Archive for March, 2012

Personal Branding and Creating a Professional Image – Part 1

March 27, 2012 1 comment

Match your shoes to your hem-line, always wear panty-hose, if you wear a little make-up it gives the impression that you pay attention to details . . . As a feminist, much of this seems offensive; however, working in a profession where I advise young people on how to present themselves in a professional manor, I know that these things are important.

It is not that how you look is more important than what you think and do, of course not.  BUT, if what you wear draws too much attention, then others will be more focussed on the fact that you are not dressed appropriately and less focussed on what you have to say.  Thus, spending some time thinking about what you are going to wear and what is appropriate is a way of ensuring that the emphasis is on you as a professional and not on your appearance.  Furthermore, how you dress is not only about you.  In fact, it says more about what you think of others.  If you dress professionally it says “I respect you and this company.”  How you dress is a part of your personal brand, but it also contributes to your company’s image.  You are an important part of the corporate brand.

If you still think that these things are merely superficial and really do not matter, then why did  the discussion of interns at an on-site visit with a large employer  result in a 30 minute conversation about professional dress and how to ensure that students understand the message they are sending.  The students thought that because they were not meeting directly with clients and because there were other long-time employees that dressed casually, that it was alright to show up in jeans.  How many times has your mother asked you “if others were jumping off a bridge would you do it too?” Just because others do it, does not mean it is a good idea.  Perhaps the reason why they have been in the same department for 30 years is a pretty good indication of how that un-professional image is working out for them.

You want your clothes to match your goals.  If you want to be taken seriously, to be thought of as an intelligent professional with leadership potential then how should you dress?  Regardless of whether you are in a role that meets directly with clients, you want to present yourself well.  After-all, your colleagues, your boss and your boss’s boss will see you on a daily basis.

A common error, for young people especially, is that they miss-interpret what business casual means.  The word casual has them heading in the entirely wrong direction.  In fact, business casual is likely a lot more formal than you think. See below for some examples of business casual:

Here are some quick tips from Harris and Barnes Professional Image Consultants:

Business Casual No-no’s

T-shirts and jeans worn together
Dirty sneakers
Flip Flops
Shirt tail out
Active Wear
Leggings or stirrups
No hosiery or socks

Image Breakers for Women:

Short Skirts
Tight fitting clothes
Exposure of body piercings
Too much cleavage
Over use of make-up
Heavy perfumes or lotions
Bows, excessive florals in garments

Image Breakers for Men:

Heavy Colognes
Overstuffed pant pockets
Scuffed shoes
Un-tidy facial hair
Dirty fingernails
Out dated eyewear

For more tips on how to dress professionally visit:


Resumes That Work to Find You Work

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Pulling together an effective resume is a laborious and on-going process.  However, it is certainly a situation where the more effort that you put in, the more you will get out of it.

I have students coming in to my office daily asking for help with their resumes.  Over and over again I hear “I have sent this out to hundreds of employers and haven’t heard anything.” My number one response to this is that you need to combine sending out your resume with networking.  It will help to draw attention to your document if you have met the employer, even briefly, or if you have met an employee who has at least mentioned your name to the person doing the hiring.

Secondly, you need to tailor your resume.  You are more likely to get a job if you have sent out 6 targeted and tailored resumes than a hundred generic and identical resumes.

Your resume is a big part of your professional brand so make sure that it represents you accurately.  You could go and see 5 different career counselors and each one will have a different opinion and different tips to offer.  Take all of the suggestions into consideration, but ultimately do what feels right for you.

So here are some of my tips.  I have lots so I will spread them out over the course of the next couple posts.

  1. Common sense tip: A font size of 10-12 point is recommended. And there should be no typos, no misspelled words, and no grammatical errors.
  2. Learn the language of the industry that you are hoping to enter and use it in your resume and cover letter.  If there are key words that are mentioned in the job posting or on the company’s web site incorporate them.  This will make it easy for the employer to make the connection between your skills and their needs. Further, many employers are now using resume scanning software that scans your document for the key words that they are looking for.  So although we have told you all through your degree not to plagiarize, this is the one time that using the exact language is not only appropriate, but necessary.
  3. Don’t include an “Objectives” section.  Your resume is prime real-estate, so don’t waste space stating the obvious – of course you are seeking a job as a…… or at …….. that is why you gave them your resume!
  4. Don’t include “references available upon request” again you are wasting space on the obvious – if you don’t give them references when they request them you won’t get the job.
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