Monthly Archives: December 2011

Men’s Work Attire That Never Goes Out of Style

Male_professional_Dec2011_webWhether you just graduated from college or are looking to switch careers into the professional world, you may not have a full grasp of what is considered appropriate workplace attire. If your company dress code requires professional dress, you may be a little lost as to what is currently in style and what has always been conservative, classic professional business attire. 

While some consider men’s business fashion relatively easy compared to women, there is still much to consider and be mindful of when choosing appropriate wardrobe. But have no fear as we point out classic business styles that will give you the best chance of making a good first impression and look like the highly skilled professional you know you are.

Suit Up

The most important element of a professional male’s attire is the business suit. You want to appear approachable and confident, so wear neutral colors like gray, charcoal, navy, or dark brown. Black suits are very formal, elegant, and stylish, but consider an alternative color when interviewing, because black suits tend to send an overly formal or standoffish message.

Your suit jacket should be buttoned while standing and unbuttoned when sitting. If you have a two- or three-button suit, keep the bottom button opened. Your slacks should match the coat, be hemmed to the top of the heel at the back, and touch the front of your shoes.

No Shirts, No Ties, No Business

It’s important to make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. If you don’t take the time to get rid of excessive wrinkles, potential employers and co-workers won’t think you’ll take the time on the job. To contrast your dark suit, wear light colored shirts like cream, light blue, or white. Even though Donald Trump made the two-tone shirts with a different colored collar famous, keep your shirts plain and free of insignias.

To complete the ensemble, choose a medium width tie with subtle designs and colors that falls to the middle of your belt. They should be darker than your shirt and complement the color scheme of your suit. You may love your Tabasco® or holiday tie, but keep it subdued when in a professional environment.

Accessorize Your Right to Look Classy.

Keeping things minimal is key in professional male dress. Try to limit accessories and jewelry to three pieces. So chose to wear a ring, cuff links, and handkerchief while leaving the lapel pins, watches, and tie tacks at home. Avoid necklaces, piercings, or tattoos because they aren’t seen as professional for a male and can be distracting.

Your socks, shoes, and belt should match with the color scheme of your slacks. If your suit is navy and you are wearing brown shoes, make sure your belt and socks are brown as well. Socks should cover your calves and be a darker color without any loud or busy designs. Wear wing tip or lace up shoes that are properly shined and maintained, leaving the loafers to your more casual events.  

If you adhere to the tried and true fashion of classic business attire, you will always be dressed appropriately in that situation. Check back next week when we’ll discuss business attire for women that never goes out of style.

3 Tips for Taking a Job Search on the Road

Longdistance_Dec2011_webIf it’s time to move your job search to a new city, there are a few things you can do to make it easier and more effective. 

Choose a City
Is the move to expand your job network or are you moving for personal reasons? If you’re moving for career opportunities take some time to research your options before focusing on a particular city. Use online resources to your advantage, running job searches for your specific position in particular cities to see what type of prospects are available and to review compensation ranges. Check out the city’s chamber of commerce or economic development council websites for media clips on job creation and business growth, cost of living information, and relocation tips. It’s important to understand what your job is worth in that market and if there is a demand for your talent. 

CareerBuilder offers, a tool that allows you to search career skill demands, and conduct a salary conversion based on local standards of living. You can conduct a keyword or category search for specific career skills to find where low and high demands are across the U.S. The tool also allows you to enter your current salary and city, and compare how much you would need to make in a different city to maintain your standard of living.

Use a Network
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down where you are going to search for a job, it’s time to build a local network. Thanks to local networking groups on LinkedIn or sites like Brazen Careerist, you can make connections with local individuals and learn more about the job market in that city. The best way to start interacting is to contribute information or past experiences to the questions posted within a group forum. For example, if someone is asking for advice on different types of software, respond with relevant advice regarding your experience. Try responding to a blog post or feature article with your own advice or insights. Another great way to connect is to attend in-person networking events sponsored by online network sites. Taking a trip to your new city before you actually move can also help speed up the job search in the new market by allowing you to gain some local contacts.

Another option is to work with a local staffing agency to uncover job opportunities. Staffing firms have a good pulse on the local job market and have established connections with employers that may help land you an interview. Also reach out to any friends or family you have in the area to let them know you’ll be job searching in their market. Send a copy of your résumé attached to an email explaining when you’ll be moving to town, a summary of your top skills, and what type of work you would like to do. Make sure to update your own social media profiles with information about your search for employment in a specific city and when you’ll be available. 

Get Local
Channel your inner-detective to uncover potential employers and positions. You’ll want to start your job search before you move to town by researching open positions and building local connections, but the best thing you can do is to visit the city you’ve chosen. Once you’re in town spend some time exploring the area and make sure to have a few contact cards or copies of your résumé handy when you do so. One way to get a feel for the local job market is to visit an area coffee shop early in the morning, ask the wait staff where people around that area work and what they know about the larger employers. Also, try visiting restaurants around the lunch or during happy hour that are located near an employer you are targeting for employment. You may be able to strike up a conversation with someone who can help connect you to local open jobs. If you haven’t moved yet, make sure to schedule your trip to your new city when a local networking event or job fair is taking place. You may also consider taking a class at the local technology or vo-tech school to brush up on your skills. This will give you access to their career center and allow you to meet others working in your industry.

In short, it may seem easier to look for a job where you currently live, but opening up your job search may allow you to discover the career opportunity you’ve been working toward. With the networking power unleashed within social media, the world seems smaller every day. Now may be the perfect time to get outside your boundaries and take your job search on the road. 


By Rachel Rudisill

Getting Over the Entry-Level Slump, Rediscovering Your Career

Rediscover_Dec2011_webYou landed a job that gave you the first steps to following your career path. You’ve worked hard on every task assigned, learned as much as you could, and made sure you were on your way toward success. But after a few years at your first job, reality has set in. You realize there are no spring, summer, or winter breaks, there are real ramifications to calling in sick and going home early. And, staying late to finish projects may take its toll on work-life balance.

Maybe you haven’t earned that promotion as quickly as you’d hoped, your raise hasn’t matched the increase in workload, or the shiny newness of your first “real” job has faded. We all feel a little burnout at some point in our career, but before you do something drastic, take the time to follow these steps to rejuvenate your job satisfaction.

Mind Your Mentors

Mentors can bring a different perspective to the issues you’re facing. More often than not, they’ve experienced the same feelings and situations you have. They know what it’s like to hit their first rut on the job and can provide advice on how to rediscover your career passion and enthusiasm. You shouldn’t have to feel alone when your career path hits a wall. Mentors are there to help guide you around issues so you can be prepared to climb the next wall that tries to get in your way.

Validate Your Values

Just like anything in life, things happen. Whether it’s your education, relationships, or career, the journey is full of high and low points. There will be times in your career when you will be ecstatically proud of where you are and what you’ve done, but there may also be times when you are discouraged and want to quit. It’s through the ups and downs where you can clarify what you value.

What made you proud during the high point? Is there anything that fueled your passion during a low point? Once you determine these beliefs and values, you can decide whether you are fulfilling these values at work. Don’t just focus on your current situation, but also think about the future. Where do you see yourself in five years? Don’t worry about how you will get there, but imagine what you want to be doing in that time. Try using those images to fuel your passion.

Get Away for a While

This may not be the most viable option early in your career. It may be difficult to get a long period of time off, or it may be financially difficult to take time off. If you have a sizable savings or family to rely on, consider taking some time away from the office to collect your thoughts. Sometimes you just need to recharge your batteries. Having time away from the office can give you the time you need to re-evaluate your values and beliefs. Think of it as a sort of career-planning session. Where are you in your career? Why are you there? Where do you want to be? How do you plan to get there? Being away will give you a different perspective on your current situation and help you make a more balanced, thought out decision.

Questions and Reflections

If you have too many financial or professional obligations to take time off from work, try setting some free time for reflection. As long as you separate yourself from your work slump and reflect on what you’ve done and what you will do, you can make decisions with a clear head. Being in the middle of it while making decisions can be tiring and lead to big mistakes for your career. This doesn’t have to be in a vacation spot either. You can find an hour to reflect everyday while you exercise, commute, or cook.

Rediscovering your passion is just one step in many as you travel down your career path. It’s normal and nothing to fear. Whatever you learn now will help you be better prepared for when the next slump cycle hits. What are some of the things you’ve done to get over your career dry spell?

Tech Etiquette 2.0, Using Modern Technology in the Workplace

Techmanners_Dec2011_webWith technology changing and upgrading at lightning-fast speed, the increasingly diverse generations working together have to deal with the different views and customs each generation has with technology. Newer generations just entering the workforce have a different way of dealing with social media. Last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a study revealing teenagers spend an average of 53 hours a week engaged in electronic media, which doesn’t include the 90 minutes they spend texting every day.

It can be difficult trying to figure out what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in the workplace regarding modern technology like MP3 players, smartphones, and social media sites. If you follow this easy guide, you’ll be able to better figure out how to enjoy your gadgets without disrupting those around you.

Company Culture

It’s important to double check your company’s policies and procedures. More companies are adopting social media policies every year and it’s important to reassess what is considered acceptable use of modern technology at work. You should also be mindful of your employer’s culture and unspoken etiquette. Some companies may be more relaxed on their policies and won’t punish you for having your phone out while working. Others might block access to certain social media sites or request you leave some devices in the car.

Know When to Talk and When to Text

Emails and text messages have been great tools to save time and effort by giving you the chance to send messages to anyone, anywhere. Thanks to modern messaging, the need to attend long meetings or conference calls has been reduced. But, nothing can duplicate the real connections you get with face-to-face conversations. If you’ve sent a message to a co-worker and haven’t heard back, leave your workstation and visit your colleague.  It’s easy for text messages and emails to get overlooked in the shuffle of life, but a real phone call or office visit can guarantee your message is received.

Don’t Plug Me

Thanks to the popularity of MP3 players like Apple’s iPod, younger employees have grown accustomed to a kind of culture where headphones are used just about anywhere except in class. If your employer allows headphones while working, be courteous and inform your co-workers that you will be using them and find a reasonable volume so it won’t disrupt them as they work. When colleagues approach you, take out your headphones and devote your complete attention to them. You may feel like you can do both, but it’s a gesture of respect to take out your headphones when talking to your co-workers.

Buzzing is For Bees, Not Your Phone

You may feel like you’re doing your workmates a favor by silencing your latest ringtone, but if you leave your phone on your desk or hard surfaces near your workstation, the vibration could be heard by everyone around you. If you have to have your phone with you, turn the vibration off or put it in your pocket so the buzzing will be muffled.

Social Media is Not a Playground

Just because you use Facebook, Twitter, or a personal blog profile to talk about life on your free time, it doesn’t mean you should involve work or your co-workers without permission. What happens in social media is there forever. What you say can and sometimes will come back to find you. Think twice before updating your status or writing a post about a co-worker with an annoying laugh, obvious hairpiece, or smelly odor.

Not only can having questionable content on your social media sites negatively impact your career, it can also impact those you work with. You may not be Facebook friends with your boss, but posting a video of you and a co-worker having a blast somewhere with the caption “we should be at work, lol” could get back to your boss.

Social devices have added some complications to proper etiquette in today’s workplace, but as long as you use good judgment and have respect for your co-workers, you can enjoy your gadgets while still being professional.

New Ways to Make the Most out of a Career Fair

Careerfair_dec2011_webDuring the job search, one avenue to consider is attending job fairs. Generally, job fairs are events where several businesses will send representatives to display information and potential job openings for their company. This gives them the opportunity to screen several potential candidates at once.

While there are no hard statistics on the effectiveness of job fairs, some job seekers are feeling that  career fairs  are becoming more futile because they are generally overcrowded, show fewer job openings from companies, and are a maze where applicants get lost in the shuffle. Many job seekers don’t realize, job fairs should be one tool in your big toolbox of strategies when looking for work. With these strategies, you can stand out and make the most of your career fair venture.

There’s Background to be Found
suiting up and heading to the fair, take some time to look at the companies that are scheduled to attend. Identify the ones you would prefer to work for, and do some research about the company. By researching the businesses, you can ask more focused questions about how you can help the company and show the representatives you are genuinely interested in working for them. This will help you stand out from the crowd and be remembered.

Knowing more about the company will also help you tailor your résumé to fit the language and style of the employers you are interested in. Try making at least two copies for every booth you plan to visit along with several others just in case there is a variable like finding a new company that registered when you got there.

A Little Strategy Here and There
To get the most out of a job fair, don’t treat it like a museum. You won’t be able to get much accomplished if you go just to see the sights and hope to stumble upon an opportunity. Study a map of the event and decide which booth or company you would like to visit first. Create a list of alternates to have back-up booths to visit in case one line becomes too long.

Now is your chance to provide a 30 second elevator pitch to representatives and ask your focused questions. If you want to warm up, take a few minutes to talk to a company you really aren’t interested in. This allows you to hone your approach and build confidence before meeting your top prospects. You need to be flexible for impromptu interviews, form filling, or other unexpected twists, and your strategy needs to reflect that.

Don’t Just Look, Listen
Even though a company you were interested in doesn’t have any available openings, it isn’t the end of your search. It’s your chance to find out the company’s biggest needs. You’ll get a better concept of what is going on inside the company, and it will give you the upper hand in case the new contact in the company you are talking to learns of an opening.

This is also a good opportunity to meet and network with fellow job seekers.  Many different people from different industries and specialties are looking for work. Building relationships with fellow job seekers can lead to sharing of information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles.

Card Them
When you’re finished talking or interviewing with recruiters or representatives of the company, ask for their business cards. Many people forget about the power of the thank you and the follow up. If you want to make a memorable impression, follow up with a polite phone call or email a few days after to thank them for the talk.

To stay fresh in their minds, keep in touch with these contacts to wish them happy holidays, for special occasions, or to forward a relevant industry article or congratulate on a company milestone. This way you’ll be remembered when they hear a job opening that could be great for you. Do you have any success stories about job fairs? What do you find most effective when attending?

Smart Phone Apps for a Smarter Job Search

Smartphoneapps_Dec2011_webIn a job market that is becoming increasingly competitive, having an advantage is crucial to finding a job quickly. The job market is constantly changing and seekers have to be ready for opportunities at a moment’s notice. To be successful, more job chasers need their professional networks and materials when at home or on the go.

With current hiring trends evolving, technology can easily give you access to social networks, job listings, and powerful tools to help you stay connected to people and opportunities with the push of a button. Smart phones are becoming more common every day and can be a powerful source when looking for a job. Here are some apps for your phone that can better prepare you for your job search and give you the upper hand on the competition.

 Refresh That Résumé

  • Resume App: (iTunes®)Resume App will help you design, build, and create a custom and professional looking résumé in a PDF format that you can send to potential employers from your phone.
  • Pocket Resume: (iTunes)(Android™) Pocket Resume is one of the best-selling résumé apps on the market. It uses a unique PDF rendering technology to create professional résumés that can be updated and emailed from your phone.

Never Stop Networking

  • SnapDat Digital Business Cards🙁iTunes) SnapDat is an amazing app on the iPhone® that allows you to create custom digital business cards. You can create unlimited business cards that are fully customizable that can be emailed to a potential employer or new contact.
  • Business Card Reader: (iTunes)(Android) Business card readers allow you to scan a new contact’s number and automatically put their information in your phone’s address book. This way you’ll never have to search your house looking for a contact’s email or worry about finding a phone number when you’re not at home.
  • BeKnown: (iTunes)(Android) BeKnown, powered by, is a professional networking app on Facebook. Catch the buzz by easily tapping into new professional opportunities anywhere, anytime, by staying on top of what your professional contacts are doing while meeting new ones.

Find Those Jobs

  • JobCompass: (iTunes)(Android) JobCompass uses your phone’s GPS to find available job openings in your area. It also gives you job descriptions and allows you to apply directly through your phone.
  • JobAware: (iTunes) JobAware searches for jobs in your area, tracks your progress through the application process, offers salary comparisons for several occupations, and integrates with your LinkedIn account to get updates and advice from your network and career professionals.
  • Jobs – by CareerBuilder: (iTunes)(Android) With the CareerBuilder app, you can instantly search one of the largest job opening websites in the U.S., easily and straight from your phone for free.
  • Jobs: (iTunes)(Android) The Monster Job Search app lets you access your Monster account while on the go so you can apply to the latest job openings from your mobile device no matter where you are.

Interview Improvement

  • What Color is your Parachute?🙁iTunes) An app based on the best-selling job hunting guide, “What Color is Your Parachute?” gives insightful tips on how to stand out, nail the interview, and land the job.
  • Interview Pro: (iTunes) Interview Pro provides more than 80 job interview questions and answers ranging from communication skills to team dynamics.
  • Interview Buzz Pro: (iTunes)(Android) Interview Buzz Pro not only provides more than 300 questions and answers to prepare you for your next interview, but it also offers additional features like instructions on how to tie a necktie and the option to add comments to interview questions to help you prepare.

When looking for a job, we all want a leg up on the competition. Sometimes, you may not know when a job opportunity arises, or you’re away from your home or computer. The next time you need your résumé or professional information in a hurry, you’ll be prepared for it. What are some apps that have helped you in your job search?

What to Eat Before Acing Your Interview

InterviewFood_Dec2011_webYou are ready and primed for your big interview. You have everything prepared and are confident in your ability to market yourself and make a good impression. But when it comes to having a meal before the big occasion, what do you eat? It’s best not to drink cola or coffee before an interview to avoid spilling a colored drink on your attire. But, what should you eat for breakfast or lunch to help keep you focused and alert when meeting your potential employer? 

Knowing what to eat for top performance is just as important for an interview as it is for an athletic event. Just as athletes know what to eat and what to avoid on a daily basis and what to eat before their big activity, so should you know what to eat and what to avoid before your big interview. Think of your interview from a body perspective and consider these helpful hints to keep you top notch for your big day.

Stop Stress and Annihilate Anxiety
Sometimes we feel nervous about an upcoming interview, and the stress and anxiety can affect your performance. An excellent way to combat stress early in the morning is by eating some nuts or yogurt. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition measured the effects milk fermented with yogurt had on the immune system of subjects under stressful academic examinations.  The conclusion was that those eating yogurt had half as much anxiety according to measurements of stress hormones in their bloodstream than those without. You can start your morning calmed and centered by including some yogurt, nuts like almonds or cashews, or granola in your breakfast.

With the fast-paced lifestyle most live today, we can feel the stress of rushed deadlines and nonstop schedules. This can lead to grabbing the first, quickest, and easiest foods to eat before leaving the house. This doesn’t mean you have to be rushing out to your car with a bottle of nuts in your hand or a spoon of yogurt in your mouth, but Fitness Magazine recommends eating certain foods in moderation an hour before your interview can have strong benefits. Eating lean protein like fish, chicken, low-fat cottage cheese, an egg-white omelet and a slice of whole-grain bread or brown rice, or a cup of fruits or vegetables are known to help you be calm, collected, and sharp.

Problem-Solving Power
It’s expected that you’ll be asked questions you might not be ready for and may need time to figure out. Such problem-solving skills will require your brain to be ready and able to think outside the box. In order to help your brain with these processes, try adding some fruits to your de-stressing yogurt to give you an antioxidant boost. The Online Education Database recommends eating foods that have antioxidants to help improve focus, problem-solving skills, and memory. Antioxidants are commonly found in fruits and vegetables, but they can also be found in certain green teas and beans.  Healthy, fatty meats like fish can help increase blood flow in the brain. Don’t forget that monosaturated fat in avocados will help increase your brain power also. But most importantly, no matter when your interview is, don’t skip breakfast. It’s the meal that kick starts your brain to work throughout the day.

Turn Your Mind into a Think Tank
It’s important to eat foods throughout the day that will help brain function and enhance performance. WebMD recommends foods with omega-3 essential fatty acids like salmon, foods high in vitamin E, like nuts and legumes. Peanut and almond butter may also help increase brain function. WebMD also suggests eating avocado, which will help with healthy blood flow and brain health. Other mind meals include oatmeal, brown rice, wheat germ, dark chocolate, pomegranate juice, breads, and freshly brewed tea. The Mayo Clinic recommends putting flax into your diet since it is one of the best sources of alphalinoleic, which is a healthy fat that enhances the performance of the cerebral cortex—where your brain processes sensory information.

If you want memory boosting power, include vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid, which help increase red blood cells that clear your head and improve your sense of happiness. You can find B vitamins in whole grains like brown rice, as well as broccoli, parsley, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.

Diet can have a big impact on your performance. Many times we don’t think about it and, stopping to eat a proper meal can become a hindrance on our day. But if you follow some basic nutritional advice, you can be better fitted when looking for a job.