Career Advice

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

Should You Say No to Sports at Work?

sports-at-workYour office is planning an athletic event, and you want to stay far, far away. Even if you’re worried about feeling awkward, should you go anyway to take advantage of the networking opportunities? How can you say NO to work-related sporting events, like golf and tennis outings, and what are you missing out on if you do? Reader B wonders…

Your recent post about dressing for summer events led me to an older post about how to dress as a golf newbie… and boy, the comments struck a chord with me. Or maybe a nerve. I’d love to see a post, and more discussion, on how to deal with outings of all types — particularly when they’re for expensive and time-consuming sports that you don’t play and don’t want to pick up.

A lesson (or even a few lessons) are absolutely NOT enough to get me through a golf scramble. Can I swing and miss 18 times while joking gracefully? Can I pull off an outright refusal? Is it a bad idea to drive the beer cart (this always sounds like it should come with a costume), or just show up for drinks/dinner afterwards? And what do I do after 17 miserable holes, when my division manager is standing at the 18th with his arms folded to judge my golf game?

For reference, I’m in engineering, not law, with 15+ years of experience.

Interesting question, Reader B! In the past, Kat has recommended participating in athletic work events, even if you don’t think your skills are so hot, but we thought we’d get another opinion as well. We talked to Women on Course founder Donna Hoffman (who also advised us on our recent post on proper golf wear) to get her take on this situation. “Golf is so much more than getting the ball in the hole,” she says. “There are so many more benefits” — including the camaraderie, and the opportunity to build relationships.

Here’s what Hoffman recommends for Reader B:

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Managing Your Personal Brand Online

manage personal brand - google resultsWhat will potential employers find when they Google your name — and what can you do if you don’t like what they’ll see? How can your own website help you manage your personal brand online? Reader T wonders…

I have a question about personal websites for lawyers and professional women.

Before law school, I had a reasonably lengthy career in an unrelated (and somewhat internet-based) industry. This means that when you Google me, you get a million hits unrelated to law, and can find lots of things I’ve written about pop culture, television, and movies. I’m not embarrassed by that work at all, but I know it can read as non-professional. So when I went to law school, I created a personal website that included both material from my previous career and information about my work as a law student. But now I’m graduating and going to clerk, and I’m worried about projecting professionalism.

Should I take down my personal website altogether? (Does a lawyer really need one?) Continue to include both my legal resume and my pre-legal work product? Scrub the non-legal stuff? Scrub the legal stuff and have it only relate to my previous work? Any advice is appreciated!

This is a really interesting question, and one that I see being more about controlling your past on the Internet and less about the propriety of personal websites (which we’ll get to in a second). Who among us, after all, hasn’t written pages upon pages upon pages of commentary on a show you really liked back when, say, you were a senior in high school and didn’t have anything else to focus on? Just me and VR.5? OK then. (Amazingly it all seems to be gone now, a mere 20 years later — I swear just 5 years ago there were still hits.) But my point is: stuff is out there. And it’s incredibly hard to take down — so hard that I generally don’t recommend trying unless you know the site owner(s) personally.

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Becoming a Better Manager: Books and Online Resources

Management Books | CorporetteHow do you become a better manager and a more effective leader — whether you’re new to management or you’ve supervised people for a while and want to improve?

In the past, we’ve discussed various management books for women before, but readers recently discussed their favorites, so we thought we’d round them up, as well as some additional online resources for honing your skills.  (We’ve also discussed dressing like a managerimposter syndromedelegating work, and whether you should be friends with staffers.)

 

 

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Should You Buy a Wedding Gift for Your Assistant if You’re Not Invited?

wedding gift for coworkerIf one of your coworkers is getting married and you’re not invited to the wedding, should you give her a gift? What if it’s someone really important — for example, should you get a wedding gift for your assistant anyway? Reader L wonders…

My secretary is getting married very soon, and I’m wondering whether I should get her a wedding gift and, if so, what I should get her. She’s in her 40s and this is her second marriage (she has adult children). She’s just having a small wedding at home, so I didn’t get an invite or anything, I was just thinking it would be nice to get her something but I have no idea what. It’s not like she’s in her 20s and just starting out, so I’m kind of at a loss. Hoping you and/or your readers can help.

Interesting. I see a lot of questions from commenters about what to gift, when to gift, and so forth, so here are my $.02… (Note that my advice is the same if your admin is a man, as well; but because Reader L has a female secretary, let’s use the feminine…)

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The Guide to Pantyhose for Work

Guide to Wearing Pantyhose For Work | CorporetteIf you were to write someone a guide to pantyhose for work, what would you say? Reader H wonders, and since this is one of the biggest topics we’ve talked about through the years, I thought I’d give it a go.  Here’s H’s question:

Hi! I know you write a lot about pantyhose/tights/stockings–sorry to bring it up again–but I am so confused about them. I grew up in Southern California where no one wears pantyhose, ever, and tights only as a fashion statement or on very rare cold days. I know you’re supposed to wear nude pantyhose to an interview and in very formal situations like court, but on a regular day in the office, is it okay to wear sheer or opaque black tights in the office? How about with a suit in the office? Or with a pencil skirt? Are there color rules e.g. no black tights with a black suit? I suppose what I really need is a Dummy’s Guide to Wearing Stockings. Thanks so much for any sort of information that could help sort me out

We have talked about this a lot, but I still see a lot of confusion about it.  So let’s get into it — I’m curious to hear what readers say. (Pictured: readers have always sung the praises of Donna Karan’s The Nudes pantyhose in the past; they’re $20-$25 at Nordstrom.) 

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Fashion for Doctors

Fashion for Doctors | CorporetteWhat are the best fashion tips for doctors? What special fashion challenges exist, and what are the best workarounds? Reader S wrote in to ask…

Do you think you can do a fashion post addressing the specific clothing needs of doctors? Specifically young female doctors who need to look professional but still want to look polished and hip while also being comfortable? Thanks!

Interesting question, Reader S! I had a few ideas, but also reached out to two fashionable doctors I know to get their take. Note, of course, that we’ve talked in general about how to look professional when you’re young, as well as how to act older. For what it’s worth, I’ve never really noticed my female doctors’ clothes, in large part due to the lab coat, but I do remember thinking “ooh, pretty” about various necklaces — big ones, delicate ones, interestingly layered ones. With my most recent pregnancy, the OB/GYN practice encouraged you to see every doctor in the practice, as anyone may be on call when you deliver — and almost none of the women wore a doctors’ coat. They’re based in SoHo, so some of the doctors were dressed very fashionably — think jumpsuits! — but no one ever stood out as unprofessional. In fact, the biggest fashion gaffe that I’ve noticed among my doctors in general is messy hair. I’ve never stopped seeing a doctor I liked because of that one factor, but it did leave a “harried and crazed” impression that was less than professional. SO: for my $.02 as a patient, neat hair and interesting necklaces are the things that I remember. (Pictured: I love the bright, happy colors of Mindy Kaling’s character on The Mindy Project.) 

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