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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!

Jobhunting in a Different City

Map, originally uploaded to Flickr by NeilsPhotography.Reader L has a question about networking and job hunting in a different geographic area…

I just became engaged to a wonderful young man who lives an hour and a half away from me. This is the closest we’ve lived since we began dating a long time ago, due to jobs and schooling. I’ve been at my job for 3 years, and am not happy. He loves his job of one year and it has much more potential for growth.  I’ve been quietly asking around, trying to see if anyone knows people in his city, which is the largest in our state, and he is not in the same field as I am and doesn’t have connections. Ideally I’d like to go to the same office as I work in (government) in boyfriend’s city, but it turns out there are 3 people in my own office who told me they’ve already submitted their resumes months ago to that city’s office and no response. These are people with much more experience than me so I’m quite discouraged. Should I just send my resume blindly and hope? Should I mention in the cover letter that my future husband lives in the city and that’s why I want to move there, or not say anything about my desire to move? I’ve already tried the local bar association there and the website of my law school’s career services office, but it seems like no one is hiring. One thing that’s a possibility is telling my bosses that I want to go elsewhere for a few years until my fiancee can start telecommuting with his job and then we can move back. There are 3 women in my office who have done that – 2 have done it multiple times now – and they are always welcomed back with open arms. Since both fiancee and I are from the town I live in now, I think that’s a reasonable and believable request. Unfortunately we can’t just live halfway between our jobs as my office has a residency requirement to live within a certain mileage of work.

I’m curious to see what the readers say about this one.  First, to Reader L, congratulations on your engagement!  Some thoughts on job hunting and networking are below, but I’ll say up front that the telecommuting option sounds like a great option for your situation, particularly if you know your boss is open to the idea.  Talk with the women who’ve done it before and see what they thought of the experience — what is their advice to you in talking to your boss?  what is their advice to you in telecommuting?  Once you start telecommuting you can network (and interview, depending on whatever agreement you strike with your boss in order to telecommute) in your new city without fear of using all those vacation days that I’m sure you’re hoping to save for the wedding festivities and your honeymoon. (Pictured: Map, originally uploaded to Flickr by NeilsPhotography.) [Read more…]

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Tips on Changing Careers

how to change careersThis came up a bit on the weekend thread, and I thought we should delve a bit further: if you’re unhappy with your job, how can you change careers? We had a post about how to transition from one job to the next a while ago, but I don’t think we’ve properly explored changing careers. (Pictured: Changing Tracks, originally uploaded to Flickr by stargardener.)

First:  I’ve been there, and I’ve seen a lot of friends there.  You hate your job, you have no idea what you want to do with your life, and you feel like you’ve made a colossal, expensive, time-intensive mistake to spend multiple years and lots (and lots) of money on the degree you already have.  So how do you get out, and get to a new career?

Some immediate thoughts come to mind: [Read more…]

How to Resign Gracefully

how-to-resign-gracefullyReader J has a question about how to resign your job with grace…

Any chance you can do a post on how to gracefully resign? I have been interviewing for other jobs (attorney), and anticipate that one of those interviews with eventually turn into an offer. I have not disclosed to anyone at my current employer that I am looking elsewhere; it’s a small office, and I expect that news of my departure will be poorly received. Any thoughts on how to best navigate the tricky waters of transitioning from one job to another would be most appreciated!

Good luck to you in your search, J! I think we’ve all had daydreams/fantasies of screaming “I QUIT!” and rushing out the door, cardboard box in your hands, wind in your hair, as inspiring music plays. Amazingly, this isn’t the recommended route to leaving your job. For starters, when you go to clean out your office you will be absolutely gob-smacked by how much stuff you’ve managed to accumulate — so that whole “single-cardboard box” image will not work.  (Pictured: quitter, originally uploaded to Flickr by hellojenuine.)

[Read more…]

Career Transitions (aka Ch-ch-ch-changes)…

career transitions - tips and advice2017 update: I still stand by the advice below! You may also want to check out our latest posts on changing careers

Reader D suggests a thread about changing jobs and types of jobs — career transitions in general!…

I recently transitioned from a biglaw firm job into an in-house position, and have gotten loads of questions from people wondering how I did it. In my case, it was actually quite random and serendipitious, but I thought it might be cool to encourage readers to share their stories on how they made the transition from one type of work to another. From what little I know of you, it sounds like you made a career transition, and likely have tips/insights to share with readers.

Great topic.  I think that, while the on-campus recruiting at law schools and MBA schools is amazing (and let’s be honest, one of the main things you pay for when you get a higher degree), I think that so many people end up in Big Companies because of that recruiting — and then have little to no idea how to make that next step.  Better opportunities, better lifestyles, and better careers can be had if you make career transitions, though.  (Pictured:  Change, originally uploaded to Flickr by busy.pochi.)

I’ve made a few transitions, I guess, and I have to agree with reader D – serendipity plays a big part! But I do like to think of the old quote that “Chance favors the prepared mind” — you can only take advantage of those opportunities if you’re ready to for them. [Read more…]

When The Job Hunt Drags On…

Queue for job, originally uploaded to Flickr by le HaricotReader S, a recent graduate, has a question that, unfortunately, I think a lot of people will be interested in: what should you do when the job hunt drags on (and on)?

May I suggest a post on attorneys who, despite trying everything feasible, cannot find sustainable employment? I understand the whole “work for free” thing, but those positions aren’t available either because they’re going to law firm deferees. This $130,000 monkey on my back is getting unbearably heavy. I’m nearing my wit’s end, and maybe you and your readers will have some good advice.

I’m sorry you’re going through this right now — a job hunt is hard enough, and the school debt is only making it harder.  (Pictured: Queue for job, originally uploaded to Flickr by le Haricot.)
[Read more…]

An Attitude Revamp (or, How to Get Your Groove Back)

fiji birthday drinkOn Tuesday, we talked a bit about how there will be numerous times in a person’s life that you realize that you are, perhaps, a bit off track from where you would like to be. Maybe you wake up one day and realize you own nothing beyond dowdy suits, Mom jeans, and pajamas — a wardrobe revamp is in order. Other times you wake up and realize it’s your attitude that needs an adjustment. There are different varieties of this. The two big ones that I’ve seen involve a realization that perhaps you’ve been phoning it in for far too long, either because you were dealing with a personal issue (planning a wedding, having a baby, dealing with a sick parent, etc, etc) or because you just aren’t engaged in your job anymore. Other times, you realize that it’s your job that makes you unhappy; you may suddenly feel that you’ve been beaten down for so long that you don’t even remember the last time you felt calm, fulfilled, and at peace with the world.  This is a type of burnout that can happen with any job, but I’ve seen it especially with those professions — BigLaw, I’m looking at you — that consume most or all of your waking hours for years at a time.  Sometimes the right answer might be to just suck it up, deal with it, recognize the commitments you’ve made and the value of what you’ve got.  Other times, a vacation can help — but you can’t solve every problem by a week or two in a tropical locale.  (Pictured: fiji birthday drink, originally uploaded to Flickr by mjecker.)

For my $.02, the first situation is the better of the two — you still intrinsically like what you do and where you are, but you just need to reengage with the job. Some ideas for that:

  • Revamp your routine. If the first thing you do every day at the office is surf the web for two hours, stop that — don’t even turn on your computer if possible. I recently read about someone who “turned the mouse off” during work time to cut down on distracted browsing; you can also just put your mouse out of reach, turn it on its back, or unplug it.
  • Restyle your office (or move offices, if possible). It’ll make you feel like you’re at a new job again.
  • Reengage with your profession again. Attend a thinky seminar or conference, and really listen — take notes as if your life depended on it. Take some time to apply what you’ve learned to your current job (and, perhaps, to your boss’s job). Set up a meeting or write a memo if you come up with tangible ideas as a result.

The other main kind of “attitude revamp” I’ve seen people need is when your job makes you miserable — perhaps even your profession — and you can’t easily get a new job (or a new profession). The only thing, in my experience, that I’ve seen work for this is to reconnect with some older, core version of yourself from the time before The Job. For example, maybe you were on the swim team in your youth — and you can just rejoin an adult swim club that does drills and the like. For me, I found myself in this situation a few years ago, right after I’d missed my best friend’s wedding to do a doc review — and the only thing I could think to do to reconnect with ME again was to take a humor writing class, which I hadn’t done since I was 17. I signed up at Gotham (with the very excellent teacher Sara Barron) and realized in pretty short order that a) I could write something other than a law brief, and b) I was kind of good at writing, as well as giving other people in my class useful feedback on how their own stories could be better. As soon as I reconnected with the “me” I’d been when I was 17 — full of hope and ambition and sarcasm — weirdly enough, good things started to happen. I met my future husband later that month. I got on a much better project at the job, working closely with a lawyer I truly admired, about two months later. I decided to start this blog about four months later. None of those things had anything to do with my rediscovered humor writing skills — but so much to do with my rediscovery of me, the person I’d been before I’d spent nearly 15 years throwing myself into school and work.

Readers, what are your tips for getting your groove back? What other major attitude revamps have you been through?

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