Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.
marthin luther king jr.
Tis the season. . .for watching YouTube videos! As we near the momentous milestone of 2500 subscribers, we invite you to enjoy some of our latest offerings:
Questions like this can really rattle your confidence. . .especially if you don’t have 100% of the qualifications they’re asking for. In this video, Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak and Career Specialist Lynnette Lee demonstrate how to give a strong answer by focusing on what you do have to offer, rather than apologizing for what you don’t.
This video by Career Specialist Cynthia Payton walks you step by step through the process of applying for a job with Ross clothing store.
This video is part of our Resumes Before and After series, which showcases common resume mistakes and our recommended solutions. Having an unstable work history – short-term jobs which last less than a year, and multiple gaps of unemployment – can be a serious red flag for employers. In this video, Certified Professional Resume Writer Anne Nowak demonstrates a clever technique for disguising these issues.
Written by Lynnette Lee
I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.
With all of the complex work you’ve put in to succeed at your job search, it would be a shame for you to mess up your chances due to something as simple as clothing. But a lot of job seekers do just that; one of the main reasons employers cite for not hiring someone is that the candidate was inappropriately dressed for the interview.
Here are some tips to help you dress for success.
You should dress pretty formally and conservatively: nothing casual, gaudy, or provocative. The advice of some experts is to dress as you would for a funeral or a meeting with the president. Note that the level of formality required may change depending on the kind of job you’re applying for. For example, an office executive would wear a three-piece suit and dress shoes, but a construction worker might wear a polo shirt with khakis and work boots.
Visible tattoos and/or piercings. Cover them up or take them out. Earrings are acceptable, but if you have multiple piercings in your ears, less is definitely more.
Flashy or clunky jewelry. Be very minimalistic with accessories. This is especially true for men, who should wear only a watch.
Hats, sunglasses, or hoodies. The employer wants to see your face.
Lots of colorful makeup. This is not a nightclub. A little makeup can make you look vibrant and energetic, but too much will make you look unprofessional.
Clothing that doesn’t fit well. Your outfit should skim your body — neither hugging it too tight nor too saggy.
Clothing that is dirty, wrinkled, or torn. You want to look like you care about getting the details right.
Clothing which is too revealing. Short skirts and plunging necklines are inappropriate for the job interview.
Jeans, t-shirts, sweatpants, pajamas, gym clothes, sneakers, flip-flops, etc. Comfortable clothing which you would wear to lounge around the house has no business in a professional setting.
Elaborate and distracting hairstyles, bedhead, or hair in your face. Ideally, you want your hair to be pulled back from your face, and you want it to look groomed and manageable.
Scraggly facial hair. If you have a beard or mustache, keep it trimmed and groomed.
Long and/or colorful nails. Keep it conservative – you don’t want your electric blue nail polish to distract the interviewer. Long fingernails are frowned upon if you’re interviewing for a job where you’ll need to use your hands — such as preparing food, shelving merchandise, using a computer, etc.
Perfume, cologne, or aftershave. Some people are allergic to fragrances, and you don’t want to set off the interviewer’s allergies.
Body odor or bad breath. Just . . . eww.
Be clean, neat, and well-groomed. Shower, wash your hair, and brush your teeth. Wear deodorant (but avoid strongly scented ones). Comb your hair, style it simply, and keep it out of your face. Clean and file your fingernails. Gentlemen, groom your facial hair. Ladies, wear a bit of makeup in neutral colors.
Prepare your outfit carefully. Try on your outfit several days before the interview. Make sure it fits you well. If necessary, have the outfit altered or mended. Clean and iron your outfit the day before the interview.
Choose appropriate shoes and clean them. Dress shoes are always a good choice, but work boots are also acceptable for positions which involve manual labor (construction, warehousing, etc.). We recommend closed-toed shoes — not sandals — with little or no heel. Flip-flops, sneakers, clunky combat boots, and giant platform heels are strictly forbidden.
Dress conservatively. Stick to mostly dark or neutral clothing, with perhaps a small splash of color. Make sure your accessories, hair, makeup, nails, etc., are not gaudy or flashy. Wear nothing revealing or provocative. Cover tattoos and remove piercings other than earrings.
Dress formally, allowing variations depending on the position. A three-piece suit is always an excellent choice — and is indeed the only choice for someone applying for an upper-level executive position. However, for positions which are slightly less advanced, there are several other good options. A man applying to be the head bank teller might wear a dress shirt and slacks without a jacket or tie. A woman applying to be an office manager might wear a blouse and skirt with or without a jacket. For some entry-level positions, and for some blue-collar positions, even less formality may be acceptable. A teenager applying for her first job at a grocery store might wear a polo shirt and khakis, as might a machine operator applying at an industrial plant. If you’re not sure what to wear, try to err on the side of being more formal than is necessary.
- How to Dress Professionally: 31 Style Tips (wikihow.com)
- How to Dress Professional: What It Is and Why It’s Important – Glassdoor Career Guides
- Guide To Business Attire (With Examples) | Indeed.com
Written by Lynnette Lee.
Note: This article was originally posted in April 2017, and has been re-posted with updates to reach a new audience.
There is no such thing as work-life balance. It is all life. The balance has to be within you.
The leaves may fall, but your spirits shouldn’t, because the Career Center always has your back when it comes to the job search. Here are some of our autumnal offerings:
This video is part of our Resumes Before and After series, which showcases common resume mistakes and our recommended solutions.
In this video, Certified Resume Writer Lynnette Lee examines the common mistake of including too much information about your personal life on your resume. Even in situations where there is something to explain – such as a long gap in work history – providing certain details can do more harm than good.
This video is part of our Work-from-Home series, which showcases ways to find remote job openings which are not scams.
In this video, Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak provide an in-depth review of Virtual Vocations, an excellent resource for finding legitimate remote job opportunities.
From the Vaults: This Month’s Golden Oldies Spotlight
The Career Center’s website contains a huge variety of resources to help you with your job search – resume-writing, interview prep, salary information, and more. There’s so much good stuff on there, in fact, that it can be a little overwhelming. In this video, Career Specialist Lynnette Lee walks you through all the different job-search features so you can choose the most helpful resources for your situation.
Written by Lynnette Lee
When we think of job interview questions, we typically think of things like “What are your strengths?”, “Tell us about your greatest accomplishment”, “What computer skills do you have”, “How would you calm an angry customer”, etc. All these questions have one thing in common – they focus on why the employer should want to hire you. So in your interview prep, you practice discussing your skills and experience and what you have to offer. But at least one interview question has a completely different focus; “Why do you want to work for this employer?” And if you haven’t done any prep work from this flipped perspective, this question may catch you off guard. Here are some common mistakes, along with a better option.
“Well, to be honest, I’m not super happy with where I am, and I’m looking for something better.”
How this hurts you: Firstly, it breaks the #1 unwritten rule of interviewing: Never go negative. Saying that you’re not happy where you are could be construed as you bad-mouthing the company you currently work for, which makes you look unprofessional and bitter. Secondly, this answer says nothing at all about the new company. You don’t seem to be enthusiastically running towards the new job; you seem to be merely running away from the old one. That’s going to make the employer think that you will be a lackluster employee.
“I’m really excited about working for your company because you offer the best healthcare benefits in the business, and you pay significantly more than my current job. Plus, you’re so close to my house, I could walk to work. Finally, I was excited by the possibility of working from home a few days a week.”
How this hurts you: Of course things like pay and benefits are super important to you, but the interview is not an appropriate time for you to bring this up. Answering in this way makes it seem like you only care about the money and perks, not about actually doing a good job or fitting in at the company. Employers ask this question because they want to gauge how committed you will be to the job and company. They prefer to hire people who are chasing a passion, not people who are chasing a paycheck. If you really only care about the money, then what’s to stop you from leaving them in 3 months to get more money elsewhere?
so how do you answer this question?
In a word: research. before you interview, look up the company online. Read through the company website in detail, but don’t stop there. Check social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. – for the company profile, posts, reviews, mentions, etc. You can also check the LinkedIn profiles of people who work for the company for more information. Use the EBRPL database Data Axle to get demographic information on the history and structure of the company. For large companies, read reviews on Glassdoor to get an insider perspective on working for this company. For local businesses, look for articles from local magazines and newspapers. In general, you’re looking for something specific and complimentary which you can say about the company.
“I was intrigued by this job opportunity because it matches my exact skillset, so I did some more research into your company. I saw that your Facebook page has hundreds of positive reviews from happy customers who say that you treat them like people, not just account numbers. I like the idea of being part of such a customer-focused workplace.”
“I’m excited about this job because working in healthcare is my calling; I truly want to help people. And when I looked up your organization, I saw that you have state-of-the-art medical technology which no other hospital in the state has. I believe you are on the forefront of medicine, and I want us to save lives together.”
“I could be an excellent office manager at any company, but I’m specifically interested in your organization because of its community outreach and charity programs. Giving back to the community is important to me, and your HeartReach program shows that you share those values.”
“I read the Better Baton Rouge Business Report’s article on your company, and I was really impressed by the meteoric growth in your customer base and brand awareness over the past 5 years. This company is clearly headed for success, and I want to be a part of that success.”
If you need any help preparing for a job interview, you may call 225-231-3733 to schedule a practice interview with one of our career specialists.
Written by Lynnette Lee
You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity.
Americans work hard and they don’t like, or more accurately, don’t dare, to take time off. A study by Project: Time Off, an initiative by the U.S. Travel Association, reports that in 2015, 658 million vacation days went unused, and for 222 million of those, employees received no compensation for these unused vacation benefits.
The reason cited most often by employees is that they feel there is too much to do and that there will be a mountain of work waiting for them upon their return, making the vacation not worthwhile. Also, company culture often doesn’t encourage taking time off. Instead, it is the employees’ perception that the more time they spend at work, the more successful they will be.
Is this healthy? No! Is this productive? No! Is it possible to do this differently? Yes!
Let’s see what taking time off can do for you.
Improve your health
Stress reduction: Vacations reduce stress by removing people from situations that are associated with stress and anxiety, according to a study by the American Psychological Association. Other studies have shown that employees who take time off complain of fewer stress-related illnesses, such as headaches and backaches, once they return to work.
Heart disease prevention: A number of studies have shown that taking time off can decrease your risk for heart disease. One study showed that women who took a vacation only once every six years were eight times more likely to develop heart disease than women who took at least two vacations a year.
Strengthened immune system: Since too much stress and overwork negatively affects the immune system, the rest and relaxation associated with time off will likely lead to strengthened immune systems — and fewer days of work missed due to sickness.
Improve your productivity
Taking time off is not only good for you, but also for business! Research shows that when done right, time off will increase your energy level and happiness, which translates into higher productivity. Incidentally, many of the countries with the highest labor productivity are also home to employees that take most of their very generous vacation allowances (e.g., Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany).
Accelerate your career
Taking more time off can lead to better job performance and faster promotion. An internal study at professional services firm EY has shown that for every additional ten hours of vacation that employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved by 8%. According to Project: Time Off, people that use all of their vacation time have a 6.5% higher chance of getting a raise and/or getting promoted than employees who decide to let 11 or more days of their leave lapse. A word of caution, the relationship established in this study is correlation, not causation, but it is an interesting notion, nonetheless.
However, beware — a poorly planned or poorly executed vacation can achieve the opposite effect: you will return to work even more stressed. Therefore, plan your time off wisely. Plan and coordinate with your colleagues ahead of time to avoid that huge mountain of work waiting upon your return. Most importantly, relax and recharge.
Now have fun planning your next vacations!
Written by Anne Nowak.
Note: This article was originally posted in March 2017, and has been re-posted with updates to reach a new audience.
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.