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Career Q&A | By Liz Reyer, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Readers offer their career advice

As so often happens, readers have offered very useful perspectives on some recent columns.

The column addressed the shift to part-time work. And, as reader Carol pointed out, I didn't include any comments about impact on pay and benefits. Thanks for pointing that out! When assessing whether part-time work is right for you, take a look at your budget, your insurance and other benefits, and any profit sharing or retirement implications. You want to be sure that you can afford the shift to short-term from long-term. Also, be clear when you talk to your boss that you understand that there will be an effect on your compensation; some people ask for part-time hours but still expect to receive full-time pay — this is naive at best.

This reader also suggested another option for a trial approach: "Have an employee use accrued vacation time for a period — they retain their salary and benefits and have a chance to see how it works."

As long as the employee doesn't mind using vacation this way, it's an option.

In response to "How to meet the challenge of improving meetings," reader Jennie pointed out the value of setting guidelines and training employees on how to hold good meetings, noting that people seemed really grateful for direction. She also mentioned a couple of resources that were useful in her career. As she said, "Today's column on meetings reminded me of my favorite book on holding productive meetings, Making Meetings Work — A guide for Leaders and Group Members, by Leland P. Bradford. … Another favorite, time-tested book I love is Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco. I go back to it often." Both are available online.

Another reader noted that many adults are in the same boat as in the column "Figure out what you want out of college before planning your return." She commented that many public and private colleges have fast-track programs to help working adults finish a degree quickly.

Career strategy and job search topics are just one step away from the "returning to school" topic, and a couple of useful books have come my way recently. One, Navigating Through Now What by Karen Kodzik, highlights both mistakes that people make, ways to align a new job with your values and practical strategies to make a change.

Another, Nail It! Six Steps to Transform Your Career, lays out an approach to self-coaching your way into a new career. These books can help in returning to school or moving into a new phase in your work life.

Readers, send me an e-mail when you have additional ideas — your knowledge and insights are a great resource to all of us.

Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes.

Readers offer their career advice 06/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 5:30am]

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