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The Problem With Being Perfect

When the psychologist Jessica Pryor lived near an internationally renowned university, she once saw a student walking into a library holding a sleeping bag and a coffee maker.

She’s heard of grad students spending 12 to 18 hours at a time in the lab. Their schedules are literally meant to be punishing: If they’re scientists-in-training, they won’t allow themselves to watch Netflix until their experiments start generating results. “Relationships become estranged, people stop inviting them to things, which leads them to spend even more time in the lab,” Pryor told me.

Along with other therapists, Pryor, who is now with the Family Institute at Northwestern University, is trying to sound the alarm about a tendency among young adults and college students to strive for perfection in their work—sometimes at any cost. Though it is often portrayed as a positive trait—a clever response to the “greatest weaknesses” question during job interviews, for instance—Pryor and others say extreme perfectionism can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation.

Along with other therapists, Pryor, who is now with the Family Institute at Northwestern University, is trying to sound the alarm about a tendency among young adults and...

Four Traps in Federal Recruiting, and How to Avoid Them

Employers across the country are facing critical skills gaps, and the federal government is no exception.

Missions are evolving quickly and agencies need new talent to keep the nation safe and deliver critical services. We talk a lot about the tech talent gap and the need for more cyber pros and data scientists, but government also has needs in areas like public health and federal law enforcement. Unfortunately, as the need for specialized talent is increasing, the competition from the private sector for hiring that talent is growing fiercer.  

It’s time for a reality check: Talented people have options. These highly sought-after pros are heavily pursued by the private sector. Agencies are typically competing against higher salaries, corporate recruiters with compelling advertising campaigns, and a faster hiring process.  

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the average hiring time for federal personnel is 106 days. This time lag can perpetuate the lack of trust employees have in their HR team’s recruitment capabilities. The most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, released late last week, revealed that just 42 percent of federal employees felt their team had the ability to recruit people with the right skills. In addition, the time...

How HUD Could Help More Families Affected by Natural Disasters

After the winds die down and the flood waters recede, natural disaster survivors begin the long process of putting the pieces of their lives back together. But for low-income homeowners, this period can exacerbate economic vulnerabilities, causing too many survivors to lose their homes amidst the struggle to rebuild. Earlier this year, HUD developed a new “disaster standalone partial claim” program to help homeowners who have mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration avoid foreclosure. However, unnecessary barriers to enrollment and the limited scope of the program place this critical lifeline out of reach for too many families struggling after recent storms and other disasters.

HUD introduced its new program in response to the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires to help borrowers impacted by natural disasters continue to make their mortgage payments and stay in their homes. Through this program, disaster survivors can access an interest-free second mortgage loan to cover up to one year of missed mortgage payments. Borrowers generally repay the loan when they sell the home or refinance, and their initial mortgage terms remain unchanged. For those who can access it, the program can be a life-saver.

For the partial claim option to work, mortgage servicers must be...

In The Future, Companies Won’t Hire Remote Employees. They’ll Hire Remote Teams

In Silicon Valley—the 50-mile peninsula between San Jose and San Francisco—there are both more software engineers than anywhere else in the world and not nearly enough of them to meet the Bay Area’s insatiable needs.

In order to compete for talent, tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Netflix are giving engineers eye-watering compensation packages that make it difficult for smaller companies to hire. They’re paying engineering interns almost twice as much as the average salary for full-time employees nationally. And even with these large salaries, some tech workers are priced out of the Valley’s housing market.

In typical tech-industry fashion, most tech companies believe the cure to this talent shortage is more software.

“There’s a lot of development in the recruiting technology/HR space, but at the end of the day, it’s just finding ways to sift through the same pool of talent,” says Dylan Serota, the co-founder of Terminal, a startup that helps companies open up remote offices.

Unlike typical recruiting services that match companies with talent a la carte, Terminal provides companies with turn-key remote offices. Subscribe to its service, and it will source a team of engineers to potentially hire...

Notifications Are the Enemy of Productivity

Enabling notifications is essentially giving other people permission to schedule blocks of time in your day. Specifically, in 23-minute chunks.

Researchers have found (pdf) that it takes, on average, 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand after a distraction. And notifications are serial offenders. Though originally introduced by Blackberry as a way to keep you off your phone (no need to keep checking email when a simple alert could tell you when a new message had arrived), notifications often have the opposite effect, drawing us deeper into the smartphone vortex.

So why do we still enable notifications?

For most of us, notifications are a hedge against a fear of missing out. A digital nudge seems like a small price to pay to stay informed and avoid FOMO.

At work, the stakes are even higher. It’s one thing to get a notification that you’ve been tagged in a photo on Facebook, and another to find out if you’ve gotten an email from your boss, right?

But whether you’re at work, home, or anywhere else, periodic pings about the recent past can be the enemy of staying in the present.

That’s...