Career Advice Through A Psychological Lens

A new book uses cognitive science to shed light on how to get a job, excel in the workplace and earn a promotion.

By Laura Rice & Hayden BaggettJune 28, 2019 1:44 pm

If you’re in the working world right now, you’re probably in one of the following three positions: you’re looking for a new job, you want to be better rewarded for your job or you want a promotion.

Though there’s no shortage of advice about how to achieve these goals, the solution could be as simple as using your brain.

Art Markman is a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, and cohost of the podcast Two Guys on Your Head. Markman recently published “Bring Your Brain to Work” a book that pairs career advice with cognitive science.

On the cognitive brain:

The cognitive brain is the brain you use to think. It’s got your concepts and it’s got your abilities. Without the ability to understand the way the world works, it’s very hard to get work done effectively or even to find the job that’s right for you.

On being forthright with negotiations:

If I don’t know what the other party wants, it’s hard for me to negotiate with them. For example, we anchor on numbers in the environment. If I can provide a number of what it is I’d like to be paid, often that provides an anchor for the other person… that might allow me to dictate some of the terms.

On researching for the right job:

There’s lots of great employment websites out there that will give you a sense of what employers are willing to pay. Call up anyone you know who has worked with this group or worked with similar groups to really get a feel for what kind of salary ranges are out there.

On when to switch jobs:

To the extent you’re really building your career, you want to keep a growth pattern so you don’t feel like you’re just staying in place. The other thing that’s really important is to begin to look at your values… Is your job allowing you to express that value? If not, maybe you should be reorienting what you’re doing to fit with those values.