It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post—almost two years! Time sure does fly when you, the person who dishes out career advice, is trying to find her own way through the crossroads of work and life. I suppose putting my writing on the backburner was a reflection of being busy but also indecisiveness about how to steer my own ship. Part of me felt like a bit of a hypocrite to be writing about how to achieve career fulfillment, if I had strayed from my path of doing so myself. It was a humbling revelation to relinquish being at the helm of my own company, and to become a mortal job seeker. Whoa, was it mind blowing and my (oh my) how the tables had turned! Suddenly, all of the wonderful opportunities I thought would come beating down my door seemed glim the more days and weeks went by. It didn’t matter that I had written the evergreen bible of finding a job, or that I looked and sounded great (maybe even a detriment at times), or that I was personal friends with dozens of recruiters, or even that I have over 500 connections on LinkedIn. I was as vulnerable as every other NYC job seeker, trying to survive in the shark pool of candidates.
Thankfully, a combination of networking, soul-searching, and incredible perseverance prized me with a work home, one which allows me creative freedom, while encouraging “Imagination” in executing senior and C-Suite searches across sectors I am passionate about: consumer, luxury, and lifestyle. I am fortunate to have gained a wonderful group of colleagues and to have the opportunity to peek inside the great minds of so many leaders of premier brands across the globe. Once again, I feel ready and able to help others decipher what might make them happy, by offering guidance through my blog for the purpose of optimum fulfilment (and if you’re lucky advancement) within work-life and beyond.
Additionally, since my last blog post, I have suffered the loss of some people that were near and dear to my heart. Mourning those losses has impacted my state of mind and my state of well-being in such a way that I’ve embraced fitness and wellness to get me through those tough times. I look forward to sharing my progress, since we are all “works in progress,” as we evolve to take on new roles at work and in life. I share this with you so you know that you are not alone, that you can only do your best to present yourself in the best possible light. When being your best is not good enough for an individual to accept you or a company to hire you, then you must believe there is a higher being looking out for your best interest. It simply means it is not the right situation for you to thrive in. I’ve said this to many people, so many candidates in my lifetime, but saying so now comes from a more genuine place, because I’ve survived the disappointments, and lived to see how I’ve actually “dodged a bullet” (as they say).
I reintroduce myself to you as a much wiser, savvier person, full of optimism and ready to share lots of tips and real life experience. I’m wearing this ultra-feminine white dress (yes, after Labor Day)– white being a color that evokes purification of thoughts and actions, one that enables new and fresh beginnings. It is my hope that THE CAREER CONFIDANTE fills you with ideas, information, inspiration, resources, and most of all hope to think positively, to execute, progress, and to move toward a path that makes you an all-around happy person. Onward and upward, and come visit again soon.
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You’ve spent weeks researching potential hiring companies, fine-tuning your résumé, and mentally preparing yourself for the interview challenge. You’ve quickly realized that the “dates” are not happening as often as they once did. Then an e-mail arrives from a Human Resources Director—not a Manager—a Director inviting you to interview for just the type of position you’ve been looking for. You’re so there, and your mind is saying, “This job IS mine!” After all, you’ve got the experience, the credentials, the degree(s), plus extra certifications to boot. The interview day is here and you are pumped. Yet, inexplicably your chances of landing the job are quickly deflated before you even set foot inside the interview room. Were you mistaken for a similar candidate? Has the job been put on hold? Why does the recruiter seem so lukewarm on you before you’ve even had a chance to ‘strut’ your stuff?
Commonly, recruiters and hiring managers become privy to clues you inadvertently display during the pre-interview stage—raising suspicion as to the type of employee you would be (if you were hired). When such “questionable” behavior is exhibited, there is little (if any) chance of turning it around. So before you go on your next job interview, prevent yourself from making one or more of these ten blunders, which quite possibly could end your interview before it begins.
1. Risqué Social Media Profiles/Photos: The first thing corporate and executive recruiters do these days after they’ve identified a viable candidate online is to look at their social media profile. Sometimes recruiters will wait to take a quick peek at your social media profile/photo right before they greet you in the reception area (so that it’s fresh in their mind). A client took a pass on a “stellar” candidate who had recently added on Facebook that she “loved smoking pot and taking bi-swings every once in a while.” The candidate had also uploaded a new profile photo of her weekend partying while snuggling suggestively against a bottle of Bud Light. We were lucky not to lose the client, but the candidate lost the job opportunity.
2. Inappropriate Dress: Job seekers will often under-dress, over-dress, or partially-dress for the interview and those are definite reasons why they don’t land the job. Under-dressing in skimpy outfits, over-dressing in sequined “Saturday Date-Night Wear,” or partially-dressing and finishing up in the reception area (change shoes outside) are sure indicators of your poor judgment. Even if you’re interviewing within a creative environment or in 90 degree weather, flaunting your cleavage, shoulders, bare legs, and toes may be more than the recruiter wants to see and they certainly don’t need you as the office trend-setter.
3. Rude to the receptionist: If you are rude to my receptionist, I know you will be rude to me, clients, fellow employees, etc. Rude is rude! There is no combating such impoliteness. You may want to unload your frustrations on the receptionist, but front desk receptionists are the eyes and ears of a company. News travels fast in an interoffice e-mail from the receptionist to the Human Resources Director alerting him/her that the candidate he/she is about to see is ill-mannered and brash. So be particularly respectful and gracious to the receptionist—he or she has more input on your candidacy than you think.
4. Neglecting to bring a résumé: If I hear one more job candidate use the “I want to save trees” excuse for not bringing a résumé with them I’m going to lose it. Of all the lame excuses for not being diligent enough to supply a recruiter with a résumé, this is the one that most gets my blood boiling. You want to save a tree so you put me through the trouble of printing a copy of your résumé (making me endanger a tree)? It comes across as neglectful and/or forgetful—qualities not highly regarded in the workplace. Let me make this perfectly clear. Even if you have e-mailed your résumé electronically, refrain from making the assumption that the recruiter will have it handy to refer to it during your live interview. It is recommended that you bring between 5-10 copies of your résumé on every interview.
5. Refusing to fill out an application: Nothing screams “BAD ATTITUDE” as much as refusing to fill out a job application/questionnaire. When you write “See Résumé” instead of filling out the information that is being asked of you, you are basically saying that you dislike complying with rules, like to make your own, or you’re just plain lazy. Personally, that is the “writing on the wall” for future arrogant behavior.
6. Punctuality (arriving either more than 15 minutes early or late): You may think that arriving to a job interview 30 minutes early earns you brownie points, but this is not the case. If you arrive more than 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled time you may be perceived as overly aggressive, desperate, or as someone who is not in high demand. If you are travelling from far away and you do arrive extra early (and want to use the restroom and fix yourself up), ask the receptionist not to announce your early arrival. Still, that doesn’t guarantee that he/she will follow your instructions, and your premature arrival might be announced anyway. If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late, you must call. Expect a rescheduled interview or waiting for the recruiter’s next time slot.
7. Accepting/initiating cell phone conversations in the reception area: Keep your babysitting issues, boyfriend troubles, and other interview appointments under wraps. If you must make a phone call or accept an urgent call excuse yourself from the reception area. Make a point of being discreet. You are being watched and listened to before your official interview begins. In fact, your official interview starts when you enter the office building’s lobby and elevators (especially when there are cameras that can be played back).
8. Rescheduling an interview more than once: Emergencies do happen, but typically not more than once during one interviewing cycle. If something pressing in your life comes up where you must reschedule an interview, make sure you wait until the situation has cleared before you put it back on the calendar (even if it means losing out on that particular opportunity). The recruiter will appreciate your respect for his/her busy work schedule. Deferring an interview appointment more than once makes you seem unreliable and flippant about your interest in the company and the position.
9. Social awkwardness: Big “WARNING” signs go up for being socially awkward. Some of the most common social awkwardness faux pas I’m warned about by my receptionist (“on the DL”) are: nervous laughter, fidgeting, close-talking, self-talking, and self-touching. Refusing to hang up your overcoat, unloading a wet umbrella or saying “no” to a glass of water may also come across as ungracious and awkward. My recommendation on the glass of water is to always say “yes” even if you’re not thirsty. It makes you seem amenable to a kind gesture and water is both cooling and relaxing for your nerves. A side note to this suggestion: avoid popping meds with your water.
10. Bringing a buddy along for support: This is such a no-no! You wouldn’t believe how many people go on interviews with a roommate, parent, husband, baby, out-of-town guest, or parole officer (that one I sort of understood) and it is absolutely an interview killer. If you don’t have the sense and/or confidence to go on a job interview without a sidekick, then maybe you’re not ready for a lot of other challenges the work environment will present. You want to come across as an independent individual rather than one who relies on co-dependency. Coming with your baby in a carriage says you do not have the right childcare system in place and you may therefore come to work with your child on a regular basis (unproductive for an employer).
Avoid shooting yourself in the foot before you even get that foot in the interview room. Carefully assess your pre-interview actions and behavioral choices—factors that weigh in to your candidacy as much (or more so) than your professional qualifications, education, recommendations, and affiliations.
The February issue of Harper’s Bazaar is profiling fashion designer, Vera Wang (age 61) showing off her sleek physique in a strapless swim suit and stiletto heels. Michelle Pfeiffer still lights up the screen as she turns 50 during the filming of ‘Cheri’ as an “ageing” courtesan in the novel by Collette. Goldie Hawn (age 63) shares her age-defying secrets as a guest on Dr. Oz, still flaunting her girlish figure and smile. Madonna (age 53) is scheduled to dazzle Super Bowl XLVI viewers with an electrifying and show-stopping half-time performance. What do all of these “high-in-demand” enterprising women have in common? They possess the best of both worlds: they have the years of experience to deem them legends, yet their image remains timeless and appealing to multi-generational audiences/consumers. As a result of remaining “Ageless,” these women continue to be as employable and sought-after as ever. You don’t need to be a celebrity to implement golden rules that will keep you at the top of the list for a new job, promotion, or high profile project regardless of your age. In fact, keep the powers that be guessing and in awe of just how much knowledge you possess at the tender age of ? ?.
Apply the following golden rules for evergreen success in the workforce.
1. Stay fit: I write from experience when I tell you that by incorporating better eating habits and exercise into my life, my silhouette went from that of a 45+ year-old woman to that of a less than 35 year-old-woman. Over an 18-month period, I lost 25 lbs. by making definite lifestyle modifications; no ice cream or potato chips during late night writing and at least an hour of exercise per day. There are discrepancies among experts as far as what the minimal amount of exercise is needed to become fit; so I can only tell you what worked for me. Be sure to seek nutritional and physical fitness expertise to determine what works for you. Believe me, your body will thank you for it and will reward you by taking years off your physical appearance while increasing your stamina for those hectic days at the office when it’s hard to catch your breath.
2. Stay Informed: Stay at the top of your game and ‘in the know’ about current events, especially those that pertain to your industry. The last thing you need is for your boss or client to make reference to some new development in your field that you know nothing about. Sign up for Google alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) on topics that keep you in the loop regardless of how much time you have to read. Sometimes all you need is the headlines to help you through a “fake it ‘til you make it” conversation.
3. Stay on Trend: I can’t stress this enough as we all tend to be creatures of habit. Go through fashion magazines and tear out photos of looks you like. Imagine yourself in those looks. Then, tape the magazine pages around your bedroom or bathroom and begin to audit your wardrobe and makeup inventory. You might surprise yourself as far as how much you already own to create those looks. Otherwise, make a list and write down what you need to fill-in the blanks in your stock. There are times when staying on trend just means taking something that’s been wasting away in your closet and giving it new life with a simple styling tip.
4. Stay Private: I was given this advice when I was in my twenties (not so long ago) and it has stayed with me—though I don’t always practice it. Nonetheless, I will share this advice with you. A very senior female executive at a major investment bank once shared with me that her secret to being timeless while moving up the corporate ladder was to “stay private.” She advised me to stay private about birthdays (I never follow this one), marital status, children (particularly their ages and activities) and keep socializing with colleagues to a minimum. She felt very strongly about maintaining privacy in the workplace and attributed much of her success to doing so.
5. Stay Motivated: One of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson says it all, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” It is so difficult to stay motivated and excited about a job that may not exactly be your dream job, but sulking about it will only put a frown on your face; making you look 5-10 years older. Follow a spark at the end of what might seem like an endless dark tunnel by thinking about things in your life that motivate you to be excited. Before you know it, your mood will begin to change and positive energy will kick into gear. An open-tooth smile will soon follow—making you look happy—that’s timeless.
6. Stay True: One of the benefits to experiencing life is that you’ve learned (through trial and error) about the things you like and the things you dislike. You’ve discovered what’s made you happy in the past and what’s made you miserable. The days of peer pressure are hopefully behind you and now it’s about staying true to yourself. In doing so, you will feel liberated, exhilarated, and you will exude a ‘youthful’ aura about yourself.
7. Stay Open-Minded: Ever hear the saying, “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Well, staying set in your ways, unwilling to learn new things and new approaches will absolutely make you seem, “old.” Shake things up for yourself and listen to that free (optional) teleseminar or webinar while completing administrative tasks. Open yourself up to using new software, upgrade your cell phone, text instead of e-mail (even if just once), or opt for online bill-paying instead of snail mail. Project an open-minded image. Employers, clients and colleagues will in turn reciprocate with an open-minded vision of you.
Last night’s 63rd Primetime Emmys’ entertainment portion of the show began right on the red carpet. After weeks, possibly months of diet (in some cases starvation) and rigorous fitness routines the “Amazing Race” was on as far as which TV divas were dressed to impress. As star-struck spectators, we sometimes fail to realize that this annual celebration is comparable to say, The Annual Accountants Awards Ceremony. Of course, the difference is that we’re not engaged by accountants’ weekly work performance the way we are with some of the shows and actors nominated for Emmys. So, we don’t give a hoot about what they’d wear or how they’d look for such an event. Somehow, we view Hollywood entertainers as proprietors of the utmost confidence and style. After all, their livelihood depends on presenting an image (particularly at big awards ceremonies) that will make them memorable and marketable to renowned directors and producers like Martin Scorsese. Given the opportunity for self-promotion, why in the world would they risk looking anything but dazzling on such an evening? Why leave fate in the hands of wacky stylists whose decisions favor the lavish garments instead of the mega stars wearing them? Surely a biased suggestion, but they would be much better served by an image consultant (www.aici.org) prior to even window shopping for a gown or having one designed for them. This year’s Emmys had an astounding number of actresses who missed the mark and only a handful who created a buzz on their trademark. Following are my picks for bitter ‘Hot Mess’ and sizzling ‘Hotness’ at the 2011 Primetime Emmys.
Christina Hendricks in her Johanna Johnson crystal-studded gown sabotaged all of her curves. The plunging, deep “V” neckline revealed enough of her breasts to scare me into thinking that if one got loose; I might lose an eye or some other important body part. The wishy-washy neutral color of the gown did nothing for her pale skin and the hem of the bodice emphasized the widest part of her body–her hips. It also shortened her legs. The beautiful Minka Kelly looked surprisingly matronly in her lace, midnight-blue Christian Dior creation. The lace tiers on the skirt of her gown, along with the overpowering long sleeves were reminiscent of a mother-of-the-bride dress. Julianna Margulies took home a statue for Best Actress in a Drama Series, but on the red carpet her white Armani Privé column dress was less than appealing. The cylinder-shaped bodice resembled a lampshade which concealed her feminine physique. A black and white gown would have been a striking option for her. Not only would it have reiterated her creamy skin and dark hair, but she would have been right on trend with the fall-winter 2011-2012 runway looks. The adorably fit and perky Julianne Hough’s pink and beige Carolina Herrera satin gown also seemed like an odd choice for her skin, hair, and eye coloring. The extra-wide black, sheer sash looked severe over the soft hues of the gown. The harsh color contrast and width cut her torso and took inches off her petite stature. Katie Holmes looked like she ran right from “Mommy and Me” class to the formal event. Her cadet-blue Calvin Klein frock had simple lines that created optical illusions of flaws she doesn’t even have—huge shoulders and arms, no waist, no chest (okay this one was just accentuated not created). Her tousled tresses looked equally casual and harried. Katie does get an A on practicality as she could easily use the dress as a maxi cover-up at the beach.
Kudos to Christine Baranski for holding on to her ‘hotness’ status at age 59, in her navy Zac Posen gown. She chose a gown that accentuated all of her assets: cap sleeves showed off her toned, willowy arms, “V” neckline was just sexy enough, form-fitting bodice flaunted her slender-yet curvy body, and the flared train added the right amount of drama and star quality. Heidi Klum’s strapless ‘can-can’ style cocktail dress took some warming up to, but the more I gazed at her, the more in love I fell with it, and her. While the taupe-y/grayish color would wash out a lot of women’s features, Heidi was able to make her inner glow shine through with this Christian Siriano creation. Her choice of oversized, brightly colored-stone jewelry completed the fashion-forward look with expert panache. Two vibrant red dresses that turned actresses into style ‘Goddesses’ were Leah Michele’s Marchesa gown and Nina Dobrev’s Donna Karan strapless design. For Leah Michele, the cowl back was a delightfully, sexy surprise added to the beauty of the rosette sleeves, which were visible from all angles. For “The Vampire Diaries” star, Nina Dobrev it was the sultry, strapless neckline, curve-hugging fit, and stunning, pleated “handkerchief” train that made her a memorable bombshell.
“Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara tastefully accentuated her voluptuous curves with her one-shoulder, Vera Wang coral masterpiece. The gorgeous gown was asymmetrically yet perfectly balanced from every direction with prominent flattering design details like the matching-color tulle that peeked out of her magnificent train. Sofia’s hair, make-up and stately chandelier earrings refined the Columbian-born star’s look as my favorite of the night.
Christine, Heidi, Leah, Nina and Sofia–thanks for exemplifying the kind of beguiling Hollywood style we all visualize flaunting in our own worlds. As for the rest, I echo The Canadian Tenors’ “Hallelujah.” Thank goodness we don’t have to lay eyes on those mournful gowns ever again!