As any job seeker that has been unemployed for an extended period of time will tell you, the biggest challenge they face is dealing with gaps in their resumes. These gaps could happen for a number of reasons: unable to find work, raising a family, caring for sick relative, taking time off for various reasons, etc…. The problem is that despite many employers having gone through these situations themselves, many see these gaps as liabilities and view them differently from when they were on your side of the desk.
These days many companies don’t require formal dress. Some go as far as allowing casual dress — I once worked for a company where I’d go in with sneakers, khaki shorts and a nice t-shirt and feel over-dressed. But does casual dress mean that people coming in for a job interview can dress down?
Dressing for an interview is a challenge in itself: under-dressing makes you look unprofessional and overdressing may make you look stuffy. I once had a discussion about this with a former boss after we had interviewed a prospective candidate that wasn’t wearing a suit. I felt that he didn’t take his job search seriously where my boss found it to be more comfortable to interview someone dressed more relaxed. Ironically, at the time I was 23 and my boss was 33 but he was more used to working in technology where I just finished my master’s degree at a business school — so there are a variety of factors that contributed to our opinions on the situation. Ultimately, the candidate wasn’t hired as his attitude wasn’t a good fit for the group — and I felt the way he dressed for the interview was an example of that.
Whether you’re looking for work or looking for new clients, people want to make sure that you are who you say you are and you’ll do what you say you’ll do. One way to assure those considering you or your services is to provide a list of references – satisfied customers or employers that can vouch for your character and skills. But even though this seems like a no-brainer, many people lose out because they choose the wrong people for references.
The wrong reference can make you look unprofessional, unethical and unprepared – and all of this can be done unintentionally from someone who is trying to help you. Yes, this has happened and I’ve seen it. Remember that these days most employers are doing their homework and checking references – ditto on the consumer side when working with a small business. So there’s a good chance the people you list will get called so you’ll want to make sure that these people will represent you well. So let’s start with how to choose the right people as references. Here are some tips:
If you’ve ever been to a business networking event, you’ve probably been told that starting a conversation is the hardest part. This tends to be true for neophyte networkers – walking up to someone new and introducing yourself can be quite challenging. However, when you become an experienced networker, you may sometimes find that exiting a conversation is much more difficult than starting one.
So you’re sitting there in your interview and things are going well. But then you’re asked a common question, one that you know the answer to – why are you leaving your current job (or why did you leave your last job). But how do you answer it? Truthfully? What they want to hear?
For some people, why they left their last job is pretty straightforward while for others, it’s a more sensitive issue. In either case, you want to be careful as to how you answer it. Saying you hated your job raises issues about how good an employee you are. Complaining about the commute and lack of family time may make your potential employer wonder if you’ll be able to put in the extra time when needed.