Tattoos & Interviews

Dear, Anita,

I want to get a tattoo, but people (mostly my mother!) have been telling me it’s not a good idea because it will limit my career. I have a degree in accounting, and after putting in some time at my current entry-level position, I do plan to look for a better job in the near future. Everyone has tattoos these days; surely employers are used to this by now. Do you think a tattoo will hurt my future?

Dear, Thinking of Inking,

Adult male adjusting necktie.While 20 years ago tattoos were generally perceived as a statement of rebellion, body art is now becoming more mainstream. A recent Pew Research Study shows that 40% of adults age 26-40 have at least one tattoo. However, only 14% of all Americans of all ages have a tattoo, so there’s a good chance one of those 86% who don’t will be your interviewer!

In a Salary.com survey, more than one-third of the respondents believe employees with tattoos and piercings reflect poorly with employers, and 42% responded that visible tattoos are always inappropriate at work. Interestingly, the study found the more educated you are, the less likely you are to have (or condone) tattoos.  There are also regional biases, with the west-south-central area of the U.S. (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana) being the least tolerant of inked individuals. Hiring managers, while they themselves may not be biased, have to consider a tattooed employee’s interaction with customers, which could prevent you from getting a job.

Before you tattify, give careful consideration to the body art’s location. A tat on your lower back (known as a “tramp stamp” by the younger set) may never be seen in the course of a normal workday – unless you take a job as a lifeguard. Tattoo “sleeves,” however, are harder to cover day-to-day. If you are applying to a less-traditional company with a hip reputation, visible tattoos may not be as taboo.

To borrow a slogan from Internet marketing, “content is king.” Avoid a tattoo that portrays anything death-related (like skulls) as well as drug-related, racist, or sexually suggestive motifs. A butterfly may be more innocuous than a spider web tattooed on your neck. Check out this video from Global Image Group on preparing for a job interview with tattoos and piercings:

If you do pursue that tattoo, and later find it is limiting your career, tattoo removal is an option. But laser de-inking can be expensive. And while I surely can’t speak from experience, I hear that tattoo removal is more painful than the original process.

If I were you, I would be more concerned about boosting your skills and résumé, rather than your “street cred.”

Readers: What are your thoughts on tattoos in the workplace?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Hi. Anita:

I have just started looking for a new job, and recently I have been hearing about employers searching Facebook profiles before even interviewing a candidate. How can my profiles on social media sites impact my chance of finding employment? Thank you!

Dear, Fellow Facebooker:MW_Laptop

Social media and networks have become an extension of our lives. We can catch up with old friends, learn about the latest news,  and even get leads to open positions. But with all the positives that can be enjoyed, take your social experience with a grain of salt. Yes, employers are most definitely looking at the Facebook profiles of their candidates. After reading a post at one of my favorite blogs, TradePost, I was alarmed at how quickly Facebook screening is becoming a big issue in the employment world. For an idea of what I am talking about, read “Asking for Facebook Passwords: Good Screening or Bad Idea?

Here are some of the dos and don’ts to adhere to if you hope make a great first impression.

  1. Make your profile private. Put the security gates up before you start your job search. You can even hide your profile temporarily or make your name not appear in search results.
  2. Keep your pictures G-rated. This includes your profile picture, pictures you have uploaded, and ones that your friends have tagged you in. Even if your page is blocked to the public, there may be a chance that the hiring manager is a connection with a mutual friend and can see your pictures. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of pictures of drinking activities, illegal drug use, sexually explicit images, and anything that you wouldn’t share with your grandparents.
  3. Restrict wall posting privileges. We all have some friends who haven’t quite figured out what is appropriate (and what’s not) to post to Facebook. Be cautious on how much slack you give to these troublemakers and limit their ability to comment/post on your wall.Facebook_Glasses
  4. Untag yourself from professionally unflattering photos. Yes, we all have some great pictures that bring us back to our college days. Great for reminiscing, bad for business. Again, a G-rating is preferred.
  5. Avoid controversial topic discussion. When it comes to politics, religion, and other social issues, it is best to remain neutral while hunting for a job. You are entitled to your own beliefs, but it is best to keep them under the radar on your Facebook profile.
  6. Accept friend requests and invites of people you know. It isn’t uncommon for people to create fictional profiles to gather privileged information. If you have anything that you wish to hide (hopefully you have gotten an idea of what I am talking about by now), do not give strangers access to your profile.
  7. Whatever you do, do not provide employers with your log-in credentials. It may hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but this a serious breach of privacy – and several states have even made it illegal for employers to ask. I most certainly would not want to work with a company that was comfortable crossing those boundaries.

I hope this will help all of my readers become savvier when it comes to their Facebook profiles. Managers and Supervisors, a must-read for you as well is another post of mine called “Facebook – A Hiring Manager’s Best Friend.”

Readers, what do you think is the most damaging discovery an employer could make through Facebook? What is your #1 Facebook profile no-no?

And if you still don’t believe me, check out this news clip about Facebook privacy and employment:

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

Job Seeking On the Go

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita:

I am currently on the hunt for new employment opportunities and, with my busy lifestyle, I am finding it difficult to look for jobs while I am out and about. Recently, I have noticed that a number of companies have developed applications for mobile devices.

What are your thoughts on these applications, how will they help me, and where should I start my first download to maximize my efforts?

Dear, Tech-savvy searcher:

Thank you for the question about such a hot topic, considering 77% of job seekers use mobile job search applications. Nowadays, you can find a mobile application for almost anything you can imagine. Everything from child distractions to restaurant finders to major time wasters! All are right at your fingertips. But the best SF Mobile Appthing to come to job seekers since the résumé are employment apps for mobile devices.

As you have mentioned, only a few companies have put their resources into developing productive and user-friendly applications for job seekers. And since yours truly has finally stepped into the 21st century and picked myself up a nifty smart phone, I figured it would be best to take a test-drive of these applications.

Some great things to note about job seeker apps on your mobile devices:

  •  Many of the best applications are FREE to users. Utilize the free options before trying any of the pay-per-download apps. I think you will be just as surprised as I was by the functionality of these free apps.
  • At all times, you are able to have the tools needed to apply immediately to an opportunity. You can provide contact information, apply with your LinkedIn profile, and more with a few taps on the screen.
  • GPS is often used to determine the distance that you are from a job you are interested in.
  • Scroll through and share positions that you, your friends, or your family may be interested in.
  •  If you are currently employed, you can discreetly search and apply for positions on your lunch break.

BlackberryMy friends at The Select Family of Staffing Companies have just released a mobile application (that you can download today by clicking the appropriate link) for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android smart phones called Job Finder from Select Family. CareerBuilder also has a great app that is worth looking into. Both are highly ranked by users and provide job seekers with the tools to locate their next employment opportunity.

I challenge you to try tools such as Job Finder from Select Family or Jobs by CareerBuilder today and report back on how they benefitted or hurt your job search.

I can’t wait to hear what your thoughts are on this new technology!

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

Networking Know-How

A reader writes:

Hi Anita! I am new to the area and in search of a new job. I have heard and learned from reading your blog that networking is one of the most important aspects of job hunting. Can you offer any advice to help break the ice and get the most out of professional networking?

Dear, Need-to-Network,

Thank you so much for the great question. I have said time and time again that networking is extremely important when it comes to finding your next position. The more people you know, the more likely you are to bridge the gap between Business Man with Cardbeing a stranger or being the candidate that comes highly recommended. Getting your foot in the door and your résumé to the top of the pile is an incredible advantage in today’s world.

First off, get yourself a professional set of business cards with your contact information on them. Even if you are not currently employed, you should still be prepared. Being able to exchange business cards is networking gold! Think about it. How embarrassing is it to be empty-handed when you finally meet the CEO of the company you are dying to work for and he/she asks for your info. You just blew that first impression. Companies like Vista Print offer deals where you get 250 business cards FREE! All you pay is shipping and processing. Now you have no excuse not to have them! Include your name, address, telephone number, email, and other vital contact information.

One of the big No-Nos in networking is focusing your attention elsewhere, as in playing with your phone or carrying on a text messaging conversation. It makes you look Thumbs up from Womandisinterested, unapproachable, and worst of all, unprofessional. Do yourself a huge favor and leave your phone in the car or keep it in your pocket on silent. You are networking to meet new people, not to catch up with old ones.

Many of us, including me (I know, HARD TO BELIEVE), can find ourselves at a loss for words when placed under pressure or in a new social setting. Before you go to an event, prepare and arm yourself with what we call an “elevator speech.” When a hiring manager or person of interest asks you “what do you do?” or “what are you future career goals?” you will be ready to give them a response with a punch. You will leave them with an impression that you are smart, confident, and maybe even their next star employee!

Keep your spiel short, sweet, and strong for the most impact. Also be ready with follow-up questions to keep the conversation moving. (Check out my “Sell Yourself… Quickly” post for more tips.)

Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to others. This is probably the most difficult part of networking. It would probably be easier to be a wallflower and blend in with the crowd, but that is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. If you see a group of people talking, pick up your head, perk up your posture, and stroll over and introduce yourself. The more you do it, the less awkward it gets. Before interrupting their conversation, however, do be sure you read their body language; if they’re having a serious and intense discussion, wait a bit before going over.

Check out this video on Networking’s Golden Rule for one final tip:

Readers, what tips and tricks have you found helpful during networking opportunities?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Color Me Professional

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I’m looking for work and want to be presentable when cold calling & interviewing but it’s hard in this heat to not wear something comfortable. What colors should I lean toward when I am going to an interview or cold calling (in person), etc?  I really appreciate your posts and you always have excellent advice.

Hi, Color Curious,         Woman in Grey Suit

Thanks for the question. Color choices say a lot about who you are right off the bat. It shows all sorts of emotions and personality traits and can even evoke feelings from the person with whom you’re interviewing or meeting. Research has shown that nonverbal communication accounts for 85% of communication exchanges between two or more people. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you are communicating the right vibe and professional language when searching for a job or participating in an important meeting? I would definitely hope so!

You want your color palette to be professional, clean, and not overbearing. I suggest sticking with a solid base color and accenting with brighter colors and patterns. Read on to find out which shades make the grade…

  • Navy Blue – This is the most popular color because it presents a sense of strength, dependability, friendliness,  and light-heartedness — all qualities that a hiring manager is looking for in a candidate. I suggest selecting this color for your suit or main outfit components.
  • Gray – The most popular color after navy blue is gray. Gray is the color of intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and expectancy. It provides a neutral canvas for you to wear a bright-colored tie or blouse underneath.
  • Black – Black is a great color to incorporate in your wardrobe for job interviews. It is very commanding of attention and suggests possibility and potential. Interviewers may react to this color as sophistication and polish. It can be overpowering, sending messages of arrogance, so I would use this as an accent color or for a top or bottom, but not both.
  • Red, yellow, and orange – Steer clear of these three strong shades. These colors can be overwhelming and can overpower the senses. They evoke passion, romance, and emotional response — not the best thing for job interviews.

Man in Blue ShirtI only selected these colors as a guideline. Depending on the type of job that you are looking for or the company’s environment, you may want to branch out from this modest color selection. If you need more information or need advice, do your research! Visit the company’s website or even call the office and ask what is appropriate.

What are some of your winning color stories? Did you wear something out of the box that landed you the job? How about some clothing mishaps that you wish you could take back? We all know we have some…

For some more color tips, view this video!

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week tips and tricks for career success!

Best Wishes,

Anita

Have Diploma. Will Work.

A reader writes:

Hi, Anita!

I am graduating from college this coming August and have started to take on the full-time job of seeking employment. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Management and would like to pursue a career in Human Resources. Can you point me in the right directions to landing my dream job?

Hi!

Thanks for the question and congratulations on graduating! It is that time of year again when college graduates are getting their minds into full-blown job-hunting mode. With our country’s job market still a little shaky, recent college graduates will Have Diploma. Will Workneed to work harder than ever to gain employment in their field with the perks they desire. I hope most of you have taken the time out of your school schedule and obtained internships or even positions with companies that you wish to work with in the future. If you have not, have no fear.  Miss Anita has some tips and tricks just for you.

To start your search off on the right foot, you must begin developing and building a network through personal and professional contacts. You never know who may have the inside source to lead you to your first out-of-college job. The more you interact with your peers and other professionals, the wider you will make the road of opportunity.

The single most important pieces of paper that you can have during your job search are a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter. Many universities and higher education institutions offer résumé writing assistance and with some tips from yours truly, you will be on your way to employment in no time. I suggest that you check out two of my posts, How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter, for some more information on the subject. Be sure to include work and volunteer experience, hobbies, and educational background. Make the hiring managers take notice and have a reason to call you for an interview.Diploma

I know we all fantasize about the dream job that we wish to have right out of college. For some, this may become a reality, but for the most of us, it will take time to obtain the skill sets needed for the position and to move our way up. If you are offered a job that is not in the ideal field of your choice or may not be exactly what you are looking for, take the job. Every job opportunity is a gateway to any number of experiences that will benefit you in the future — not to mention a great résumé builder.

Before exhausting every job board, website, and career center on the web, I suggest filling out an application and scheduling an interview with a temporary agency like Select Staffing. Temporary positions will allow you to dabble in a variety of fields and give you great experience. You can test out what you like and don’t like about a job and learn about the working world. Very often, these temporary positions turn into full-time employment with the company you are working with. For more information, visit their website at www.selectstaffing.com .

Ramit Sethi,  author of the New York Times bestselling book I Will Teach You To Be Rich has a great video and article in Forbes about landing your dream job that I think is worth looking at. Read it by clicking here and view it below!

Are you currently searching for a job out of college? If you have some advice or great stories to share, I would love to hear them.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

-Anita

Summer Job Seeking

A reader writes:

“Dear, Anita,

I am a sophomore college student spending this summer in a beach town to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. I really need to find temporary employment but have little-to-no real work experience. I have been searching but seem to be having no luck. Do you have any advice for me that will help me land a great summer gig?Summer Job Seeker

Thanks for the question, Summer Job Seeker!

Many students come out of their first year of school needing to make some extra money for the fun-filled year ahead of them. Others crave some real world experience to apply the skills they have learned in school. The challenge that most students face is a lack of real professional work experience to bring to the hiring manager’s table. Sure, you may have had your own lawn-mowing business in highschool or a lemonade stand at your community pool, but although these are great experiences, they are not something that will pump up your résumé.

Even though your résumé may be slim on professional positions, volunteer experience can have a large impact as well. Most high schools require that all students complete a minimum number of hours of community service in order to graduate. Contact the organization that you worked with and request a written recommendation documenting their experiences working with you. This will provide the hiring company with some understanding of your work ethic, attendance record, and contribution potential.

BSummer Job Seekere driven. There is nothing more powerful than the eagerness to work and learn as much as possible. This alone can bring your name to the top of the interview list. If you come in prepared, with a confident attitude and a bright outlook, you will surely stand out in the mind of the hiring manager. Don’t forget to dress professionally from start to finish of the job-seeking process. For guidelines and tips for nailing your appearance and attire, check out my recent post, Dress for Success.

After you have filled out an application with the potential employer, don’t let them forget about you. No more than 3 days after submitting your application, résumé, and recommendations, call or email to respectfully inquire on the position you applied for. This will not only show them your interest in the opportunities they have available but your desire to work for them.

I wish you the best of luck, Summer Job Seeker, and all of you that are seeking employment during these sunny months.

Are you looking for summer employment or have some tips and tricks to share with your fellow readers? Post them in the comment box!

Thanks again for the question and if you have comments, leave them in the box below! Do you have a question that you need help answering, visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/!

-Anita

Dress For Success

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I have just recently graduated from college and have been on the hunt for employment since moving to back to my hometown. After sending out a slew of resumes and following up with prospective employers, I have been contacted by some and have several interviews scheduled for next week. What are some suggestions and guidelines that I should follow when choosing what to wear to the appointments?

Thanks for the great question. I am sure many of our readers have been plagued by the same question of “what do I wear?”

Remember, you only have one shot to make a GREAT first impression! Being dressed appropriately for an interview or job fair is a key component of landing your next position. Follow these simple guidelines to make sure you fit the part.

  • Be sure you look clean. Shower before your interview. For women, your hair, make-up, and overall appearance should be on the conservative side. For men, be sure you are clean shaven and hair is well groomed.
  • Cover all visible tattoos and remove excessive piercings. As a general rule, earrings are acceptable, but any oversized or loud jewelry could be off-putting.
  • Clean, iron, and press the clothing you will be interviewing in. Stains, wrinkles, and creases can deter employers from selecting you as their next candidate. If you look sloppy and careless, how much will you care about your work performance and professionalism in the workplace?
  • Stay away from see-through or low-cut blouses, jeans, sandals, and t-shirts during an interview. Men should wear long-sleeved, button-down shirts and preferably a tie. Women should not have bare shoulders or skin-tight clothing. You want to show your interviewer that you are taking this opportunity seriously and have dressed up for the occasion.
  • Make sure your clothing also fits you properly. Shirts are the right size (not too big or too small); pants and coat sleeves are hemmed to the appropriate length.
  • Skirts should be no shorter than 3 inches above the knee. Cropped pants for both men and women should be avoided.
  • Avoid or limit the use of perfume and cologne. You want them to remember you for your professional demeanor and ability to communicate, not your new fragrance. Some people may also be allergic or turned away by certain scents.
  • Wash and clean under your fingernails before the interview. Avoid brightly colored nail polish, chipped or distracting manicures, and dirty fingernails.
  • Both men and women should wear closed-toe shoes. Men: if you wear a black belt, wear black shoes. Same with a brown belt; wear brown shoes to match.
  • Women: Make sure your heel is an appropriate height, shoes are not worn or in bad shape, and that your footwear is not distracting. Choose simple conservative colors, patterns, shapes, and styles.
  • Remember what position you are applying or interviewing for. What you would wear to the neighborhood hangout or newest night spot is NOT okay for an interview. Stay away from brightly colored fabrics, shiny or sparkly materials, and embellished shirts.
  • Handbags and briefcases should be neutral in color and style. This is not an opportunity to flaunt or show off your eclectic taste.
  • Turn off your cell phones and other electronics. Even on vibrate, they can be distracting.

Check out this nifty video I found. It has some great pointers with a few laughs along the way. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,

Anita

 

Staffing Stardom

Dear Anita,

I have been on the hunt for employment opportunities and recently I have seen a number of people submitting video resumes to potential employers. I have a great resume and cover letter that I send when applying for open positions. While looking for a new position, should I invest the time and money to create a video resume?

Dear Camera Shy Colleague,

Great question! Many of you are probably looking for the next up-and-coming way to promote yourself in today’s job market. Nowadays, a plain old paper resume and cover letter may not be enough to WOW the technology-savvy and time-constricted employers looking to fill their positions.

So what is the big deal with video resumes? First, they are a great way to get one step ahead of the competition! In a very short amount of time, without having the employer even pick up the phone or read a page or two, they can get a clear view of how you communicate, your professional presence, and a plethora of other information…You know how they say a picture says a thousand words, imagine what your own personalized video short can be saying. My friends over at The Select Family of Staffing Companies were ahead of the curve by being the first national staffing firm to introduce video resumes to their candidates. Many Select locations offer this service for free! The possibilities are infinite! With that said, there is a right way and a very wrong and incorrect way to get this done.

A few quick tips:

• Dress professionally. That means: business attire. Dress shirts, sweaters, ties for men. No low-cut tops or plunging necklines (be remembered for your brains not your bust). All clothing must be clean and pressed.  You don’t want any wrinkles to slow you down on your path to employment. No excess piercings or visible body art.

• Make your interview short and sweet. Limit it to 3 minutes maximum. The employer isn’t looking for a 30-plus minute screening of your personal documentary. Get to the point – why you are the perfect candidate!

• Make sure you are in a quiet, businesslike environment when filming your video. That means: solid background, steady camera or web cam, and little-to-no background noise. Put away the pets and turn off all cell phones and unnecessary electronics.

• Rehearse what you’re going to say. Do not read right from your resume. Most employers can do that for themselves. Unless you are a master at editing and compiling video footage, you will not want there to be any awkward stops, rewinds, or re-records. It is ideal to have a smooth video with no re-takes. Knowing what you are going to say will make those 1-3 minutes fly by and glide smoother than glass.

• Right away, thank the potential employer for their time and introduce yourself. You want the employer to know exactly who you are. By stating your name clearly and with conviction, you demand the attention of your audience.

• Now that you have their attention, hold it tight…. with a death grip. Share your goals for the future, explain why you are the catch of the century, and show them why you are different and more interesting than the other people in the pack.

• Give them zero reasons why they should pass you up! Discuss why you are the perfect fit for said position and what you can do for the company that hires you. Show your enthusiasm and what drives you to succeed. Most importantly, share what you will do to drive success and productivity in the new position.

• Thank the employer again for viewing your resume. Restate your name clearly and confidently, and insert contact information at the end of the wicked cool video.

Have any of you made a video resume? If so, how were they accepted?

Thanks for reading,

Anita

Online Application – No Calls

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

I applied with my local temp agency (completed the online application), but I have not received any calls. Am I doing something wrong?

Dear, “Applicant,”

I am so glad you brought up this question because I think it applies to several of my readers. Just because you filled out an application online, does not mean you’ve been “hired” by the agency. The fact is, you’re not even done with the hiring process!

  1. Call your local branch after submitting your application online.
  2. Confirm they received your information (they may ask for your social security number so they can look you up in their system).
  3. Schedule an appointment to come into the branch. During your in-person meeting, you will conduct an interview, complete a few more assessments, and finalize paperwork as part of the hiring process. Keep in mind, this may take at least a couple of hours… just warning you to plan accordingly and to leave the kids at home!

As you prepare for your meeting at the branch office, keep these additional tips in mind:

  • You will need to bring two forms of ID (showing your eligibility to work in the United States).
  • Bring a copy of your résumé if you have one.
  • Bring 2-3 employment references.
  • Dress professionally – you want to leave a good first impression with the recruiters.

Let the staff know your availability and the type of work you are seeking. Depending on your skills and the types of positions available… you may walk out of there with a job immediately! If not, don’t be discouraged. New openings pop up all the time. Recruiters will call you, but it’s up to YOU to remain in contact with them as well. Especially in a down economy, these recruiters can get hundreds of résumés a week, so you need to make sure your name stays top of mind by staying in touch with them.

Good Luck!
Anita

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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