How to Navigate 6 Tricky Work Situations

MC has you covered with this quick and easy primer on acing your stickiest work situations.
By Faye Penn

Branding YourselfBranding YourselfBranding Yourself
Branding means establishing who you are and what you stand for, then transmitting those values through your résumé, portfolio, and social-media presence. Whether you're an accountant or an exotic herbalist, make sure all your materials (even business cards and LinkedIn profile) convey a clear, consistent, immediately recognizable message about you. "When I moved to New York, I started using the tagline 'A Swiss designer gone NYC,'" says graphic designer and founder of Tattly LLC, Tina Roth Eisenberg, better known as the SwissMiss Blogger. The Swiss New Yorker quickly became her brand. "It said I was trained in Swiss aesthetics but was nevertheless adventurous. People knew what it meant instantly - and it still works for me today," she says.

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Disagreeing with BossDisagreeing with BossDisagreeing with Your Boss
"I've been known to say, 'I absolutely, totally disagree with your point of view,'" says Mary Gleason, president of luxe handbag maker Judith Leiber, along with Shaquille O'Neal's sneaker and apparel line. Still, the Bronx-born exec concedes her frank approach won't work for everyone. So before speaking up, Gleason says you better make sure you've got your facts straight. Always remain respectful, and don't take the boss on at every turn or you'll be perceived as exhausting. "If you find that you always disagree with your boss," Gleason says, "consider looking for another job."

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Nailing a First ImpressionNailing a First Impression
Start with a smile, advises Alison Brod, founder of an eponymous Manhattan-based PR firm that represents a slew of beauty and fashion companies, from Stila to Havaianas. Follow up with a firm handshake (never a kiss) and some questions aimed at establishing common ground. "I ask everyone I meet what they do, where they're from, and what they did before their current job," Brod says. "Somewhere along the way, I'm going to be able to connect myself to something they're doing."

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What to say lateWhat to say late
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First, acknowledge how important your colleagues' time is, then apologize for the inconvenience you've caused them, says Katia Beauchamp, cofounder of Birchbox. Then reassure them that you'll make the most of the time you've got left. "Say, 'Even though we have only 10 minutes, I'll make it an effective 10 minutes," she adds.

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Scoring a Job Interview
Scoring a job interviewScoring a job interview
Keep your résumé "crisp and straightforward," focusing on achievements rather than broad job descriptions, says Jennifer Gosselin, vice president and general manager of Piperlime. Use your cover letter to express your admiration for the company as specifically as possible ("but keep it tight"). Don't be shy about tracking down the head of the relevant department directly and sending an e-mail - two e-mails max. "That tells me you're resourceful, you're driven, and you'll work hard to get what you want," says Gosselin.

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Hiring a Winner
hire a winnerhire a winner
The key rule: Don't be swayed by a sizzling first interview. You'll need to meet with a top candidate several times-and introduce her to your team-to get a real sense of how she'll fit in, says Lori Goler, vice president of human resources at Facebook. ("We interview in three stages," Goler says.) At Facebook, applicants are also asked how they'd handle a real-life challenge, like fixing a bug. "We're looking to gauge how they think," says Goler. And don't be afraid to give some homework on a tight deadline, à la Facebook's "Camp Hackathon," which asks applicants to build the prototype for a new product in a single night. After that, the actual job should be easy.

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