Career Advice

Below, find some of our recent career advice stories. Have a question for Kat? Check out the Contact page.

When Is a Lower Salary Worth It — And What Will You Put Up With For a Higher Salary?

When Is a Lower Salary Worth ItHere’s a fun question for today: when, if ever, would you take a job with a lower salary — when is a lower salary worth it to you, and to what extent? Put another way: what are you willing to put up with for higher pay? If a job paid 20% more but demanded nights and weekends regularly whereas your current job didn’t, would you make the switch? (What if there was room for advancement? What if the commute was better, or you were working with a good friend?) On the flip side — if a job paid 20% less but promised a 9-5 existence (with face time requirements) — would you take it? What if the new job was at a nonprofit or had another component of you doing “good” in the world, whereas your current job felt soulless — how much is the “doing good” component worth it to you?

(Do you believe in the idea that there’s a perfect salary for happiness, either in general or for you specifically? If a job paid $75,000 — the supposedly perfect salary — and it gave you more control over work-life balance than you have right now, would you run to take the job — or hesitate? Why?)

Psst: We’ve talked in the past about the person who took a flexible job even though she was overqualified for the job, how some of the worst career advice we’ve ever heard was along the lines of “follow your passion,” how much your career affects your happiness, and when to quit your career.

Pictured at top: Shutterstock / By Syda Productions.

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How to Deal with Not Making Partner: Reader Advice

how to deal with not making partnerReaders who have been there: What’s your advice to other attorneys on how to deal with not making partner? Reader E recently asked:

I was wondering if you could do a post on not making partner. I’m a sixth year at a large firm, and while I’m not being pushed out the door, my understanding is that partnership is not in the cards, either. On the one hand, this is okay. I never really wanted to make partner, and I can’t say I’m passionate about my job. On the other, ouch! I’ve seen posts about this in the comments, and I thought it might be nice to round them up in one place.

Great idea, Reader E. We haven’t devoted a post to the situation of not making partner, so let’s talk about it today. Here’s one way to look at a situation like this: When this happens to you, you may feel like you’re hanging by a thread — without anyone out there ready to catch you — but really, it can be the beginning of a great new adventure (and in fact it’s part of the adventure … just not the one you had anticipated or hoped for). As one Corporette reader once wrote in response to a young attorney who was worried about her low hours, “The firm that didn’t like me just wasn’t a good personality fit for me. At the time it was really demoralizing, but being pushed out of that firm was the best thing for my career because I found my wheelhouse at the next place.”

We’ve searched our comment threads and have found a good number of discussions about not making partner, deciding whether you even want to be partner, feeling like you’re getting pushed out at your firm, and regretting related career decisions you’ve made (or currently making decisions that may affect your chances to make partner). Do you remember, or have you bookmarked, other helpful comment threads along these lines? If this has happened to you, what advice did you receive from friends and colleagues on how to deal with not making partner? 

Here are some of the best reader discussions and advice:

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How to Deal with Extreme Coworkers

how to deal with extreme coworkersReaders, what’s your best advice for how to deal with extreme coworkers? We’ve talked about what to do when your boss has it out for you, as well as difficult coworkers who throw temper tantrums, but not in a while — so I asked lawyer/journalist Rebecca Berfanger to offer some advice… – Kat

Have you ever had a coworker or a supervisor who took things to the extreme at work? Maybe she screamed often or threw things, maybe she bragged about how she gave up sleep in order to put in longer hours, maybe she worked every holiday and weekend, or maybe she never took any breaks, not even to leave her desk or eat? Maybe she survived only on lattes? Did this coworker or boss expect you to be equally extreme in order to prove your loyalty to your job or clients? Was it actually an expectation of all coworkers — or just this one?

We’ve talked about difficult coworkers before, but this is more about those who know they are acting extreme and expect you to put up with them, or they believe that to be successful, you must behave in a similar way. If you’ve never had to work with an extreme person at work, consider yourself lucky. Studies have shown that a toxic work environment can cause extreme stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

So how can you deal with extreme coworkers?

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How to Delegate to Subordinates

What are your best tips for a new mid-level manager for how to delegate to subordinates, readers? We’ve had a lot of conversations about how to be a boss, whether you should aim to be liked or respected as a boss, how to delegate work to your assistant, and we’ve also rounded up general reading for leadership resources for women — but it’s been a while. So let’s discuss how to delegate to subordinates. Here’s Reader C’s question:

I have a request that I don’t think has been directly addressed in a post. I’m a mid-level Big Law associate, and I was wondering if you (and the hive) had some general advice for adjusting to the newer role of delegating to junior associates. I’m more friendly and generally willing to walk newbies through concepts, but I think I end up getting taken advantage of and not as respected as the more standoffish associates. How do I strike a balance?

Great question. A few easy tips for how to delegate to subordinates:

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How to Keep Track of Work To-Dos

how to keep track of work to-dosHow do you keep track of different task items at work, readers? What are your best tips for how to keep track of work to-dos? Reader E wonders…

I would love a post on how people keep track of work to-dos. Do people write down their assignments on their calendars, keep a paper to do list? Some other system?

Great question, E! We’ve talked about different tools for time management, how to organize your office, as well as how to choose a great planner, and how to find a system like Getting Things Done, but I don’t think we’ve talked about how to keep track of different work to-dos. My own system is kind of simple (she said, preparing multiple bullet points) — OK, it’s not terribly simple, but it KIND of works for me. I could definitely improve, though, so I’m curious to hear what works for you guys!

Here’s the best ways I’ve found to keep track of work to-dos (and to-dos in general):

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What to Wear to a Business Cocktail Party

what to wear to a business cocktail party2017 Update: We still stand by our advice on what to wear to a business cocktail party, but you may also want to check out The Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women.

Reader C wrote in with an interesting question about what to wear to a business cocktail party, and it has definitely been ages since we talked about business cocktail party attire! Here’s her question:

I am due to start on a graduate programme for a large energy multinational. I have a 3 day induction in London, and I am informed that on two of the evenings there will be dinner and cocktails.

What should I wear? Scared of going over the top, but also don’t want to play it safe with jeans and a ‘nice top’.

Interesting! We sort of talked about this years ago when we answered a reader question about what to wear to an interview dinner, but that was a bit different because she was meeting them for dinner, not working all day and then going to dinner. Similarly, we’ve discussed the best networking dinner attire, as well as what to wear to a dinner reception and interview — but it’s been a while.

Here’s my thing: if you’re going straight from the induction activities to dinner, then you should wear basically the same thing you wore all day, unless you’re told specifically to wear something else. Take some time to freshen up your makeup to go from desk to dinner, and perhaps reconsider a portion of your outfit (remove the blazer, switch to different shoes for standing-around purposes, add a cocktail ring so it’s an easy conversation starter while holding your drink, etc). Ultimately I think people will remember your energy and attitude at these things far more than your outfit — so do what you have to do to look awake and alive and feel fresh enough to meet a zillion new people and express excitement for working on their projects. (For me this becomes a mix of “put on Touche Éclat and a highlighter like Haloscope or High Beam while listening to a crazy upbeat, silly song like Rock Me Amadeus” — but for you this may look different. Some of my favorite makeup products for faking a good night’s sleep may be helpful here.)

Readers, what’s your advice — what would you wear to a business cocktail party under these circumstances? In general, do you ever think the kinds of things stylists in movies come up with (such as bustiers under blazers or other outlandish ideas) have a place in the real world? what to wear to a business cocktail party during orientation

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