How to Indicate a Sabbatical on Your Resume

sabbatical-resumeHow do you indicate a sabbatical or other gap on your resume, whether to smell flowers, travel, write, or more? Reader M wrote in, wondering:

So: any recommendations for indicating a sabbatical/career break on the resume? I am taking this time to volunteer (and travel some, but will emphasize volunteering) and I am proud of that. Face to face it has been easy for me to explain this. My job wasn’t working out, I had some savings, had always wanted to volunteer, and so I quit. How do you think I should indicate this current volunteering time on the resume?

Great question, because I think more and more people are taking sabbaticals. I’m curious to hear what the readers say, but some notes from poking around the Internet:

- “Sabbatical” can mean a lot of different things to different people, and hiring managers will raise an eyebrow at it [Read more...]

Can You Mix Different Black Fabrics to Create a “Suit”?

womens-suitsCan you mix different black fabrics to form a suit? Reader E wonders…

Hi! I searched your archives but couldn’t find anything addressing my question, so here goes: I have two skirts and a pair of pants, all from different companies and of different materials (one’s a lightweight wool, another’s a cotton/viscose/spandex mix, and the last’s made of polyester/viscose/spandex). All are black, yet their shades don’t match. I need to purchase a basic black blazer to make a suit for interviews (and hopefully my first job). If I get a blazer that will match at least one of the bottoms, can I wear it with the other two, or is that a office faux pas? Will other people notice, especially if I won’t be working in a conservative field? I don’t have the money to get several pieces in the same fabric. Please help.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Maybe I just haven’t seen this done well.  But I think Reader E is wasting money to try to mix different fabrics to “create” a suit — and yes, I do think other people will notice.  Some thoughts, off the top of my head:

a) it is incredibly difficult to find the same fabric/weave/color, even if you’re talking about something like black seasonless wool.  Some blacks have more reds, some have more greens.. some wools are shinier, some are softer, some are blended…

b) even if you CAN find the same fabric, how you care for your items affects the cloth — if you’ve drycleaned or washed one piece 15 times and the other only once, they will look different. [Read more...]

Statement Pieces and the Intern

statement pieces for internsWhen can interns wear statement pieces like necklaces or shoes?  Reader C, a law student, wonders….

I am a current law student preparing for a summer internship. I’ve been reading through a lot of your old posts trying to get a gauge on appropriate office wear. My question is about shoes.

I’m wondering how far is too far with statement shoes. If I am wearing a more muted outfit, is it okay to have a more colorful pair of shoes? For instance, I was considering a pair of shoes like these from Loft.

Would those be considered too bold for an office?

Interesting question. We get into this time and time again, but I’m always curious to see what the readers have to say. For my own $.02: Those are not first day shoes. Those are not big meeting shoes, or networking shoes. But: they could be office shoes. As in, you’re having a low key day, you’re not seeing anyone important, and you just want to mix it up a little bit. To be honest, if you’re interning at a BigLaw firm, there probably are not going to be very many of those days. So this becomes an issue of budget: if you have the money to spend for shoes that you may way a few times during the summer, then knock yourself out.  (There are very limited sizes left at Loft, but they are crazy affordable with today’s 40% off sale — they were $79.50, then marked to $69.50, with the extra 40% off they come to $41.99.  Petra Multicolored Floral Print Pumps)

(Update: If you really like the floral look, these very similar Ivanka Trump pumps are on sale at Nordstrom for $99.)

Just to back up a little bit — why, you may be asking, should the intern not wear these shoes to meetings and networking events?  [Read more...]

How to Interview After You Were Fired

what-to-say-when-youve-been-firedWhat is a good way to tell prospective employers you were fired from you last job? Should you ever use a boss who fired you as a reference? Reader S wonders…

I was recently fired from a very small law firm without any warning and without any real reason given. The owner of the firm has a history of firing an employee every six months to a year without explanation. I was told that my work product was good and he would be happy to give me a positive recommendation. I’m at a loss as to what to say when the topic of my last position comes up during interviews. I’m certain that prospective employers will ask why I left and I will have to admit that it was involuntary. Is there any way I can explain the situation without sounding like I’m complaining about my prior boss? Also, without understanding the reason for my termination, is it wise to take him up on the offer for a recommendation?

Wow, I’m so sorry, S — that really stinks. We’ve talked about what to tell interviewers when you’ve been laid off, but we haven’t talked about being fired.  In general I think it’s important for an unemployed person to have a simple, practiced explanation — three sentences, max — for future interviews. So I think my advice here would be to go back to your former boss and ask the following questions: [Read more...]

The Hunt: Interview Pumps

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

It feels like we just talked about black interview pumps — the simple, closed-toe, walkable pump — but in fact it’s been a full year since I’ve done a round-up of basic black pumps (see here for our roundup of black pumps under $250, our 2010 roundup of black pumps under $100, and our original 2008 roundup of classic black pumps.  A lot of these pumps are true classics, and are still available — the Naturalizer Lennox, the Franco Sarto Cicero pump (on sale at Amazon as low as $32 depending on the color), the Cole Haan Air Talia pump, the Stuart Weitzman Platswoon and Blog pumps — and of course our recent discovery, the $20 Payless pump that a number of readers swear by, is still available.  Readers, what is your favorite, basic black pump?  What shoes do you wear for interviewing? [Read more...]

How to Ask For a Raise

Money on the Table, originally uploaded to Flickr by tuchodi.How DO you ask for a raise?  Reader K asks this classic question…

I am looking for tips on how to successfully ask for a raise! I have a unique situation – I was promoted just under 1 year ago, and got a significant raise in my salary. However – I actually took a pay cut, since I went from base salary + commission. The powers that be don’t view commission as part of your salary, so I essentially took a 20k pay cut if you look at my W2′s, but on paper I earned a significant raise. Now, looking online at salary ranges for my position and the company’s pay grade chart, a 15% raise would put me smack dab in the middle of nationwide salaries in positions like mine, and my company’s pay grade chart. Asking for a 15% raise seems ballsy to me, especially in this economy, but I have received a LOT of praise this year, including from the CEO directly. I feel I have earned it. Suggestion or tips on how to go about this? I actually have never asked for a raise before! Thank you!

Congratulations on your great year, and the bump (on paper, at least) in salary.  A lot has been written about how women don’t negotiate raises the same way men do — we hesitate to do it, we ask for too little, we don’t do it often enough (to say nothing of employers who have a bias against women). (Pictured.) [Read more...]