Exit Strategy

Anita,

I have finally made the decision to leave my job of 8 years, but have not sent out résumés or contacted any potential employers yet. My decision is not based on anything negative – I love my bosses, co-workers, etc., but want a career change. I work at a fairly small (25 employees), family owned business and lead one of their four departments, though the dept. only consists of myself and a newly hired assistant (who won’t be able to take over). I want to leave on good terms with the company and I know they will have an extremely hard time finding a replacement. I do not want to commit to staying until said replacement is found, but planned on offering 1 month notice and staying until I have completed those clients that have already booked (I am a dog trainer). Additionally, the gal who does the sales for me is leaving in less than a week and I will now be expected to take on these appointments. My question is: knowing that I will be leaving, is it appropriate for me to not give notice to my employer until I have secured a new job and complete my sales appointments as if I AM staying, or should I notify them of my intent to start looking for alternate employment so they are not then having to cancel clients who may book farther out than 1 month and run the risk of them excusing me before I find new employment. Thanks in advance!

Exit_000017488442_smallDear, On Short Notice,

Searching, applying, interviewing, and finally landing the right job may take a while. By the time you are ready to give your standard two weeks notice, it could be months and the salesperson may already be replaced. But since you have worked with this small company eight years, you may wish to inform your bosses of your career goals to allow them the extra time to find a replacement for you and the salesperson.

While you may not harbor ill feelings, when leaving a less than satisfactory job, some people may be tempted to quote country music singer Johnny Paycheck and tell the boss to “Take this job and shove it; I ain’t working here no more.” Here are tips to create an exit strategy that won’t have repercussions down the road.

  1. Update your résumé, including career highlights from your current position. Review my post, “Importance of Annual Résumé Updates.”
  2. Start networking – discreetly and on your own time. Put out feelers to find open positions and companies in which you may be interested.
  3. Stash away an adequate emergency fund. You never know when your boss may catch wind of your plans to leave and fast forward your decision. There may also be a period of time between your old job end date and your new position start date, and bills still need to be paid.
  4. Use Paid Time Off (PTO) or vacation time judiciously to save enough for interviews. Be sure you know your company’s policy for unused sick time or vacation time. You don’t want to lose any time that you’ve worked hard to earn.
  5. Once you have a firm job offer (preferably in writing), tender your letter of resignation. Two weeks’ notice is the professional minimum. However, if you have a management or key position, consider staying a while longer to train your replacement. Some companies don’t like “lame ducks,” however, and may whisk you out the door that very day. See why #3 is important?
  6. During your last weeks on the job, maintain your work ethic. Organize and delegate your projects and workload with adequate instructions and documentation.
  7. If your company does an exit interview, keep your comments positive. There is a better chance that your criticisms will negatively impact you than bring about any lasting changes in your company.

Readers: How many weeks notice did you give your last employer when you quit?

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Stay or Quit?
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Bypassing Human Resources

Hello, Anita,

Hello, I am 56 years old and have been taking care of my mother who is 94 for the past six years. She has many doctors’ appointments, some only days apart. I haven’t been legally employed in this time, but I keep my skills up to par by doing “side jobs” now and then. By trade I’m an Industrial Spray Painter, working over the years for military contractors, sub-contractors, and factories.

Recently I’ve tried to reenter my field, trying to find a second or third shift position. This way I will still be able to help my mother out and work in the evening or overnight. Unfortunately, due to my time off I can’t get past the HR department. I believe that I’m being dismissed immediately due to the six year gap. If I could talk personally with the foreman or plant manager and take the spray and written test that is generally given to be considered for hire, I know I could win them over with my talent and knowledge of the field. But you have to deal with someone in HR that knows little to nothing about a person’s talent. They only look at the date of your last employer and write you off.

I’m always open to suggestions…

Bypass_Sign_iStock_000024740925Dear, Painted into a Corner,

You may do better with your “good ol’ boys” network than with HR managers. According to Jobvite, 4 in 10 job seekers have found their best job through personal connections. On the other side of the desk, 64% of recruiters say they find the highest quality candidates through referrals, so a savvy HR professional would be thankful to hear about you from a company employee.

Contact former supervisors and coworkers, even the clerks at the paint store to see if they’ve heard of any job openings that might be a fit for you. Ask if they know any plant managers or foremen at the companies for which you’d like to work.

After exhausting your personal contacts, log on to LinkedIn to see if you can connect to the right people. It’s like that 90s Kevin Bacon game, “six degrees of separation.” Check out my primer, Lessons on LinkedIn, to get started. Be sure to click on the “Jobs” tab and enter keywords related to your experience. Save the search and set up alerts to let you know when new jobs open up.

While scrutinizing LinkedIn profiles, pay attention to any industry associations to which your connections belong. Consider joining and attending meetings and turn your networking know-how into introductions, appointments, or key contact emails – and follow through.

Do some homework to research and identify the top 10 businesses in your area likely to hire someone in your field. Check each of their company websites see if they have a “Careers” page.  If not, even better! They may be a smaller company without a human resources department. Put them on your target list. A charming phone call to the receptionist could yield the hiring manager’s name – and more, depending on the chattiness of the gatekeeper.

Working with (not against) HR

There is a danger when trying to circumvent the system put in place to maximize an HR manager’s time and resources. While a creative, unconventional, or disruptive approach may work, there is a very real possibility it will backfire. You could be seen as someone who can’t or won’t follow directions or an obnoxious boor who doesn’t respect these professionals’ time (NOT great qualities in any employee).

businessman over stretchedWhen submitting a résumé online, be sure to take advantage of adding a cover letter if the option exists. Mention the elephant in the room – your six-year gap. Explain (without going into too much detail) that you have been caregiving for the past few years while keeping your skills current and are eager to reenter the workforce full-time. While references are often requested at the interview stage, preemptively include a glowing reference letter from a past employer or a testimonial letter from one of your freelance clients.

I saw this fitting description on a chat board: “HR screeners are rather like the wait staff in a restaurant. They’ve been given an order by the hiring manager and usually lack the flexibility to substitute one ingredient for another.” If a search term doesn’t match exactly, sometimes the screener (which may be a computer) will reject that application. Be sure to tailor your résumé using keywords found in the job listing.

Experiment with a functional format for your résumé, which may help focus the attention on your skills and away from your gap in employment.

Readers: Have you successfully done an end run around HR to secure a job? Tell us your story!

RELATED POSTS:

Lessons on LinkedIn
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Hiding the “Gray” on Your Résumé (and Beyond)

Dear, Anita,

I’m 61 and graying. I get job interviews because I have a great résumé, I do everything right, I am usually the most qualified with years of experience and training. However, I do not get hired. I believe it is my age. I try to emphasize my energy and work ethic. I make it a point to tell them I go to the gym regularly and I’m a triathlete. I still don’t get the job. What can I do? I’ve even tried coloring my hair!

Hiding_the_Gray_000012255136Dear, Motivated Methuselah,

Over the past three decades, long-term unemployment has been more common among older men and women, spiking after the Great Recession, according to AARP. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that people 55 and older were far more likely to be unemployed long-term (44.6% compared to 22.1% of those under age 25). But the news isn’t all bad. A CareerBuilder survey indicates that 57% of private sector employers plan to hire mature workers (age 50+) in 2015, up from 48% two years ago.

Let this old dog see if she can teach you a few new tricks to get you on the road to employment.

You’re a prime candidate to take advantage of the “old boys’ club.” Networking is almost twice as effective as applying to internet job boards, so reach out to old contacts, via social media or tried and true phone calls and face-to-face business mixer events. While I applaud your foray into hair coloring, please be sure your LinkedIn profile picture resembles the current in-person you. (As an aside, I really don’t get the #grannyhair trend where young women intentionally go gray. I fought it for years – and lost!)

Explore jobs outside your given areas of expertise (you may need to have several customized résumés on hand). This may mean a pay cut. If your retirement account can afford it, lower your salary requirements to compete with younger workers. After all, it may be better to have some wages flowing in than none at all. In fact, you may need to postpone your retirement, as this TradePost article direly predicts.

You say you have a great CV, but other mature professionals may not have the best mid-life résumé. The functional résumé may be the best way to age-proof this first impression. In the accompanying cover letter, walk that fine line between touting your vast experience and coming across as a fossil. Be sure to pick up on any software requirements in the ad postings, and stress your up-to-date tech skills to combat this common misperception about older workers.

Interview_Men_PinterestInterview-Women_PinterestTo prepare for interviews, dress in stylish clothing – without trying to look like a hipster. Ladies, lose the banker suit (unless you are applying at a bank) and have a youngish depart­ment store sales­person help you select a modern yet professional outfit for the big day. Check out my Pinterest boards for visual ideas for interview wear for men and women. Follow Anita Clew while you’re there!

During the interview, don’t come across as a know-it-all, especially if you are interviewing with a youthful boss. You want to accurately portray your experience, but still seem like a team player who will work in harmony with people of all ages.

The silver lining is that graybeards are consistently more engaged, have admirable work ethics, and as a demographic waste less time than their younger counterparts. Before long, you’ll find an employer who doesn’t think you’re “overqualified” (frequently a euphemism for too old).

Boomers: How have you age-proofed your presentation when seeking a job?
Hiring Managers: What impresses you about “mature” job applicants?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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Finding Job References

I’ve had a few questions in the past weeks about references:

I went online to apply for a job. I was able to fill everything out on a job application except for a reference list. The application requires that I list three references with name, phone number, and email. I do not have that kind of information to give, especially email address. I cannot submit application without all the required information for references. How can I work past this issue?

Dear, No References,

You need to get some younger “Millennial” friends with computers! Other people who may not have ready references include:

  • Young workers
  • Recent graduates
  • Stay-at-home parents or caregivers entering or reentering workforce
  • Employees terminated from one or more jobs
  • Bridge burners (you stormed out, or just didn’t appear for work one day without giving notice)
  • Self-employed individuals

Are references required fields in the application? If you cannot submit your application without filling in all of the blanks, try entering “N/A” (for Not Available) or type in “Upon Request.”  While some applications specifically request “professional” references, personal or character references may be accepted by other companies.

The professional references that hold the most sway are former supervisors. Peers or coworkers who can attest to your work ethic are also suitable references. Testimonials from clients or customers would also be impressive, especially for self-employed entrepreneurs seeking jobs.

Job_Reference_MemeIf you don’t have a bevy of professional references, find character references from other acquaintances. Teachers, college professors, or guidance counselors are great references for students and recent grads. Members of civic groups, church, or volunteer organizations may be able to attest to your attributes that would be work-relevant. As a last resort, use personal references, but definitely not your mother, your fiancé, and preferably not your BFF (unless he’s the president of an impressive multinational corporation). Think of your accountant who does your taxes, your landlord, or the long-time family friend who is an upstanding business owner in the community.

Be sure to ask these individuals for permission to include them on applications and your reference list. Ask “Do you feel you know me well enough to provide me with a good job reference?” This gives the person an out if they are uncomfortable vouching for you.

One final note: do not include your references on your résumé. In our online world of searchable job boards, it’s a privacy issue.  When you do provide contact information, give work phone numbers and emails rather than personal whenever possible.

Dear, Anita,

On an employment application, is it appropriate to list Human Resource department, along with that office phone number, in cases where the company is a “branch” location and the corporate office is located in another area (i.e., city or state) or if your direct manager/supervisor is no longer employed by that company?

Dear, Long Gone,

I think that is wise, as the HR department can at least verify your dates of employment. If you have kept in touch with your direct supervisor (and he can give you a glowing recommendation), you may want to use him as a reference with his new contact information.

If you’re out of touch, search for former managers and coworkers on Google or LinkedIn. It’s a good networking practice to stay connected with folks from past jobs – before you want a favor like a recommendation letter. After you reconnect on LinkedIn, endorse skills in which your ex-colleagues excelled, and ask for endorsements in return. In addition to traditional reference checks, many HR departments routinely check social media.

Readers: Who was your most “creative” job reference?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
Finding a Job Without Recent Work References
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How to Find Jobs Not Advertised on the Top Job Boards, Part 2

Last week, I offered a half-dozen alternatives to finding positions on the online job boards. To review those ideas, click here. For more tips on how to find unadvertised jobs, read on…

business visionJob Fairs. Also known as a career expo, this is an event where employers and recruiters can meet job seekers. Be sure to bring copies of your résumé, and jot down notes on the business cards you collect so you can follow up. Set up a Google Alert so you won’t miss the next job fair scheduled in your region.

Internships & Volunteer Opportunities. Don’t think internships are just for recent graduates. If you are able to get an internship or volunteer to work for free (a radical concept, I know!) at your dream company, you’ll have your foot in the door when that paid position opens up. Even if your volunteer activities don’t lead to a position, you may meet some people who can help you further your career.

Take a Temp Job. If you just can’t work for free, join a temporary employment agency, such as The Select Family of Staffing Companies. You’ll be able to make some bill-paying money with assignments that last from a few days to a few months, in addition to keeping your skills from getting rusty. You may even be offered a permanent position. In this US News article, “10 Reasons to Take a Temporary Job,” point #1 notes that temporary work isn’t so temporary.

Word of Mouth. If you’ve been searching for a job for any length of time, you’re probably sick of the term “networking.”  Don’t let discouragement keep you from chamber of commerce mixers, service club meetings, and even ponying up the greens fees for a round of golf. For tips on networking, read my post Networking Know-How.

Hit the Bricks. Whether you want to find a job in a downtown boutique or in the financial district of your city, dress for the part, pop some freshly printed résumés in your satchel, and go hunting on foot.  While higher-level jobs don’t often advertise with a “Help Wanted” sign in the window, chatting up the receptionist in an office suite building may lead to some inside information. If you ask to speak to a company’s hiring manager, you may be able to get 10 minutes of his or her time, even without an appointment.

You never know. Your next job may be hiding in plain sight.

Readers: Have you ever landed an “unadvertised” job? We’d love to hear your story.

Do you have a question for Anita Clew? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Looking for Work during the Holiday Season

Dear, Anita,

I’ve been looking for a full-time job for months. Now that the holiday season is here, I don’t seem to see as many permanent positions listed on the job boards, and for those that I do apply to, I am not getting any response. I want to be able to buy my kids some toys for under the Christmas tree, but I’m losing hope.

Dear, All I Want for Christmas is a Job,

I don’t have any hard statistics, but the general consensus is that many job seekers give up the search between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It may be true that your job hunt may be less productive, because hiring managers can be absent during the holidays. But I’m an eternal optimist, and I say, “Don’t give up!” In fact, take advantage of the lack of competition these lethargic yuletide yahoos are creating. Many companies budget on an annual basis and may have full-time positions they need to fill before year-end.

Holiday partyKeep on with your current plan of applying for all of the jobs for which you are qualified. This may be time to head to your local coffee shop with your laptop and indulge in a peppermint mocha. In addition, attend any and all of the seasonal soirées to which you’ve been invited (yes, even the one with the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” theme). Use holiday parties as networking opportunities. You don’t want to be a Gloomy Gus, but be sure to mention that you are still actively looking for work. You never know whose best friend’s uncle has just the job for you. Send holiday cards to anyone with whom you have interviewed in the last few months. Circumstances may have changed, the new hire may not have worked out, or a new position may have opened up.

Don’t turn up your red Rudoph nose at seasonal or temporary work. My friends at The Select Family of Staffing Companies work with retail, distribution, warehouse, and other industries that staff up during the holiday season. You never know; if you shine like a star on the Christmas tree, you may be offered a permanent position.

Holiday Job Seekers: Have you ever been hired smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season? Have you taken a seasonal or temp job to get by?

Do you have a question for Miss Anita? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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

Lessons on LinkedIn

Hi, Anita:

I have just joined LinkedIn to aid in my job search. As a novice to the entire site, I was hoping you could offer some advice on how to take advantage of the introduction feature that is available. Some of the lingo is foreign to me and any insight would be great. Thanks for your help!

Dear, Learning LinkedIn:

Linked_In_GlobeCongratulations on joining LinkedIn. It is a great tool that will aid in your job search and help you build a strong professional network. For those of you who are now just hearing about LinkedIn, it is a business-focused social networking website that connects users with other professionals, recruiters, and companies of interest.  The site offers many tools with the basic free service that everyone should take advantage of.

LinkedIn works through connections. These are to LinkedIn as friends are to Facebook. When you have identified another user with whom you’d like to “connect,” you can make a Connection request, which the other user can accept or deny. An accepted connection is considered 1st degree.

Outside of the 1st-degree circle of connections, you have

  • 2nd-degree Connections: Think of these as a friend of a friend. They are directly connected to one of your professional connections. Keep this in mind when I discuss LinkedIn Introductions.
  • 3rd-degree Connections: Consider these as your 2nd-degree connection’s additional connections. To make it simple, think of this as your co-worker’s friend from graduate school’s boss.
  • Out of Your Network: These LinkedIn users are not currently connected to your 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-degree connections.

What I think is a great tool available on LinkedIn is Introductions. We all know that having a person on the inside of a company we want to work for is a step in the right direction. One of your professional connections may be willing to facilitate an opportunity for you to meet an insider who can help you land your next job opportunity.Linked_In_Road_Sign

Here is an example. You want to work as an Administrative Assistant at The Select Family of Staffing Companies and hope that you can find that opportunity by speaking with the head of Human Resources, who you don’t currently know. Your friend Steve, however, is connected with the head of HR at Select. What better way to catch the HR Director’s eye than by having her trusted friend Steve “introduce” you two?

So how do you find these introduction opportunities? I thought you might ask!

  1. Start by going to Company Search and entering the name of the company for which you want to work. If you need to refine your search, you can choose the following parameters that meet your search needs: location, industry, and/or relationship type (2nd or 3rd connections).
  2. Once you have located the company, look to the fair right of the screen and find the “How You’re Connected” section. Click on 2nd-degree connections.
  3. Here, you will see all the people at the company with whom you share common connections. Select the individual to whom you would like to be introduced and hover over to the right of the “Connect” button. A dropdown menu will appear. Click “Get introduced.”
  4. Select from the list one of your closest, most trusted connections and ask for the introduction.
  5. Enter text into the subject line and why you want to get introduced.
  6. Finally click “Send Request” and wait for a response – and hopefully a foot in the door.

I hope this helps you understand just one of the great tools available on LinkedIn. For more information, LinkedIn has put together a short video on how to make the most of the site for your job search:

Readers, what are the tools you use the most on LinkedIn? Have you found it useful in your Job Search?

Best wishes,

Anita

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

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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

Being Body Language Conscious

Virtually nothing can be heard as loud and clear as body language. Even if you keep your lips sealed, unconsciously you are sending hundreds of messages by the way you present yourself, the way you hold your arms, your posture — the list goes on and on. During a job interview or at a networking event, you may have rehearsed your elevator speech and practiced your answers to those grueling questions, but if you are “saying” the wrong things with your body language, you can do significant damage to your professional image. By reading and putting these suggestions into practice, you can be sure you make, rather than break, a deal.

Confident WomanMy number 1 rule to starting out a good conversation or introduction is with a strong handshake. None of this wet noodle stuff. Your handshake should be firm but not inflict pain to the recipient.  Make sure it is long enough so they know you aren’t running for the door but short enough that a nervous sweat doesn’t develop. (Gross.)

When you are standing, keep your head held high, shoulders back, and back straight. This presents the image of confidence and ease in social situations. Slouching will give off the message of low self-confidence or laziness. The latter two attributes do not work well when looking for a job or instilling a positive first impression.

Same advice goes for when you are sitting. Most likely, you will be sitting during a job interview or client meeting, so focus on nailing these points first. When addressing your interviewer or other person in conversation, keep your shoulders square on the person. You want them to know they have your full attention and you are not intimidated by their questions or approach. Men, keep your legs crossed or in front of you. Women, avoid crossing your legs. Instead keep your knees together and put one ankle behind the other for support.

Nodding in acknowledgement is also encouraged but refrain from becoming a life-sized bobble-head doll. The goal is to project understanding and agreement, not to attempt self-inflicted whiplash. Also, try your best to not to touch your face, play with your hair, focus on your hands, or pick at your fingernails (clean them ahead of time) during the conversation either.

Remember to smile! A pleasant expression on your face will send off messages that you are interested and welcoming of the conversation and discussion. It will relax the person you are talking with as well. But be sure it is a natural smile. Plastering a fake smile on your face can read as if you are just trying to be as tolerant as possible.

Hands are also a straight signal to how a person is feeling at the time. Fidgeting can send signals of uneasiness or aggression. If you are one who talks with your hands, be subtle and only use at appropriate times. When in doubt, put your hands by your sides while standing and folded in your lap while sitting.

As the old saying goes, your eyes are a window to your soul. Maintaining eye contact seems to be the hardest thing for Eye Contactpeople to do during an interview. Some feel uncomfortable just from the thought of it. It is important to keep eye contact with the other person who is speaking. This is a surefire way to show you are confident, attentive, and genuinely interested in what they are saying. All are great qualities you look for in an employee or potential business contact.

If you put these tips into your daily routine, they will become second nature. Practice them with your friends and family to get the hang of it, and once you are ready to put them to the test, try them out in the real world… then come here and tell me how they worked for you!

Forbes posted a great video with Christine Jahnke, author of The Well-Spoken Woman, discussing how to make a lasting impression through body language.

And a quote to round out this week’s post, one which I love to think about when entering a room of strangers or going into a job interview, is one by Henry Ford that says: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”

Readers, what do you do to boost your confidence and portray the professional individual you are through body language? What have you noticed in what others do that have had a positive or negative effect on how you view them?

As always if you have a question for me, visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Best Wishes,
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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