Career Advice

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

CRMs, Business Development Trackers, and Other Organizing Fun

How to Keep Track of Business Development Efforts | Corporette How can you track business development efforts, beyond traditional CRM (customer relationship management) software programs?  We’ve talked about how to build a book of business, but not how to organize those attempts.  Here’s reader EJ’s question:

I have accepted a new job that will involve less billable hours and more business development. I would like to keep track of new contacts made (even if it does not translate into business immediately) and business development generally (lunches attended/seminars/conferences) so that come my review, I can show my efforts and, hopefully, the tangible benefits. Can Corporette readers recommend any specific type of app/software to keep track of this kind of work and the results? Obviously, I will record all of my time in the usually way but I was hoping to use some sort of software/app to collect the data and the results. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Great question, and congrats to EJ on the new job!  I can suggest a few things here, but I’m curious to hear what readers say…

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Tales from the Wallet: Financially Preparing for Grad School

financially preparing for grad schoolWe had a great discussion a few weeks ago about wedding finances, and now it’s time for the next post in our Money Milestone series:  grad school. We’ve talked about how to adjust your new student budget once you get to grad school, how to pay off student loans, how to juggle grad school and a full time job, and even whether you should get an MBA — but not this. Some of the best tips came from folks on the Corporette FB page and some of my personal FB friends, so a huge thank you to everyone! (Check out U.S. News & World Report’s Paying for Graduate School Guide for some additional advice.) (Pictured: J.Crew Factory Magic Wallet, $14.50.)

Before Grad School

  • Live like a student before you go. Keep your expenses down while you’re saving up — and create a new budget. This helps you save more, and also prevents culture shock once you have to dial back your lifestyle when you get to grad school.
  • Manage what you’ve already borrowed. Form a strategy to pay down your existing debt. In some cases you may even want to postpone applying to grad school until you have more of a handle on your finances and achieve a higher credit score (which can earn you lower interest rates). Consider deferring your undergraduate loans if it makes sense for your financial situation.
  • Make sure you know the numbers. In a recent post, Above the Law mentioned a new, “brutally honest” student loan calculator that shows you your future monthly payments in comparison to your expected salary after earning the degree.
  • See if your current employer offers tuition reimbursement. It may be slow going but you can pay for a grad school degree through this method alone!
  • Set up a 529 plan for yourself. While you’re saving, you get a deduction on your state taxes, and you can then use that account to pay for your grad school expenses. If you have money left over in the plan, you can roll it over into your kids’ plans. (Rules vary widely by state.) Resist the urge to raid your 401(k) for tuition costs.

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How to Organize Your Office

How to Organize Your Office | CorporetteLet’s talk about a subject near and dear to our hearts, ladies: how do you organize your office and your work (or otherwise get things done)? We’ve talked about cute office supplies, the best notebooks, planners, and office padfolios — as well as how to keep notes to CYA — but we haven’t talked about this directly.  Reader A wonders:

I would love to see more articles on the best ways to organize your work in the office, i.e., a folder with separate notes for each project or client v. one notebook for all meetings/projects, how to organize your day or to-do list, how to turn meeting notes into a to-do list, etc. I’d also love some suggestions on day planners, notebooks, and other office supplies.

Fun topic!  Personally, when I was a lawyer, I played around with having a single notebook per case, as well as having one notebook or notepad that I grabbed whenever I was heading out to take notes.  If memory serves I finally settled on a folder system — I would keep one “general” folder with all of my initial notes from prior pleadings and general strategy notes, and then I’d start a new folder for each major assignment I was tasked with (memo, research, portion of a brief, whatever).  I would keep the recent and active folders near my desk in a folder tower (where each case had its own little slot — something similar to what I had is pictured above), and then move them to a filing drawer or redweld once the case was Really Truly Over, or once the assignment got stale enough and I needed more room closest to my desk. (Oh, and I love my label maker.) [Read more...]

How to Dress for Halloween – At Work

How to Dress for Halloween - At the Office | CorporetteHow to Dress for Halloween - At the Office | CorporetteHow do you do Halloween at the office (or even at a party with many of your coworkers)?  Being scantily clad for the holiday is so normal, it’s become a joke — and there’s nothing wrong with going that route, if you want to, for a regular party with friends.  But when Halloween and coworkers start to mix, it’s always a good goal to maintain some level of professionalism — which usually can’t be accomplished when you’re dressed as Snooki.  So what do you wear — without spending a ton of money or time on the costume? We’ve had so many great ideas from previous threads that I thought I’d round up a few of my favorites… Ladies, are you dressing up for an office-related Halloween event this year?  What will you be?  (Also: has anyone decorated their office to any degree?) 

Smart Costumes for Smart Women

  • Rosie the Riveter
  • Lara Croft
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Carmen San Diego: red trench coat, red pants, and black boots
  • Sherlock Holmes   (tweed blazer, hat, pipe)
  • Female politician — pick a well known political or business figure whose wardrobe resembles yours (Sarah Palin if you tend toward bracelet length jackets and pencil skirts; Hillary Clinton if you tend towards colored pantsuits; Condi Rice if you like knee high boots, etc.)
  • Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s — black sheath, loads of pearls, and cigarette holder.
  • Peggy / Joan from Madmen
  • Pirate: white blouse, black pants, tri-point hat, eye patch, plastic sword
  • Legally Blonde – pink suit, heels, stuffed toy puppy peeking out of your purse
  • “Attorney General.” I’m wearing a black pencil skirt, the merino tippi sweater from JCrew in houndstooth (it has cool shoulder details), and then I got a general’s hat, some fake medals, and little pin-on epaulets with gold fringe.
  • Waitress from Office Space: white polo shirt with basted-on green felt stripes, khakis, suspenders with a bunch of pins (courtesy of my nephew, who gets them at soccer tournaments), and a waitress-apron-thingy that I pinned together from some black fabric.
  • Witch (dress in black with green eye shadow)
  • Mad scientist (lab coat, glasses, crazy hair)
  • Headless goblin (cardigan over your head, jack o lantern under your arm)

And just for kicks, here are a few smart and easy couples’ costumes for office-related Halloween parties..

Couple’s Costumes

  • Pulp Fiction. It’s not the most creative but was easy to pull together. (Couple costume)
  • Abraham & Mary Lincoln
  • Christmas tree (green dress, brown tights, garland, tinsel, etc) and present (lots of bows as part of the outfit)

Any favorites in the list, ladies? What will you be this Halloween?  Does anyone have any fun Halloween-at-the-office stories (either of fun times or of costumes gone horribly wrong?)

Pictured: Img_0977, originally uploaded to Flickr by StayRAW.

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How to Be Taken Seriously When You Look Young

looking young - body languageWhat should you do if you look young for your age, and you do all the basic things you’re supposed to in order to seem older (dress professionally, wear heels, etc.), but you still get mistaken for a college student? What more can you try to get your colleagues to take you seriously?

Reader E wonders…

I’m a college professor (outside your normal demographic, but I really enjoy the conversations here). I often am told that I look like an undergrad. I have two questions. First, how do I respond to this in a workplace setting? With a frosty “Nope, I’m actually in my mid-thirties”? With “I’m told that I’ll be grateful for it one day”? Why do people think this is an acceptable thing to say to someone? Second, how can I actually look older so that I avoid these comments and am taken more seriously? I’m short (5′), which is part of the issue, but I already wear 1-3″ heels/wedges (more would look out of place here and are not my style). I use basic makeup (tinted moisturizer/blush/mascara), wear professional and structured clothing, have nice-looking but understated jewelry (including my engagement/wedding rings), keep my wavy hair shoulder-length and mostly under control, and make an effort to speak in a lower voice. This all feels like Looking Older 101–I need the upper-level class!

Hmmmmn. Hmmmn. We’ve talked about a lot of this before — how to avoid acting young, how to lower your voice, and whether long hair makes you look younger — but it sounds like Reader E has already taken a lot of these tips. What else can be done? I’m curious to hear what the readers say, but I did come up with a few tips. I don’t think everyone needs to take these steps, but for people like Reader E, who have tried everything else and are still frustrated by people telling them they “look young,” these may be the tweaks you need to consider:

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Can You Wear a Sheath Dress and Jacket to an Interview?

Theory 'Betty 2' Stretch Sheath Dress | CorporetteAre you required to wear a skirt suit for an interview, or are sheath dresses acceptable? We’ve talked about interview attire (including what to wear beneath a suit jacket) before, but let’s discuss again. Here’s Reader L’s question:

I have an upcoming call back interview at a big law firm. I am a 2nd year associate. Can I wear a Theory sheath dress and jacket or do i have to wear a skirt suit? I only ask because the Theory sheath dress is wonderful, comfortable, and super professional. The internet basically says absolutely not … but this is a West Coast based firm. Any thoughts are much appreciated!

For my $.02, I think that while a skirt suit is the default conservative option, pants suits are becoming more and more acceptable — and a sheath dress with a matching blazer isn’t that far behind. A few notes on this, though:

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