Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Interviewing or networking?

Most people consider a job interview as a brief interlude into one’s life or career if a job is not offered and/or accepted. I challenge that notion. Every interview or touch point with anyone in the industry could be viewed as an opportunity for networking. How did you end your last interview? Think about your role as either an interviewer or interviewee. As an interviewer, did you give clear and constructive feedback to the candidate who did not get the job? If you were the interviewee, and did not get the job, did you take the rejection graciously? If you passed on a job offer, did you clearly articulate why you were passing on the opportunity and thank the company?

Take advantage of that one shot even if you are not the right candidate for that particular role. Make a great impression whether you are the interviewee or interviewer. The retail industry is small. That hiring manager or HR director likely has other friends in the industry who are looking to hire. That candidate you just met may not be right for the role, but their friend could be the right fit for another opening on your team. In my opinion, all interviews should be seen as an opportunity for networking.

To learn more about career coaching, contact Kate Kibler at

Monday, October 28, 2013

Never burn a bridge

The fashion industry is really small. It’s like three degrees of separation. Another well-known fact about the industry is that there are some big personalities that can conflict with each other. Passion runs rampant in fashion. This can lead to some significant conflicts. My advice: try to stay neutral and never burn a bridge. It is highly likely that you and that person will cross paths again in your career. That conflict, or better yet, the way you handle that conflict, could be the difference between you getting a job or not in the future.

Staying neutral does not necessarily mean avoiding opinions or being a wimp. It means not getting emotional or obnoxious about your opinion. It means not being a know-it-all and staying open to conflicting views. By keeping that open mind-set, you will make better decisions for yourself and the company for which you work.

What experience have you had with a difficult person? If you were to look at your most strained business relationship today, how could you turn it around? What is holding you back from being open?

To learn more about career coaching, contact Kate Kibler at

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Long term unemployment

Ok, you are unemployed. It can be devastating when you lose your job. Even worse, you have been looking for a job for three or more months and still are unemployed with no good prospects in sight. It happens to the best of us. How can you remain attractive to employers as a viable candidate?

So, what are you doing every day? If you are eating bon bons and watching soap operas (I may be dating myself here), you are not presenting yourself in the best light. I don’t have all of the answers, but do have some suggestions. You need a story: Take classes. Travel. Freelance. Live abroad. Learn to cook. Start a business either related or not related to the field. Do something extreme. If you are interested in working for an outdoor action sports company, go snowboarding at some of the best places in the country. Or, if you are financially challenged, go work at one of the best snowboarding destinations in the country and brand it as ‘market research’. The goal: when you talk to a recruiter or hiring manager, they say “whoa, I’m so jealous.”

When you look at what you have been doing during your unemployment, do you feel confident in your story? How can you take your interests and craft a great story? How can you both take advantage of this time off and build a compelling story to share with a hiring manager? Who can help you assess if you have something interesting and engaging to share?

While a great story won’t get you the job, it could get your foot in the door. A great story gives a hiring manager or recruiter a reason NOT to edit you from their list of candidates. 

To learn more about career coaching, contact Kate Kibler at

Monday, October 21, 2013

Relocation - Is it a good move?

The majority of the candidates we contact about opportunities say they are not open to relocation.  I get this.  I would not move my family at this point unless we were forced to through a double loss of job.  We just bought a house we love.  Kids are doing great in school.  Close to aging parents.  We love the seasons and being outdoors.  These are our main reasons.

We hear a wide variety of reasons that people don’t want to move.  People from large metropolitan areas are not interested in smaller cities.  People in smaller cities are not interested in large metropolitan areas.   Sometimes there is a second career to consider in the household that prevents a move.  Children in school, family, friends, lifestyle activities (“I have to surf” “ I have to ski”) and climate are all often reasons people are not willing to move.

There are some world class employers for our industry in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Seattle, Georgia, Nebraska, Colorado, Florida…literally almost every state.   I can’t count the times I speak with talent from very large cities who will not even give consideration to a smaller city.  Often this mindset is based on the unknown and what they “think” the area will be like.  I have even been laughed at when I say an opportunity is in Wisconsin. 

Many of our candidates have successfully relocated to Wisconsin who lived in NYC their entire lives.  People who told me initially they would NEVER leave the city and CERTAINLY not to Wisconsin.  The triggers for these candidates were all different; bad day at work, bad day in the city, a change in the family situation.  Whatever the reason, once these candidates were open to exploring the option and actually came and looked at the area they had a whole new perspective.  Some still ultimately decide the move is not right for them.  Other candidates took the leap, loved it and never looked back.  Some make a move for a few years and then move on to other locations based on having experienced a move, making new friends and finding they are more open to new locations.

The thing that concerns me most is missed opportunities based on perceptions of what a region is or isn’t like without having been there to check it out.   My daughter hates cheese (yes in Wisconsin).  Today I made pumpkin whoopee cakes they have a cream cheese frosting in the center.  She was defiant that she would NOT like them because they had “cheese” in them.   After much discussion about how important it is to try new things or you might miss out on something wonderful…..she took the teeniest bite.  Her eyes lit up and she said I LOVE these!  She gobbled it up and declared it her new favorite desert.  Don’t miss out on a wonderful new adventure because you are sure you won’t like something you have never tried!
You can see the cities we currently have job opportunities in at .

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What to do when you lose your job

What to do when you lose your job… I would love to be able to give you a simple answer on this, but unfortunately there’s not a one size fits all solution. Almost everyone I know who has been laid off has needed a moment to reset. Even if you were expecting the layoff, volunteered to be on the chopping block or been given an option to leave, there has been a hit to the ego. Although you think you are putting on a good face, confidence (or lack thereof) always seems to present itself in an interview. Looking for a new job without confidence can be a huge obstacle to having a great interview.  The tricky balance is between taking time to ‘get over it’, rebuild confidence and not let too much time slip by. (Of course, I recommend a career coach to help you figure it out: Please forgive the shameless self-promotion).

Once you are ready to start putting yourself out in the job market again, how can you make yourself look more desirable to a future employer? First: research, second: research, third: research. You have plenty of time as you are after all, unemployed. What companies would you want to work for? How do those companies tie into your experience? What experience do those companies value? What kind of person are those companies looking for (personality)? How does your resume reflect the position you want? Have you found a posting for the position you want at the company you want? Who do you know who works there? Who do you know who knows someone who works there? How can you network with these contacts to help you make the right connection?

Once you have all of the details & a perfectly targeted resume (see Kari’s post from 6.3.13 for more about targeted resumes), you can start working to make contact. In many cases, you only have one opportunity when you get your resume or name in front of the right person. The more you research, the more you can target your resume, and target how you present yourself. Good luck with your job search!

For more information about career coaching, go to

Monday, October 14, 2013

The boss who takes over your life

I have a friend; we’ll call her Mary (not her real name). Mary’s boss used to make her spend an inordinate amount of time working and hanging out together. Lunches together were mandatory. Happy hour: mandatory. Late night calls: frequent. Mary didn’t feel like she had a choice in spending time with her boss. The boss would sometimes talk about work, but more often than not the conversations were focused on work gossip or the boss’ personal life. Once, Mary told her boss she couldn’t do lunch together and her boss retaliated by bringing one of Mary’s coworkers into the new hot seat. For weeks, Mary’s boss gave her the cold shoulder. It wasn’t long before Mary found her way back into her boss’ good graces. Although Mary frequently complained about her boss’ behavior, she let it continue and sometimes encouraged it.

This situation continued for years until Mary’s boss was eventually fired. I wish I could say this story was an anomaly. Unfortunately, the industry is a breeding ground for bosses who will push past people’s boundaries when permitted. While you can’t control your boss, you can control your reaction to the boss’ extraordinary demands. If you are currently working with a boss who takes over your life, how can you respectfully express your boundaries? How much are you willing to sacrifice for your career? How do you determine what the balance is between work and your personal life?

To learn more about career coaching, go to

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting where you want to go

I recently had a client talk about switching careers. Not a dramatic switch, just a small switch in function. Her goal was to obtain the position she wanted within two years. Switching roles can be harder than you think in the retail industry. Of course my client and I worked on associating her current skills to the job she wanted and targeting her resume (see Kari’s post from 6.3.13 for more about targeted resumes). We were also able to work with her current employer on a title change in order to line my client up better for the future job she wanted. The question remained… what else could my client do to get the career she wanted?

We landed on: act like you have that job now. Just start adding responsibilities of the job you want to your current role. Immerse yourself in the role you want. It’s pretty rare that an employer is going to get upset about you doing additional work. Coworkers usually like the additional help. That was a good solve for inside the office, but what about outside the office? What could my client do to start building a solid reputation? 

After some intense research, my client is starting a blog. She knows she is going to remain with her current company and in her current position for another two years. Her blog will give her a voice into the industry where she can showcase her skills in the role she wants. It will give her exposure and an edge on other recruits when the time comes to make a move.

How much time have you spent looking forward to your future career? What have you done to prepare yourself for the next phase in your career? How could you establish yourself as an authority in your field? How could a career coach help position you for the future?

To learn more about career coaching, go to

Monday, October 7, 2013

Title - What's in a name?

Title – What’s in a name?

The question of how important a title is comes up often when candidates are considering a job change.   In past postings we have mentioned that titles mean different things at different companies.  Kate has been writing about vision.  When you are considering a job move how important is title to reaching your vision?
Much research has been done on job satisfaction.  Title usually ranks behind work relationships, job content and compensation in importance to job satisfaction.
Since the tough economy in 2008 created many layoffs in our industry, we have not seen many people get a promotion in “Title” upon being hired by a new company.  It is more common to see lateral moves in title and in many cases taking a “Title Down” to join a new employer.

There are 5 major factors to consider when considering a job opportunity outside of your current employer.

1)      What is the job content and scope of responsibility?  Often you can “Title Down” and actually grow in responsibility.   Things to consider in the job content umbrella are:

·         Dollar volume for which you are accountable

·         Size of team

·         Are there direct reports?

·         Level of executives you interact with on a daily basis

·         What is the immediate impact/accountability you are able to have on the health of your business?

2)      Corporate culture.  Is this a place you are going to like being every day (ok….most days, every day is probably not realistic)?  Are the people respectful and collaborative?  Do they have a clear strategy and processes in place for you to do the job expected of you?

3)      Salary.  Does the salary meet your requirements?  Take into consideration cost of living differential if you are moving to a new location.

4)      Location.  Make sure you have an open mind regarding location if your life allows you the flexibility to consider relocation.   There are more opportunities available if you are willing to move.  You might have a perception of an area that is not correct.  Most companies will set up tours for you to explore areas as part of the interview process.  Realtors are great resources and are usually happy to provide a community tour.

5)      Are you comfortable with the title relative to the work you will be doing?

If the majority of the 5 factors are a positive change you may be missing a great opportunity if you focus only on the title of a position. 

What title do you think should be next for you in your career?  Have you ever “Titled Down” and been happier?  Have you ever taken a promotion in title that turned out to be less satisfying than your previous role?  Check out what titles we are working on for our clients at .

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Staying professional

It’s not always easy to stay professional in a less than professional industry. Yes, there are certain apparel companies where professionalism is expected. These are usually the bigger, more corporate type firms. In most fashion companies however, you can easily be lured into unprofessional behavior such as gossip, tardiness, cliques, and even harassment. I’m not sure why the fashion industry is prone to this type of behavior.  The social norms of many corporate environs don’t follow suit for fashionistas. Very rarely will you find business attire or proper email etiquette. Even non-creative roles in fashion work in a more fluid style.

So, how can you remain professional in a mostly unprofessional industry? First, understand your goals. How does participating in gossip move you closer or further away from your goals?  What about lateness? If you are in a divisive company where cliques are prevalent, how would you choose which clique to associate with? Better yet, how could you get your job done and not associate with a clique? What would the benefit to you be to remain neutral and steer clear of the clique behavior?  Whatever the unprofessional behavior, understand who and what you want to be before following along.

While it may not be easy, it is possible to remain professional in an unprofessional industry. Keeping a clear target for both your career and life goals will help you find your way.

To learn more about career coaching, go to