Career Advice

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

Dining Etiquette: 10 Things to Know About Business Lunches

dining etiquetteHot on the heels of our discussion about how not to gain weight over the summer recruiting season, we thought we’d round up some of the readers’ top tips on dining etiquette, collected from our last discussion on the topic. Ladies, what is your top tip for dining etiquette? What etiquette mistakes do you see interns and summer associates making that you wish you could correct, and what mistakes did you make? 

  1. Don’t be the odd one out. To prevent awkward situations, e.g., ending up as the only person eating an appetizer while everyone waits for you to finish so they can have their entrees, feel free to ask your colleagues if they’re planning on ordering an app or starting with a main course. If they don’t order drinks, don’t order a drink. And, although it probably goes without saying, don’t make a habit of choosing the most expensive thing on the menu.
  2. Choose wisely. This classic advice is worth sharing: Don’t order something that’s hard to eat and/or likely to be messy.
  3. Avoid appearing “high-maintenance.” When you order, don’t ask too many questions of the server (remember that waitress scene in “When Harry Met Sally“?), and don’t make a zillion modifications to your meal.
  4. Don’t make a big deal about special dietary requirements. Meaning: a few questions or exclusions are fine — a 15 minute interrogation on different menu options isn’t. Check out our posts on eating gluten-free or being the only vegetarian at a business lunch where there’s nothing you can eat for more guidance. If you need to make a game plan, consider calling the restaurant ahead of time with your questions (so that you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining your requirements and ordering your food).

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How Not to Gain Weight Over Summer Recruiting Season

how not to gain weight over summer recruiting seasonSummer recruiting season: always a trying time for those among us trying to maintain our weight (to say nothing of those of us trying to diet)! I still stand by my old advice on how to diet during the recruiting season, but I thought we’d refresh the post with a guest post from a good friend of mine, L, still in the trenches (which is to say, still attending recruiting cocktail parties and ritzy lunches).  Thank you, L! – Kat. Check out more resources for summer associates, here!

When I was a summer associate (in a year I will not name, but it was pre-economy collapse), I gained twelve pounds in about as many weeks.  A quantity of food I had previously called “lunch,” I started calling “an appetizer.”

Now, however, after navigating many more summer programs, I’ve figured out how to strike a good balance between having fun (free food!  free drinks! bonding!) and still managing to maintain a healthy lifestyle – and fit back into my fall clothes when the summer program comes to an end.

For many, recruiting events are a chance to eat at amazing restaurants and try delicious food, and I’m not discouraging you from participating in that experience.  But if you are concerned about gaining weight, then decide each meal whether the calorie splurge will be worth it.  For when it won’t be, here is my advice:

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Difficult Coworkers: Temper Tantrums, Crying, and More

difficult coworkersHow do you deal with difficult coworkers, such as those who are overemotional or throw temper tantrums? Should the strategies for dealing with difficult coworkers differ if it’s a small office versus a big one? Reader M has a great question about dealing with an assistant prone to temper tantrums:

I’ve seen several postings about crying at work, but my question is about how to deal with temper tantrums. I have been at my 9-attorney firm for a year. The partner’s legal assistant also works for me. Several times, she has gotten so frustrated with the printer or other machines that she slams or throw things. Offering to help has not worked. How to respectfully deal with the inappropriate behavior? (This partner is rarely in the office, and the other does not get involved.) Or ignore it?

WOW. I’ve heard a lot about screamers in law firms (and have dealt with a few myself, even ducking a few flying redwelds and binders) but they were always high-level, super valuable employees — and I must say I always thought that was why they were able to get away with such behavior. Specialized knowledge, good relationships with clients, unique insights — but I’ve never heard of a fungible, easily-replaced employee throwing such tantrums and expecting to stay in their job. So I think you have to approach this with the presumption that she is NOT easily replaced, and if you make too many waves about this (as the new hire) then you will be the easier one to replace. A few quick ideas for how to deal:

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How to Wear Pantyhose In the Summer

How to Wear Pantyhose in the SummerWith only a few weeks to go until summer officially begins, it’s a great time to discuss how to wear pantyhose in the summer — because even if your office is freezing, your commute won’t be. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: This is very much a “know your office” situation. If you’re new, assume that pantyhose are required and wear them at least the first day and all significant events to follow after that (big meetings, court appearances, etc.) — change that assumption if you see mid-levels going barelegged at big events.

Big work events aside, though, there are some women who love pantyhose — including many Corporette readers. (In fact, last time we talked about pantyhose in the summertime, readers seemed split on the topic, with only about half of them being on Team Bare Legs!) We also had a debate on underwear with pantyhose — to wear or skip? (One reader said she thought of them “panties with legs” — an interesting take.) If you do wear underwear with them, 100% cotton is best (although increasingly hard to find!), and even those who wear pantyhose sans underwear suggested making sure your stockings have a cotton gusset. By the way, make sure to check out our Guide to Pantyhose for Work, as well as some of our favorite brands of hose!

For those of you whose office dress codes mandate pantyhose year-round, and for those who just like wearing them to work, we’ve gathered a few tips from readers on staying comfortable if you have to wear pantyhose in the summer:

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Wear Makeup, Increase Your Salary?

Wear Makeup, Increase Your Salary?“How a Little Lipstick Could Add Thousands To Your Paycheck” — that’s the title of a recent Fortune article reporting on a new study. Anyone else feeling a little stabby? We thought we’d take a closer look at the research and discuss it here. Some questions to consider at the outset: Do you agree that “good grooming” affects your salary and career success? Do you think there are other correlations at play (e.g., women who make more have more money to spend on grooming, or successful women are more organized to remember to schedule things like regular haircuts and drycleaning)? 

So, the study: Last week, Fortune reported on some research about the effects of looking “put together” at work. Two sociologists found a new way of crunching data from a study that looked at how people’s ratings on attractiveness and grooming compared to their income levels. “Grooming” in this case meant how “put together” they looked, which included makeup for women. Their analysis revealed that for women, “grooming was actually more important than looks when it came to earnings.” Men’s grooming affected their salaries to a lesser extent, while men’s and women’s salaries got the same boost from being considered attractive. The sociologists found that “[A] well-groomed woman of average attractiveness makes about $6,000 more annually than an average-looking, averagely-groomed woman. She also makes about $4,000 more than her better-looking, but less put-together coworker.” Researchers saw this as a positive, concluding, “[t]he big takeaway here is that people can capture most of the attractiveness premium [through putting effort into their appearance]… It’s not just what you’re born with.”

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Summer Reading Fun

books to read this summer working womenIs anyone else excited that summer is almost here? On the off chance anyone has some down time this summer, let’s discuss: which are the best books to read for fun? Which are the thrillers you couldn’t put down — the rom-coms that warmed your heart — the memoirs that made you laugh, cry, think? Which authors do you eagerly follow and read pretty much anything they write, and which best sellers were worth the hype? 

I’m happy to report that I’m reading books again — a few months ago I got a Kindle Paperwhite after hearing readers raving about them, and so I’ve been getting a ton of books out of the library as well as buying old favorites to “keep” on my Kindle. I’m also a fan (particularly for nonfiction or memoirs) of getting audio books out of the library.  Some of my recent reads (and likes):

Fiction I’ve Enjoyed Recently:

  • Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins — Yes, I just got around to this. I didn’t like it as much as I liked Gone Girl, which still sticks with me.  I’ve been trying to clear out my Pocket reading list, and found all these old articles I’d saved about Gone Girl, including an old New Yorker article comparing it to We Need to Talk About Kevin — that book looks like a much heavier subject matter (especially as a mom to two boys) but I may try to get into it.
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette?, by Maria Semple. A few friends and I were going to start a book club and someone chose this one as the first book — we actually never got around to discussing the book, but I read it and enjoyed it a lot.
  • Twenties Girl: A Novel, by Sophie Kinsella.  Kinsella is one of those authors that I’ll read pretty much anything she writes, and I hadn’t read this one yet, so I did.  It wasn’t my favorite book of hers, but it’s a solid, enjoyable book.  (My all time favorite of hers is The Undomestic Goddess — I highly recommend, especially to Corporette readers. I also was surprised by how much I enjoyed I’ve Got Your Number: A Novel.) (Word to the wise, with any Kinsella or other book written by someone who churns out content (Stephen King, Julia Quinn, whatever) — don’t binge read several books at once!)
  • The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.  I mentioned this a few months ago, and it’s a solid, enjoyable book loosely based on Wils/K-Mid’s romance. Here’s a free Kindle preview (first 7 chapters).

Non-Fiction Books I’ve Enjoyed Recentlyish

  • #GirlBoss, by Sophia Amoruso – Yes, yes, I just got around to reading this one — I love that The Washington Post apparently called this “Lean In for Misfits.”  I got the audiobook out from the library and died laughing on a few walks — her story is really inspiring to me.

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