Ohio University Office of Career Services


Dressing the Part: What Your Work Wardrobe Says About You by Christy R

Dressing the Part: What Your
Work Wardrobe Says About You

Dressing properly for work assures credibility and helps to develop a professional relationship with colleagues and clients. Today many companies have adopted business casual attire and let go of some of the more conservative ways of dressing. Problems arise because the concept of business casual is not clearly defined and depends on the company’s dress policy and its corporate culture. Since few companies adopt clear written guidelines regarding business casual attire it is really important to learn the company culture and understand the expectations.

In the traditional business environment, for example, the existing culture expects you to stick to the classical business suit. It is crucial to establish reliability and a good reputation when you work in professions such as banking, finance or accounting. Choose a simple pattern or dark colors and try to change your professional business attire a single item at a time. Think of your dress as something that speaks for you and the way you do business. If the environment you work in is physically demanding, the internal culture there allows you to go with comfortable and easy-to-clean attire, but make sure that your clothes look smart and fit well. When interviewing with a company whose dress code or corporate culture you are not really familiar with, a business professional, traditional suit will be the perfect choice. Once you get hired and learn what the expectations and internal rules are you can adjust your style accordingly.

While it is important to know and understand your specific company’s environment, there are some basic rules that work for any situation or work environment.

Don’t get too casual. The fact that your company has a business casual dress code does not mean that you can get away with inappropriate outfits. Remember where you are and that you represent the company you work for. People won’t take you seriously if you can’t take the time to dress appropriately for the situation. Do a simple “Friday night” test: if you would pick a specific item to wear out to a weekend party, it probably doesn’t belong in the office.

Be professional in your choice of clothing. A short skirt is not a good choice for women to wear in the office environment. Short socks that expose legs are taboo for men. Avoid using bright colors in your outfit; it does not usually look professional. An option here would be adding an accessory that is an unusual color and goes along with the rest of the attire; however, that should be as far as it goes.  The foundational rule for wearing jewelry in a business environment is not to overdo it.

Summer Business Dress. Remember not to abandon your regular business attire when it gets warm outside. Sleeveless tops are very tempting in the summer time, but are usually not appropriate for a business situation. If you do happen to wear one, be sure that you have a jacket to put on when the situation requires. Women can try putting up their hair to stay cool and look sophisticated at the same time.

The Bottom Line. Every time you choose what to wear, think about the message that you want to send with your appearance. Keep in mind that you represent yourself and your organization. Carefully built credibility and reputation can be damaged very quickly by an inappropriate choice of clothing. By following some basic rules and learning the corporate culture of the company will guarantee you a professional look!

For more valuable information on professional dress, view our handout on Dressing Professionally in our Handout Library.

—Written by Anna Morlang, CareerCATS Coordinator for the Office of Career Services

Sources:
www.theworkbuzz.com
www.fashionforrealwomen.com
www.westsidetoastmasters.com



Dining Etiquette Workshop by Christy R

Dining Etiquette Workshop

Do you know the dos and taboos of dining etiquette? Are you prepared to interview during a meal?  The Office of Career Services is pleased to welcome Deborah Thomas-Nininger of DTN Productions to Ohio University to facilitate a Dining Etiquette Workshop. This workshop will guide you through proper dining and interviewing techniques as well as providing tips for pre-dinner mingling.

Due to high demand, Career Services has added one more table to the program.  Single tickets are available for $15, first come, first serve.  Please bring a check (written to: Ohio University Career Services) to 533 Baker University Center to receive a ticket.

When: Monday, May 9, 2011

Time: Dinner will begin promptly at 6:00 pm

Where: Baker University Center Ballroom

Cost: $15 (only checks will be accepted)

*Cost includes four course meal and training materials
**Professional business attire required.

Please direct any questions about the Dining Etiquette Workshop to Ali Woodworth at aw800110@ohio.edu.

More on Deborah Thomas-Nininger
Deborah Thomas-Nininger has been conducting business etiquette, communication and self-presentation workshops and training seminars for over 20 years. During that time she’s coordinated the international etiquette training for the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta for Coca-Cola. Deborah has presented to a wide varieties of companies and universities including Nationwide Insurance, Cardinal Health, Bath and Body Works and Harvard University.  For more on Deborah Thomas-Nininger visit her website at http://dtn-productions.com/home .



Brush Up on Your Career Fair Etiquette by Christy R

Brush Up on Your Career Fair Etiquette

As we gear up for the annual OU Winter Career Fair tomorrow, here are a few helpful reminders to help you interact successfully with employers.

BEFORE THE FAIR

1. Identify & research employers: Visit Bobcat Career Link to find out what employers are registered for the fair. Do some initial research about the companies by visiting their websites.

2. Bring multiple copies of your résumé…and don’t forget to organize them neatly in a nice portfolio.

3. Practice your introduction: Be ready to introduce yourself to employers and highlight your major, class status, and how your knowledge/skills would be an asset to the company.

4. Dress professionally: Dark business suits and ties for men, with polished shoes, dark socks, and well groomed hair. Neutral or dark suits work best for women, with panty hose, close-toed, low-heeled shoes, and minimal make-up/perfume.

DURING THE FAIR

1. Make a good first impression: Greet the employer with a firm handshake and smile, and introduce yourself.

2. Demonstrate your knowledge: Let the employer know that you’ve done your research and are able to communicate how you will fit into the company.

3. Remember names and companies: Be sure to get the recruiters name and business card.

AFTER THE FAIR

1. Follow up: Send a thank you note to the employers you spoke to. Reiterate the main points you discussed with them at the fair e.g. your qualifications, interest, and anything you forgot to mention at the event. Be sure to send a résumé/make a phone call if the employer asked you to do so.

—The information above was taken from the Office of Career Services’ “Career Fair Etiquette” flier which is available for students to pick up at any time. For other helpful handouts on a variety of career-related topics, stop by our office or visit our Handout Library online.



Professionalism In the Workplace for New College Grads by Christy R

Professionalism in the Workplace for New College Grads


New college grads need to start putting workplace professionalism higher on their list of priorities as they seek jobs, employers say, according to a recent poll conducted by York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence. The 2010 Professionalism in the Workplace Poll discovered eight specific areas in which employers have found new grads lacking:

  • Accepting personal responsibility for decisions and actions.
  • Being open to criticism.
  • Displaying a sense of ethics.
  • Being competent in verbal and written communication.
  • Taking initiative.
  • Projecting a professional image.
  • Thinking independently.
  • Demonstrating passion for their work.

The first two traits (accepting personal responsibility and being open to criticism) are the ones listed as needing the most improvement. Information Technology etiquette is another area in which employers are noticing less-than-desirable habits. The growing trend among students to surf the internet, text message, and respond to cell phone calls during class is translating into the work world in ways that employers find unprofessional.

Professionalism in the workplace is not limited to corporate jobs or specific professions (business, healthcare, law, etc.). In answer to the question, “Are all positions considered capable of exhibiting professionalism?” the majority of respondents indicated that they think of professionalism “as being related to the person rather than the position. Anyone in any position has the potential to exhibit professional traits and behavior.”

As you seek to project a professional image, keep in mind the following traits which were mentioned most often as characteristics of the professional employee:

  • Personal interaction skills (includes courtesy and respect).
  • Ability to communicate (includes listening skills).
  • Work ethic (includes being motivated and working on a task until complete).
  • Personal appearance.
  • Self-confidence and self-awareness.


Prepare For Success: What you need to know in order to interact successfully with employers at the career fair by Christy R

You’re standing outside the door of the career fair ready to enter. You’ve printed your résumé, researched the employers, donned your business attire, and drawn up a list of what you need to accomplish in the next couple of hours. Now it is time to put your plan of action into effect. A few tips should help you interact professionally with the employers you’re about to meet.

1. Make a good first impression.
You will most likely have only a short while to speak with each recruiter, so you must make every minute count. The first impression you make will go a long way. In order to accomplish this, just
remember these four things:

  • Eye-contact. Show that you are confident and at ease.
  • Firm handshake. Don’t offer a limp hand, but don’t crush any bones either.
  • Relaxed smile. Be friendly, but avoid gushing with too much enthusiasm.
  • Elevator speech. (See previous post on how to prepare one.) Introduce yourself in a strong, clear, natural voice, at the same time being careful not to shout.

2. Ask questions.
This goes hand-in-hand with doing your research before going to the fair. Employers are impressed when you already have a basic understanding of the company and can ask intelligent questions.

3. Don’t treat the fair as a social event.
It can be easy to become too relaxed and start sharing aspects of your personal life that are not appropriate for this professional environment. Always keep in mind that you are being evaluated on your potential to perform in the workplace.

4. Get contact information.
Most recruiters will either give you their business card or have some out on a table. If you don’t see any, be sure to ask them for their specific title, name (spelled correctly!), and contact information, both phone and email.

5. Follow up.
The very last question you should ask each recruiter is “What is the next step?” Find out which method of follow-up the recruiter prefers, phone or email. Ask them when you can expect to hear from them again, or when they would like you to contact them. Is there anything else they need from you (work samples, portfolio, etc.)? Also be sure to thank the recruiter for their time before you leave.

6. Take Notes.
You can write down key information during the interview if you like, just don’t spend the entire meeting scribbling furiously. That’s why it might be a better idea to take a moment AFTER the meeting to jot down some notes about your conversation. These reminders will be helpful in the follow-up process.

7. Network.
Your most important job at the fair is to network with employers, but don’t forget to network with other job-seekers as well. This way you can share support, company information, and job leads with one another.



Prepare For Success: What you can do beforehand to make the most of your career fair experience by Christy R

Business men and womenWhen planning to attend a career or job fair, a little preparation is necessary to maximize your experience and give you the best results. You’re already taking the time to go to the fair, so you might as well go the full mile and make it worth your effort by following these simple steps.

1. Identify and Research the Prospective Employers.
Obtain the list of organizations attending the fair and identify the prospective employers that most interest you by clicking on the Fall Career & Internship Fair link on the homepage of Bobcat CareerLink. Keep an open mind when making this list. Don’t discount employers based on industry. You don’t necessarily need to be a business major to work for a large business company or a retail merchandising major to work for a department store. Instead, see what kinds of jobs each company has available, and what types of majors they are recruiting.

Once you’ve made your list of 5-10 employers you want to meet at the fair, do some research on each one of them. Visit their websites. Run internet searches. Be sure to familiarize yourselves with key products/services as well as the organizational structure, culture and values of the company.

2. Rehearse your elevator speech.
Prepare a 20-30 second introduction to use with employers. Have a clear focus on why you are here and what kind of job you are looking for. Tell them why you are interested in their company and how your specific skill set will benefit their company. (For examples of a concise elevator speech, see earlier post: Elevator Speech: A 30-second Interview).

3. Prepare résumés.
Have multiple copies of your résumé printed out and ready to go. It’s also helpful to have them organized neatly in a folder or portfolio. Show them that you can be an organized employee.

4. Choose proper career fair attire.
This is a must. For most career fairs professional attire is required, consisting of a clean-cut, well-fitting, conservative look, with darker colors such as navy, black, and slate. Dressing unprofessionally is one of the most common errors made by job candidates. If the outfit you’re considering is something you would wear to a party or a night on the town, it is most likely not appropriate professional attire. It is always safer to err on the side of dressing too conservatively. Also remember to give your shoes a little polish, and don’t overdo on jewelry or perfume/cologne.



Interview Etiquette: Tips to Successfully Navigate a Job Interview by Christy R

Employer interviewing job candidate

Among the rising tide of job-seekers, serious candidates are looking for the golden key that will set them apart from the crowd. As impressive as your résumé might be, often times it is the interview, the first instance of personal contact, that spells success or defeat for the prospective employee. First impressions stick. This is one of the clichés that unfortunately comes true, and with so much at stake, any responsible job candidate would do well to prepare thoroughly. Remember that interviews are about open, sincere communication that will present your skills to their fullest potential.

A quick internet search reveals dozens of mini-articles and tip lists on the topic of job interviews. Here are a few of the suggestions I found the most helpful:

1. Research the company. This should always be the first step. What does the company do? What will your position be? What skills will you bring to the company and why are you qualified? Practicing with a mock interview can help immensely. Make a list of common questions and prepare answers.

2. Dress neatly. Your personal appearance suggests what your work practices are like.

3. Bring multiple copies of your résumé. This should be obvious as it is one of the first things prospective employers will ask for. It’s also helpful to have a copy for yourself to refer to during the interview.

4. Be on time—meaning 5 to 10 minutes early. Tardiness sets a terrible precedent.

5. Watch your body language. Relax. Smile. Be as natural and confident as possible. Be sure to make direct eye contact with your interviewer and greet he or she with a firm handshake. Once seated, lean forward to convey interest and take care if you’re one of those people who likes to talk with your hands—wild gestures imply lack of control.

6. Answer questions directly. Clear communication is key. It’s OK to ask the interviewer to restate a question if you don’t understand it the first time around. It’s also perfectly fine to take a minute to formulate a clear answer. Your interviewer won’t appreciate it if you blurt out a jumble of disconnected thoughts just to fill the silence.

Paying attention to these details is the first step to a successful interview. This is your chance to showcase your value to the company, and a little interview savvy goes a long way.

Note: For information about the Mock Interview Day being hosted by OU Career Services on Monday, October 4, 2010, visit us at www.ohio.edu/careers