In our tech driven society, video job interviewing is becoming the preferred method of determining who gets past the first stage of the interview process. Why? Because it enables organizations to conduct multiple pre-screening interviews in a very cost effective manner. So whether the organization uses Skype, HireVue or any other video platform, consider this a formal interview and the same rules apply for an in person meeting.
Here’s how you get to the next stage in the interview process:
1. Do a sound and tech check – confirm that you are using the most updated video platform version PRIOR to the interview. Additionally, make sure the sound is working properly too.
2. Anticipate & Eliminate Distractions – be sure to shut off your phone (home phone and cell phone) so it doesn’t ring during the interview. In addition, be sure to conduct the I interview in a quiet and secure place or room to avoid outside distractions (trucks, buses, etc.). And if you are taking the interview at your home or apartment, don’t forget to put a note on your door to NOT ring the doorbell!
3. Dress up (from head to toe) – while the hiring manager might only see you from shoulders up, don’t take a chance and only wear a nice jacket/shirt/tie/blouse; be sure to dress in a completed suit. Also, incorporate color into your outfit on that day so that it helps to illuminate your face and give it some light. Avoid small to medium sized prints or stripes because they project a fuzzy like image. For women, keep jewelry to a minimum since they could potentially project a glare and become a distraction.
4. Communicate with clarity – avoid umm’s, ahh’s and any sort of mumbling that might overcome you on that day. Be sure to speak up and speak clearly.
5. Showcase your portfolio – just because the interview is a virtual one, be sure to think of ways to illustrate materials that will showcase your talents and support the reasons why you are the best candidate for the job.
Have you experienced any best practices that you would like to share? Let me know!
In a July 2010 global survey conducted on by Thomson Reuters/Ipsos on Workplace Attire, 2/3 (66%) of respondents said that senior managers or individuals that run an organization or department should always be more dressed up than their employees. If this is the case, do you know how your summer wardrobe is being perceived? Is it considered too casual? Will your current summer picks get you to that senior level you striving for?
If you are not sure about the answers to the above questions, here are some tips to help guide you in understanding what is considered too casual for the office.
1. Decipher Company Dress Code Policy
First and foremost, be sure that you are familiar with your company’s dress code policies. Many companies have clear policies outlined in the employee guidebook as to what is considered appropriate vs. inappropriate for the office. Some offices are more conservative than others so it’s important to understand the varying degrees of acceptance. Don’t “assume” you understand simply by checking out what your peers are wearing.
2. Find Your Fabulous Fabrics
Select natural fibers for summer wardrobe pieces that can allow for breathability and staying cool. Good fabric choices: Cotton, Seersucker light weight jerseys and tropical weight wools. Avoid (as much as possible) clothing that is made of synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, acrylic, rayon, nylon, etc. If you opt to wear linen be sure that it’s not on a day when you have an important meeting. Linen is a wonderful summer fabric but is known to wrinkle very easily.
3. Don’t Over Expose Yourself
55% of employers consider tank tops and exposed undergarments as the biggest work-wear mishap in an office (flip flops is the second).¹ Summer apparel is lighter in color and lighter in the weight of fabrics so clothing can sometimes be see through so it’s important to factor this in for the workplace. Invest in undergarments such as slips or camisoles to help provide more coverage. For light colored pants (white, beige, etc.) be sure you choose brands that have a lining. Avoid: Plunging Necklines, bare shoulders and back, and if you are in a conservative office environment, don’t go sleeveless. However, there are great summer dresses that are sleeveless so be sure to bring a cardigan to cover up during the day and take off for the evening.
4. Pay Attention to Your Communication Style
Workplaces tend to become more “casual” in the summertime but that doesn’t mean your communication skills should become less formal. Office environments are a place of business and how one communicates should always reflect polish and professionalism when dealing with colleagues, managers, clients, prospects, and vendors.
5. Put Your Best Foot Forward
Sandals are a wonderful option in the summer but should be kept to after work hours or weekends. Instead opt for closed toe pumps or if your office is less conservative, choose a nice peep toe that isn’t exposing much of your foot. Avoid: Flip flops – yes even during the commuting. You never know who you might run into before you get to your desk. Also avoid wedges, strappy sandals, espadrilles and for all those that know me, I need to include the “croc!”
6. Handle Your Hygiene
Yes it’s true, we sometimes need a little bit more help in this department especially in the summer months. If you tend to get “over heated” in the summer be sure to carry around a travel size stick of deodorant so you are not put in an uncomfortable position during a meeting. For women, I suggest investing and carrying face blotters so you aren’t caught off guard with an ultra shiny face in the office.
What other types of summer wardrobe missteps have you seen in your office? Would love to hear!
¹Business Casual Causes Confusion by Stephanie Armour, USA Today
It wasn’t until I entered into the world of image consulting that the term “civility” became one of my favorite and treasured words. It’s a word that I try to live by every day despite the fact we encounter acts of incivility on a daily basis. As a child, my parents would teach me to “rise above it.” This provided the training ground I needed to help navigate through the corporate world as I became an adult.
Today, as a certified image consultant and personal branding expert, I work with many clients on teaching them the importance of embracing civility into their every day work life to help build and sustain long term business relationships. You might be asking yourself what exactly “civility” means. According to various dictionary resources, civility can be defined as the act of showing regard for others; manners; politeness; or a polite act or expression. For me, I define civility as providing a safe, comfortable and professional setting in order to build trust between those I am with.
Being civil in the workplace is critical to one’s success. It helps to project a positive and professional personal brand that can be leveraged for future career opportunities. Employers want to have confidence in their employees that in any given any workplace situation (positive or negative), that employee will handle with civility.
Here is a short list to help you start incorporating acts of civility into the workplace in hopes that it becomes contagious! What other acts would you add?
- Acknowledge colleagues with a hello, good morning, good night, etc.
- Say thank you, please, excuse me when necessary and applicable.
- Refrain from stating negative comments about a colleague, manager or the company and this includes posting to social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Refrain from talking negative about a situation and instead offer a solution.
- If you see a colleague struggling with a project, offer to help.
- Own your mistakes. We all make them and more often than not, we learn a tremendous amount by making them.
- Be respectful of cultural differences in the workplace.
- Communicate respectfully and don’t follow that old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
- Respect different points of view.
- Respect and practice company policy and protocol (i.e., no web surfing during company time, spending company funds on personal items, etc.)
- Dress appropriate for the office and in a manner that illustrates professionalism.
- Pay it forward whenever possible – always remember what or when someone did something nice for you and pass it on to the next person.
- Provide “constructive” criticism and not “destructive” criticism.
- Respect project timelines.
- Be gracious for company perks; however big or small you deem them to be.
- Acknowledge a job well done.
- Respect meeting times.
- Be in the moment – refrain from blackberry browsing when someone is speaking to you.
- Be respectful of personal space.
- Say what you mean, mean what you say.
As a former marketing professional for the technology sector, I often worked on developing branding and advertising campaigns for products and services so my transition into the image industry was an easy one. Instead of working on campaigns for products, I now apply similar marketing techniques to developing personal branding campaigns for my clients.
A very important part of a successful branding campaign is the ability to communicate the value the product or service offers and as an individual, you are also a brand and need to effectively communicate your value to others. It’s essential to clearly differentiate yourself amongst your peers in order to be considered and selected for promotions or new career opportunities.
Effective communication is a must have in today’s competitive job marketplace. Technology has enabled us to communicate globally in a more swift and frequent manner. I recently read in a Forbes article, Put Down Your PDA and Stay a While, that in the U.S. we send nearly 5 billion text messages per day and we send 2.8 million emails per second in the world!
Lastly, the article stated that we attend (on average) 61 meetings per month. As evidenced by this study, the ability to communicate effectively is a key to career success. So how can you begin to hone your communication skills to a point where it will differentiate you from others? Start by communicating using the 3R’s.
Always be on message and ensure your conversation is relevant to the opportunity at hand either in person or any follow up communications sent. This is especially true in your email communications; be sure that you get to the point quick and highlight key takeaways upfront.
Be sure to follow office protocol and always be mindful of manners. If you are in client meetings, keep the conversation professional and be aware of any cultural differences. If you are in an internal meeting, be sure to communicate your point of view in a professional manner vs. an aggressive one and be respectful of those that may differ in your opinion. If at a networking event, be inclusive of others not exclusive. If emailing a group, avoid negativity in general but also remember to never highlight a colleague’s mistake in a public forum.
Having grown up on Long Island or more commonly called “Lawng Iland” I continue to work on my accent not because I’m ashamed of where I grew (its a lovely place to live) but there is a negative perception that goes a long with it that somehow I’m less educated than others who might have a more “refined” way of speaking. It’s important in your career to pay attention to your diction; the accent, the inflection, intonation and speech-sound quality. Doing so enables others to pay attention to WHAT you are saying vs. HOW you are saying it.
What are some of your effective communication tips for the workplace?
Being one of six children, I can tell you that it’s incredibly important to have a “voice” and to be heard and when you have to factor in a “petite stature” that can add a whole lot of challenges in getting your point across!
This childhood “training” definitely helped me when I entered into the corporate world. So much of achieving our goals has to do with image; the right clothes, effective communication skills, relationship building, understanding and practicing business protocol and so forth. For women in general, we still struggle with achieving the same level of success and acknowledgment men do and like growing up in a large family, one’s petite stature is, often, a hindrance.
Being a petite business woman, I can tell you that there are a lot of negative associations with this particular stature; meek, fragile, delicate, timid, etc. During my first business trip to Cologne, Germany I met the head of our organization who referred to me as “kleiner” which translates to “little one or of less size or importance”. Now I must say that this gentlemen was a tough businessman and looked quite intimidating BUT he assured me that the use of this term was endearing and by no means meant in a derogatory manner. My company role in the company was a pretty hefty one that assumed a lot of responsibility so perhaps he was surprised to encounter a 5ft. tall woman taking on this “hefty” role!
Tune in to Bella Petite Radio Show
Being an image expert provides me the opportunity to empower women (particularly petite ones) to position and brand themselves in a way that showcases their strengths despite their size. I now have a larger platform to accomplish this thanks to Ann Lauren, Editor-in-CHIEF of Bella Petite. Ann has asked me to join their stellar team of experts as a Corporate Image & Style Expert contributor and I’m so honored to work with her and the team!
Bella Petite is a Fashion, Entertainment and Lifestyle Magazine for women 5’5″ tall & under. This multimedia platform consists of a web community, radio show and digital magazine. Their objective is to create a high-quality fashion forward web community and publication with innovative content, while promoting the petite woman’s image to the mainstream media.
Listen to my radio interview with Ann on Image, Style and Techniques for Job Seekers!
Join other women and be a part of Bella Petite to follow my corporate image advice by clicking here: www.BellaPetite.com/join
Growing up I was taught to send thank you cards to those who were kind enough to give me a gift for special occasions such as a birthday, communion, graduation etc. or performed an act of kindness that my parents felt warranted a thank you note. While I didn’t look forward to this ritual I did learn the importance and meaning behind it and as a result, it has helped me both personally and professionally.
Sending a thank you doesn’t just apply to gift givers but also includes acts of professional kindness such as a client referral, a business introduction, or an interview. Taking a few minutes out of your day to craft a nice thank you note will most definitely set you apart.
I’ve recently become surprised at how many people no longer think it necessary to send a thank you note; for anything! I cannot determine if it’s because of the perceived “casualness” of today’s society and people view thank you notes as a more “formal” task or is it that people just don’t know any better?
If you believe that a thank you note / email / phone call is “old school” and not necessary in today’s world, here are 5 (I think) great reasons to counter that argument. After reading, let me know if I’ve changed your mind!
1. It eliminates the guesswork – a gesture, whether it’s sending a gift or maybe a client referral, business contact etc. should be acknowledged because it enables the giver/sender to know that it was received. How often have you wondered whether your gift was received? Or if that a client referral or connection worked out for the receiver? With technology at our fingertips at all times, a simple thank you takes only a few minutes to craft and send.
2. It builds rapport and establishes long-term relationships – taking a few minutes out of your schedule to acknowledge a kind act helps to build rapport and trust in both personal and professional relationships. People want to do business (or develop relationships) with people they like.
3. It shows respect – thanking someone shows that you have respect for that person and their time. If someone takes the time out of their schedule to do something nice for you, why wouldn’t you show respect to that person and acknowledge their kindness?
4. It demonstrates good manners – think about how you feel when someone doesn’t say please or thank you to you. It’s not a nice feeling right? Why? Because as early back as you can remember, your parents instilled the importance of manners so when it’s not returned to you, it’s disappointing.
5. It shows gratitude – at times I feel there is a strong sense of entitlement amongst people today and I often wonder if this is why showing gratitude is a foreign concept for some. Recently, a friend sent me a client referral and I was grateful that she took time out to not only recommend me but she called to give me a little background on this individual so that I was prepared for the conversation. I was truly grateful and sent her a handwritten thank you note. Once received, she called to tell me that she cannot remember the last time she received a note like mine and it made her day.
So did I change your mind? Will you be sending more thank you notes when appropriate?
Thanks for taking time to read this blog article
Much of my professional career was spent in technology marketing up until a few years ago when I decided to become a certified Image Consultant and founded my own business. Having worked in a corporate environment gave me unique insights into behavior that got people noticed and ultimately promoted. Many employees overlook their misuse of email and are surprised to learn that it does negatively impact their image in the workplace.
Here are a few tips you can start to implement in your email messages that will help you communicate more effectively with your colleagues, customers, prospective customers and vendors and also provide you with a competitive edge in the office.
1. You craft a great subject line – I’m not suggesting you take creative writing classes and craft an award winning subject line; I’m suggesting that your subject line represents (in a succinct manner) the body of your email. Have you ever received an email with a long chain of responses and by the time it gets to you, the body of the email has nothing to do with the subject line?
2. You highlight next steps – On average, we receive approximately 200-300 emails a day so if you need the recipient to take action, be sure to indicate and highlight action items or next steps.
3. You summarize an email chain – Don’t expect the recipient to read through an email chain and respond accordingly. Take a few minutes to summarize the chain and indicate why you are forwarding it to recipient.
4. You don’t “reply all” – If the content isn’t applicable to everyone on the original email distribution, don’t hit reply all. If you do, it is a complete time waster for all those on the email.
5. You don’t forward “sensitive” emails – Before forwarding ANY email check the content and be sure it doesn’t contain any confidential information or negative comments about a manager, colleague, customer, etc.
6. You spell check – There is a function called “Tools” so be sure to turn on spelling & grammar.
7. You don’t use acronyms – refrain from LOL, LMAO, DL, WTH, etc. Corporate email communications are business related and should written in a professional and more serious tone rather than an email written to a friend.
Do you have any effective email tips that you want to share?
It’s that time of year again when eating drinking and acting merry is the norm. The holiday season is filled with endless celebrations both at home and in the office. What one does in their own home is their business but the office is a public venue and can make or break one’s career.
Having worked in the corporate world as a marketing professional for some time, I can tell you that I’ve seen my share of careers gone bad because of inappropriate behavior at the annual holiday office party. It’s OK to have fun and enjoy your accomplishments at year end but why risk your reputation and potentially your job by showing poor judgment in one night.
Here’s my take on 8 career limiting mistakes that happen at the holiday office party and I can say that I have witnessed many of these.
1. Don’t do club wear – plunging necklines (yes this is for both men & women) short mini’s, excessive make up, funky footwear, overpowering perfume and cologne can be left for weekends not the office party.
Dress is too revealing for an office party and guys need not show chest hair
2. Don’t do shades indoors – not sure how this “trend” started but I assume some celebrity thought it was hip or cool to wear sunglasses indoors so the rest of society considered this to be acceptable. Unless a person has entered into thewitness protection plan and doesn’t want to risk being recognized, please don’t wear sunglasses indoors. It looks ridiculous and communicates “I have something to hide” or “I’m too cool to look you in the eye when speaking to you.”
3. Don’t gossip, point or poke fun at your colleagues or management team. This is a sure way to limit your ability to move up in the organization.
4. Don’t over indulge in alcohol or food – while this might seem obvious to many, for some reason, employees still do it. If you get drunk, you will be the person everyone talks about for year’s to come. And while the food buffet or passed hors de vours are yours for the taking, it’s not necessary to eat as if it’s your last meal. Ample portions are good, super size portions not good. One could be perceived as ill mannered or selfish by over indulging.
5. Don’t be an ingrate – companies don’t have to provide a holiday party but they do it to thank the employees for their hard work throughout the year so don’t complain about the venue, food, or the fact they didn’t have “premium” alcohol.
6. Don’t be inappropriate – while the event is festive in nature, it doesn’t mean you should discount the do’s and don’ts of appropriate office behavior. This means no ogling at co-workers and no overly outward displays of affection.
7. Don’t be ill mannered – thank the hosts for their generosity in throwing the event, don’t ignore the staff who are serving you instead thank them, introduce yourself to a colleague if you don’t know him or her and be sure to look as if you are enjoying yourself and not as if you want to make a clean get away when no one is watching.
8. Don’t not attend – we all have hectic schedules, particularly around this time of year but it’s considered disrespectful to not show up for your company party. Of course if you are out of town that’s an appropriate excuse but if you just don’t want to make the effort, that’s showing a lack of team spirit or lack of leadership.
Eat, drink and yes be merry but do it appropriately and in moderation!
5 Tips to Get You to Round 2
I was recently invited to help out my esteemed image colleagues, Catherine Schuller and Judith Ann Graham at a Job Fair in midtown Manhattan. No, we were not accepting job applications but instead providing image, resume and communication tips for those individuals seeking employment. With a 10% unemployment rate the competition is fierce so it’s our mission to help job seekers present a polished and professional image that will get them hired.
I’m writing this blog because to be honest, I was a bit surprised (ok well horrified) at how ill prepared some of these job seekers were. Everything from their attire, body language, and resumes screamed “I am just not into this!”
Attention Job Fair Attendees: It IS an interview and a very important one! It is your first contact with the company and could be your last.
1. Turn the cell phone/blackberry OFF and be “present!”
I watched a woman waiting on line to speak with a potential employer, talking loudly on her phone. Not only was she disrupting the others on the line whom were probably trying to mentally prepare themselves for their interview, but she was saying to the potential employer “I have other things to do today.” Really? The only thing that you should be communicating to all the employers in that room is “There is nothing more important than being here today and getting hired!”
2. Leave apathy at the door and bring enthusiasm into the room!
I stole the apathy part from my colleague Judith Graham and realized how right she is. Yes, many Americans are struggling right now and millions have been unemployed for quite some time BUT here’s your opportunity to get employed! Bring solutions to the table, not problems. Don’t walk into the job fair as if you are tired of doing this “gig” because chances are, the person that exudes energy, enthusiasm and a desire to be there will get through to round 2 and you won’t.
3. Dress up because it IS an interview
The same woman I mentioned above chatting loudly on her cell phone, thought it appropriate to wear a long sleeve rocker type t-shirt paired with jeans a few sizes to small and Ugg Boots. Do you think an employer will say “wow, this is a great candidate, she’s definitely making it to round 2?!” I think NOT. She could encompass all the qualities and skills they are looking for but her “attitude” and “attire” will only get her standing on line at the next Job Fair. Get your suit tailored, shoes polished, hair, make up and nails done, and for men, if you must have facial hair, keep it well groomed. If you are a smoker, PLEASE refrain from smoking until AFTER the job fair. Lastly, there is no need to have a cocktail prior to your “interview” so please refrain from this as well!
4. Practice your pitch
Your sole purpose at a job fair is to sell your skill set so that you differentiate yourself from all other candidates in that room that are vying for the same job. You have a very short window to do this (many people waiting on line) so practice your pitch. Know the answer when asked “why would I hire you” or better yet, don’t wait until you are asked, tell the interviewer when you meet him/her why you would be the best candidate for the job.
5. Your image encompasses your resume
Please have a professional review and critique your resume. Trust me, whatever the cost; it will be well worth it. If you don’t have an email address, get one; they are FREE! When you open up the account, do not pick a funny email address like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; simply use your name! Also, when you print your resume, print it on heavy stock paper not ordinary printer paper. Your resume is a leave behind so make sure it gets passed on in the organization and not thrown in the recycle bin.
I implore everyone that plans to attend a job fair to please take these above tips into careful consideration. If you have specific questions, please feel free to write a comment here in this blog or send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it really a question of freedom of speech or just a matter of manners and intelligence?
Last week a woman took up issue with her boss and went to Facebook to air it. Allegedly, her disparaging comments got back to her supervisor and as a result, she was fired. Her employer says this is not the case and the reason she was fired was due to her failure to adhere to company policy which is “against employees discussing the company on the Internet, including social media sites.”
According to this article, the situation has “prompted a debate over whether or not these comments are protected speech under labor laws.” To me, the question isn’t whether they are protected or not, the question is whether or not, she was right or wrong in taking the risk to air her negative feelings in a public forum which happens to be a social media site her company has a policy about.
It seems so easy today for people to absolve themselves of accountability and hide against laws that weren’t intended to protect them from being ill mannered and irresponsible. Did this woman think it was right to talk negatively about her employer who is paying her paycheck each week? Did she not think of the ramifications of her actions? Did she not think of the risks involved and how she could be potentially lose her job? Let’s say she wasn’t fired from her job but her employer found out that she wrote those disparaging remarks on Facebook; did she think she would have a good working relationship with him? Would he be an advocate for her career? No he would not. If she thought through what she was doing (which many people don’t these days) she could have opted to speak with her supervisor in a professional manner and defend herself in person.
With a 10% unemployment rate (and higher in some states) why would someone be so cavalier about their job or career? I’m not suggesting that one should not report ill treatment in a workplace but I don’t know any employee who doesn’t have an issue or two about their supervisor or company.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.