Career Advice

Below, find some of our recent career advice stories. Have a question for Kat? Check out the Contact page.

How to Get a Poker Face at Work

how to get a poker face at work - image of lady gagaHave you ever worried that your face gives away your thoughts every time? Putting on a poker face is always a good skill to have, but especially with performance reviews (and bonus season) coming up, now is a great time to ponder how to get a poker face at work. Here’s Reader K’s question:

A mentor of mine said one of my best qualities is that I’m genuine; however, I was told that resulted in being easily read and having zero poker face. If people can read me, they know how and where to hit, which isn’t good. How can I develop a poker face and be less easily read?

Good question, K, and I can’t wait to hear what the readers say. I also have a face that is far too easily read, but here are a few ideas on how to get a poker face at work (and beyond):

Pictured: Lady Gaga / Poker Face.

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Tips and Tricks for Holiday Networking

holiday networking2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on holiday networking, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.

Here’s today’s question: what are your thoughts about holiday networking? What kind of events (whether through your office, professional organizations, alumni connections, or even friends’ parties) do you think are the best for holiday networking — and what are your best tips for having a successful networking experience at a holiday party? Perhaps importantly in 2017: What are the boundaries of networking these days — do you avoid politics, for example? (A related Q: do you think networking at parties is ever crass? For example — you go to your mother-in-law’s party and groan when, say, a trusts and estates attorney starts hammering in how you need a will and should really call him! How’s Tuesday for a call?)

Some general tips on holidays and networking:holiday networking tips for women lawyers

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Sexual Harassment, Office Culture, Resumes, and “Boys Being Boys”

sexual harassment, office culture, resumes, and boys being boysWe’ve all been hearing and talking about the surge of men getting fired, losing control of their companies, and otherwise being disciplined for sexual harassment and other bad behavior — and we’ve all been heartened by the groundswell of support for the women and men brave enough to come forward. I’m hopeful that we are at the beginning of a tectonic shift in the way sexual harassment is handled at companies, where the default becomes “I believe her” — it’s about time. (Full disclosure, considering the stock photo: this is not a #metoo story, but my heart goes out to the many, many, many women and men who have such stories.) There’s been a lot of discussion and think pieces on this topic in the press — but here are a few questions I haven’t seen discussed that might  be interesting topics here: 1) How do you think these past few weeks will affect the companies, colleagues, and protégés (both male and female) of these men? How will they ever distance themselves enough? 2) For those of you who work at men-dominated firms where, perhaps, a “boys will be boys” attitude has prevailed in the past, has anything changed in the past few weeks? What are the positive changes you’ve seen (whether from HR, company/firm-wide meetings, etc.) that make you optimistic about the future?

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When Is a Lower Salary Worth It — And What Will You Put Up With For a Higher Salary?

When Is a Lower Salary Worth It

2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on when a lower salary is worth it — but you may also want to check out our latest advice on whether you have to give your salary history.

Here’s a fun question for today: when, if ever, would you take a job with a lower salary — when is a lower salary worth it to you, and to what extent? Put another way: what are you willing to put up with for higher pay? If a job paid 20% more but demanded nights and weekends regularly whereas your current job didn’t, would you make the switch? (What if there was room for advancement? What if the commute was better, or you were working with a good friend?) On the flip side — if a job paid 20% less but promised a 9-5 existence (with face time requirements) — would you take it? What if the new job was at a nonprofit or had another component of you doing “good” in the world, whereas your current job felt soulless — how much is the “doing good” component worth it to you?

(Do you believe in the idea that there’s a perfect salary for happiness, either in general or for you specifically? If a job paid $75,000 — the supposedly perfect salary — and it gave you more control over work-life balance than you have right now, would you run to take the job — or hesitate? Why?)

Psst: We’ve talked in the past about the person who took a flexible job even though she was overqualified for the job, how some of the worst career advice we’ve ever heard was along the lines of “follow your passion,” how much your career affects your happiness, and when to quit your career.

Pictured at top: Shutterstock / By Syda Productions.

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How to Deal with Not Making Partner: Reader Advice

how to deal with not making partnerReaders who have been there: What’s your advice to other attorneys on how to deal with not making partner? Reader E recently asked:

I was wondering if you could do a post on not making partner. I’m a sixth year at a large firm, and while I’m not being pushed out the door, my understanding is that partnership is not in the cards, either. On the one hand, this is okay. I never really wanted to make partner, and I can’t say I’m passionate about my job. On the other, ouch! I’ve seen posts about this in the comments, and I thought it might be nice to round them up in one place.

Great idea, Reader E. We haven’t devoted a post to the situation of not making partner, so let’s talk about it today. Here’s one way to look at a situation like this: When this happens to you, you may feel like you’re hanging by a thread — without anyone out there ready to catch you — but really, it can be the beginning of a great new adventure (and in fact it’s part of the adventure … just not the one you had anticipated or hoped for). As one Corporette reader once wrote in response to a young attorney who was worried about her low hours, “The firm that didn’t like me just wasn’t a good personality fit for me. At the time it was really demoralizing, but being pushed out of that firm was the best thing for my career because I found my wheelhouse at the next place.”

We’ve searched our comment threads and have found a good number of discussions about not making partner, deciding whether you even want to be partner, feeling like you’re getting pushed out at your firm, and regretting related career decisions you’ve made (or currently making decisions that may affect your chances to make partner). Do you remember, or have you bookmarked, other helpful comment threads along these lines? If this has happened to you, what advice did you receive from friends and colleagues on how to deal with not making partner? 

Here are some of the best reader discussions and advice:

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How to Deal with Extreme Coworkers

how to deal with extreme coworkersReaders, what’s your best advice for how to deal with extreme coworkers? We’ve talked about what to do when your boss has it out for you, as well as difficult coworkers who throw temper tantrums, but not in a while — so I asked lawyer/journalist Rebecca Berfanger to offer some advice… – Kat

Have you ever had a coworker or a supervisor who took things to the extreme at work? Maybe she screamed often or threw things, maybe she bragged about how she gave up sleep in order to put in longer hours, maybe she worked every holiday and weekend, or maybe she never took any breaks, not even to leave her desk or eat? Maybe she survived only on lattes? Did this coworker or boss expect you to be equally extreme in order to prove your loyalty to your job or clients? Was it actually an expectation of all coworkers — or just this one?

We’ve talked about difficult coworkers before, but this is more about those who know they are acting extreme and expect you to put up with them, or they believe that to be successful, you must behave in a similar way. If you’ve never had to work with an extreme person at work, consider yourself lucky. Studies have shown that a toxic work environment can cause extreme stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

So how can you deal with extreme coworkers?

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