Changing Careers

Interested in changing careers? It can be difficult to do, but so worth it if you're not enjoying your current career. Below are all of our posts on changing careers -- some of our greatest hits include

Have another question you don't see addressed below? Please send Kat a question. Thanks for reading!

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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When Fear and Low Self-Esteem Hold You Back

low self esteem and self confidenceWhat should you do when mental health issues are holding you back and making it difficult for you to build the career you want? Reader O wonders…

I have struggled with mental health problems for years and as a result have always worked really terrible jobs (combination of poorly paid, admin/dogsbody type roles with bullying managers). I know it’s a combination of fear and rock bottom self esteem that’s the problem. I am in my early twenties and have luckily never been unemployed but I’ve never liked any of the jobs I’ve had. I am planning on going back to university for a masters degree soon with the hope of working in either journal publishing or widening participation but how can I make sure, once I’ve graduated (again), that I don’t keep going for bad jobs? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I’m so sorry to hear that, O. We’ve talked a bit about imposter syndrome, as well as discussing the book The Confidence Code, and I would encourage you to read both of those posts. I have a few thoughts for you, but I can’t wait to see what the readers say.

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Career Coaches: Why, How, When

career-coachesCareer coaches: how do you find one?  Why might you need one?  When in your career should you look for one?  Let’s discuss.  First, Reader J’s question:

Have you ever written about using the services of a career coach? How does one go about finding someone to work with? I work in tax/accounting in the NYC/NJ area and I need some career coaching at this point in my life. I have worked in public accounting so far and need some help advancing in my career aside from the technical skills.

Great question, Reader J!  I know readers were discussing this in this morning’s TPS thread.  While we’ve talked about career changes and other career transitions, we haven’t really talked about this. [Read more…]

Guest Post: How to Leave a Company Town (And Conduct a Long Distance Job Search)

How to Leave a Company Town | CorporetteIs your job very location-specific — and have you ever wondered what would happen to your career if you picked up and moved away from the “company town,” embarking on a long distance job search in the process? Today’s guest post comes to us from one of my best friends from law school, Mindy Barry, who was already pretty senior on Capitol Hill when I met her.  Since law school, she’s accomplished the incredible not once but twice: building a great career as a chief counsel on the Hill, and then chucking it all to build a new legal career in Michigan.  For all of the readers who feel chained to their city because of their job, I asked Mindy to share her experience.  (We have talked about finding a job in a new city, but not in ages!)  Mindy, thank you so much for sharing with us! – Kat.

Imagine you are midway into the prime of your career, you are exactly where you aspired to be professionally, you have the position you  worked for years to achieve, and you decide to give it all up to move for reasons unrelated to your career. How would you go about finding a new job in a new profession in a new city where you know almost no one?

That’s the situation I found myself in about seven years ago when my husband and I decided to move from Washington, D.C., to Michigan. At the time, I was a chief counsel on Capitol Hill, where I had worked for my entire professional career. Although I am a lawyer, I had never worked in a traditional law practice and was not sure how to parlay my experience dealing in politics and legislation into a challenging and rewarding career outside of the Washington Beltway. Making the move was an exciting but scary prospect. Looking back on that time in my life, here are some things I know now that I wish I had known then:  [Read more…]

Closing Career Doors

specialized jobsDo you close career doors when you take a specialized job?  How do you decide if it’s worth the risk of closing doors behind you?  Reader A wonders:

How to decide when you are at a career crossroads, if a great opportunity comes up, but it might close doors. (My best friend just got a great offer to run a $50MM business, but it’s an area that peripheral to her primary area of expertise, solar/wind, so she’s worried about LT ramifications, even though she’d expand her skillset.) What factors are important when you are opening one door and closing another?

Great question, Reader A.  We’ve talked about pros and cons to changing careers, how to change careers, and how to use LinkedIn to secretly investigate a new career — but we haven’t talked about closing career doors by taking a specialized job.  I’m really excited to hear what the readers have to say about this one, since obviously I’ve taken a career path (media law to fashion blogging) that has diverted me, a bit, from my original career path.

Here’s my $.02:  I don’t actually think doors are closed, even if you leave the career entirely. [Read more…]

What To Do When You’re Overqualified

What to Do When You're Overqualified For Your Job | CorporetteHave you ever taken a job for which you’re overqualified?  Reader C recently took a step back from her career in order to spend more time with her family, and while she likes the money and hours, she isn’t thrilled with the level of daily challenge:

I’m a midcareer professional taking a step back into a new company. I made this choice to spend more time with my family and because the pay is great. However, I miscalculated how much of a step back it was and I want to position myself for rapid advancement within the co. to a level more consistent with my capabilities by trying to highlight my strengths and experience. I find myself handling many clerical level tasks due lack of staff to delegate to and I’m often complimented on very mundane activities (“nice job organizing that meeting!”) which happen to be much more visible than my strategic responsibilities and I don’t know how to respond. I want to acknowledge the compliment but also make clear that work of that nature doesn’t reflect my full role or potential. Jokes like “you should see what I’m really capable of” are vague, not always appropriate and wear thin quickly. Any recommendations for responding to these specific comments and for positioning for future advancement?

Hmmmn.  I’m curious to hear what readers say here.  You say the pay is great, and it sounds like the work/life juggle is in alignment — so what you want is more challenging work for the hours you’re there.  A few things to ask yourself:

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