Career Advice

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

How to Buy a Blazer to Keep at the Office

how-to-wear-a-blazer-as-a-separateLadies, what are your best tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office, or otherwise to look for in a blazer you’re buying to wear as a separate? (Does anyone have success with wearing suiting blazers as separates?) I often suggest to readers that they keep a blazer in their office to grab and go if you get an invitation to a meeting at the last minute or otherwise need to look (or feel) Very Professional. As another plus, it can also be a way to stay warm (whether with chilly air conditioning or a cold day), and — depending on the needs of the situation and the blazer you have — I might even grab a blazer with pockets if I were going somewhere and just wanted the use of the pockets.* But how do you know which blazer to keep at your office? We haven’t talked about wearing a blazer as a separate in years, so I thought we’d discuss. (Pictured.) Some of my top tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office include:

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6 Things to Have on Hand When You’re Sick at Work

6 Things to Have on Hand When You're Sick at WorkWe all know we shouldn’t go to work when we’re sick. But whether you’re a presidential candidate or have a more typical career, most of us do it anyway. (Note: Here I’m referring to the average Corporette reader with full-time benefits; the millions of Americans without paid sick leave don’t have much choice about whether to stay home and rest.) Maybe you have a conference or special event to attend, a big scheduled presentation to give, or a meeting to lead, and you just can’t avoid being sick at work. We haven’t talked about tips for going to work while ill in quite a while, so we thought it was time to revisit. (Disclaimer: Of course, please don’t take this post as medical advice.)

In the past we’ve also talked about shaking hands when you’re sick, what to do when you think you’re coming down with a cold and ways to get over a coldhow to deal with many medical appointments, and how to explain an embarrassing illness.

First of all, here’s some information from an actual doctor on determining whether you’re too sick for the office. But if you need to go in no matter what, here are six things that can help you handle being sick at work (besides the age-old advice our mothers have given us since we were kids):

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How to Tell Your Boss You’re Not Her Personal Assistant / Chauffeur

boss-treats-me-like-a-personal-assistantHow do you tell your boss you’re not her personal assistant / chauffeur / secretary — when you are instead a junior associate? Is there a way to have that conversation without burning your bridges? Reader S has a great question:

How do you professionally handle being treated like your supervisor’s secretary or admin–when you are not? I am a junior associate, and the partner that I typically work for frequently asks me to do things like get lunch, make copies, drive her to far away meetings, etc. (Note: the male associate I work with is NEVER asked to do these things). I know that as a junior associate I need to be willing to go the extra mile, but when is enough enough? And how do I let her know without sounding lazy?

Oooof, I’m sorry to hear that, Reader S. (Pictured.) I think you’re probably right that she’s treating you unfairly as a woman — still, as a general caveat, I will note at the outset that there’s a chance that some of this stuff may actually be part of your job, or may be a miscommunication. For example, maybe you heard “make copies,” suggesting to you that you stand over the copier for hours — when really she meant “have copies made,” as in, take the binder to the Duplicating department, fill out the order sheet, and check the 12 binders that come back to you for accuracy and completeness (or supervise the paralegal who does that).  As any lawyer will tell you, legal work is not glamorous and sometimes feels like it has as much to do with formatting as it does actual law. STILL, with that caveat out of the way, it does sound like you’re getting the raw end of the deal.  Here are my best tips to stop your boss from treating you like a personal assistant — but I can’t wait to hear what advice the readers have for you.

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Weekend Prep for Monday: Do You Do It?

weekend prep for mondayOne of the things that came up in the comments on our diets for busy women post was the idea of prepping meals and snacks on Sunday for the week ahead — and I’ve read a ton of advice saying that you should steal an hour during the weekend to review the major tasks you need to accomplish in the week ahead. So I thought it might be an interesting open thread today:  Do YOU do weekend prep for Monday or the week ahead? When do you do it, and what do you do?

Pictured: veggie meal prep from @squirrel_kitchen, featured in this DailyBurn article about 21 inspiring instagram accounts for meal prep. 

For my $.02, when I was working in BigLaw I liked resting/playing on Saturday and coming into the office on Sunday for a few hours if I needed to do some work. Because I was well rested and there was no one else in the office (or, at least, vastly fewer people, and everyone was there to work), my focus was so much better — I used to call them “Super Mondays” because I was so productive. These days, I often try to get at least half of the short morning and afternoon posts written for the week on Sunday afternoons, putting in a few hours of work while my youngest son naps. If at all possible I also try to write a to-do list of my tasks for the week ahead, and put papers to review on my desk so I can get some focused work done before turning on the computer — easier said than done when your business is online! This probably isn’t even that noteworthy, but another thing I try to do is look at the NYT and WSJ and other news outlets on Sunday, because I’ve found that I waste far too much time looking at articles on Monday, particularly the longer magazine articles.

So ladies, let’s hear it — what routines and practices have you put in place for your weekends that lay the groundwork for a great week ahead? For those of you who do meal prep or have other healthy habits on the weekend, I’d love to hear what you do!  

Psst: here’s our last discussion on morning routines for successful people.

The Best LinkedIn Settings for Job Hunting

The Best LinkedIn Settings for Job HuntingLadies, do you sometimes feel a little intimidated or confused by LinkedIn privacy settings and LinkedIn etiquette? If you say “open to new job opportunities” or significantly update your profile, is that a red flag to your boss? Is it creepy if people see that you’ve been looking at their profiles? We did a story in 2012 about how to secretly use LinkedIn to change careers, and I thought it would be helpful to everyone if we did an update on LinkedIn settings, whether you’re looking to change careers or just generally job hunting or networking. – Kat 

Whether or not you’re one of those people who complain that LinkedIn is turning into Facebook, it’s important to keep up with the site’s changes and new features and to always know what your privacy settings are. (By the way, if you don’t have two-step verification set up, which became an option in 2013, go do that right now.) Have you noticed the recent changes made to the LinkedIn Settings page? It’s simpler and more streamlined, but you might find it harder to locate certain options you’ve used in the past. Now is a great time to make sure you’ve got the optimal Linkedin settings for privacy — especially if you’re looking for a new job.

Pictured: linkedin, originally uploaded to Flickr by sue seecof.  

Here’s a brief guide to ensuring your job hunting (and networking with an eye to job hunting) activities stay private by picking the right LinkedIn settings:

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The Hunt: Professional Tote Bags

professional tote bagsSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t done a Hunt for professional tote bags in FOREVER, so I thought we’d do one now.  With OCI/EIW coming up we should discuss what makes a great interview tote, which I’ve always seen as a pretty major subset of professional tote bags. A great interview tote should:

  • be large enough to hold a folder that contains the absolute latest version of your resume
  • have structure to it — if you put it on the floor it will stand up or at least lean (so — while I love me my Planetes Longchamp bag, I wouldn’t interview with it — it’s also for this reason that most of these bags are east/west bags rather than north/south bags)
  • be mostly solid and lacking logos all over it (so in my book most Neverfulls, Goyard, and MCM bags are out — but a Neverfull in an Epi leather is a different issue)
  • have enough organization that you can ditch your purse and just carry the tote bag (or, put another way, it becomes your purse)
  • not be primarily as a laptop tote — unless you anticipate needing your laptop during the interview, you don’t need the weight and the added stress of keeping tabs on your bag (but see our laptop tote roundup if you’re looking for one)

I once joked that if you’re just looking for something to shuttle papers to and from the office, most of the rainmakers I knew carried boat bags, or at least the tote bags one gets for donating X dollars to charity or attending a conference, suggesting it was all part of “what your tote bag says about you.” Now I think it’s just because those suckers add up over the years and they’re perfect for sticking in your office closet! (Although I will note – an LL Bean rep recently told me that this bag can hold up to 500 pounds because it was designed for carrying ice blocks through the winter. Ice blocks, huge binders, whatever, right?)

So ladies, let’s discuss — do you carry a tote bag as your regular purse, or only if you’re interviewing or otherwise carrying a folder? What do you look for in a professional tote bag? Do you prefer hand-held briefcase/satchel styles, north/west styles, east/west styles? Leather, nylon, or coated canvas? Have you bought any great ones lately, or do you still carry any older ones?

First, a roundup of some general categories:

Best-Selling Work Totes

Some of the best selling work totes of all time are linked to in our Hall of Fame styles mentioned above — here are a few of those, pictured, ranging from $168-$298: 1 / 2 / 3 // 4 / 5 / 6

Featured Work Totes

Best-selling, classic styles are great, but sometimes you want to know what else is on the market today.  So: six bags we’re liking today:

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