doing nothing but setting yourself up for a rather painful failure.

9. Insecurity

Whether this manifests as meekness, arrogance, envy, pessimism, oversensitivity… it doesn’t matter. Do what you have to do to be more confident in your own abilities and career position. Go to therapy. This trait makes a negative impact across all areas of your life—not just your job. And it’s not a good enough excuse for the behavior it tends to cause.

10. Sucking up

Nobody likes a brown-noser. You’re not showing real respect or building a relationship; you’re a big phony going about things the underhanded way. Earn your boss’s respect the honest way. Prove your merit. Help your team. Show don’t tell.

Once you’ve got all of this down, the next step is to make sure you don’t let any of your biases impact your decisions. In order to effectively develop your career, it’s important to admit you have biases and learn to correct them. The more objective you are, the better your decisions will be.

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How To Save Your Job When You’re About To Get Fired

Your performance review wasn’t good. Or maybe you just smell the blood in the water. You’ve got a bad feeling that you—or even your job—is on the chopping block. Rather than just hang your head, admit defeat, and start your job search anew, why not try a few of the following steps to save your job? At least then you can say you gave it your best shot.

1. Stop slacking.

If you’ve built a reputation for being lazy, it’s never too late to turn it all around. It will be hard to shake off, but with a bit of work, not impossible! Figure out why you haven’t been giving it your all at work. Eliminate your biggest distractions, like your phone or social media accounts or even particularly chatty coworkers. Identify the projects that you can drum up passion for and then devote yourself to getting stuff done and start delivering real results.

2. Take responsibility.

Did you miss a deadline? Fail to deliver an important project? You can’t go back in time and undo this, but you can assume full accountability for what happened. Don’t blame anyone but yourself and see how you can fix the problem. Then fix it—fast.

3. Handle disgruntled clients.

You said something to a client and now they’re threatening to walk. Figure out—by asking coworkers and team members what went wrong and whether you were inappropriate or out of line—then figure out if the situation is fixable. If you weren’t at fault, approach your boss with the full picture. Be honest and provided you didn’t do anything outrageous, your boss should back you up.

4. Stop gossiping.

You’ve been outed as an office gossip—whether for a one time whopper offense, or a routine habit. You’ve probably got a very narrow window to prove yourself worthy of keeping on. Let your boss know you understand the severity of your behavior and the consequences and insist upon turning over a new leaf. Apologize to any injured parties and behave yourself more professionally in future.

5. Have a heart to heart.

It’s not out of line to have a sit-down with your boss and have an honest conversation—especially if you two have been out of touch or out of sync. Ask about the communication lapse. Ask whether there is anything you’re not doing or delivering that you could focus on improving. Reiterate your passion and commitment to the position and make it clear you’ll do whatever it takes to stay on board.

6. Make a performance improvement plan.

Say your performance has been lackluster, and your boss confirms that you’re not in the best of standing. Sit down and come up with a plan with clear indicators of renewed success. Then set about systematically meeting every goal on your plan tick by tick. Get yourself out of your slump as soon as you can. It will be much easier with clear guidelines. And don’t be afraid to ask for coaching and/or feedback.

7. Go the extra mile.

With everything. Make yourself an expert in a new software. Make a positive and lasting contribution—the bigger the better. Have a stellar attitude at all times. Help out your team and coworkers. Anticipate your boss’s needs. Show your value to the company and your strengths as a team player and you’ll be in much better shape.

The crucial thing is to make sure you’re taking steps to bulk up your career and making changes—and lasting ones. Slapping a temporary band-aid on the situation will not save your job. Overhauling your work ethic and performance, however, just might do the trick!

 

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Being Lazy Means You’re Intelligent—According to Science

According to a new study, brainy people tend to spend more time being chill than their less-intelligent, but more active counterparts—mostly because they have a higher IQ, get bored less and are thus more likely to be comfortable getting lost in thought. Active people, on the other hand, need constant activity to keep themselves stimulated, as they are more easily bored.

Florida Gulf University gave a test to a group of students, asking them to rate how strongly they agreed with statements about engagement with tasks and problems, and from this, were able to select 30 “thinkers” and 30 “non-thinkers” from their pool.

The 60 subjects then wore a movement/activity tracking device on their wrists for the next week, giving researchers a constant stream of data about their physical habits. Their findings, described as “highly significant” and “robust” in statistical terms, showed that the “thinkers” were far less active during the week than their “non-thinker” counterparts. The weekends, strangely, were about the same.

It may actually be beneficial, then, to spend an extra hour or two in bed thinking through tasks and schedules, revisiting and reimagining your goals. Your daydreaming might be twice as generative as a non-thinker’s doing.

There’s a danger, of course, to less active people—no matter how brainy—and that is the danger of the sedentary lifestyle. So if you think you might be a “thinker,” and relishing those quiet moments lost in thought, you might also want to make a point of exercising enough. Just to make sure you stay healthy and nourish your body—not just your brain.

In addition to this, you should also consider finding a job that is compatible with your personality. The sooner you find a job that you enjoy, the happier you will be, regardless of how intelligent or lazy you are.

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