Graduating with Gratitude

convo1Yesterday was our convocation at Huron.  I spent the day watching our lovely students with faces bright and full of pride parade around in their black gowns.  As I stood at the back of the room witnessing the closure of their years of study, I wondered what was running through their minds.  Do they feel full of hope? Do they feel full of potential?  I sure hope they do, and not just in that moment but in the days, weeks, months and years that follow-it.

As I searched for further inspiration for this post, I Googled the top convocation speeches of all time.  As I listened to the seemingly endless words of wisdom and optimism that flood convocation halls at this time of year, I became a little cynical. So many of them focus on the idea that you can do anything, don’t let anything stand in your way, follow your dreams . . . Although I too want students to be determined and persevere, it was in a much humbler act that I found my insight for this post.

When I was gathered on the lawn with our graduates drinking lemonade and eating sandwiches I ran into a particularly lovely and successful student.  She had a handful of thank you cards that she had carefully prepared and thoughtfully written for the occasion.  She handed me a card and the message inside was so full of honest and generous gratitude that I felt a rush of warmth.  On a day that is all about her accomplishments she had spent likely hours thinking about others and the parts that they have played in her success.

To experience persistent and overwhelming gratitude, that is my hope for our graduates.

Numerous studies have begun to focus on the impact of gratitude on our well-being.  “These studies support the theory that gratitude is an affective trait important to subjective well being.”  (Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal) Furthermore, in the Journal of Business Ethics gratitude is conceptualized as “a moral affect that serves to motivate individuals to engage in pro-social behaviour and acts as a moral barometer” (Emmons, 2003).  Furthermore, “grateful persons not only demonstrate more positive mental states (e.g. enthusiastic, determined, and attentive), but also are more generous, caring, and helpful to others.” (McCullough et al., 2002)

In North America, we focus so much on individualism.  We believe that individual liberties and success is the key to prosperity and happiness;  hence, all of the inspirational statements at graduation ceremonies that focus on each graduate pursuing his/her individual goals, striving for personal success, not giving up on him/herself.    But does such a thing exist?  Can any of us achieve anything all on our own?  Even if we can, why would we want to?  There is something much more rewarding in letting others in to share in our achievements.  Acknowledging the contributions of those that love and care for us in our accomplishments.  What good is it scoring a goal if you have no one to high-five afterwards?  Where is the value in winning an award if there is no one there tearing up with pride and taking your photo?  What better way to celebrate than by thanking those that helped you along your path.  That act of love and gratitude will make you happier; it will ensure that as you move through life you are more determined and attentive.

You lose nothing by acknowledging the contributions of others.  In fact, the greatest leaders that I have known are the ones that happily admit that they could not have done it alone.  So when you walk across that stage or look at your diploma hanging on the wall, think about those that believed in you, taught you, picked you up and pulled you through and be grateful.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”  What resonates with me in this statement is that it allows us to take our failures into account as well.  We can even be grateful for the lessons that we learned when things did not go well.

So go out into the world, persevere, work hard, and follow your dreams.  But, do it with gratitude and you will find that you are happier and more resilient.

Congratulations Graduates!

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Business Casual – What to Wear to Work

Dress-Down Friday
Dress-Down Friday

If you want to succeed at work, you need to dress the part.  This is not a myth but a reality.  Your appearance represents your employer and your respect for your job as much as it represents your personal style.  Because of this, employers take very seriously the image that you create for yourself and their company.

It is absolutely imperative that you create a good first impression in an interview; but, that attention to detail and effort needs to shine through on a daily basis.  You want to ensure that you are dressing on the high end of what is acceptable in your workplace. “If everyone wears jeans every day, a suit would be too much, as it might convey arrogance; khakis would make a much better choice. The idea is to stand out, not stick out” (Importance of Appearance in the Workplace | eHow.com)

If you take the time to ensure that you are looking professional everyday you will see an increase in your confidence, will command more respect, and be perceived as highly capable.

To show a couple of students how to navigate the business casual, casual Friday, business formal . . . conundrum we took a field-trip to the mall and took over the dressing rooms to pick-out and price-out some work appropriate attire.  Here are the results of our excursion.

Dress Down Friday:

Dress-Down Days

Dress-Down Days

The biggest mistake that people make on dress-down days is to think this is the day that they don’t need to care.  The reality is that even if you want to wear jeans, you should still look professional.  Pairing a dark wash jean with a shirt and blazer is the perfect way to still look sharp.

Where we shopped:

The Gap

Adam is wearing dark-wash jeans $69

a button up shirt $35.99

and a Blazer $98

Steph is wearing dark-wash jeans $79.95

a neutral t-shirt $19.95

and a Blazer $89.95

Business Casual:

Business Casual
Business Casual
Business Casual
Business Casual

Think business not casual and you will probably be on the right track. Business casual is usually dress pants, button up shirt and tie for men and a modest and tailored dress or dress pants and blouse for women. The word casual is just thrown in there to confuse you.

Where We Shopped:

The Gap:

Adam is wearing khakis $59.50

a dress shirt $35.99

and a v-neck sweater $44.95

The Bay:

Steph is wearing a blue dress with a peplum $99

and in the second photo a beige and white dress $139

business casual
Business Casual

When choosing a dress for work be sure that the hem falls at or just above the knee.  Avoid heels that are above 1 1/2 inches high.  A good rule to follow is the shorter the skirt the lower the heal should be.

Business Casual
Business Casual

Banana Republic:

Adam is wearing dress pants $198

a purple dress shirt $74

and a v-neck argyle sweater $95

In the second photo also from Banana Republic,

Business Casual
Business Casual

Steph is wearing a white dress $160

and a white blazer $160

Business:

For many, you will only need to wear full-business attire for interviews, presentations or

days when you have important meetings.  Otherwise, the dress-code in many workplaces is business casual.  There are some industries that expect full business attire on a daily basis such as banking and business consulting. To create the best impression, pay attention to what others at your workplace are wearing and be sure to stay on the more formal side.

 

 

Traditional Business Attire includes:

Traditional Business Attire
Traditional Business

Women: Skirt suits or pant suits with formal business blouses or tops, stockings, closed toe and heel leather shoes, and appropriate business accessories including a brief case, leather folder for pads of paper, and a conservative pen. Women were encouraged to keep jewelry, makeup, and perfume subtle and elegant. (Human Resources/About.com)

Traditional Business Attire
Traditional Business

Men: A suit and tie. However, selection of the suit should involve mindful consideration. A CNN report on dress codes suggests than traditional business suits for men should be wool in medium to dark colors. The dress shirt should be white or blue, coordinating with the color of the suit. Lydia Ramsey, a business etiquette expert, suggests solid colored silk ties, and a quality belt that matches the man’s shoes as accessories with a business suit. (What Is Traditional Business Attire? | eHow.com)

 

Where We Shopped:

Banana Republic:

Adam is wearing a suit jacket $475

dress pants $198

a dress shirt $74

and a tie $74

Steph is wearing a suit jacket $240

dress pants $124

and a coral blouse $74

What Now? A Recent Graduate’s Success With Finding a Job

end of ropeThis post is a follow-up post from a previous guest blogger Sonja Fernandes.

Growing up I was told, “Get an education and the job will come to you”. As it turns out, this is NOT the case. With that being said, I am sure I am not alone when it comes down to deciding what the best route after graduation is. I considered law school, teachers college, graduate school, continuing studies, post graduate programs, entrepreneurship and several job opportunities. After changing my mind almost as often as I changed my underpants, I decided to attain work experience in order to learn more about myself and to grow as a professional.

I have been employed in 3 different contract positions since graduating nearly one year ago and I wanted to share with you the obstacles that I faced and the tips that I learned along the way.

Where to look. I am always confused about where to look for jobs.  There are so many websites and databases out there that it’s difficult to know which one to use. What I have realized is that depending on what field you are interested in will determine where you should be searching. To get the search started, here are some websites that I found to be helpful:

  1. Being young. In my job search I’ve noticed that because I am young, I am able to take risks that I likely would not be able to if I had a family, for example. This is the positive side to being young but there is also a negative side. I have experienced various forms of ageism in my job search. The most notable is the fact that most jobs require 1-3 years experience. How am I supposed to get this while attending school full-time? My advice: get out there now! Even if it means volunteering at a place of work that you would like to be hired by one day. If it wasn’t for the work-study positions that I took in undergrad, then I would not be employed in the position I am today. Getting professional work experience in your field of interest while you’re a student is the key to landing a job after graduation.
  2. Uncertainty. There is a lot of uncertainty to deal with in the job search today. Our economy and society is going through constant changes yet educational standards have remained the same. There are so many options, projects, positions, jobs, careers that it can be overwhelming to think about. My best advice would be to embrace the change and educate yourself; find out what industries are growing, find out what jobs will be in demand when you graduate, find out what marketable/transferable skills are in demand ect. Go with your gut, follow your passions, and leave it to serendipity. Planning your whole life at the age of 20 ‘ish’ is so last century anyways.
  3. Google. In other words, the double edged sword. I have found Google to be an extremely helpful tool in my job search. I will use it to look up anything from employer profiles on LinkedIn to research about salary grades. With that being said, there is also a negative side to Google. Have you ever tried Googling your name? I recommend that you do and I also recommend that you look at the image section because I guarantee that there is a picture of you there that you were not expecting. Just as you will Google your potential employers, you should expect them to Google you as well and so make sure that the image you are portraying online is a positive one!
  4. Never stop looking. It is so important to search for jobs continuously. My favorite professor, Dr. Koehn, gave me this awesome advice: Even if you have a job, you should always be looking for other opportunities and that is how to achieve career related success. The students that he sees attain their dream jobs are the ones who never stopped searching. I try to check the job databases listed in #1 daily even though I am currently employed! I often see positions that I think would be a good fit for my friends or family members and they appreciate the time I take to help them and I like to think that this is good karma for me.
  5. Be an entrepreneur. Our society is in need of positive leadership, creativity and innovation. We no longer accept the conditioned belief that if we go to school, then we will be offered a job upon graduation. We are not in the industrial age; we are in the information age. It is time to stop relying on companies, governments, and educational institutions to provide employment solutions and instead take responsibility of our future. Being an entrepreneur helps you identify your skills, ideas, passions, core beliefs, fears and allows you to identify the direction you want to take your life and set powerful goals. In my third year, I started a volunteer training program called Volunteer YA (young adults) and I attribute my personal success to this entrepreneurial opportunity that I created for myself. There are also free resources on-campus, such as BizInc at Western and Fanshawe that will help you along the way!
  6. Seek help. The most useful resources students have are their on-campus career centres where services such as professional development workshops, resume writing and interview coaching are offered free of charge. And most schools allow their alumni to use their career services. Having that one-on-one attention should not be taken for granted because career counseling can cost anywhere from $75 to $450 in the ‘real world’

I understand that every persons experience in finding a job is unique and subjective. So, I am going to be honest, it was difficult for me to write this post. With that being said, my hope is that just one person who reads this post is inspired by my experience and will find opportunities in their field of interest. The fact of the matter is that it is difficult to find meaningful work in today’s world regardless of the sector, your age, level of education, social status or experience.

Take the advice of Thomas Jefferson, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

Sonja FernandesSonja Fernandes is 23 years old and graduated with an Honors Specialization in Philosophy from Huron University College on June 4, 2012. Feel free to contact Sonja at sferna47@uwo.ca or on LinkedIn if you have any questions or comments about this post

Overeducated and Underemployed?

you-can-never-be-overdressed3There has been a lot of coverage recently of the high youth unemployment rates in Canada.  The national unemployment rate is 7.2% while the youth unemployment rate is 14%.  If these statistics have not scared you enough, what about the $23.1 billion in lost wages that Canadian youth will experience over the next 18 years? (According to a TD Economics report)  To make it even worse Martin Schwerdtfeger, senior economist with TD writes that “being unemployed at a young age can have a long-lasting impact on an individual`s career prospects.”

I read, hear, and watch these media reports and understand exactly why students are flooding into my office looking horrified about their future prospects.  I see why the anxiety, stress, and depression levels are high in this population.  Not only do we live with the constant threat of impending doom from terrorists and swine flu’s but, to top it all off, the current generation are going to spend thousands of dollars on an education and will end up unemployed or underemployed and broke.

If we send young people out into the world of work with expectations of disaster that is exactly what they will get.  I prefer a less defeatist approach.  After all, people are more likely to hire recent grads is they are full of energy and optimism.

So let’s turn it around.  Great News, 86% of youth are going to be employed soon after they graduate!  That seems like a not so bad number and the chances of ending up in that category are likely pretty high if you are taking the time to read this post.  It means that you are dedicated to doing something about your future, taking action, and getting results.  In fact, a report from the Certified General Accountants of Canada entitled “Youth Unemployment in Canada: Challenging Conventional Thinking“, points out that:

  • The highest level of youth unemployment (15.2 per cent) during the recent recession was noticeably below that experienced during previous recessions when youth unemployment swelled to 19.2 per cent in 1983 and 17.2 per cent in 1992.
  • Nearly half (46.8 per cent) of unemployed youth were able to find a job within 1 to 4 weeks in 2011 while the average duration of unemployment experienced by youth did not exceed 11 weeks in that year. In fact, the average duration of youth unemployment in 2011 was well below the shortest average duration ever experienced by young and mature workers over the past 30 years: 12.5 weeks in 2006 and 16.2 weeks in 2008 respectively.

The truth of the matter is that there are people without jobs and almost as many jobs without people.  What we need to do is educate youth on emerging markets and required and desired employability skills.  So rather than sit back and wallow in self-pity, blaming the baby boom generation for not retiring already, do your research.  Take a look at where the jobs are.  What are the growth industries? What personal and technical skills do you need to succeed? And then start planning.  Be strategic, focused and dedicated.  Take a couple technical courses, volunteer with an organization to gain practical skills, attend networking events and, most of all, stay positive.  You are more likely to be motivated by working towards a positive outcome than by trying to avoid a negative one.

And when you have just been turned down for a job and are starting to feel defeated, take the advice of Napoleon Hill that “most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”

Networking Your Way Into the Hidden Job Market

I would like to welcome my guest blogger Samantha Laliberte.  She is a graduate from Western University and currently working at the London Economic Development Corporation. One of Samantha’s passions is the ‘power of networking’, which she attributes to the success she’s seen in her career so far. Samantha is taking the lead on the Student 2 Business Networking Conference and hoping to see 600 post-secondary students out for her March 6th event.

S2B

Networking Your Way Into the Hidden Job Market

Fast facts: 98% of all Ontario companies have less than 50 employees and it’s estimated that 70% of job opportunities are not posted through online databases.

So what? Networking is becoming increasingly more important for those entering AND moving within the workforce, but it doesn’t have to be as daunting as many students think!

Here are my 5 favorite networking rules to live by:

  1. Get offline.  While LinkedIn is definitely convenient and less intimidating, it can never replace the one on one connection you can build in-person. Attend professional networking events to showcase your firm handshake, genuine smile, and personality that just cannot be revealed online.
  2. Be proactive. Don’t network for the sole purpose of finding a job, and don’t wait until you need one! Create your professional network and build a foundation of mentors early on.
  3. Ask, and you shall receive. Know what you’re looking for and say it! Leave the other person with something to think about and a way to help you out. If they you make a positive impression, they’ll want to.
  4. Think big. Don’t limit networking opportunities to just conferences and events, networking can be anywhere! Although it takes effort, be optimistic when meeting new people in different settings and make an effort to leave memorable, positive impressions.
  5. Just do it. Don’t over think the conversation- just get it started. You’ll be surprised how many people want to hear about your dreams, your experiences, and how they can help.

I encourage you to test your skills and take a leap into the world of networking by attending the Student 2 Business Networking Conference on March 6th, 2013. This unique, professional, and dynamic event will bring together 600 students and 300 employer representatives; a major opportunity to connect in a well-orchestrated setting. Registration is $10 and available with full conference details online at s2b.ca.

Ahead of the Game – Forming Great Professional Relationships

Networking on the Court

At just under 5’3” you may be surprised to find me every Wednesday at the Rec. Centre basketball courts ‘dominating’ a game of pick-up with 6’2”+ colleagues from across campus.  When I first started playing about 3 years ago my most recent experience had been when I was on the grade 8 team.  At that time I was tall, but not particularly skilled.  Since then I have not actually grown; so, I am now short and still not particularly skilled.

Then why on earth when a couple of the guys from my office asked me if I wanted to play did I agree? According to the Harvard Business Review, “High-stakes activities that ally you with disparate individuals around a common point of interest are the best way to forge tight connections. Whether you join people in sports teams, community service ventures, or interdepartmental initiatives, engaging with them in this new way creates stronger ties.”

It didn’t matter if in the first few months I couldn’t stop laughing every time I ran down the court with the ball because, not only was I getting a great workout, I was demonstrating that I was a team player.  I would show up, work hard and even if I couldn’t get a basket, I could intimidate the other team with my witty and well-timed trash talking.  Although for probably the first year, my main role was comic relief, I have now progressed to the point where I can hold my own and, on the odd occasion, be a decent contributor to the team.

Although I am not likely to be scouted by the WMBA any time soon, this activity has certainly been positive for my career because I have gotten to know, respect, and enjoy a lot of people at the university that I would otherwise not had much interaction with.  The formation of these relationships happens “because these conditions allow for unscripted behaviors and natural responses to unexpected events — things that rarely show up during business lunches or office meetings where impressions are managed and presentations are carefully rehearsed. People will see you as you truly are, and vice versa. Common activities also offer opportunities for celebration and commiseration, which generate loyalty and form close working relationships.” (Strengthen Your Network with Shared Activities)

When I see my bball colleagues on campus there is a common bond, a friendship, and a warmth that I feel, that makes me think well of them and them think well of me.  The one surprising and concerning thing that I have noticed over the course of 3 years of playing a pick-up sport on my lunch is that there is only one other woman that I have ever seen out there.  If young women don’t take these opportunities to connect with colleagues in this fun and critical way, they will be missing out on a foundational aspect of business networking.

Since, January is a time when people make all sorts of resolutions to get active, I challenge you to take it to the courts, or fields, or rink, with your colleagues.  You will all be healthier and more successful for it.   No skill is required – just come and see me play and I will prove it.

A New Year Is A Great Time to Dream

dreamsI asked my 4 year old son what he wants to do when he grows up and he said “sleep in hotels and go down water slides.”

The first question I ask students when they come into my office is “If you could get paid to do anything you want, what would you do?”  Shockingly I find that often the answer to this question seems to have very little to do with their so-called ‘real’ career goals.  When did they stop dreaming?  Perhaps they have been brought back to ‘reality’ by a parent or counsellor or friend who, out of a sincere desire to ensure their ‘success’, has encouraged them to focus on getting a secure job with a big company rather than actually pursue their passions, strengths, motivations, and preferences.

No matter what the state of the economy, however, there are people who get paid to do what they love: hockey players, sports announcers, sommelier’s,  marketing executives, lawyers, counsellors, teachers, doctors, authors, chefs, computer programmers . . .Unfortunately, on the flip side there is the majority of the population who spend 94,000+ hours of their life doing something they dislike.  In fact, according to Forbes magazine 71% of employees are disengaged from their work. What a horribly depressing thought.  No wonder there is so much road rage and so many grumpy people at the grocery store, bank, Tim Horton’s, Dollarama, movie theatre, dog park, shopping mall, Boston Pizza, walking down the street, . . .   we are subjecting ourselves to lives of misery on a massive scale.

So how did those other individuals end up getting paid to do something they love?  If you look at what it was that got them that job you will find that it was not just luck, but a combination of dreams, determination and serendipity.  If we remove any one of these elements from the equation, we are certainly going to be one of the 71%.

Instead, let’s allow ourselves to dream for a moment about a future where we are not slaves to a weak economy, but instead optimistic and excited about our future.   Take some time and watch Professor Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.  Professor Pausch, who was dying of pancreatic cancer, gave his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University on Sept. 18, 2007. His talk, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” highlights his lessons learned and provides advice for students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.

waterslideI am not suggesting that my son will actually become a hotel and water-park consultant when he grows up but, if he is determined, I would certainly support him.  However, I am saying that we need to pay more attention to our dreams if we want to end up leading a healthy, happy and balanced life.  If you are going to spend thousands upon thousands of hours doing something, why not at least try to make it something that you love?

Disclosing a Disability? Know Your Rights

access to employment for persons with disabilitiesIt is always stressful seeking employment; however, another layer of stress is added, for those with disabilities, when it comes to making a decision on when and whether to disclose that disability to a prospective employer. Although there is plenty of research that illustrates the potential benefits to an employer of having a diverse workforce that includes persons with disabilities, there are certainly many misconceptions that could stand in your way. When trying to decide the best way to proceed, it is important to first know the laws and how they can protect you. What are your rights, responsibilities and obligations?

Take some time to review The Canadian Human Rights Commission website at: www.chrc-ccdp.gc.ca

You will find on their site information on Duty to Accommodate, A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace, and examples of past cases that are viewed as significant in forming and upholding the Canadian Human Rights Act.disability

The more you know and understand our laws, the more confident you will feel about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour on the part of employers. This will ensure that you know what your rights are and how you can work together with a prospective employer to protect them.

However, regardless of how many laws there are to protect us, we still need to use common sense, instinct and judgement when it comes to any topic that may leave us vulnerable to discrimination. Thus, I encourage you to do research on prospective places of employment. Seek out companies that have a track record of hiring and supporting individuals with disabilities. Some may have company policies that promote and advocate for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. If you know this in advance, it may impact your decision on whether you disclose a disability and when. A great place to start is the 2012 list of Canada’s Top Diversity Employers. You can check out the list and the reasons they were selected at: http://www.canadastop100.com/diversity/

Along the same lines, if you know another individual who has a disability and is working at a company that you are interested in, set up an informational interview to talk about his/her experiences and get some first-hand advice on how he/she handled the job application process and how he/she was treated during and after hiring. Take some time to review my blog post on Informational Interviewing at: http://whatcanyoudowiththat.com/2012/01/06/networking-your-way-into-a-job/

If you have experience with disclosing a disability or hiring a person with a disability please share your story with us.

Further References:

Myths About Hiring Persons With Disabilities: This article is targeted at employers to help them recognize and address myths and negative stereotypes that are often associated with hiring persons with disabilities. It is a great resource for strategies for addressing these concerns with employers, should they arise. (http://www.gnb.ca/0048/PCSDP/PDF/Myth%20Busters%20ENG.PDF, Retrieved November 30th, 2012)

Disclosing Disabilities, University Affairs, November, 2012: This brief blog post opens the conversation about when and if to disclose a disability to a prospective or current employer. “Every option has pros and cons, and planning can help reduce the risk that your abilities will be misinterpreted.”

(http://www.universityaffairs.ca/careers-cafe/disclosing-disabilities/ Retrieved November 30th, 2012)

Duty to Accommodate Fact Sheet: This article, created by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, outlines and gives examples of an employers obligations when it comes to accommodating individuals with disabilities. Further, it also outlines the duty to ensure accessibility in the provision of service. “The duty to accommodate recognizes that true equality means respecting people’s different needs. Needs that must be accommodated could be related to a person’s gender, age, disability, family or marital status, ethnic or cultural origin, religion or any of the other human attributes identified in the two federal acts.” (http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/preventing_discrimination/duty_obligation-eng.aspx, Retrieved November 30th, 2012)

What Not to Do In An Interview – The Dick and Jane Series Contd.

Do not show up late, but don’t be too early either:  Take the time before the interview to find out exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there and then plan to be there about 10 minutes early.  If you end up getting there a lot earlier, take a breather, go get a drink of water, find a rest-room, but do not head into the main building until about 10 minutes before the interview.  It will seem a little odd if you are sitting in the office for 30 minutes before they are ready for you.

Do not show up unprepared:  You want them to know that you are specifically interested in this job at this company, so do your research.  Read their mission and vision statement, review the job description, find any documents that you can on the company’s strategic plan etc.  Also pay attention to what is in the news that relates to that industry.  You want to be up to date on current affairs and how they may impact the job that you are applying for.  If you are not prepared an employer will feel that you are wasting their time and are not dedicated to the company or this specific job.

Do not chew gum, bring your cell phone in (even if it is on vibrate),  wear perfume or cologne, wear anything too casual or revealing (no cleavage, no baseball caps, no yoga pants [yes that includes lulu lemon]  I don’t care if they cost as much as a suit, they are not appropriate).

Do not ask about holiday time, sick days or other perks during an interview.  This sort of stuff is fair game when you are negotiating a job offer, but not at the point of an interview.  If they are going to be an important factor in your decision to take the job, you should take some time to find out what the salary range is and  benefits are ahead of time.

Do not complain:  Don’t complain about your old job, your current job, your boss, the weather, your cold, how tired, stressed, rushed, overwhelmed, anxious, . . . you are.  Just don’t complain.  Employers are looking for someone that they want on their team, someone who is going to be a positive addition, not bring them down.  Not only is it entirely inappropriate to complain about past employment or bosses, but that negativity will compromise more than just your sanity.

For further tips on interview etiquette check out:

Preparing for an Interview – the Dick and Jane Series:

I would like to say that this video is an extreme example of what not to do; however, I have been told many tales from employers that make Dick look like a pretty good candidate.

  1. The reality is, like everything in life, you get from it what you put into it.  If you want to impress, take the time to get to know the company that you are interviewing with. Read the mission and vision statement, look for strategic plans and other planning documents that will help you understand what the company’s goals and challenges are.  Stay up to date with market trends and information that may be impacting them at the moment.  If you can reference current conditions in that industry and show your awareness, they will see that you are a focused, diligent and generally aware.
  2. Think of an interview as a conversation about possibilities, a chance to learn and an opportunity to share information. Make the most of your interview: relax, take the time to respond clearly, and be yourself. The more worked up you allow yourself to get about an interview, the worse you will perform.
  3. Practice potential responses out loud, in front of a mirror or patient friends and family members. Discover various strategies, transitions, and lead-ins for answering different kinds of questions, talking to one person or a group, and changing topics or focus.
  4. Practice asking questions. Employers will expect you to ask one or two questions at the end, so prepare something ahead of time.
    Ask things like: What are your priorities for this position within the first 6 months?
    What are you looking for in an ideal candidate for this role?
    Do not ask things like:    What is your vacation allotment?
    Do you have a maximum number of sick days that employees can take?
    If you ask the right sorts of questions, it will give you an opportunity, once they answer it, to follow-up with further examples of how you would be a good fit.  If they mention that their ideal candidate would be exceptional at multi-tasking and time management and you did not highlight that in your initial responses, now is the time.
  5. Anticipate commonly asked questions by interviewers and develop a set of related responses that you can mold to a variety of individual situations. Prepare responses that cover the main areas that just about all employers are going to want to know about.  Such as: ability to work in a team, ability to work independently, communication skills, work ethic and reliability, interpersonal skills and conflict management, multi-tasking and time management skills, project management and organizational abilities, career goals, greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses.
  6. Choose an interview outfit that is clean, respectable, and modest.  What you wear tells them how seriously you are taking this interview.  If you show up in a suit, they know that you respect them and the job.  If you show up in regular pants and a sweater, you are not too keen or interested in making a good impression.  If you show up in jeans and have a baseball cap on, then you are wasting their time.

Tell me about your best and worst interview experiences.

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