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Dressing for a Job Interview

I never thought I would need to tackle this topic on my blog, because let’s face it, it’s been beaten to death a zillion times in newspapers, books, etc. Doesn’t everyone know you’re supposed to dress “appropriately” to a job interview? Well, apparently not everyone knows what the definition of “appropriate” is, so let me give you two examples.

I was flipping through the TV channel the other day looking for something to watch when I happened to catch Tyra Banks doing a segment on job interviews. She was running an experiment on whether telling the interviewer “you’re hot” would help get the job. It doesn’t. However, the man who conducted the interview did reveal that he was opposed to open-toed shoes on females. Even the little peek-hole kind. Take note: closed-toe shoes are considered appropriate for a job interview.

Next, an example from many years ago when I worked with a freelance employee at our firm. When I decided to leave the company, she applied for my job. My company flew her to the home office for an interview. Mind you, they had never met her in person before, but were impressed enough by her work to want to consider her for full-time employment.

My boss was shocked at what she was wearing. A leopard mini-skirt, matching blazer, and leopard pumps with black stockings. It was not even Halloween! So, even though this woman had all the experience and work ethic to do my job, it was her sexy attire that cost her the job. Ouch.

Don’t let this happen to you. Not only must you dress for the job at an interview, you need to continue to do so after you get the job. Because after all, every day IS your job interview.

–Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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Do You See What I See?

Probably not, unless you work in HR or hire people, but let me clarify where I’m going with today’s blog. The job search is a stiff competition. But unlike most competitions, it’s one where you rarely get to see what you’re up against. Professional athletes understand that in order to succeed, you can’t just read a book and go out and perform if you expect to win. You need a coach to study what you’re doing right and wrong. The coach also knows what the competition is doing, and then develops a strategy on how to win.

How can you do that, when you have no idea what you’re up against? Or what you’re doing wrong? Or even what the rules are. In the job search, the rules are constantly changing (online job boards ring a bell?) If you’re doing it yourself, without a coach, it will take you a lot longer if your goal is to get a job. Take a lesson from Olympic Ice Skater Michelle Kwan who fired her coach one year and tried to do it herself. The results were not stellar.

I’ve been to numerous job fairs across the country, and have critiqued thousands of resumes and cover letters. So I see what the competition has to offer. Rarely do I find career documents without issues. During the critiques I’ll point out about 3 problems with the resume. These 3 things will make a slight improvement, but probably not enough to make you stand out against my own clients. That’s what they’re paying me for. To win the job.

Throughout my 8+ years as a professional resume writer I hear the same comments from ignorant people on a regular basis. Comments such as “oh, my resume looks fine. I just need to add a few things to it.” Or, one of my favorites, as told to my husband, “why would anyone pay to do something they can do themselves?” I’ll admit, these comments used to irk me, as if I was out to take their money for something as “simple” as “typing” a resume and cover letter. But now that the economy has truly taken a turn for the worst, I no longer feel that way.

That’s because it’s a lot easier to compete against the under-performers than those who do their homework, practice, and undergo professional coaching. And with fewer jobs available, and a greater number of applicants who can’t present themselves well, it’s a cinch to help my clients stand out and win interviews. Resume Writing is a combined art and science that is highly under-rated.

So for all the folks with self-written resumes and cover letters — thank you. You really do make my job a lot easier.

— Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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Jobs are There, but Work Ethic Isn’t

One of my colleagues in Career Directors International is hiring a Director of New Business Development. Don Straits of Career Warriors recently posted his frustration on our private egroup with finding the right candidate. Don gave me permission to share, as these are issues you need to know about if you’re seeking a job. Don has hired hundreds of people throughout his career, and says “it never ceases to amaze me at how many job seekers just don’t get it.”

He continues….

“I have been looking at dozens of resumes, or perhaps a couple of hundred..and as we all know, that is a nightmare by itself. But something else really struck me. With all of the prospects I have identified and scheduled for phone interviews, or personal interviews, there is a common thread. I emailed links to each of them for my five websites (Corporate Warriors, Conferencing, and Blogs) for their review, prior to the interview. WITHOUT EXCEPTION, every prospect failed to do their homework and review the sites. When I asked them why not, they all had a list of excuses as long as your arm. A couple of them gave one or two of the sites a quick overview, but none of them had an in depth understanding of what we do or had any questions. They wanted me to tell them what we do. AAARGH.”

As it turns out, Don didn’t hire any of the prospects during this attempt at securing a Director of New Business Development. He’s apparently looking for candidates with a work ethic and research skills.

Let this be a lesson to anyone lucky enough to be called for a job interview. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Merry Christmas.

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The Job Interview as an Audition

Yet More Ways That Employers Control the Interview

When we read this in the April 2006 issue of Business 2.0 magazine, we knew you would find an excerpt interesting:

“You don’t just get interviewed when you apply for a job at Southwest Airlines. You get auditioned–and it starts the moment you call for an application.

1. When a candidate calls for an application, managers jot down anything memorable about the conversation, good or bad. The same is true when the company flies recruits out for interviews. They receive special tickets, which alert gate agents, flight attendants, and others to pay special attention: Are they friendly to others or griping about service and slurping cocktails at 8 a.m.? If what the employees observe seems promising–or not–they’re likely to pass it on to HR.

2. Even when recruits aren’t on the spot, they’re on the spot. During group interviews of flight attendants, applicants take turns giving three-minute speeches about themselves in front of as many as 50 others. The catch? Managers are watching the audience as closely as the speaker. Candidates who pay attention pass the test; those who seem bored or distracted get bounced.”

Wow! Interesting reading and good information to know! Good luck in your job search!

–Susan Geary, CERW / 1st Rate Resumes

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It Pays To Say Thanks

From yesterday’s Rocky Mountain News….

It Pays to Say Thanks

15% of hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder.com said they would not hire a candidate who did not follow up with a thank-you note. 32% of the managers said they’d think less of the person who did not write. Read the whole press release from Career Builder here.

Susan Geary, CERW/1st Rate Resumes