I Can’t Wear a Suit — But Want to Show Authority

I Can't Wear a Suit But Want to Show Authority -- How? | CorporetteWhat do you wear when you want to show authority without wearing a suit?  We’ve talked about what to wear when a suit doesn’t feel right, but Reader R is looking for authoritative clothes that aren’t intimidating and travel well…

I recently started a new job as in-house counsel. As part of my responsibilities, I will be traveling internationally to conduct audits and give training sessions. The job is great, but I’m not sure what to wear! My de facto would be to wear a suit, but my boss suggested that I should avoid wearing suits, since the appearance of a “suit” tends to make people nervous. Some relevant factors: (1) I’m often the only woman in the room; and (2) I’m also often the youngest person in the room.

Basically, I need pieces that say, “Position of authority, but non-scary” and travel well. Help!

Congrats on the new job, R!  One of my older friends was a lawyer for a TV network in the 80s, and I remember her telling me that she would leave her suit jacket in her office when she had to go talk to the comedy writers or producers — it was less intimidating, less “this is coming from The Man.” So you’re not alone in wanting to thinking about what your clothes say to people.  For my $.02: Put some thought into exactly what response you want from people.  For example: Do you want them to respect that your word is the final word, and they should do what you tell them? (Play up the authority.)  Do you want them to come to you with problems that might not be communicated to the home office otherwise?  (Play up the approachability, but keep some authority.) Do you seek to really understand their problems and make friends in the office? (Turn the authority way down.)  (As for the “looking younger” part of your question, you may want to look at our older post on the difference between acting young and looking young at the office.)

For my $.02, I would go with what you feel most comfortable in, and modify that (taking into account, obviously, the office culture for where you’re going). If you’re comfortable in: [Read more...]

Guestpost: Professional, Small Suitcases For an Overnight Business Trip

The Best Suitcases for a Short Business Trip | CorporetteWhich is the best suitcase for an overnight trip?  We’ve talked about Kat’s top packing tips, as well as rounded up some great weekender bags, but this is totally up business travel blogger Road Warriorette’s alley, so I thought I’d pass it on to her — thank you for guest posting, RW! – Kat.

Reader C is on the hunt for a professional, small suitcase for overnight business trips, to help her cut down her baggage:

I travel occasionally for work, and have the standard wheeled suitcase that everyone has, which is perfect for up to week-long trips.
But lately, I have been doing more overnighters, and my usual suitcase plus a computer bag plus a purse is overkill.

I am searching for a wheeled bag that’s big enough for an outfit and my toiletries, and a separate compartment for my laptop. Ideally it’s professional looking enough that I could wheel it into the corner of a business meeting, and not be embarrassed because it looks like a backpack or a duffel bag. Any suggestions from the hive?

I totally understand—it feels weirdly wasteful to travel with a suitcase that is half empty. There are so many professional-looking standard sized rollerboards, but it seems like smaller bags that look appropriate for work are few and far between. Here are a few options. [Read more...]

Planning Company Travel Six Months Away — While Secretly Pregnant

When to Tell Your Boss You're Pregnant | CorporetteWhen should you tell your boss that you’re pregnant? Are there any circumstances where you should tell your boss earlier rather than later?

My husband and I are expecting our first child. I haven’t told anyone at work yet, since we’re still in the first trimester (due in June). I’m two years into my current job, and love my company and my work.

A few big opportunities and changes just came up that may affect my plans to “break the news” about my pregnancy earlier than intended:

(1) My boss, who supports my advancement within the company, just got a new position. With a change of management, I may not have a boss who is as supportive of me, especially given that I intend to be out of the office for three months.
(2) My team is planning now for travel that must occur in the spring. Travel involves going to developing countries, which I won’t be able to do on the cusp of my third trimester.
(3) I just found out I am scheduled to present two of my biggest projects to our Board of Directors in June, which is a major career opportunity for me. This cannot be rescheduled for many reasons.

Any advice?

Congratulations, A! We’ve talked about when is the best time in your career to get pregnant, how to announce you’re pregnant, and how to negotiate maternity leave before, but your circumstances may be sufficiently different so I’m curious to hear what readers say. For my own $.02:

The standard wisdom is to wait until the end of your first trimester because the risk for miscarriage decreases then, and I really don’t think you should vary that here.  (At the very least, wait until you hear the baby’s heartbeat!)  (Readers often recommend the work/life balance book, Balance is a Crock, Sleep is For the Weak — as the authors there say about announcing early to your boss: “shut your piehole.”) To put it another way: What are you hoping will change based on your sharing your news? [Read more...]

How to Plan a Vacation

How to Plan a Vacation | CorporetteIt seems counter intuitive, but I’ve read that at the end of August is one of the best times to plan a vacation because you can get the best deals.  We’ve talked about how to deal with vacation stress (including how to be a good employee while on vacation, and a vacation time poll to gauge how much you’ve actually taken) and we’ve talked about office etiquette around the holidays — but we haven’t talked about planning a vacation in a long time, so I thought we could discuss.  How do you budget for a vacation, both in terms of money and time?  (Does anyone do the “extra savings account just for vacations” thing?) Do you like to vacation in the summer or some other time of the year?  Have you taken the same vacation multiple times (for example, I’ve been on FOUR Paris vacations — I love the city and love seeing new sides to it every time I go)?  Or are vacations all about family for you, spending time with your parents (either in your childhood home or at a family beach house or the like)?  [Read more...]

How to Take a Job Far From Family and Friends

How to Take a Job Far From Friends and Family | CorporetteHow do you tell your friends and family you’re moving for work? How do you even decide to take a job that’s far away from family and friends? Reader L wrote in with an interesting question:

I’m a recent college grad and I just accepted my first job offer (yay!). I’ll be moving across the country, and I’m working on updating my closet. There’s just one (sort of) huge issue.

I have no idea how to prepare my family and friends for this. I haven’t told anyone that I will be moving, and the move is literally two weeks away. What’s a suggestion for the easiest/quickest way to tell people, without hang-ups?

Congratulations, L! We’ve talked about how to job hunt in a different city, how to make new friends, and I’ve shared my moving tips for Type As — but we haven’t talked about the decision of whether or not to move for a job, nor have we talked about how to tell your friends. So, readers — if you’ve had a big move, how did you tell your loved ones? How did you decide to take the job?

For my $.02 of advice for Reader L, I would note: [Read more...]

How to Set Up a Mobile Office

How to Deal with Hot Desking | CorporetteWhat do you do if you don’t have a specific desk or workspace every day, and instead have to carry everything you need for work with you? How do you set up a mobile office, or deal with a “hot desking” situation? I’ve had a few questions about this recently, so let’s discuss.

First, Reader S — a British reader starting a new career — will be spending most workdays at clients’ offices, with no more than one day a week at the home office; she may also be commuting on very crowded public trains to and from her work. Essentially, she wonders:

How do I create a “mobile office?
- what are the essentials I should carry everday in order to have everything I need, but not look like I’m moving in and damaging my back in the process?
- What should I bring with me but maybe leave in the hotel room if I don’t need them EVERY day?
- How do I pack light clotheswise but stay stylish?
- Also, what few things should be the things I prioritize and keep in my locker at my company’s office?

A second reader, R (also from the UK! hello Brits!) wonders how to deal with a new office where “we ‘hot desk,’ meaning there are desk tops with docking stations but no drawers or pedestals (with a small locker allocated to them, so small it won’t even fit a pair of shoes.)

Whoa. I’ve always been the kind of worker who likes to really personalize my office — it’s one of the main reasons I’ve resisted working in coffee shops or a group office space now that I’m self-employed. Although it looks like hot desking is already fairly common overseas, Inc. notes that it’s the “latest office design craze” here in America as well, so let’s discuss. (And I’ll say at the outset that your job will dictate what you need — an accountant may need a more specific calculator than the one on your phone; a lawyer may need more highlighters or tape flags than a consultant, and so forth.)  We’ve talked before about how to lighten your tote bag, but here are a few more ideas for you: [Read more...]