New Job, New You

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-12-29
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
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If you're dissatisfied in your current position, fantasize about doing something else with your life, or have just unceremoniously been given a pink slip, take heart. It's never too late to start fresh and forge ahead on a fulfilling new career path. Alexandra Levit, career columnist forThe Wall Street Journal, has interviewed dozens of individuals who have successfully switched careers-many of them more than once-and provides practical, empowering, and action-oriented steps for figuring out your next move with clarity and confidence. Organized by the seven major motivations that lead people to seek career changes-family, independence, learning, money, passion, setback, and talent-New Job, New Youshows you how to bull; research careers that best reflect your new direction bull; stand out in this competitive job market bull; market yourself to a particular (most ideal) position bull; create a financial plan to maintain income during your transition bull; use the power of networking to put you exactly where you want to be Complete with compelling personal stories, helpful questionnaires, and savvy, down-to-earth advice,New Job, New Yougives you the resources you need to turn your wildest pipe dream into a solid reality and obtain the rewarding, invigorating career that you deserve.

Author Biography

Alexandra Levit is a nationally recognized business and workplace author and speaker. A syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a blogger for HuffingtonPost.com, Alexandra has authored several books, including the popular They Don't Teach Corporate in College, How'd You Score That Gig?, and Success for Hire.

Alexandra makes frequent national media appearances and has been featured in thousands of outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, ABC News, Fox News, CNBC, the Associated Press, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Fortune, and her articles regularly appear on the home pages of CNN, MSN, and Yahoo!.

Known as one of the premiere spokespeople of her generation, Alexandra regularly speaks at conferences, universities, and corporations including Campbell's Soup, CIGNA, the Federal Reserve Bank, McDonalds, and Whirlpool — on issues facing modern employees. Alexandra is also a global spokesperson for Microsoft and has recently been called upon to speak to corporate C-suite audiences and Baby Boomer and Generation X managers about leveraging the talent of the Millennial generation.

Alexandra has ten years of experience providing integrated marketing communications solutions for Fortune 500 companies and is also skilled at providing guidance regarding twenty-first century motherhood, human resources and general business issues, and entrepreneurship. She graduated from Northwestern University and resides in Chicago, IL with her husband Stewart and son Jonah.


Chapter One


The only rock I know that stays steady,

the only institution I know that works is the family.

---Lee Iacocca, business magnate

As a young professional, I was always told by my mentors that I shouldn't make a decision about whether to reconfigure my career to accommodate children until the first one arrived. "You can never tell how you're going to feel or what you'll want to do," they cautioned. Yet somehow I knew that I would always want to work without shipping my kids off to a -day--care center eighty hours a week. So in my -mid-twenties, little by little, I started creating a career that would allow me to be home a few days a week, with the ability to juggle my work and family lives as I saw fit. By the time my son was born, I was able to support myself as a writer and speaker. I work in my home office three days a week, and spend the other two at playgroups and music classes.

You might associate a schedule like mine with -self--employment, but the workplace is shifting in this regard. As Phyllis Furman recently reported in the New York Daily News, global consulting behemoth Ernst & Young provides a flexible work arrangement to 10 percent of its approximately three thousand New York area employees. Also, when American Express learned in a Center for -Work--Life Policy survey that -one--quarter of women worry they could hurt their careers by asking for flexibility, the company allowed select employees to customize their schedules to work -twenty--one hours a week without negatively affecting their shot at advancement.

Some fields, however, simply don't permit individuals to put their families first, and this is a major reason that workers who are concerned about children, spouses, and even aging parents decide to change careers. In this chapter, you'll meet some inspiring individuals who took their schedules into their own hands and -custom--created careers that are compatible with spending precious time with loved ones. They are some of the happiest people I came across while working on this book, and they are as proud of their ability to achieve balance as they are of their professional endeavors. I'll close with some guidance about how to adjust your own career---either by transitioning to a more -family--friendly field or by taking advantage of new policies where you are---in order to make the people waiting at home a higher priority in your life.


From -High--Tech Saleswoman to Novelist

A -high--achieving student in the Wharton undergraduate program at the University of Pennsylvania, Leslie was assured a bright future. Shortly before graduation, minority recruiters from Xerox Corporation attended a large job fair in Philadelphia and literally picked Leslie out of a lineup. "I chose a career in -high--tech sales because I had monster student loans and the pay was the best," Leslie says.

Over the next several years, Leslie sold "-big--box" equipment for Xerox, -Hewlett--Packard, and Digital Equipment Corporation--com-panies with the most professionally recognized sales forces in the country. "I learned almost -military--like discipline, how to have a thick skin when it comes to rejection, and how to understand business models, profits, margins, and ROI [return on investment]," she says. "I also figured out how to sell based on listening to what customers were really saying they needed, and by the end, I could sell anything."

Leslie, married and with a newborn, was a supermom. The stress took its toll, but Leslie continued on her path as a driven sales executive until her daughter was in an unthinkable accident at her -day--care center. "My -six--month--old was left in a room with an ironing board and a hot iron," Leslie recalls. "She pulled on the cord and spilled scalding hot water on herself. I left my job that day and went to sit vigil at the hospital. She lost three fingers and had sevente

Excerpted from New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career by Alexandra Levit
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