Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting Outside

How often do you walk outside during your workday? The apparel industry can be demanding and often people immerse themselves in work. I am guilty. I realized at 7pm the other day that I hadn’t been outside since I walked into the office that morning. The next day, I promised myself I would at least walk outside for ten minutes. If that meant I was ten minutes late for my next meeting, so be it. Even a short break can change your perspective and refresh your thinking. The next day, I stayed true to my self-promise and made my way outside. I felt focused, positive and recharged. Every meeting I had was more productive as a result. My coworkers got a better person.

What can you do to stay focused during the day? When are you at your best? How have you taken care of yourself so that you can be at your best? What differences have you seen in yourself when you are recharged?

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Monday, September 15, 2014

What goes on a resume?

A lot of clients are unsure of their resume. I often hear “Should it be one page? How do I know if this is strong? Will this stand out enough to make it through the black hole of online resume submission? How will a recruiter interpret my resume?”

So, how can you know if your resume is what an employer is looking for? The quick answer: you don’t. The good news: there are a few things you can do to cover the basics. Below is a checklist for some common questions and mistakes:

  • Number of pages- it is best to stick with one page, but ok to overflow on a second if necessary. I argue that few resumes need two pages. When I first challenged myself with this task on my own resume, I was in the workforce for about 10 years. I thought- there is no way I can get my education, accomplishments, and experience down to one page. After a painful week, I did it. I edited to the important points. I realized it wasn’t important to list all of the tasks I was responsible for 10 years ago in an assistant level job.

  • Less is more- it is estimated that the average recruiter looks at your resume for 6 seconds. The more words you use, the less you emphasize your key accomplishments.

  • Fancy fonts and fancy formatting- avoid it. It will help your resume stand out, but not in a good way. Often the intent is good but the outcome is bad. Fancy resumes are harder to read and are more prone to jumbled formatting.

  • Be honest- do not lie on your resume. Don’t “stretch the truth”. Eventually you will get caught. There’s a very good chance a job offer will be rescinded or you will be fired once your lie is discovered. Lies do not help you.

  • Power words- use them as lead words for your accomplishments. Words like: “lead, drive, initiate” are power words. Words such as: “responsible for, received, maintained” are passive. Using those words makes it sound like you are checking a box rather than an engaged employee.

  • Accomplishments not responsibilities- for the most part, your job title conveys your responsibilities. Tell the prospective employer what you are proud of. What did you do to make a difference at this company?

  • Use numbers- if you say you grew a business, give a percentage. I hear from clients who are designers that their jobs don’t have numbers, so they can’t add to their resume. That is not true. Designers have an impact on cost, revenue and liabilities. If you are a designer and struggling, find a sales or merchant partner to help you get at some relevant numbers.

  • Personality- what is your passion and how does it connect with the company for which you are applying? For example, if you have a fashion blog and are applying at a high fashion house, maybe add “fashion blogger” to your interests. If you are an avid yogi and are applying to a fitness company, think about adding “avid yogi” to your interests.

  • Proof read- hit spell check. Have a friend or someone you trust read your resume. I once had a client tell me she had a great resume. When I read through, I found the word “ass” on her resume. Clearly a typo, but why would an employer want to hire someone who can’t even get this one very important piece of paper right?

Hopefully this quick checklist will help you polish your resume. Having a great resume is the first step to getting you in the door!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Are you up to the test?


Many employers use testing a part of the pre-employment evaluation process. 

These tests come in many different forms but are usually focused on: 

  • Personality
  • Motivation
  • Aptitude
  • IQ

Tests range from ones that are as widely used as Wonderlic, to a Gallup 90 minute phone interview, to tests that are written by a psychologist specifically for a company and their culture. 

There can be significant cost to employers who utilize testing.  If an employer has invested in using a test as a means of evaluating a candidate you can be sure that the test results will impact their decision to hire.

If you are faced with an aptitude or IQ test you can do some preparation and studying.  If it is a personality based test, most advise that there is no preparation.  They are just looking for candid answers to determine culture fit.

Some companies share the results of these tests and some do not.  We advise candidates to inquire ahead of time whether they will get feedback on the results so they know what to expect. 

Have you ever taken a pre-employment test?  As an employer do you utilize testing? Do you feel these tests improve the outcome of hiring decision?  Which tests do you feel are best suited for our industry?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The pendulum swing

Fashion is famous for going to extremes. One season, a style (sold in one color only) sells out. A relatively small quantity was purchased of that style and the retailer now thinks this will be a great style in a larger way. So the brand makes this style in 10 colors for a future season and buys a huge quantity. The style hits the selling floor with no support or marketing and it fails. We are now calling this style an epic failure. How could it be so successful one season and such a bad style the next? This is a classic fashion example of “swinging the pendulum”.

Finding a reasonable balance can be challenging in an industry with so many passionate people. It’s easy to get carried away and swept up in a moment. Hardly ever do these extreme shifts lead to success. It is important to take risks in an ever changing industry, but there are ways to handle where you can increase your chances of success. First, how far do you really need to move from your current position? After dipping your toe in the water, think through your next step. Maybe you don’t need to dive in the deep end, but rather swim swiftly to the deep end.

Risk is important, but a calculated risk has a better chance of success. In the style expansion example above, think about how a company could handle this differently. How could a marketing plan help turn this expanded style into a product launch versus expansion? What if the company carried this style in 10 colors and but bought a moderate amount. To cover the upside, the company could position fabric with a vendor and replenish the style if the expansion was successful- it protects you from the downside, but creates the opportunity for upside.

How many times have you seen your company swing the pendulum? How many times has it led to a successful outcome? What can you do in your position to create calculated risk rather than swinging the pendulum? Who can you work with in your role to ensure success for your company and the product you deliver? How can finding balance help you advance in your career? 

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