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Professional Presence

Telling It Like I See It – Observations at a meeting.

As soon as I walked into the room, I immediately recognized who the presenters/speakers were. Not because I knew already knew them. Not because I saw photos in advance. And not just because their attire was the most professional in the room, but because of the way they were poised; they remained standing and smiling and quite approachable. Making eye contact or simply saying good morning as each person checked in. They had shown up, and they shined. Yes, I am referencing a book by my friend, Catherine Johns. (Show Up & Shine)

For the record, I am not a banking-attire kind of girl. I prefer nice clothes that are a step or two above business casual and at times – another step or two beyond that. But I do notice others. I notice because I’m one of those people who may change clothes 2-3 times before leaving for work or to attend a professional event – meetings, seminars, general business gatherings. Granted, if I were going on a job interview or a client presentation, I would certainly up my game. But at the same time, I will choose something to be comfortable enough but still confident. It’s like why I choose more subtle glasses (that I must wear in order to see) so that when I walk into a room – I walk in, not my glasses — though I admire those who can flaunt their funkier frames and wear them well. I just can’t.

Back to this meeting – though not an isolated observation. This was a professional meeting of professionals who work in a profession-specific field among various industries. This is a monthly gathering that provides a platform for speakers from relevant experts or vendors to discuss topics that may be of a general interest to this audience. And at the same time, these speakers may gain a new client in the process, or simply, a new respect for whom they represent.

Anyone who belongs to this organization already knows – a lot of effort goes into their program planning, and they do a really nice job of organizing and communicating for its members. These types of meetings are also opportunities for networking, for collaborating and gaining new knowledge and perspective. If I was a stranger to this group, might not ever guess some worked in their said profession. I wondered about the industry or company they represent. How casual is casual for them? And, would they be scrolling on their cell phones continuously and commenting with notification beeps for all of us to hear, if they were part of a meeting at their own organization? Where have our manners gone?

I work in a profession that is often disrespected or dissed, if not feared, inside an organization. A profession and job that should have a seat at the so-called table, but for some on this day, I wondered if it was a picnic table. Activewear? Sure, if one works in a health club or gym or a physical environment; especially if the clothing had a logo from their company — then totally appropriate. Sloppy or unclean clothes, or flipflops, regardless of weather is simply inappropriate. And while these meetings do take place in the morning, when we show up, we should not look like we just woke up. These are occasions to represent one’s organization or industry, and oneself. These are good opportunities to express one’s own knowledge or expertise or interest during the Q&A portion of any meeting. That’s when all eyes are on YOU. Even for a moment. That moment could be the lasting impression of what may have been a first impression, good or not so good. We never know when we may need to rely on this same network or association to find a new job.

My observation is not only about professional appearances, or the lack of. It includes the fact that sometimes our behaviors are poorly timed, or poorly stated. Becoming argumentative with a speaker is simply ill-mannered, particularly among our peers. Questions that may be too explicit or telling of a scenario in one’s workplace may be best left for after a meeting. Speakers often stay after a scheduled session just for this purpose. We certainly don’t want to disclose a confidential matter during such a meeting. The best questions to pose in an open Q&A are those that you could be more general in nature, or that most of us might have on our minds as well.

People often display behaviors or personality in corporate training sessions or meetings of this sort, that are surprising, and not in a good way. How we behave, treat others, present ourselves in any professional scenario is important, to our careers and our reputation. When one doesn’t care what other people think of them, it often speaks louder than words. We all need to take stock before we leave the house; take a good look in the mirror, be prepared, stay off cell phones, be on time and be civil. Civility. Another subject for another time.  thUM5LGPTF


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BIG little MiS tAkEs, Etc.

See Etc. Below

On my soapbox today…as I am spending a small part of this holiday weekend reviewing resumes received in response to a recent posting.

Candidates, there are a few golden rules to submitting your resumes online. Please consider the following so you don’t fall into that ‘black hole’ or get ‘lost in the shuffle’:

  1. ALWAYS name and save your document with your name or at least your initials. At least 1/3 of resumes just received are named as resume.doc or myupdatedresume.doc or similar. This makes it much easier for us hiring authorities to look through a long list of applicants and sort them by name, maybe alpha, in order to review them. Resumes that don’t have an identifier as their saved document name can indeed get lost in a shuffle of dozens if not hundreds more that do have some identifier.
  2. When you decide to use the template of someone else’s resume in order to copy and paste your own information – don’t forget to RENAME the resume and document to your own. Nothing raises the  red flag at the hiring company like two different names associated with one resume. Most likely, that is all the company will then read.
  3. Don’t associate your resume with a glaring or inappropriate email address for response. Just another Triancular_red_flagto the company about one’s professionalism.
  4. When submitting your resume, seriously, for a job, be sure that you meet some if not most of the qualifications listed. When you don’t, that sends yet another Triancular_red_flag that you probably didn’t even read the posting in full. And, if you take such shortcuts in your own career search endeavors, then what might you do on the job if hired?
  5. Always, email a copy of your resume as both your document as well as a .PDF version. Occasionally, employers will get resumes that have notes entered all over, or have some form of code or template lines on top of the content that was intended. This may say to an employer – he/she doesn’t proofread their own personal work, so we probably can’t trust them to be responsible for any workplace documentation that would be tasked with.
  6. Triancular_red_flag There are often red flags when resumes are submitted through various recruitment websites and aggregators and the intended targets (being the company) may not actually see what you intended them to see.
  7. Consider the level of the position you are applying to. Have you shown, through your own resume format, content, grammar and spelling, that you even meet the qualities required for the job?

And then some…

8.  Always be sure to place your name on each page of your resume.

9. It’s helpful to insert page numbers when your resume is more than one page.

10. There is no need to waste space on your resume with ‘references upon request’ as that is a given. If you don’t provide them ‘when asked’ you probably won’t go further in the process.

10+. Don’t even place the names and numbers of your references on your resume. Most people don’t want their contact information out there on the global resume/job search market – and wouldn’t be comfortable if this got in the wrong hands. On the other hand, have that list available to share (in person) when and if they are requested, most likely during an interview.

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No. Just no.

“I realized…that I had to start saying a very, very difficult word to people, which was ‘no’.

The odd lesson for that is I figured out that’s how you end up making the favorable work you do…Saying yes, then you just work. But saying no means you made the choice of the type of story you wanted to tell and the type of character you want to play.”

‘Every time you say yes to something you don’t really want, you’re actually saying no to the things you do.’

No, these are not my words today, but certainly worth sharing for the benefit of most of us in whatever we do.

Read the entire interview/article from Inc. with Actor Tom Hanks.

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Overeducated and Underemployed? Part 2 of 3


We continue with that same thought when we asked the following question:

“In your opinion, are people over-educating and should instead being pursing hands-on experiences?”

Most felt that particularly in Illinois, there just haven’t been enough jobs for the people seeking jobs. So, going back to school, volunteering or even consulting in your field(s) are alternatives to having to explain a major resume gap. A few years ago recruiters/hiring authorities were a bit more forgiving of employment gaps of a year or longer. That may no longer be the case.

And one company doesn’t necessarily mean another company will operate in the same manner; nor hiring authorities within the same. For example, we’ve noted managers who refused to consider resumes of people not currently working. And another company whose owner feels that if someone has been out of work for a year is hungry and will work hard for this new boss if hired.

People are people. People, whether owners or hiring managers or outside agencies/third-party recruiters or even internal HR folks – often go with their gut. And that gut reminds them of experiences. Too often bad experiences. One where they started to empathize with the longer-term unemployed and took a chance on hiring only to have it backfire; finding themselves having to fill that role once again in short order – either because a better offer was waiting in the background, or the new hire just didn’t meet expectations.

What was expressed in detail in response to this question – was that a seasoned job seeker needs to understand that education is not an open invitation to a new job or a promotion. In one opinion – online degrees offer little value to an employer. Quality and content of the education is what matters, yet to varying degrees and along with prior experiences.

The cost of education isn’t always worth it in the long run. However, often from an HR perspective, or an organization that touts itself as progressive, intelligent, and sets the bar in certain areas – the college degree (mostly 4 year) will get into the YES pile and chances are – the experience only pile may not get a second look if the right blend of both is in their hands already.

Note: The above are opinions shared from others, and may not necessarily align with ours. There are variables in everything.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Age obstacles

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In one of our job club meetings of the same name more than a year ago, we tackled the concept of Jobstacles – getting in your own way of getting an interview or getting the offer. In my world of recruiting, it’s often like hearing excuses. Many claim they can’t get a job because they’re overqualified, or too old, or too expensive. Certainly, that could be the case.

Yet people still apply to job ads without doing some research on the organization, the culture, or even meeting others who have worked there – to get some inside perspective.

  • Overqualified can translate having had a career history where taking a couple of steps down or back doesn’t seem realistic. Companies fear, and with good reason and experience that hiring someone with too many qualifications/credentials are going to bore someone sooner than later. They’ll be right back to recruiting for that same role in due time.
  • Too old – can translate to ‘not having enough energy for the job or being out of touch with technology. Some people try to hide their ‘age’ in a resume by not providing experience more than 10 years old. My feeling on that – then what else might you be willing to hide, to cover something up — when you’re on the job?
  • Too expensive – also fits in the overqualified category of excuses. One might take a job just to get their foot in the door, but the company presumes that once a better offer is made, financially, they’ll have to try and fill that position all over again. So many hiring managers, prefer to just wait it out.

So the moral of the story is, be conscientious when applying for any job. Is it a realistic opportunity? Do you know enough about the role, the company and the culture – to truly feel you can be a fit? No hiring authority wants to hear the “I can do anything” attitude. It’s more like being willing to do anything. If you’re unemployed – then taking a position for less pay than what — is reasonable? Less than unemployment benefits? If you are truly willing to work in your field, or something new, for less than you were accustomed to – state your case right away. Changes in your life/circumstances/expenses — whatever, has allowed you to consider roles that aren’t of the same pay scale you were once at.

If you can guess that the job typically hires a ‘younger’ or more energetic person that you might portray yourself to be, then apply for it but be prepared to shine regardless of age. Present yourself as a well-groomed, ageless, and experienced person who thrives on challenging work, collaborating with others and being able to contribute towards a common goal.


Interviews & A Portfolio


I have often wondered why people bring their briefcases to a job interview. More men than woman as I recall. One might presume that a portfolio is a given for the candidates of the creative professions, to show their designs, photography samples, even home staging experts have the before & after shots. There is something truly visual about what they do or what they produce.

Do you need to carry around all that bulk of a major briefcase? Us ladies are accustomed to toting around baggage of all sorts and sizes – and yet most women I’ve encountered are comfortable enough having a some portfolio/pad-folio along during an interview. Seems portable, comfortable and still professional.

When you’re not part of the creative candidate pool – what might you be carrying along with you for an interview? Here are a few things to always have on hand for those ever-important first impression meetings:

  1. Printed copies of your current resume on really nice paper along for the ride. If you’ve gone through a recruiting agency, chances are the resume you provided them has been altered to be more applicable to the specific needs of the company they’ve scheduled you with. And, when things go well in that first interview — you just might have the opportunity to meet some other hiring authorities to share your resume with.
  2. Carry along copies of any certifications you might have earned in your professional experience; from PMP to PHR, from Culinary to Microsoft certificates – these are certainly reasonable to have on hand.
  3. Maybe you’ve had an opportunity to be part of a marketing development project in your past jobs, even though you weren’t part of marketing. Consider bringing along whatever piece of media or project you worked on to show not just a creative side, but obviously that have worked on a team towards a mutual goal/project.
  4. In the front of your pad/portfolio – make sure you have handy the exact ad copy you responded to regarding this job opportunity. As well, be sure to keep any/all phone numbers, directions and other contacts that you may need while in transit. One never knows what may occur while on your way to an interview. Better than just arriving late – call to explain your delay to see if you should be rescheduled, or is it still advisable to come as planned.
  5. And here were are at point #5, seems to be the last on my recent lists. Here’s a personal point. Have on hand clear nail polish for stocking runs, shoe polish for scuffs, breath freshener, pocket stain removers, a hand mirror to do a last minute check, and whatever can assure you looking your best for this first impression meeting. (08 Jul)

On Staffing – when 365 days a year is required. 

Having some recent conversations about appropriate staffing – particularly when it comes to holiday, it made me think. So, the 4th of July was upon us. An area service/food type company that only employs one person per store per shift, finds itself each and every holiday and the weekend days surrounding – scrambling to keep its doors open. Now keep in mind, this is not a public service such as police/fire, or a 24/7 national grocery or pharmaceutical company that by nature is open to meet the demands of the community that could occur at any time of the day or night. This particular organization is not providing emergency or required services.

Yet, while they promise to be open to its regular customers – they’re not able to assure enough competent or readied staff to meet their operational needs. They’re not working their talent pool often enough to assure there are no struggles on the days before the holiday or on that holiday itself. Here’s a few ideas smaller organizations can do to keep up with their own pace.

0% of success

  1. Assure that through your recruiting practices you’ve painted a picture of not just a typical day on the job, but what a day can look like when someone is a no-show or calls off of work. Look for reactions in the interview process.
  2. Hire people who affirm and have provided example through interviews that they are indeed flexible: ready and available to work holidays or weekends, either regularly or on-call.
  3. When preparing schedules for regular workers, ask them to provide additional days in advance – that they can be on call to fill in when necessary. Not all who call off are doing so for the fun of it. Emergencies happen – we all know it, and we’ve all been there.
  4. Those that offer in advance to be on an on-call list should be called first, because they are likely hoping for extra hours. Employees who sign-up should be rewarded. Salary adjustments aren’t realistic, but bonuses are. Even a point system can be established for each hour a person works beyond their regular schedule. While that employee is still getting compensated for the time work, and potential overtime – a point system could be set up for cash bonuses monthly or quarterly, or even a late start or early off on occasion. In the airline industry – we would call this ‘Z’ time. It was a win-win all around!
  5. Last but not least, those who continually disrespect their employers by calling off on assigned schedules and other not-great-behaviors, should be disciplined. They should not be rewarded by ignoring their lack of work ethic through continued employment. Too often this happens and dead-beat workers maintain their jobs with a care-less attitude that only gets more carefree because they know they won’t get firedsimply because the company hasn’t recruited  and trained enough people to be more appropriately staffed for their type of industry. (06 Jul)

LinkedBook or FaceIn? Been wondering why there seems to be a more frequent crossover.

linkedin map

Due to extraordinary personal reasons in recent months, I’ve not paid the attention due to this great resource of LinkedIn. Shame on me. When did it become an extension of Facebook? When did my feed become so over saturated with motivational quotes and imagery? As an early advocate and somewhat of a super-user of this platform, and occasional trainer of — I’m concerned about the lean towards personal agendas, irrelevant messages and outright sales. Does one really need to post their profile photo with the catch of their day or seemingly shirtless? Let’s get SMART about our use of this INTELLIGENT network.

Always a bit cautious about accepting invites – I consider this network to be about the quality, not the quantity of connections. Consider this – if you were to choose a random selection of say 10% of your current connections and placed a phone call – would you need to explain who you are, or would those connections already know?

I wonder why some profile photos here are obviously outdated or just simply inappropriate; why those who have changed jobs do not update their profiles to reflect their professional growth or transition; and to where this all started – that this is a ‘professional’ network not being respected as such. I am beginning to understand why some people have been hesitant to get involved at all, and while others I know are seriously thinking about removing themselves. Just because it’s generally a free resource, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be taking it more seriously.

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