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July 20, 2017 / Molly Moseley

How Google and BBC can fix gender pay

The gender pay gap is a major problem in the United States. Even companies with a progressive reputation have come under scrutiny recently.

Last Friday, San Francisco Judge Steven Berlin issued a ruling that Google must provide contact information for up to 8,000 employees so the Labor Department can investigate if women and men are paid fairly for equal work. The tech behemoth denies allegations there are salary disparities between genders. When the investigators explore the data, will the numbers match the claims?

Full-time working women continue to earn less than men nationwide — an estimated 79 cents for every dollar a man earns when working full time. This problem isn’t unique to the U.S.; cross the pond and problems persist. Just look at the recently released info from the BBC about how much it pays entertainment stars and top journalists. As CNN reports, “The data, which was being published for the first time, betrayed an embarrassing fact: It’s paying its female stars a lot less.”

There’s clearly a problem, and some state governments have taken steps to promote pay equality from the get-go. In 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation that made it illegal for employers to inquire about applicants’ salaries prior to making a job offer. In May of this year, New York City did the same, prohibiting city employers from inquiring about salary history. That bill will take effect Oct. 31, 2017.

Pay equality is the main motivation for both these laws. The NYC legislation states, “When employers rely on salary histories to determine compensation, they perpetuate the gender wage gap. Adopting measures like this bill can reduce the likelihood that women will be prejudiced by prior salary levels and help break the cycle of gender pay inequity.”

This is a great step in closing the pay gap, but companies need to do so much more to continue the forward momentum. It’s a complex issue and certainly not a problem that will be solved overnight. But we can’t live in denial that it exists, and companies must take clear action in order to identify problems and overcome them.

Many employers are blissfully unaware they’re guilty of gender pay discrimination. That can come back to bite them. First, HR and finance should work together to look at what employees are paid and to make sure numbers are balanced. Ideally, a pay audit like this should be done annually.

Next, for SMBs, it can be difficult to do apples-to-apples comparisons internally. External numbers can really lend insight into the local marketplace. Conduct analysis based on gender, job title, experience and responsibilities to see how your employees are being paid compared to others in the area. Consider subscribing to compensation software from companies like PayScale to ensure you get accurate data.

Finally, take steps for the future. Adjust discrepancies you discover and make fair offers during hiring negotiations. For current employees, ensure women have equal opportunity for advancement. Finally, keep an open-door policy. If an employee wants to discuss pay and other opportunities, make it a priority to have a thoughtful conversation. Addressing concerns head-on and taking action makes a huge difference.

July 17, 2017 / Meg McCormick

University of Washington uses LinkUp data in landmark study

The United States health care system is transforming in radical ways. As the industry evolves, job demands evolve with it. Many parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of trained health care professionals. This problem is escalated by the growing needs of the aging baby boomer population.

The University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies set out to understand more about the skills employers are currently expecting of hires. By learning more about the most in-demand skills, the industry can take steps to ensure a steady pipeline of properly trained professionals.

To get this information, a massive amount of clean data must be analyzed. Several administrative and survey data sources such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) are available, but they have limitations. National surveys such as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also have flaws.

That’s why the University of Washington looked to LinkUp for help. What most people don’t realize is LinkUp is more than just a job search engine. Because of the company’s no-nonsense approach to job listings, they have access to incredibly accurate data that is highly valuable to researchers.

LinkUp data was exclusively utilized for the now published study, “The Value of Real Time Labor Market Information for Monitoring Health Workforce Demand: A Case Study Examining Employer Demand for Health Information Technology Skills.”

The study notes: “We obtained a dataset of online job ads from the job search engine company ‘LinkUp’ for the mutually agreed upon purpose of this study. LinkUp extracts information from company and government websites only (i.e., it does not search job aggregation websites), and claims to have one of the best de-duplication algorithms in the industry. For 2016, each day of data contains approximately 3 million active jobs from 50,000 employers across many industries.”

The University of Washington chose to partner with LinkUp because the jobs sourced are exclusively from employer websites, which eliminates job pollution like lead gen bait, fraudulent listings, duplicate listings and work-at-home scams. Translation: Clean data from more than 30,000 companies representing every industry, region and job type allows researchers to come up with accurate, meaningful conclusions.

Beyond educational institutions, this data is useful to government entities, academic organizations and top research firms who want to explore topics and discover new findings. LinkUp’s 3.75 million unique active job openings and a historical archive of 90 million unique jobs going back to 2007 provide unparalleled depth, breadth and quality of data for organizations focused on workforce development, public policy, training and education, curriculum development and labor market trends.

To learn more about how we can partner to make your study a success, send us an email.

June 28, 2017 / Toby Dayton

Pace of Job Gains Showing More Hints of Running Out of Gas (Assuming Trump Doesn’t Drive It Off A Cliff First)

For good reason, there is a great deal of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the job market these days. Earlier this month, the Fed surprised almost no one by raising interest rates in part because of the strength of the nation’s labor market. But while the Fed’s decision itself was virtually a foregone conclusion, the debate about the rationale behind the decision is anything but settled.

Leaving aside for a moment the state of the overall economy, the markets, and other potential factors, there are a number of irrefutable facts to point to for those in favor of the rate hike. Unemployment stands at 4.3%, labor demand throughout much of the economy continues to clearly exceed supply across most of the country, and the U.S. economy has now recorded monthly job gains for 80 consecutive months.

 

80 months of net job gains (May 2017)

 

But on the other side of the argument lie a handful of equally irrefutable facts. The labor force participation rate and the employment population ratio are essentially at record lows, indicating ample slack in the labor market, and growth in wages remains stuck at rates below what one would expect given the continued strength of the labor market.

And it is this last fact, the persistent lack of significant wage inflation, that seems to be fueling the most inflamed debate. While we’ve argued that we’ve been in a full employment environment for roughly a year due to the large and growing imbalance between labor demand and supply, wage growth remains stubbornly and inexplicably anemic. For certain, given the epic level of income inequality and its catastrophic impact on lives, there is a more-than-reasonable argument to be made, at least as far as wages are concerned, that the Fed should keep rates low.

Unfortunately, the uncertainty surrounding the job market is only going to grow as more hints emerge that the best days of job growth may be behind us. While monthly job gains should be expected to decline year-over-year as the current economic cycle extends further and further, it is also the case that at some point, declining job growth indicates a turning tide. Since the peak of average monthly job gains of 258,000 in 2014, average monthly job gains in 2017 have dropped to 162,000 through May.

 

Average monthly net job gains 2010 - May 2017

 

Perhaps more notably, the Fed’s recent Beige Book indicated that the business outlook softened just ever so slightly for the period ending May 22nd. Also of note, JOLTS data from April showed that quits fell by 111,000 to 3.03 million, a signal that confidence in finding a new, better paying job might be waning. And lastly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has revised downward their monthly Non-Farm Payroll data for each of the past 7 months.

 

BLS revisions 8 months through May 2017

 

To be sure, these ever-so-faint hints of potential trouble on the horizon could turn out to be meaningless, but perhaps just a bit more substantive is the fact that new job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine have dropped in both April and May.

 

LinkUp June NFP Forecast

 

Again, it’s tough to sound the alarms too loudly at this point given that new job openings declined in 7 of 12 months last year and on 2 occasions for 3 consecutive months. But weak job gains last month also came in below consensus estimates, surprising most on Wall Street (except a few of us at the low end of the forecast range).

 

NFP_2017.06.02

 

And based on the decline in May’s jobs data from LinkUp, we are forecasting another disappointing jobs report for June with a net job gain of just 115,000 jobs. Our June jobs data, which we’ll publish next week following the end of the month, should provide some hint at what we can expect for July’s Non-Farm Payroll numbers.

But regardless of whether or not the current bull market in job growth might be running out of gas, there is no doubt whatsoever that the President is doing everything in his power to drive the nation’s job-creation engine straight off a cliff. There are way too many examples to list them all, but a few highlights include the horrendous decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord which both accelerates the destruction of the planet AND crushes American global competitiveness and the related job growth, abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump’s policies couldn’t possibly be any more counter-productive to job growth, and to add insult to injury, he’s already lying about his jobs record.

As a June 13th Times editorial states, by trying to reduce taxes for the wealthiest by repealing healthcare for 23 million people, gutting Wall Street reforms enacted following the Great recession, and neglecting to focus on any meaningful infrastructure legislation, “The prospect of good jobs at good pay has faded of late, and the government is only threatening to make things worse.”

And then there are the minor absurdities such as Trump’s incessant yet non-sensical focus on the coal industry and Scott Pruitt’s equally brazen lies about how many coal jobs Trump has created since January. As good as David Plotz’s rant about coal jobs was on the Political Gabfest, John Oliver’s annihilation is even better. (By the way, the top 5 states generating power from wind – ND, SD, IA, KS, OK – are all red states). And I’ll just pretend for a minute that a rebuttal is even necessary by suggesting a more suitable industry for Trump to focus on: the 16 million workers struggling in the retail sector.

Trump’s order for a ‘national security’ review of steel imports for the sole purpose of justifying a steel tariff stands as yet another mockery. As a WSJ editorial points out, there are 16 times more workers in steel-consuming industries as there are in the steel industry, and when George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs in 2002, U.S. businesses lost 200,000 jobs, more than were employed in the entire steel industry at the time (187,500), resulting in $4 billion in lost wages. That same editorial concludes, “The case against steel tariffs is so overwhelming that it’s hard to believe even Mr. Ross can find a way to justify it. The motivation could only be to assist the politically clamorous owners of a handful of steel companies that would exploit government favoritism to raise prices. The losers would be millions of the so-called forgotten men and women the President vowed to help during his campaign.”

And on and on and on…..

The outlook for the nation under Trump/Ryan/McConnell leadership is so dire that the IMF just issued a blistering report more typical of what one might expect for an emerging market economy, complete with downgraded growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018. Coming from an organization run by one of the most brilliant economists in the world, that’s as good a sign as any of what a horror show we’re in the midst of.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 10.29.03 PM

 

Recommended Reading

Carrier Jobs Trump vowed to save are moving to Mexico

Seattle’s minimum wage is not having the negative impact critics said it would

• Friedman on Trump, China, and trade

What works

Genesys Works – helping disadvantaged youth with mentoring and internships

 

 

 

 

June 28, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Morale-boosting benefits that cost little to nothing

shutterstock_283873355A two-for-one — Happy Fourth of July! Many employees are overjoyed that not only are they getting Independence Day off next week, but also the day before. Because the Fourth falls on a Tuesday, many companies with traditional office hours are opting to close Monday as well.

Of course, days off vary by industry, but standard 8-5 organizations are often flooded with PTO requests for days prior or days after a holiday. In this case, with the eve falling on the first day of the week, it’s easier for many companies to just stay closed. Business is likely to be slow and crews will be sparse, plus what a morale booster it is for employees to get a four-day weekend!

July 3 is the perfect slot for a company floating holiday, which got me thinking about other benefits that aren’t incredibly difficult or expensive for companies to implement, yet have a dramatic effect on employee satisfaction and retention. The types of things that really help out employees but aren’t so extravagant that SMBs can’t afford to implement them.

A nice perk here at LinkUp is summer hours. We get off at 3 p.m. on Fridays, and I can guarantee that no work is lost by closing a few hours early. Employees are trusted to get their job done and meet deadlines, which they work ahead to do because leaving a little early to enjoy a bit of extra sunshine is absolutely worth it. Morale soars, employees work hard and it costs the company nothing.

Plus, so many employees take off Fridays to enjoy long weekends. In reality, with summer Fridays, fewer people may take Friday PTO because they know that even though it’s just two hours, that’s enough time to help them get out of town a little early for long weekends at the lake (we are in Minnesota and there are nearly 12,000 to explore).

How much would it cost for your company to do summer hours? If it won’t have a dramatic effect on business, it’s an incentive worth considering.

Flexibility is another highly sought-after benefit by today’s professional that often costs little to employers. Allow employees to shift their hours within reason to meet their personal needs, or if possible, consider allowing telecommuting a few days a week. This is a huge help for employees who want to miss rush hour, explore hobbies and attend family events.

Fitness-related benefits are also easy to implement and typically cost-effective. Bring in a yoga teacher over the lunch hour and reach out to your health insurance provider to get info on health-club reimbursements. Start a walking club and reward employees who meet certain goals. Options are virtually endless and can fit any budget.

One final perk gaining momentum is company-sponsored PTO for volunteering. Obviously this costs the company a day’s salary for the person who is out, but the payback is worth it. Not only are you allowing employees to go out and make a difference in the community, you’re enhancing your brand by showing the organization cares. This feel-good benefit is a wonderful addition for current employees and a nice mention when recruiting. In fact, our company took a day off to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity just this week for the 15th consecutive year.

What other low-cost benefits at your company have positively impacted workers?

June 21, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Requiring a college degree is BS

CC Image by COD Newsroom, Flickr

Is a college degree the new high school diploma? As most hiring managers can attest, the answer is yes.

Many entry-level jobs require a college education just to be considered as a candidate. Need an Associate of Science degree for data entry? Yep. A Bachelor of Arts degree for basic child care? Sure. A Bachelor of Science degree to be a file clerk? Yes — and that’s a lot of B.S.

Company leaders across the United States are hollering that it’s tough to find qualified workers to fill jobs, but perhaps those qualified workers are already there; they just don’t happen to measure up to the lofty degree requirements on the job post. It’s time to consider a shift in perspective.

President Trump’s workforce initiative that launched last week brings this topic center stage. Essentially it encourages apprenticeships, technical training and on-the-job training in lieu of companies defaulting to requiring college degrees. Ivanka Trump, who will lead the initiative, said, “There is a viable path other than a four-year college experience.”

Not all work requires a college degree, so why do so many companies require them? It wasn’t always this way. Bloomberg Businessweek explains, “When the job market was flooded with desperate applicants, many employers required college degrees for entry-level jobs. There was a certain cruel logic to it: Hey, might as well get the best.”

However, those standards didn’t fall when job markets tightened. Once HR up-credentials a position, requirements rarely get relaxed. “That could explain why 43 percent [of employers] say finding enough candidates is a top challenge in filling entry-level jobs,” the article notes.

Equally concerning is the $1.3 trillion in student loans in the U.S. The average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt. That graduate must now vie for an entry-level job with a minimal salary or stay unemployed. They might not even work in the field of their degree! In fact, only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major.

I believe we are at the tipping point and soon will experience a renaissance in higher education. People are sick of being stuck with loads of debt for degrees they don’t use and therefore are seeking alternatives. This goes beyond job training and technical schools. People are using MOOCs (massive open online courses) providers like edX or Coursera. They are signing up for certification through trade organizations like the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. They are considering corporate training through companies like IBM.

Educational organizations are starting to break the traditional college mold, too. MissionU is one such example. Launched in March, this 12-month college alternative offers a major in Data Analytics + Business Intelligence. The goal is to get people trained so they have the in-demand skills to get into the job market quickly. What makes it even more unique is there’s no tuition. Graduates pay 15 percent of their income for three years once they hit a salary of $50,000.

For employers and HR professionals, these trends are certainly something to note. It’s important to start looking beyond colleges and explore alternative training programs and vocational education in order to find quality candidates. If your applicant tracking system is eliminating candidates just because they don’t have a token 4-year degree, change it and see what happens. Most important, consider skill, experience and potential, not just the degree and name of their alma mater.

 

June 13, 2017 / Stephanie Anderson

The pain of changing your name in the workplace

shutterstock_384188605First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a long line at the Social Security office in order to change your name … if you choose to do so.

New York Times’ data blog, The Upshot, reports women are keeping their maiden names more often than they used to. While adopting a spouse’s name was more common in the 1980s and 1990s, recent years show roughly 20 percent of married women are keeping their last names.

What’s more, there seems to be a rising trend of men taking their female partner’s name. The Huffington Post article “I Got Married And Took My Wife’s Last Name. Here’s Why” lends some insight into why a man would consider this nontraditional move.

Feminism? Yes, part of it was to support equality between him and his wife, but that wasn’t the only reason. The change was also in line with his desire to have one singular family name (The Brobergs), plus he liked that it sounded more Jewish, which is his heritage.

After reading the article, I started to think more about the implications of a name change. Changing your name is a nightmare, especially at work. You’ll visit HR to fill out necessary paperwork. You need to update your email, voicemail, business cards, etc. You’ll have to introduce yourself to clients and contacts again, explaining your new name. It’s all time-consuming and often frustrating.

Of course, a name change is more than just logistics. If you’re already established in your career, your reputation is closely connected to your name. Changing it can really challenge your reputation management. Your name is your own personal brand, and just like you’d never see Coke considering a name change, it’s not something many professionals are willing to do, either.

This ties closely to the trend that Americans are staying single longer. The average age for Americans getting married is estimated at 27 for women and 29 for men. That is plenty of time to attend college, get a job and start making a name for yourself. When it’s time to get married, a traditional name change may not make sense.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to change your name is between two partners and there are countless ways to approach the decision. Some couples both keep their names, others hyphen or blend their two names together into a totally new surname. Some keep separate names for their personal and professional lives, and still others come up with new options, much like my husband and I did.

When I got married, my husband took my maiden name as his middle name. It was completely his idea. However, he quickly learned the pain of a name change and actually faced additional challenges that can come from bucking tradition.

When I updated my name, I only needed our marriage certificate. For him to update his name, he was told he needed a court order. Apparently that DMV worker had never had a man change his name in marriage before! After a few phone calls to a judge and lawyers with the state of Virginia, he was finally able to make the change. Today I love both our names and the path we chose.

Did you change your name when you got married? How did it affect different aspects of your life and career?

June 1, 2017 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp’s May Jobs Data Points To Slowing Job Market

For the 2nd month in a row, new job openings on LinkUp declined from the previous month and total jobs were essentially flat, pointing to a job market that might be starting to slow down to some degree. Based on April’s jobs data from LinkUp, we are forecasting a net gain of just 160,000 jobs for tomorrow’s non-farm payroll (NFP) report from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of labor Statistics.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 4.12.04 PM

 

And based on LinkUp’s May data, our preliminary forecast for June’s NFP report is a net gain of just 110,000. We will revise that forecast after the BLS releases its jobs report for May tomorrow morning, but whatever May’s number turns out to be, we are projecting that June’s non-farm payroll number will be lower by roughly 50,000 jobs.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 4.23.05 PM

 

Additionally, LinkUp’s Job Duration report indicates that employers are facing continued difficulty in filling jobs quickly in today’s full-employment environment where applicants are hard to come by. Although May’s Job Duration dropped slightly from last month, it is still taking employers an average of 53 days to fill open positions.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 4.57.24 PM

 

So based on the past few months of LinkUp data, combined with what the current administration did even just today with the Paris climate agreement (not to mention what he has done virtually every day since he took office) to absolutely destroy job growth in the future, it’s pretty safe to say that the best days of the post-Great Recession recovery will soon be viewed in the rearview mirror.

May 30, 2017 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting NFP of 160,000 Jobs For May

With the 1st of the month falling on the Thursday before ‘Jobs Friday,’ we will be posting our non-farm payroll (NFP) forecast and jobs report for May in two parts this week. This shortened first post will include just the NFP forecast for May because we only use job openings data from the previous month to forecast job growth the following month (given the fact that job openings in a given month are highly correlated to job gains in the following month when employers, for the most part, fill those positions with new hires).

As we reported last month, new job openings on LinkUp in April declined 5% and total job openings were flat for the month.

 

Jobs By State April 2017

 

With a 50/50 blended decline of 2.4% in April, we are forecasting net gains of just 160,000 jobs in May.

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 4.42.14 PM

 

 

When we get our data for the full month of May on Thursday, June 1st, we will publish May’s job openings data (which also allows us to make a preliminary forecast for June NFP) as well as our job duration report for May.

 

May 23, 2017 / Molly Moseley

F*&k meetings

shutterstock_485162803You wake up well rested and ready to tackle your day. You open up your work calendar to see what’s on your plate and you see back-to-back meetings the entire day. Will you have time to eat? Screw that, will you even have time to pee? One thing’s for sure: You certainly won’t have time to get any actual work done!

Workplace meetings have gotten out of control. Much like how your adorable kid transformed into a hormone-fueled monster once the teen years hit, meetings have changed from pleasant and productive to downright excruciating. Of course, some gatherings are essential, but American white collar culture has somehow taken the innocent meeting and turned it into a time-inflated money-suck that provides little overall value on the individual or company level.

The statistics are no laughing matter:

  • There are 25 million meetings per day in the United States
  • More than $37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings
  • $338 is the average salary cost per meeting (this skyrockets when high-paid business leaders attend)
  • Approximately 50 percent of meeting time is wasted

Meetings have become so prevalent yet redundant that people no longer take them seriously. Over 70 percent of people bring other work to meetings and 39 percent admit to dozing off. Apparently when you’re at a meeting you are either doing other work or taking a snooze. What you aren’t doing is having a productive meeting.

What can we do to reclaim meetings and make them what they should be? Here are five easy ideas for productive meetings. Really ask yourself if you’re doing these, and if not, try a fresh approach next time.

Consider not having a meeting: That’s right! The first step of productive meetings is to decide if one is really necessary. First define the goal. If a meeting isn’t necessary to achieve that goal, then no need to send out an invite.

Invite only those necessary: Meetings are wasted time when too many or too few people attend. If you need to make a decision, but the manager necessary to give sign-off isn’t there, the meeting is a failure. Likewise, a decision that only requires insight from three people should be attended by three people, not the entire department of 20.

Set an agenda: Create an agenda before the meeting starts. What’s more, email it to attendees or print it out to share at the meeting. That way everyone can stick to the plan and stay on topic.

Table off-topics: Some off-topic discussions are valuable, but just need to be shelved for a different time. If someone gets off topic, consider respectfully turning the conversation back to the agenda and goal at hand, and writing down the ideas to address at a later time.

Follow up the right way: A meeting isn’t over when the time is up. Often there are numerous to-do’s that emerge. You may want to send out a recap and list who’s responsible for next steps. Otherwise you might end up in a follow-up meeting discussing the exact same thing as last time.

Do you have any thoughts on the modern meeting? Please vent your hatred and share your tips for streamlining the meeting mess.

May 17, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Fear: A warning of failure or a sign of approaching success?

Image credit: Jerritt Clark | Getty Images

Image credit: Jerritt Clark | Getty Images

Your palms are sweaty. Your stomach has that light, unsettled feeling. Your mind races eagerly from thought to thought.

Fear is an innate part of the human experience and has been essential to our survival as a species for thousands of years. While fear keeps us from danger, it also can keep us from many other amazing experiences.

Recently I was asked to speak at a community networking event. I was honored to be asked and excited about the opportunity, but fear reared its ugly head. Like it is for many others, public speaking is outside my comfort zone. The thought of addressing a crowd full of people was overwhelming. Would I speak well? Would they learn from me? Could I inspire them?

Doubt sunk in. A flurry of negative thoughts raged through my mind, from stumbling over my words to physically stumbling over the podium. I had a choice: Give into fear and maintain the status quo, or challenge myself and give it my best.

I accepted the offer and decided not to let fear get in my way. To do the best job possible, I knew extensive preparation was essential. I took plenty of time to prepare my points, hone my message and practice out loud. I was nervous, but ready.

Ultimately the presentation went well and I got tons of great feedback. I’m glad I accepted the offer and tried something new. Like many people faced with a career challenge, it’s easy to take the comfortable path. However, when you do this — whether for public speaking, a big promotion or a move across the country — you’ll always wonder about the road less traveled.

The next time fear creeps up, rather than considering it a warning of impending failure, view it as a sign you’re on the right path. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and inventors attest fear isn’t always a warning of the negative; it’s often a signal that you’re on your way to success.

When facing doubt, it’s important to realize fear is not unique to you. Everyone experiences fear, even those you might feel are immune to it. Will Ferrell’s recent commencement speech for the University of Southern California made this point perfectly:

“You’re never not afraid. I’m still afraid. I was afraid to write this speech. And now, I’m just realizing how many people are watching me right now, and it’s scary. Can you please look away while I deliver the rest of the speech?” said Ferrell. “But my fear of failure never approached in magnitude my fear of what if. What if I never tried at all?”

For the graduates about to embark on a brand-new adventure he offers some advice that I think is fitting for just about anyone:

  1. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.
  2. Trust your gut.
  3. Keep throwing darts at the dartboard.
  4. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.

So next time you feel fear holding you back from trying something new — whether in your personal or professional life — I encourage you to push those feelings down and stomp them with your foot. Then be bold and see what happens. Chances are, you’ll succeed, and at the very least, you’ll be glad you tried.