Listen in Sharkie Zartman interview Lizandra Vega on ‘The Image of Success’ in the workplace (Archived): Sharkie’s Pep Talk presented by HealthyLife.Net Radio
Many women take time off from their careers while they are raising children. Trying to find a job after such an absence can be a daunting experience, especially in a tight economy. Like all job seekers, they need to focus on two critical factors – networking and showing they are right for the position.
“Call upon every person you come into contact as your first means of networking,” says Lizandra Vega — an executive recruiter, certified image coach, and author of The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want. “Feel free to ask working moms within your community whether the companies they work for would consider trying you out or temping you. Use your network as much as possible and let people you come into contact with (in person and virtually) know that you are on the market for a paid job.”
And don’t forget the connections you had prior to taking time off. Former bosses and colleagues may be able to help. Likewise, build new relationships with people in your industry through professional organizations and business sites such as LinkedIn.
While demonstrating that you are the best candidate is key to receiving a job offer, sometimes a woman who has been away from the workforce can sell herself short. Erase any uneasiness about resume gaps by displaying confidence in yourself and pride in your capabilities.
“Stay-at-home moms are rarely just ‘staying home,’” Vega says. “Typically, they are organizers (Class Moms, fundraisers, events, juggling kids schedules), transportation managers (carpooling), caretakers (kids or elderly parents), developers (home projects, school projects, birthday parties), and leaders (Girl Scouts, PTA). Therefore, these are skills that are marketable and can absolutely be included on a resume.”
Vega also suggests keeping an eye out for paid positions with organizations that already know you. “You may be volunteering as a Girl Scout Leader or as Class Parent, so when a paid position opens up, you would be a suitable candidate for that spot as you’ve ‘paid your dues’ and are already a trusted entity within the organization.”
What’s spring without fashion? Probably something like a vacation without sunshine, it’s a much needed break but not quite as enjoyable.
Warmer-weather means retiring the boots and heavy jackets in favor of lighter, often brighter apparel. Pulling last season’s clothes out of storage and, if our budget permits, heading to the mall for a few new outfits. It should be fun.
But, unless you’re at least somewhat of a Fashionista, it can be tough to decide what to buy and trickier still to figure out how to incorporate this season’s trends into your existing wardrobe. But, even the most fashion-challenged among us can look stylish with a little help from the experts.
To navigate the Spring 2012 fashions, I reached out to several professionals. Luckily they had a lot to share. While they didn’t agree on everything, the one trend cited by almost everyone on our panel was prints, prints and more prints. Look for everything from oversize florals to geometric shapes and abstract art to tribal-inspired patterns to birds.
A few noted that color-blocking will be big as well. Overall, expect to see plenty of color this season including soft pastels, with an emphasis on the citrus shades of tangerine and lemon; bold, bright colors, especially corals and turquoise; and even neon.
Other trends mentioned by our mavens were:
•Ladylike, knee-length skirts and maxi-dresses (no mini-skirts this season, but expect to see plenty of pleats)
•Peplum on dresses, skirts and jackets is making a comeback
•Safari jackets (for men and women)
•Loose-fitting, wide-legged slacks
•Sports-inspired-clothing including anoraks, mesh, and the high-contrast colors direct from the playing field (thanks to the Olympic games)
•Hats ranging from printed caps to classic straw hats
Few people can afford to revamp our closets completely, particularly in this economy. Most have to settle for buying a few items and incorporating them into our existing wardrobe. For those of us without an innate fashion sense this can be challenging.
So what are we to do? Style experts say start with the clothes you already have.
“Find your closet favorites, whether it be a pair of jeans, skirt, crop pants, a dress, etc. and then build on that specific item. This way you know you are investing in pieces built around something you already wear and adore,” suggests Keith Fulsher, EVP, Chief Merchandising officer, Dressbarn. Jewelry is another great item that can be used to bring new and old pieces together, as well.”
Rosa Mae Neel , Esq. founder of Prune agrees. “Look for colors that are already in your closet that embody the spirit of the new season – maybe a red top that you can pair with that new magenta peplum skirt. Channeling a trend doesn’t have to be formulaic. You can make it your own by creating a statement with pieces you already have. Look for staple pieces that are already in your closet (like a knee-length pencil black skirt) and add a bold floral print shirt or scarf to make it trendy.”
What if you can only buy one or two items? ”Use updated prints to bring pizzazz to your existing solid colored wardrobe pieces,” says Lizandra Vega style expert with Perennial Resources International. “Pair new tops with existing bottoms which tend to stay newer longer.”
Where to Shop
Not close to a large city or shopping mall? Just want to let your fingers do the walking? Not a problem. With online shopping you can browse and buy the latest fashions with a click of your mouse. Here is a list of the best places to shop as suggested by our experts.
If you don’t want to splurge on a dress for a one-time occasion, try renting it from Rent the Runway at a fraction of the cost suggests Neel. She also recommends ShopItToMe.com which will alert you by email when your favorite brands go on sale online.
Down to Business
So what about business? Wearing new trends can be more complicated when you’re interviewing for a new job or attending professional networking events. But it is possible to be fashionable and businesslike at the same time.
“The one thing to instantly update a business wardrobe would be new on-trend shoes. People should feel comfortable in what they’re wearing during a networking event or job interview. If you don’t feel comfortable in your clothes, it will show on your face and make you appear more nervous,” says Sean Phillips, fashion expert and founder of StLouisInStyle.com.”As long as you have a basic suit to wear to these types of business occasions, add some style with a great pair of shoes.”
Another way to add a kick to conservative business attire is with an interesting blazer or colorful handbag. Just make sure it works for your industry. “If it’s appropriate, try a contemporary style blazer in a shade of pink to update your look and set you apart from the crowd,” says Marcella Milio of Vestiti! a wardrobe and style consulting service. “Depending on the type of position a rosy-hued blazer may not be suitable. In that case you can instantly add interest to your look with a colorful handbag, but always in a structural, lady-like shape.”
So what if you can only buy one item this season? “Make it a boldly printed scarf or a statement bib necklace with colorful jewels. Something beautiful and classy near the neckline to frame and draw attention to the face,” says Neel.
Just add a smile, which is always in fashion, and you’re ready to go!
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