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Archive for February 2010

In vogue: adj. “being or in accordance with current social fashions; in the current fashion or style.” That definition courtesy of thefreedictionary.com. “In vogue” brings so many things to mind – the beautiful celebs and models on the cover of Vogue magazine; the beloved all-girl R&B group, En Vogue, with their 80s and 90s hits like “Whatta Man” and “Free Your Mind;” and of course the fabulous Madonna song “Vogue” (“Strike a pose. Strike a pose. Vogue, vogue vogue”). Gotta love it. The latest “in vogue” fashion trends are exciting and fun, and sometimes way out there, but are they appropriate for a job interview? I guess it all depends on the interview situation, the company you’re interviewing for, and how far you decide to take the trend.

An article on omiru.com answers the question “What to Wear to a PR Interview.” In this particular article the question is about what to wear to an interview at a fashion PR firm in New York City. The author says that “the perfect interview outfit for a fashion public relations firm is one part fashion-forward and one part professional.” While the author encourages showing a knowledge of current trends, she also cautions against overdoing it. It is a job interview after all and it’s important to appear professional. According to the author the “chicest outfits mix classics and trends.” Some suggested interview-appropriate fashion trends include “menswear as womenswear (think: tuxedo detailing, high-waisted trouser pants), geometric patterns, dresses, bright colors, ruffles, tie-front blouses, and trapeze shapes.” The author also reminds us not to forget about accessories. She recommends closed toe pumps or ballet flats and a classic work bag. Finally, the author gives an example of the perfect interview outfit: “a shirtdress with interesting detailing, a light overcoat or sweater, a luxurious bag, and a pair of low (closed-toe) heels.” While this advice is directed toward a female at a fashion PR interview, I think that it could be applicable to any type of PR interview because it’s a way to look like you’re in the know on the latest fashion trends while still looking professional. A potential employer may connect your knowledge of current fashion trends with a knowledge of current trends in other areas of PR and you may just get the job thanks to your savvy dressing abilities. It’s a stretch, but, hey, it couldn’t hurt.

An article on businessweek.com titled “You Can’t Wear That to an Interview!” explains the ever-changing attire requirements for job interviews in today’s society. Author Julie Gordon says that while there are still conservative institutions that want to see a “suit and tie for men and a skirt or pants for women,” there is also an increase in more informal job interviews and therefore a more informal dress code. She explains that many college students and recent grads are going to “‘interview events’  – informal drinks with a school alumnus, dinner with potential employers, or an on-campus meeting with a student mentor,” and these events don’t require the classic suit and tie. Gordon also says that there are “some offices that allow for a little more creativity, usually marketing, public relations, and retail.” Gordon quotes Kate Aiken, senior director of college recruiting for the Gap who says “You know what? You don’t have to wear a suit. Wear whatever you want. We usually encourage students to dress for interviews in a manner that expresses their personal style.” According to Gordon, the bottom line for most companies in today’s interview world “is usually not whether you’ve paid $100 for your tie, or headed to the trendiest shop for your Louis Vuitton purse, it’s whether you fit into the corporate culture and look the part.” The article also includes links to men’s and women’s fashion slideshows for job interviews that are definitely worth taking a look at.

Alison Doyle, an about.com guide, posted an article on about.com titled “Dressing for Success – How to Dress for an Interview.” In the article, Doyle starts out by giving some examples of what not to wear to an interview – i.e. a purple sweat suit, a red mini skirt that’s so tight you can’t sit down, and pants that hang below your hips and may force your potential employer to tell you to pull your pants. Take a tip from American Idol contestant General Larry Platt who says you look “like a fool with your pants on the ground” (see video below). Doyle quotes Kim Zoller of Interview Dynamics who says that “55% of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look.” Doyle also gives a list of Zoller’s tips for looking your best without having to spend a lot of money. Tips for women include a “solid color, conservative suit, coordinated blouse, moderate shoes, limited jewelry, etc.” For men she suggests a “solid color, conservative suit, white long sleeve shirt, conservative tie, etc.” More tips are listed in the article.

So here’s my bottom line on dressing for an interview: being “in vogue” is ok, as long as you do it in moderation. Dress for the interview you’re going on. I think it’s definitely important to look professional, but we shouldn’t be afraid to express ourselves. Creativity usually gets you bonus points in the PR world so why not test it out at an interview. Here’s a quote that I like from the blog, Chique St. about dressing for a PR interview: “Ladies. Gentlemen. You are going to a media/PR/Marketing interview. Spice it up! I’m not talking about throwing on your pink feather boa that you bought for the talent show when you were in fifth grade, I’m merely stating that elegance doesn’t have to be in black and white anymore.” So, I think the best way to end this blog post is with a video from one of the most, well, fashion-forward (in a cone-shaped bra sort of way) ladies of the last few decades. Enjoy!

Is social media the job hiring wave of the future? Possibly. It’s amazing how social media can connect you to people all over the world. Interested in a PR job in Chicago? You could easily “connect” with the head of Human Resources at a PR firm in Chicago on LinkedIn. How about a job in finance in China? Try “following” some Chinese financial corporations on Twitter – maybe they’ll turn around and “follow” you too! It seems there’s a new social media site every day; and then a few days later there’s a version of that site for your  cell phone (TwitterBerry anyone?). It’s easier than ever to connect with potential employers. The question is: is this a good thing or a bad thing? Do you want your future boss seeing the drunken pictures you and your friends took last week and then posted on Facebook? Doubtful. However, would you like your potential employer to see your outstanding academic record and all the volunteer work you’ve posted on your LinkedIn account? Definitely. Social media can be very tricky.

Dan Schawbel posted an article called “7 Secrets to Getting Your Next Job Using Social Media” on Mashable.com. According to Schawbel, “there will be 1.5 million college graduates this year, yet the job growth rate is at a six-year low, at 1.3%!” He explains that simply sending a resume to businesses and waiting for a response is a thing of the past. “Social networks are starting to become part of the criteria that both hiring managers and college admissions officers are using to weed out applicants. One in five hiring managers conduct background checks using social networks (primarily Facebook), while one in ten college admissions officers do the same.” He offers seven tips for using social media to find a job.

  1. Conduct a people search instead of a job search
  2. Use attraction-based marketing to get job offers
  3. Be proactive on Twitter
  4. Capitalize on LinkedIn
  5. Advertise your brand using AdWords and Facebook Social Ads
  6. Construct a video resume and upload it to YouTube
  7. Subscribe to blogs that have job listings

I hadn’t thought of some of these things before and I found them really interesting. I think that posting a video resume on YouTube is a very innovative idea if you have the confidence to do it; which I don’t think I have. For a more elaborate description of these seven tips click on the Mashable.com link above.

An article on eHow.com by Kat Hasenauer lists some pros and cons of using social media for job hunting. One pro that she lists is that you can easily reach a wide network. She suggests “tweeting” that you’re looking for a job. Perhaps one of your thousands of followers could suggest something. Another pro is that potential employers can quickly look at your profile and see what your interests are as long as your interests are evident in your social networking activity. One last pro is that it creates conversation. Social networking makes conversation easy and you can ask a question about your resume or your cover letter on a social media site and get answers from hundreds of different people. Hasenauer also lists some cons of social media. The first con is that social media blurs the line between your personal and professional life. Gone are the days when it was ok that your Facebook profile picture featured you in a skanky outfit with a Budweiser in your hand. Not ok anymore. You should appear mature and professional on your profile. The other con that she lists is that it could create awkward current employment situations. This means that if you already have a job you should be careful about using social networking to openly search for a new job. It’s probably not a good idea to tweet that you’re looking for a new job when your current boss is one of your Twitter followers. I doubt he/she would take it very well.

“The best way to get a job is through networking.” This is how Rachel Levy begins her article on About.com titled “How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search.” We’ve all heard this phrase hundreds of times. So many times, perhaps, that we tend to want to respond with “DUH!” Maybe that’s just me… Anyway, because we’ve all heard this so many times, it must be true. But what about online social networking? Well Ms. Levy thinks social networking has the potential to work just as well as face-to-face networking; possibly even better. She talks about the three best (in my opinion) social media sites for job-search networking. The first she lists is LinkedIn. Levy says that if you’re not on LinkedIn you definitely need to hop on the bandwagon. She explains the different ways you can use LinkedIn in your job search including performing company searches, browsing job listings, mass e-mailing your LinkedIn connections, and linking your blog and Twitter accounts. Next she talks about Twitter. Levy says that the “best part of Twitter is that it allows you to connect with people you don’t know, based on common interests.” The valuable assets of Twitter that she lists include basic networking, job posting, and connecting to all kinds of people and companies. Finally, Levy discusses Facebook. While she admits that she, like most of us, uses Facebook simply for connecting with friends and family she also says that it can be a great way to network and find potential jobs. The Facebook tools that she lists for job hunting are notes and status updates which can both be used for informing people of your employment situation and ask for help or suggestions.

In my opinion, social media is a great thing. I think it makes it easy to connect with people based on your interests and to learn more about other people. On the flipside, social media makes it easy for other people to learn a lot about you too. It’s a way for you to create your own brand and then to sell it. So, what do you want to tell the world? Are you a mature professional with well-rounded interests or are you a wild child who just likes to have fun (not always a bad thing depending on your career path – think Lindsay Lohan). So, figure out who you want to be, adapt your profiles, and start networking.

Talk to you soon!

– Allison



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