Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Middle Kid Finally Gets His/Her Due


Of course the firstborn is prized for simply being first born. And the baby is always cherished for simply being-the baby.

And where does that middle kid go? The one they call "Hey YOU!"

He or she often becomes the strongest, most resilient, most successful and just plain nicest kid in the family because he or she had to be to get any notice at all.

Not only that, Catherine Salmon, and Katrin Schumann shine a new light on the fascinating character traits of middles in their new book The Secret Power of Middle Children. Their research makes it clear that middle children make great employees and tells what they can teach us about success in the modern workplace.

 Here are some of their findings:
1) In the New Economy, Being a Trailblazer is More Important Than Ever
Did you know that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is a middle child? Middles have the reputation of being wallflowers with lower IQ's than their older siblings, but this sells them short. They are, in fact, more likely to be open to new ideas than firstborns and more apt to plow on through hard times than lastborns. This fosters the desire to try new and different things, which leads to innovation in fields such as science, technology, and business. Consider outside-the-box thinkers-and middles-Bill Gates, or Michael Dell. These trailblazers create innovative workplaces, and encourage job growth. It's no longer about being the smartest person in the room, but about being willing to stick your neck out every now and then.
2) You Need Flexibility and Perseverance to Build a Happy and Durable Career
Studies show that people in their 20's change jobs every 18 months; the days of 30-year long careers at places like Ford Motor Company or Bank of America are long over. Middles are not only more able to go with the flow than other birth orders, but also more willing to persevere and stick to their goals. Why? Because being the "neglected middle" encourages their independence and creative problem solving-invaluable skills in today's changing work world.
3) Emotional intelligence is Critical to Flourishing in the Workplace
Middleborns develop great empathy; in order to get their own way as children, they have to learn to "read" the room, negotiate and compromise. These skills are paramount in the modern workplace of diverse cultures. In this era of information overload, it's not enough to come up with ideas anymore, you have to know how to communicate them and get people behind you. Middles' social savvy and bargaining power make them great team managers.
4) Self-Starters are Far More Successful than Rule-Followers
According to the Kauffman Index, more entrepreneurs launched new businesses in 2009 than at any other time in the past 14 years. In today's market, entrepreneurial energy is the key to a great career. Middles become independent adults because as children they have to search for their niche in a family structure in which they're not sure what their role is. Today at work, unless you have the self-discipline to see things through, know yourself and lead with confidence, you'll have a hard time distinguishing yourself from the pack.
5) Work Involving Care taking is Among the Fastest Growing Segment of the Job Market
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of the top ten new jobs in coming years will involve helping others, such as being a home health care aide or a medical assistant. Because middles have traditionally been overlooked and underestimated, they have a strong desire to help the underdogs, which often leads them to work as justice-seekers or in the non-profit world. If you're looking for a growing field to focus on, take a page from the middle's playbook and turn your attention on how to help others-thereby ultimately helping yourself.




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