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Career Advice

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

Help! My Assistant Talks Too Much

Help! My Assistant Talks Too Much!We’ve talked about the chatty boss before, but Reader N has a slightly different question: how to deal when your assistant talks too much? Reader N wonders what she can say to discourage her chatty assistant:

What are some ways to end a conversation with people at work that work for you? I have a new assistant, who is fantastic at the job! But she is VERY long winded for the smallest things (e..g, dropping off a file) & ends up on very long tangents completely unrelated to work. I understand that part of her need to chat with me / be friendly with me has to do with me being the boss,but need to be able to get work done during the day. I want to keep things friendly as she is helpful.

We haven’t talked about this problem in far too long — I still remember a fellow lawyer who used to “pop in” my office for what became two hour gabfests in the middle of the day. (Funnily enough I haven’t heard from her since we stopped working together.) Here, the added dynamic of the chatty coworker being your subordinate makes things a bit more complicated from an etiquette standpoint, but not unworkable.  Obviously, you can just tell her sternly to “please let me do my work” or actually sit her down for some bigger conversation about her talkativeness being disruptive — and because you’re the boss, the direct approach is absolutely fine. Readers in our discussion of chatty coworkers suggested saying things such as “hey, now isn’t a good time to chat, but I’ll stop by later” — but if you don’t actually ever want to hear her 45 minute theory about Westworld, that may not work either. (Or, Westworld aside, maybe you just prefer to keep a healthy distance and not be friends with your subordinates.)  But: of course you still want to be friendly and have a good working relationship.  This may take us back to our discussion of whether women bosses should aim for being liked or respected, but here are my top tips for solving the problem of when an assistant talks too much in a non-direct, friendly way:

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Learn How to Become a Better Communicator with These Books

How to Become a Better CommunicatorCommunicating at work often requires women to walk a very fine line to avoid being seen as “aggressive,” “bitchy,” “pushy,” and so on (for exhibiting the same behavior as a typical male employee, of course). The double standard was perfectly captured by Sarah Cooper in last year’s “9 Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies for Women” (which you can now buy as a poster!). Reader L recently sent us a question about how she can become a better communicator while counteracting years of being socialized as a woman to be easygoing and “go with the flow.”

She asks:

I am a new associate at a mid-size firm and am realizing that communicating strategically is a huge weakness for me. I think a lot of this is societal (it’s ingrained in me as a woman to be agreeable and not make a fuss), and based on my personality (I believe everyone is telling me the truth and I am conflict averse). I hope that I can build this skill with experience, but I’d rather learn from a book or mentor than by trial and error. What are the best books or other resources for this?

We recently reached out to three women who’ve thought about these issues a lot and asked them to recommend helpful resources to help you become a better communicator:

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6 Resume Rules for 2017 That You May Not Know About

Resume Rules for 2017We’re only in the second week of the new year, so this is a great time to talk about resume rules for 2017. This time last year, readers talked about whether or not they apply to jobs when they don’t meet all the requirements (also see our imposter syndrome post), and a few years ago Kat answered a reader email about unusual ways to get your resume noticed.

Here are six resume rules for 2017 that you may not have heard:

1. Know that the “one page” limit no longer applies. Depending on your career and circumstances, it’s OK if your resume runs longer than one page. To figure out whether to make your resume one, two, or even three pages, check out these guidelines from Monster. No matter what, though, keep it concise — and make 100% sure there are no typos!

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6 Awesome Online Classes for Working Women

Online Classes for Working WomenIf you’re looking to do some online learning with a level of commitment somewhere between earning a graduate degree online and watching a TED-Ed video explaining why cats are weird, then one-off courses may be for you. In the past we’ve talked about learning a language, using online resources and books to become a better manager, and finding out more about yourself through personality tests, as well as the best TED Talks for working women, but we’ve never devoted a post to online learning in general. Today we’re sharing a general roundup of online classes for working women — please add your own recommendations in the comments!

What’s your favorite way to learn new things and develop your skills online? Are there any online-learning sites you would or wouldn’t recommend? What are your favorite online classes for working women?  (For those of you lawyers who are saddled with CLE requirements, do you have any public sources that you LOVE for interesting videos?)

If you’re interested in boosting your career with some new knowledge and strategies, here are eight intriguing online classes for working women that are offered by popular online learning sites:

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Resolutions for 2017 – What Are Yours?

Resolutions for Busy Women | CorporetteResolutions: Do you do ’em? We talked last year about how some people have a resolution theme instead of a list (I had to read my post to remember that “hungry” was my resolution — sad!), but I think this year I’m back to a simple list of things, all aimed at finally losing the baby weight and trying to grow my business.

Like I did last year, I thought I’d round up some of our posts that might help you with popular resolutions, like looking more polished, moving more, growing your career, and more.  Ladies, what are your resolutions for 2017? How did you do on your resolutions from 2016? Did anyone have any breakthroughs that you’d care to share?

Look More Polished

Appreciate More, Stress Less

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How to Take Advantage of a Quiet Office at the Holidays

How to Take Advantage of a Quiet Office at the HolidaysIt’s coming: the dead period around the holidays when many of your coworkers are out on vacation, projects are done or winding down, and no one wants to start anything major before the end of the year. In late December, a quiet office can feel like a ghost town to people who are still there — but you can take advantage of it in many useful ways. What do you do when the office is quiet around the holidays and you’re still at work? 

We’ve rounded up several ideas of things to do in a quiet office:

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