Careers and Personalities

personalities and careersCareers and personalities are always a fun topic, and a TON of of different things exist out there to help you pick which career might work best for you. A friend just told me about the StrengthsFinder and of course there are books like What Color is Your Parachute (updated yearly, apparently!), and I know I’ve taken interminably long quizzes that have told me (much to my dismay) that being a lawyer is a great career for me. (Wasn’t there a similar episode of Friends where Chandler finds out he’s a great fit for the job he’s hated all those years?) So I thought it might be fun to have a conversation about it. For those of you happy in your careers — what is the specific mix of personality trait and career characteristic that is a great fit for you? For those of you who’ve been unhappy in your careers, what was/is the mix of personality trait and career characteristic that grated the most? Does anyone swear by a book or test that helped you find your path?  For those of you who have been in one career for a while, but hated one job and loved another, what were the job-specific traits that hurt or helped your fit for the job?

For my own $.02, I would say: [Read more...]

When Do Girly Clothes Become Unprofessional?

dressing-too-girlyIf you wear girly clothes, will you be seen as less of a professional? Reader A wonders…

I recently parted ways with a company where I was being micromanaged, like my boss didn’t trust me to do anything without his help and supervision. He never said why, but he kept treating me like some incompetent child. At the same time, I’m really into mid-century fashion, and I would wear really girly things that wouldn’t really been seen in most traditional offices – polka dots, shades of pink, lacy headbands, and even bows. I knew it was unorthodox and I may get some weird looks, but in hindsight I’m wondering if my clothing made my manager see me as a little girl, and maybe that’s why he wasn’t taking me seriously as a young professional. Do you think there was any connection between my fashion choices and my boss’s micromanagement?

Yowza. Ok. We’ve talked before about being feminine, as well as wearing vintage to the office, but we haven’t really discussed how going Extremely Girly affects how colleagues perceive you.  I do think  A few thoughts:

  • In general, wearing the occasional girly item is OK.  For example, something pink or polka-dotted will not make you seem like less of a professional, particularly if you otherwise act like a grown-up. Similarly, a bow here or there is fine, provided you don’t look like a present waiting to be unwrapped.  Personally I’m not a huge fan of headbands, but I think that sedate ones (solid ones, if not ones that match your hair color) are occasionally OK at work.
  • That said, it’s a bad idea to wear very girly things exclusively — Elle Woods was comical because she wore pink ALL THE TIME.  [Read more...]

How to Step Up Your Working Wardrobe

How do you step up your wardrobe when you want to be considered for a promotion or raise? Reader U wonders for her business casual office…

I work at a company where there are no strict guidelines to what we should wear. Most days, we are fine wearing casual to business casual. Even with my position as a forecasting specialist, i am not requested to wear something more formal. Jeans with a formal top or a dress are my go-to when we are requested to wear something more presentable. However, I am applying for a supervisory position and have start wearing more formal clothes, specially because I need to be at my best. What is the most appropriate clothing that I could look presentable enough but won’t look like I’m trying hard to impress people? Slacks don’t really fit me well – tiny gal with longer torso. Thanks!

We’ve talked about how to look professional in a laid-back office, how to transition your wardrobe from a very conservative workplace to a more casual office,  as well as how to look professional without being overdressed, but we haven’t talked, directly, about how to step up your wardrobe when you want to be seen as more managerial.  I’m particularly interested to hear what the readers say here.  For my own $.02, this is how I would approach it: [Read more...]

How to Do the Work You’re Not Ready For

how-to-do-work-youre-not-ready-forWhat do you do when your boss gives you work that is beyond your skill level? Reader C asks a great question…

How do you handle a situation when you’re asked to do a task you’re definitely not ready for? I am a newly admitted lawyer in my first job out of law school and I have been doing mostly doc review for 6 months, only within the past 2 weeks have I started doing substantive legal work. My boss asked me to cover a meeting he could not attend. The purpose of which was to allow non-lawyers within the agency to play “ask the lawyer” (me) about general legal questions accumulated over the past month. I am unfamiliar with the legal material and do not have time to prepare. I told my boss I didn’t feel I could competently answer the questions in the allotted time and asked if we could reschedule. Did this make me seem incapable, weak, etc.?

This seems timely, especially since I just read an article with Marissa Mayer where she noted that she never felt ready for any of the work that she did. From the article:

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do,” she said last year while speaking on her best decisions in a talk with NPR Correspondent Laura Sydell. “That feeling at the end of the day, where you’re like, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens.”

So how do you do the work you’re not ready for?  How do you figure it out without screwing up?  I hope that this can be a great thread where we share stories and advice for one another.  Here are some tips, both for Reader C and for other women in this situation.  (And let me just say, I totally get why Reader C was hesitant about this meeting — it sounds like a minefield.)  That said… [Read more...]

The Incompetent Boss

How do you handle an incompetent boss? Reader C wonders…

Corporette is my top go to blog for advice on anything career related.  I haven’t found much on dealing with an incompetent boss though.  Could you consider doing a post on how to handle a thoroughly incompetent boss? It’s almost worse than incompetent – she actually does some level of harm whenever she is involved in a meeting, on a project, etc.  (As a bonus which you may or may not want to tackle – she has 0 social intelligence, micromanages and is a chatty Kathy all wrapped into one.)

She sounds delightful!  We have talked about how to handle a chatty boss, as well as how to handle a micromanager boss, but let’s talk about the incompetent boss.

First: Figure out if this is a personality conflict between you and her.  For example, does she horde work she should have /could have given to you, and then get overwhelmed and ask you for help with it at the very last minute out of desperation?  This may stem from her lack of trust in you  — she may not want to delegate your work to you because she doesn’t trust you, so she takes on too much and has to ask you for help out of desperation at the very last minute… in which case you need to build up her trust so you can get the work done.  A few more ideas: [Read more...]

How To Celebrate a Win

how to celebrate a winHow do you celebrate a professional win?  Reader M wonders…

I have a question for you and the hive mind…yesterday I ‘sealed the deal’ on an important partnership for one of my projects, and I find myself wanting to celebrate.  Honestly, my family and friends don’t want to hear all the details because, well, I spend too much time working anyway and work should not be the topic of discussion when I’m not working!  But this is a big deal for me, and I want to celebrate – how do you go about celebrating a work success bigger than “I finished the report” but smaller than “I finished my PhD”?  FWIW I had a party when i finished my PhD!

This is a great question, because the rules do change a bit when you get out of school.  Professional success is great… but it can be a bit lonely.  First, not everyone understands what it means — they may not understand the details of your win (you did what?), or they may not understand the significance of your win.*  Secondly, because a “win” so often translates to money or promotion, you start to deal with jealous friends, or seem vain yourself.  So really — and I’m curious what the readers have to say here — my answer is you generally celebrate “by yourself” or “with your close friends and family.” (Pictured:  Party Hats, originally uploaded to Flickr by Infidelic.)  For example, I like to celebrate things by pampering myself:

[Read more...]