Monday, November 25, 2013

Entry level candidate

I do a lot of networking. I talk with students and presidents of companies alike. I enjoy hearing what interests people, what motivates them and how they see their careers. Almost every entry level candidate or student asks me what I am looking for when I interview someone just out of school. Let me start by saying that every hiring manager is looking for something different. Here is my general list and reasons why I seek out those specific qualities:

  • Intelligence- If someone is smart, they generally learn fast
  • Communicates well- If a candidate cannot communicate clearly and in an articulate manner in an interview, they are out.
  • Worked while in school- The retail industry is so fast paced, that my hires need to be able to handle a lot and multi-task. When someone says they didn’t work so they could focus on school sends a red flag on what I am looking for in a candidate.
  • Activities while in school- Same as last reason.
  • Cultural fit- This varies at just about every company and could mean just about anything. I have worked in really strong companies where you can only succeed if you are very vocal, where other companies would not value that characteristic.  
  • Curious- A candidate needs to ask questions. Real questions. Not ‘how did you get here in your career?’ That is a bad stock question that teachers tell students to ask. I like to hear curiosity around the open position, company and culture. I want to know this candidate was not only listening but also engaged.
  • Enthusiasm- I want everyone on my team to be as excited as I am to come to work every day. An aloof candidate is a not the right one for me.

How can you find out what a hiring manager is looking for in a candidate? What company exhibits the values and traits you practice? How can you connect those two to find a job that is a great fit for you?

For more information about career coaching go to

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Listen to understand

Think about the last serious conversation you had with an employee. How much did you listen verses talk? How did you listen? Listening sounds easy, but it can actually be very challenging. Pure listening means you are both hearing and processing what the talker is saying. This can’t happen if you are thinking of a response, coming up with ideas, wondering how this applies to you or talking over someone. Most of the time people are not listening when someone else talks. The ‘listener’ is trying to solve the problem or think about what s/he will say next.

When I first heard this, I didn’t believe it. I thought I was a good listener, but I was wrong. Luckily, listening is a skill that can be taught. First, you have to realize what is holding you back from truly listening. For me, I was thinking of ways to solve the person’s problem. Secondly, you need to figure out a way to overcome your reason for not listening. My solve was to take notes on things that I could come back to later. Such a simple step significantly helped me to become a better listener.

What does listening mean to you? When have you had a conversation where someone actually listened to you? How did you feel? How can you be a better listener? What are some things you can do to improve your ability to listen?

For more information about career coaching go to

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lunch and Dinner Interviews - Mind your manners.

Have you ever been a candidate or an interviewer that was given the meal slot?  How do these interviews differ from office setting interviews?

The short answer is other than setting they are still absolutely an interview and the majority of the same rules apply…but now you add table manners and etiquette. If you are meeting at the restaurant a hand shake is still in order.  If you know the name of the restaurant ahead of time you can usually review the menu on line and make a selection ahead of time.  Something neat and easy to eat so you are not distracted wrestling with long pasta noodles and sloppy sauces. 

If you never had a formal education in dining manners here are some easy tips that go a long way. 

·         None of your belongings should be on the table (including phones…which should be silenced).

·         Place your napkin in your lap when the food arrives, when you are finished your napkin should be placed neatly back on your plate.

·         Chew quietly with your mouth closed.  If you are asked a question mid bite, take your time to finish and answer when you are comfortable your mouth is empty.

·         Unless you are choking wait until your food is swallowed before taking a drink.

·         Keep your elbows off the table while eating.  When the food is removed your elbows can be on the table for conversation.

·         Don’t slouch or lean too far back in your chair.  Sit straight and lean slightly forward.

·         Cut one piece of food a time as you eat it.

·         Ask for things to be passed to you rather than reaching for them.

·         What about alcohol?  None at lunch.  If it is dinner and the interviewer is ordering a drink as a candidate one glass of wine is perfectly acceptable and it is safest to stop at that.

·         Always say ‘excuse me’ when you need to leave the table.

·         Be courteous to the restaurant staff and other patrons.

·         If you are the interviewer you should pay for the meal.  Candidates however should not assume this is the case.  When the server brings the tab you can reach for your means of payment and offer to buy.  If the interviewer indicates they are paying, do not object just say “Thank you.”

We would love to hear if you have any interesting meal interview stories!   If you want to know what clients we can set you up to interview with, contact me at

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thinking positive makes things better

Positive thinking or positive reinforcements can really turn around not only your attitude, but also your reality. Recent research suggests that having a positive outlook improves resiliency, improves your health, and makes you happier. It can be easy to get caught in a spiral of negativity when things aren’t going your way, but consider how you can turn that around.

After starting a new job, I was crunched for time. I just moved to a new city and outside of moving my home, I also needed to make a trip to the department of motor vehicles (DMV). I procrastinated going to the DMV as long as I possibly could. Almost every trip I had ever made to a DMV in any state ended in frustration. I had a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. I was negative. In order to motivate myself to make the trip to the DMV, I started working on some positive reinforcements. I told myself over and over again that I would have a successful and productive trip to the DMV.

With my renewed positive energy, I printed off all of my papers, pulled together every piece of identification I had, and double checked the website one last time to make sure I had everything together. I arrived at the DMV first thing in the morning before they were open to a line of about one hundred people. Not bad. This line will go quickly once we get inside. When I got up to the counter, the woman told me I needed additional paperwork that I didn’t have (in her most off-putting tone she told me I not only needed the letter for proof of address, but also the envelope it came in). I stayed positive and asked a couple of questions. The woman across the counter came up with a good idea of how I could still do what I came to do. With her suggestion, I moved to the next counter. At the next counter, woman #2 told me she could not find my information in the system. I knew it was there. I asked her to check again. She checked again and repeated that it wasn’t in the system. My stomach started to sink into that place of negativity. I shook it off and kept with my promise of positivity. I calmly explained that there must be some confusion as I was told the DMV had my information. She checked one more time and found my file… someone had added a zero to my VIN number by accident.

While I had almost been pushed over to negative feelings, I was able to stay positive and walk out of the DMV with everything I needed. I only got what I needed because I was able to stay positive. If your inclination is to assume the worst out of a situation, the outcome will usually follow. If I had let negativity take over, I would have walked out with nothing to show for my trouble.

How can this example relate to a work situation? How can you stay positive and prescribe the outcome you want? Where do you find your negative feelings surface? How can you turn something negative into a positive? How can being positive influence your life?

For more information about career coaching go to

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Get a life

Just one more email… one more phone call… one more meeting. It is easy to get swallowed into the workplace. Constant changes and moving deadlines make the fashion industry especially daunting. Sometimes you step back and think… wow. We are talking about a button. I just blew off dinner with my sister because I need to stay in the office to update the color of a button on two hundred styles before the night is over.

How has your personal life suffered as a result of work? How has your career suffered as a result of your personal life? How can you introduce a work-life balance and succeed in your job? What are the non-negotiables for you in your personal life and in your career? Who can help you find the right balance? How can you create boundaries that help you maximize your time and happiness?

For information on career coaching, go to

Monday, November 4, 2013

Your Internet Image - What is it Rated?

We have had more than one candidate be edited from the interview process because prospective employers found photos and information on social media space that they felt were inappropriate.  There are so many places to build profiles.  LinkedIn most people recognize as a career based networking site.  Prospective employers will also search Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and any other information they can find on candidates.
Here are some guidelines to keep your social media space from costing you career opportunities.  In the most simplistic advice it should be rated PG in content. 

Things to avoid:

Excessive party pictures.

Bad language.

Inappropriate Dress.  

Extreme political views.

Extreme personal drama.

Violent content.

Sexual content.

Negative dialog about employers, co- workers and work in general.

Even if you set your Facebook photos as private they can show up in other places.  Do a Google search on yourself and see what comes up.    If I Google my husband’s name photos show up from a wedding we were at in California.   We did not post these pictures.  You can see when we attend community meetings, minutes from meetings of organizations we belong to, you can find that we are runners and have raised money for certain charities.    Much information can be found on line.  Protect your internet image carefully. 
What do you find when you Google your own name?  Does it represent who you are professionally?