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!

How to Turn Down Opportunities

how to turn down opportunitiesHow do you turn down opportunities at work when the timing isn’t right?  Reader M wonders…

I was recently asked to relocate offices (I work at a mid-sized law firm). The relocation would be something of a promotion based on the work I’d get to do and the people I’d get to work with. I was asked because the other office is very busy and has more work than capacity at the moment. If I were single, I’d probably say yes. Or least strongly consider it. But I’m engaged to a wonderful man who is not enthusiastic about the idea of uprooting his life and his career to follow me to a smaller city with less opportunity for him. My question is, how do you turn down an offer for relocation without appearing to be uncommitted to your job? I want to signal that I love my job and appreciate the opportunity, but that it’s not the right time or circumstances for me.

I had a similar situation come up when I started dating my husband — a company I would have loved to work for started heavily recruiting me, even offering to train me in an area I was eager to get into.  The catch: it was all the way across the country.  I’ve always endeavored to stay in the same time zone as my family, but with the addition of this new guy I’d started dating (only two months in at that point!) it was an easy decision: I turned it down outright.  At the time I felt like a bad feminist, a bad overachieving chick, a bad…everything, but I have no regrets.  (Of course, hindsight is 20/20.)  Along similar lines, I know that my father turned down fairly major career opportunities when my brother and I were in high school because it would have meant uprooting the family to a foreign country.  [Read more…]

The Pros and Cons of Changing Careers

The Pros and Cons of Changing Careers | CorporetteWhat are the pros and cons of changing careers? While the answer will be unique to every individual, this should make for an interesting discussion. Reader N is wondering specifically about the pros and cons from the perspective of hindsight:

You’ve written about women that have changed careers, including yourself. From what I recall, these features were mostly on HOW to accomplish the change. Can you include a post from others you’ve spoken to about what they find most painful about it, AFTER making the change? Like one year after, five years after, etc.

I’m making some major career changes right now, and I am always wanting to know honestly what people found bad about their changes. Maybe it could be also have a “good” section so it’s not so gloomy, but I am curious as to the negatives (salary reductions, work drying up, others?)

I have written about my own tips for changing careers and jobs — I was a journalist for 2 seconds back in the late ’90s, then a law student/lawyer for 11 years, and I’ve been a full-time blogger since 2011.  (We’ve also talked about how to change careers, how to specifically use LinkedIn to change careers, as well was the pros and cons of leaving corporate life.)  I’ll share my own tips, but for other career changers, here are the questions (maybe copy and paste ’em into the comment section): [Read more…]

Strategic Volunteering: Do You Do It?

Strategic Volunteering: Do You Do It? | CorporetteDo you guys volunteer? Do you do it at a high level (board member or committee level)? How did you get started doing it — were you interested in the organization, did you purposely do it for networking, or did you somehow fall into it? We’ve talked about this in the context of making new friends, as well as pondering what professional organizations you should join and polling how much everyone gives to charity — but we haven’t really talked about volunteering.

I’m way under the weather today, so I’ve been lying in bed catching up on reading, watching TED, and playing Candy Crush. (I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a sick day!)  One of the articles I’m trying to catch up on (if the NYT didn’t have a huge banner ad that pops up right in the middle of the text) is the recent one about how “the opt out generation wants back in.” Anyway, I was particularly interested to hear about the role that volunteering played in returns to work:

Among the women I spoke with, those who didn’t have the highest academic credentials or highest-powered social networks or who hadn’t been sufficiently “strategic” in their volunteering (fund-raising for a Manhattan private school could be a nice segue back into banking; running bake sales for the suburban swim team tended not to be a career-enhancer) or who had divorced, often struggled greatly.

So, ladies — are you strategic in your volunteering?   How much time do you devote to volunteering?

(Pictured: Fundraising in the dictionary, originally uploaded to Flickr by HowardLake.)

 

How to Secretly Use LinkedIn to Change Careers

How to Use Linked In Secretly to Change Careers | Corporette2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion about LinkedIn.  

How do you use LinkedIn to get a new job — without alerting your coworkers or boss that you’ve got one foot out the door? Reader B has a GREAT question:

I am nearly six years into my first job, which is in commercial insurance. I want to transition out of this industry and thought augmenting my LinkedIn profile would be helpful (to show up in search results, connect to new contacts, etc.). HOWEVER, my entire work history and a good proportion of my contacts skew insurance. Since my current co-workers can view my profile (through second and tertiary contacts – I am not directly linked to any of them at present), I don’t want to raise any red flags at my office. Any suggestions?

Excellent question! I’ll be 100% honest here: whenever I get a little LinkedIn activity notification that someone has updated their experience, I wonder whether they’re starting to look around for a new job. I suppose it’s a bit like wearing a suit — if you never, ever wear a suit to the office and then one day, you do, everyone starts to wonder whether you’ve had an interview that day. But if you’re savvy about your LinkedIn usage, though, you can get around that. (Pictured: Secret, originally uploaded to Flickr by val.pearl.)

I think there are two phases to using LinkedIn to change careers. The first phase is the research phase, when you want to discreetly look at other people’s profiles, see what connections you might have, and join a lot of new groups in your target industry to get an idea for the conversations happening within the industry. [Read more…]

Help from the Adjunct: Networking to Find a Job

Einstein's blackboard, originally uploaded to Flickr by rich_w.Reader L wonders if she can ask her adjunct professor for help finding a job:

I have an etiquette question for you. I am a third year law student looking for a job after graduation, preferably at a small firm or a nonprofit. One of my classes is taught by an adjunct professor who practices in the field I want to work in. What is the etiquette behind approaching him to see if he knows people who might be hiring? Thanks for any advice.

I’m curious to hear what the readers say here. Here’s my take:

Can you ask him if he knows of any open positions? Absolutely; there’s nothing inappropriate about that question. But let me warn you… here’s how that conversation is going to go: “Do you know of anyone who’s hiring right now?” Adjunct professor, thinking briefly of any jobs he’s heard of that day or week: “Nope. Sorry!” He won’t be offended, but you’re not likely to get much out of the exchange.  (Pictured: Einstein’s blackboard, originally uploaded to Flickr by rich_w.)

So here’s what you actually want to do: network with your professor. [Read more…]

Salary or Title: Which is More Important?

Up! originally uploaded to Flickr by Peter πWhich is more important — your salary or your title? Reader D wonders…

I would love to see a post on the relative merits of pursing a higher title or more compensation. Would readers be willing to be paid less (or the same amount) for a title bump? Or, would they demand that any title bump come with an increase in pay? Is title more important than money? Or, is money more important than title?

Interesting question. My first reaction was “money — duh” but I suppose there are situations where a title would be more important than money. We’ve talked before about how job hopping isn’t the best idea, but in some professions (for example, magazines), historically, the way to get through all the bottom-rung positions (editorial assistant, assistant editor, junior editor, etc.) was to change jobs as frequently as possible. The salary bumps were miniscule, and the job title was, generally, ceremonial — a junior editor still had to sort reader mail as much as an editorial assistant — but they helped you advance to the real editing much more quickly. So I suppose, in today’s environment — where more and more industries are taking the Hollywood “Harvard grads start in the mailroom” approach to hiring, and where people often take internship after internship because real jobs are scarce — well, maybe I would take the title over the money. (Pictured: Up! originally uploaded to Flickr by Peter π.)

[Read more…]

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