By Carrie S Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
You’ve landed the on-site interview, now the big question…what to wear? In today’s casual work environments, it can be tough to know how you should dress for the interview. Too often I hear from clients that candidates show up for an interview in the proverbial “what not to wear” attire; and from the start the candidate has made a bad impression from which it is tough to recover. You can be the ideal candidate, but if you miss the target in how you dress and groom for the interview, the role that was yours for the taking has quickly slipped away.
Common Sense and Culture
About 6 months ago I had a candidate show up for an interview in jeans and a sweatshirt. He read the company culture accurately – most of the staff wore very casual clothes to work; however, he misread the message he would be sending about himself by showing up for the interview this way. He interviewed with six people (managers and peers), and all six were astounded by how he dressed. They felt he showed a lack of confidence and a lack of interest in the company. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. Even if a company’s culture is laid back (jeans and t-shirts), employers will be impressed when you make an effort to show respect for the interview process by dressing nicely for the interview.
What Should You Wear?
So, how do you avoid this interview faux pas? Research, ask, and when in doubt dress “up.”
- Research: Check out the company’s website. If there are employee photos, consider how the employees are dressed. Look company employees up on LinkedIn. How are they dressed in their profile photo?
- Ask: When the recruiter, HR Manager or Hiring Manager calls you to schedule the interview, ask the person: “What is your company’s culture as it relates to attire? Do you have recommendations for what I should wear?”
- Dress “Up”: When you just aren’t sure, always dress up more than you think you should.
Simple Tips for Looking Great at Your Interview
Here are my suggestions for preparing for the interview as it relates to dress & grooming:
- Dress one step up:
a. If the culture is very casual: men should wear slacks and a nice polo or button down shirt; women should wear slacks/skirt with a nice sweater or top.
b. If the culture is business casual: dress professionally – dress slacks with button down shirt & tie for men; dress, skirt or dress slacks and a nice blouse/sweater for women.
c. If the culture is business professional: wear a suit.
- Shower the morning of the interview and take time to ensure your hair looks groomed.
- Go easy (or not at all) on colognes and perfumes.
Remember, in an interview you should dress to impress!
by Ginger Robitaille, PHR COO & HR Generalist
On a weekly basis, I hear the question from job seekers, “Why do I have to play a game to get a job? Between the cumbersome online systems, the painstaking keyword matches, and the outrageous list of requirements for each job, how can I ever expect to be considered for a position?!”
Fear not, job seekers, and read on. I know how much of this feels like a game (I have been in your shoes), but let me put your mind a bit at ease and take you inside the mind of the recruiter and hiring manager.
Of course, we want the best pool of candidates to fill our open positions, but sometimes we don’t actually know exactly what we want. We know what type of person and skill set has been successful in our open position in the past, so we start there with our list of requirements and needs. Now, if it’s a new position for our company, we really don’t know what we need! We have an idea, and after we start talking to applicants, we are able to solidify what is really required. That didn’t provide you any comfort, did it? Well, take heart: the takeaway here is that even if you don’t align perfectly with the job posting or you’re lacking some of the requirements listed, you still have the opportunity to be considered for the position.
We know that most applicants are not going to meet all of our requirements, so know that we are either prepared to compromise and/or train on certain areas where you may also be lacking some experience. If you meet around 60% of the requirements, it is worth your time applying, and it’s worth our time reviewing your resume and possibly having that initial phone conversation.
Now, I will say that we don’t look at every resume that comes through our portal when we start to receive hundreds or applicants for one position (which is starting to happen with the current unemployment rate). So, have patience with us as we do still have to do some weeding through all the applications. And if you are applying just to fill your “contacts” requirement for your unemployment benefits, please don’t (unless you actually meet that 60% mark). Know that this is “the game” that irritates us! You don’t want us wasting your time, so don’t waste ours.
If you would like more tips like this or need some one-on-one support to kick-start your job search, check out our webpage, visit our job seeker services page, and follow us on social media.
By Kendra Prospero
CEO, Turning the Corner, LLC
Tips to Look for a Job While Still Working
If you have the best job in the world, your company is growing at breakneck speed or there is no danger of downsizing then this article is probably not for you. For the rest of us, who envision a world without stress, greater flexibility and a yacht sized salary, the opportunities are out there and companies are hiring once again. The challenge is letting prospective employers know you are on the market without making your boss, spouse or yourself paranoid.
Recruiters and hiring professionals know that the best time to look for a job is when you are employed. You have a steady income, money in your pocket and the time to look for the perfect position. The absence of desperation gives you more confidence in interviews and when you are networking within safe circles. There are some great strategies that will allow you to increase opportunities without finding yourself escorted out of your office.
1. Update your resume.
You should have a professionally done, updated resume available at all times in both electronic and hard copy formats. You should also have the resume tailored to the position you desire and customize your resume to meet the prospective company’s specific needs.
Never post your resume on a job board or talk with people at the office about your job search. It is highly possible your superiors will find your resume if posted on the internet, and whether they tell you they found it or not, it will change the dynamic of your office environment. Likewise, even if your best friend may be in the office next door do not speak about looking for a new position. All it takes is one office conversation and you may be having an uncomfortable meeting with your superior.
If your supervisor discovers your intentions and confronts you, honesty is always the best policy. Calmly discuss your reasons for seeking other employment, acknowledge you are looking for better opportunities and answer any questions. It is possible it may be a wakeup call for your employer and you may receive a great offer. If not, then you can sleep at night knowing you told the truth. Integrity should always be the core value of your search.
2. Continue to do your best work.
Although companies are running lean these days, they also understand the value of employees that produce big results and contribute to the growth of the company. Take notes about successes and challenges you conquered and big wins you brought for the company. You should be noting your accomplishments and looking for ways to improve yourself. Use this time to get caught up on industry trends and learn as much as you can, to increase your in your field and to those hiring.
3. Keep networking.
You would be surprised how many people are hired because of who they know, and not solely dependent on their skills and experience. Tell people about what you do, not who you work for, highlighting successes and challenges overcome. Explain what you love about what you do, and never denigrate your current employer. This only reflects poorly on your nature.
If you are in a safe group, let them know you are open to new opportunities. Stay in contact with professional contacts and continue to provide them excellent service. Remain top of mind. Often professionals are asked who they know when a company is looking for new employees. Being one of the top people in your field makes you more visible when companies start looking.
4. Update or create your LinkedIn account.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account start one today. This social network has become one of the leading resources for recruiters, head hunters and hiring departments. Having a complete and specific profile allows people to search for you and your specialties. Make sure to include titles and keywords about your skills. I.e., Director of Sales for B2B applications in commercial software. Be specific about your position, talents and accomplishments. Don’t list you are seeking a new position or employment.
5. Consider using a recruitment agency or job search company.
The obvious advantage is that companies specializing in finding and hiring employees have inside knowledge and access to unpublished openings, growing corporations and top executives. In addition, they understand the need for confidentiality. Take the time to interview prospective firms carefully, since most agencies work for the hiring company, not the job seeker. The right agency will place your needs and goals at the same level of the prospective employers.
There is always a glimmer of hope for a better office, a more enviable title and better salary. It is not a crime to seek a better opportunity while you are still employed, nor should you feel guilty. It is important to be honest, ethical and a good employee while you search, while maintaining a level of privacy.
For more information please contact us here or call 720-446-8876. We will be honored to assist you find your dream job, create a winning resume or walk with you through the process. Good luck, and don’t give up!
Click Here to see a listing of current job openings and opportunities.
By Carrie S Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Employee Burnout Could Be Costing Your Company Thousands of Dollars in Lost Productivity & Costing the US Economy Millions!
I was in a meeting recently and listened as an employee lamented about his upcoming vacation. His workload was heavy and his team depended on him. He felt that by taking a vacation he was letting his co-workers down. Then I heard a few key comments that always concern me as a business leader – he was tired, burned out, and felt like he was going to need to work during his vacation to keep up with the expectations of his job.
The True Odd Couple
Let me clarify – vacation and work should not go together. In the U.S. we have created a culture that says, “if I don’t work, I’m replaceable, and I may not have a job to come back to.” Early in my career, a supervisor told me, “every person is dispensable; every role can be replaced.” At the time I thought she was quite rude. Looking back, I realize what amazing advice she gave me in saying that. That phrase taught me to work hard, but also to know that nothing is ever permanent, and taking time to recharge my batteries was just as important as giving 100% of my time, effort and attention at work. If we don’t allow ourselves to rest, relax and recharge, what was once 100% effort becomes 80% then 50%. We can’t give our best at work when we don’t have anything left to give.
Happy Employees & Increased Productivity
The June 1, 2015 issue of Time had an interesting article by Jack Dickey, “Who Killed Summer Vacation.” Dickey points out that, “Luxembourg guarantees workers 35 paid days off, Norway guarantees 29 days, and Switzerland 28; and those three economies finished ahead of the U.S. in 2013 in gross domestic product per capita (the favored metric for workforce productivity).” These nations provide more leave time and have higher productivity. That’s not a coincidence. For years studies have shown that employees who work for organizations that encourage the use of leave and employees who actually utilize their leave time are happier, healthier, more loyal to their employer, and have higher levels of productivity than employees in companies where leave isn’t encouraged.
Simple Math for Happy Employees
And the significant numbers of US employees who don’t use their vacation time aren’t just impacting their employers’ productivity costs. According to Forbes, if US workers used their available paid time off, the economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues. This spending would support the addition of over 1 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation.
It’s an easy formula.
Leave time = Happy, Committed Employees + Increase in Productivity + Boost to the US Economy.
Is it a formula your company is implementing? If so, our team at Turning the Corner would love to hear your stories of how encouraging employees to take leave is benefiting your business! Post a comment or contact us here.
Carrie Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Carrie is Turning the Corner’s VP of People. She has been advocating for the success of businesses and their employees for 18 years, supporting start-ups, small businesses and large corporations. She holds certifications as both a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from HRCI and Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) from the Society for Human Resource Management. She serves the local HR community as a member of BAHRA’s (Boulder Area HR Association) Treasury Committee. And though she is a Colorado transplant (moving here in 2010), she lives the Colorado lifestyle to it’s fullest, enjoying the outdoors through hikes, 14ers, sightseeing, camping, and running, all in the good company of her husband, son, and Viszla.
By Kendra Prospero
CEO, Turning the Corner, LLC
One of the most common phrases we hear during career counseling sessions is, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”. While we are prepared to hear this from people in their 20s, often it is a tongue and cheek comment because the person on the other end is in their 40s, 50s or even 60s. Regardless of the person’s age, it’s a very valid question from someone seeking a deep, meaningful answer.
So how do you figure this out?
Here’s what will point you in the right direction. First of all, most people who ask that question are hurting because they are unhappy in their current job. We have found they’re unhappy because they are being asked to do things they are not naturally good at. Too often we confuse a skill with a strength, but the reality is that just because you have a skill or are good at something, it doesn’t mean that you’re wired to do it.
How do you know what you’re wired for?
Well, in a nutshell, you love it!
Time flies by when you’re doing the activity. You don’t question your ability because you just know that you’re amazing at it. People regularly ask you for help with it. You seek out information about it when you don’t have to – when reading a Facebook feed or skimming the newspaper – you’re drawn to the topic. All of these actions are clues that you are good at something and you are hard-wired for it.
Career Counseling can Uncover Your Hidden Strengths
If you don’t feel like you know what you’re naturally good at, you probably need some career counseling or coaching. This is where someone skilled at seeing your strengths can help you see what you’re good at and how to translate this into meaningful work. They help you go through the process of discovering your strengths and passions and turning them into an actionable plan.
I love my job; I’m just not happy doing it!
If you’re in a job that gives you the above fulfillment, but you are still unhappy or seeking a better opportunity, then the next thing to think about is are you getting what you need from the job. We work with 1000s of people every year and the fundamental question you need to ask yourself is, “What do I need from a job?”
Write down your initial thoughts quickly, but then follow-up the question with, “How do I know I have this?” Write that down too. Then ask “If I have this, what does this do for me? How does it make me feel?” Once you document all these thoughts, filter your current position through the results and you’ll see immediately what is missing for you, and you’ll see exactly why you’re miserable.
Again, if you’re struggling to see the answer, having an objective but caring advisor can provide a ton of insight into your needs.
We want you to Love Your Job
I know this – you deserve to be happy in a job. We give up the best hours of our days and the best years of our lives for our work. We should love our jobs. At least most of the time! If you need help planning your next step give us a call at 720-446-8876 and we can get you moving with career counseling from one of our job search experts. Our main office is in Boulder, but we also have an office in Denver for your convenience. It doesn’t matter if you’re 22, 32 or 52, there is still time to find a job you love. We would love to meet with you and help you find work that strengthens you, brings you happiness and that your truly enjoy.
By Carrie S Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Can We Make it to the Top?
I recently climbed my first 14er and for much of the hike I was thinking how similar mountain climbing is to a job search. When you begin your job search, you are at the base peering up at a peak that seems incredibly daunting. How long will it take? What obstacles will you face along the way? Is the peak really attainable? Is it even worth the effort?
I was given wonderful advice once that when you are mountain climbing, you shouldn’t focus on the peak; just put one foot in front of the other and focus on the next step. What great advice for the job search too! When we focus too much on “the job” and not just on the next logical step, we can feel overwhelmed and ready to turn back. Don’t give up hope – just keep in mind the next best step.
Develop a Plan for Your Job Search
You’ve started the job search journey and ahead you see a boulder field of jobs and career paths. You think to yourself, how will I maneuver through that? This is where developing a job search strategy and networking can be extremely helpful. Build a strategy for your search and use your network to guide your path. Request informational meetings to learn more about employers that interest you and different business cultures. Reach out to contacts who could make an introduction that gets your foot in the door to a company you admire. Identify the job boards that post jobs specific to your skills and interests. Building your strategy and using your network provides insight into companies and jobs that can be very beneficial when you are trying to determine how to navigate the job search. If you don’t even know where to begin in building your strategy or how to build your network, seek professional career support.
A Good Resume Equals Interviews
You’ve developed a strategy and are using your network, and now you’ve come to the river crossing. Is your resume getting you interviews? If not, your next step is to re-write your resume. Research what makes a resume stand out and try re-writing it yourself. If writing scares you, hire a Professional Resume Writer to help you over the river to developing a resume that gets noticed by employers.
If you are getting interviews, then the next step is to sharpen your interviewing skills. Practice with friends and family or seek a professional Career Counselor/Coach to help you learn to successfully interview. Crossing the ridge from interview fails to interviews success takes preparation and practice.
Welcome to the Top!
Before you know it, focusing on the next step, one step at a time, has led you to the peak. With a job search strategy, network, strong resume, and interview preparation in place, you are ready to summit the career mountain. And if you need help in any of these areas along the way, our wonderful team at Turning the Corner is here to help you on the journey! Give us a call at or contact us here to get started!