Is “business casual” costing you the job?

By the Guest Blogger Team at T.M. Lewin

It’s no secret that first impressions are powerful. It really is true, you never get a second chance to make another first impression. Research proves that it takes only a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from only their face. When you begin to factor in a person’s choice of clothing, body language, and appearance, the stakes are even higher. According to several studies, 90% of people form their opinion about you in under less than a minute of an initial introduction. In a job interview, this means that a potential employer could have made their decision of whether or not to hire you before you’ve even begun the formal questioning.

Does the phrase “business casual” fill you with confusion and uncertainty? What really defines business casual from business professional or formal?

Deciding what to wear for an interview or a day at work is becoming increasingly more perplexing. Office environments continue to change and traditional standards of professional dress have surely become more relaxed. What is acceptable and appropriate to wear to an interview or new work environment remains subjective and universally undefined. Beyond the employee handbook (often received after the interview/offer letter) there is no concrete definition for what warrants an appropriate outfit from the next. Of course, in any work environment a dress code is circumstantial to geographical location, workplace culture, corporate policy, title or position and the field or line of work. One thing that remains unquestioned is the importance of a positive and polished appearance on interview day.

 

Even the best candidates who have crafted the perfect resume, completed their research about the company and their potential role forget to also consider the office dress code. There are many ways to gain an insider’s insight prior to the interview. Be observant while dropping off a resume or while in attendance for an office tour. If the job prospect is local, consider casually walking around the lobby or possibly sitting in your car in the parking lot to watch what people are wearing. If your target company is remote, you may be able to gain some insight from company photos of employees, especially in groups versus professional headshots.

 

T.M. Lewin, experts in office-ready work-wear in the UK, has helped to decipher the professional dress code puzzle. They have crafted the savvy guide below as a perfect tool for aspiring jobseekers, with plenty of style references, tips and advice for our modern workforce. Please note that while the guide has been developed for the European workforce, it can easily be adapted to what you learn upon researching the interviewing company.

 

 

T.M. Lewin is a British heritage brand established in 1898 on Jermyn Street in London. Experts of smart style and dressing our modern working world. is a British heritage brand established in 1898 on Jermyn Street in London. Experts of smart style and dressing our modern working world. 

 

Time to refresh your elevator speech!

Most of you have heard of an “Elevator Speech,” right? The story goes something like this – let’s say you have an interview for a job you really want. You get into the elevator on the first floor of the building and find out the other person in the elevator is the head honcho who is going to have the final say in whether you get hired.  You now have about 60 seconds to ride in the elevator with her to the top floor.  When she finds out that you are the candidate under consideration, she seems curious about you. What “speech” can you give her in that elevator ride to peak her interest and ensure that you get the offer? Ahhhhh! If you don’t know, then you need to figure this out – and fast!

You meet people all the time, especially if you are networking, attending professional organization meetings, and actively pursuing job leads. Sometimes, you really only have about an “elevator ride” worth of time to impress someone or not. So what can you do? Try to identify what you really want to market about yourself and what sets you apart out there.  What value do you add? What do you want other networking professionals to remember about you? Practice your “elevator speech” out loud. Listen to other people’s answers when you ask them what they do – what impresses you? Who do you remember and why? These are not easy questions to answer – but investing some time and careful thought into your “elevator speech” can create a lot of opportunities for you.

If you are at a networking event, be sure that your interaction is not “just about you.”  It’s important  to focus on building relationships, too.  So show interest in the other person and ask how you might be able to help them. You will certainly be remembered for that!

 

Ring in the New Year with a fresh approach for your search

The New Year is a great time to charge forward with new ideas and commitments.  So, if you’ve been in a job search for a while, now is a great time to gear up with a fresh start and IGNITE your search!

Review and evaluate your existing plan and activities. Here are some questions to ask in assessing what is working and what is not:

  • What is your job target? Are you clearly conveying this to others and on your résumé?
  • Have you gotten feedback from others about the strength of your career documents – résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile?
  • Are you getting calls for interviews? Are they for the right job target?
  • Have you had many interviews but no offers? Why?
  • Are you actively networking? Are you establishing quality relationships?
  • Do you know how to reach out to new contacts (appropriately) on LinkedIn?
  • Are you using a variety of methods to search for your new job or only using online job boards?
  • Do you have colleagues who will give you honest feedback and support?

Then, create a new plan that ignites your search based on what you have learned in your assessment. The most important step is to treat your search as a “job” with goals and target dates that will keep you moving forward:

  • Be sure to have a “to do” list that is translated into manageable weekly and monthly goals that are realistic and that push you forward
  • Keep your goals POSTED where you can see them every day!
  • Use an organized system to track your contacts, companies you’ve interviewed with, and the status of anything to do with your search.  (One FREE resource for tracking this info can be found with www.jibberjobber.com).

Use this opportunity to step back and recharge. A little reflection and organization will go a long way in setting things in motion. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful new year!

 

Connect the Dots to Get Those Interviews!

Remember those “dot to dot” coloring book pages when you were a kid? The page was covered with numbered dots…1,2,3… that you had to connect in order to uncover a hidden picture? The dots were clearly numbered and it was obvious how to follow them…8,9,10… and make connections in order to reach the end goal. I remember how much fun it was to see the picture emerging as I continued… 21,22,23… And if I did the picture together with a friend… 31,32,33…it was like a competition to see who would be first to figure out what the picture was. We would eagerly complete the connections so we could enjoy the next step–coloring it all in.

Successful job search is kind of like those “dot to dots”…53,54,55… It is all about connecting the dots for others. It starts with a targeted résumé that helps the recruiter or employer to see or “connect” that your talent is a close match with their needs. During the interview, it’s about connecting personally with the interviewer and gearing your responses to the connections–discussing how you can add value to their organization…71,72,73…  We all know how important networking is, right? We need to connect with others and establish strong relationships. We can help our network connect with us and increase the odds that they think of us for various projects and opportunities.

Sometimes we assume others are on the same page as us. Perhaps we think our talent should be obvious from brief background information…89,90,91… But employers who are interviewing many candidates for a position can use a little assistance! Help them connect the dots. Help them to see the picture emerge as the interview progresses. Steer them to the connections they may need to influence them…98,99,100…  Then get those job offers coming and enjoy coloring it all in!

[*This column was inspired from a recent tweet by Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers. You can follow her http://twitter.com@Keppie_Careers]

Your “bedazzled” email address can cost you the interview

Do you have a cute, flirty, or suggestive email address on your resume, for example:  hotchick@aol.com, or poodlelover@gmail.com, or perhaps goodtimes@aol.com ?

While this may be fun for emails between you and your friends, this could cause you to lose out on an interview! Think about this from an employer’s standpoint. What impression do they get about you when they read these unique, sometimes bizarre, email addresses? What image do you want them to have of you?

If you want to create a professional impression, then be sure you have a professional sounding email address! The most recommended way is simply to use your first name and last name or first initial and last name, such as: janesmith@gmail.com or jsmith@yahoo.com. So, go check your email address and get ready for the phone to ring!