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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Channukah Hints, Jewrican Factoids #5: You better work!

Let's just take a moment to discuss presentation...or, given some of the walking horror-stories I have unfortunately been witness to, lack thereof. When you go on an interview, or if you're networking, you're on display from the moment you arrive. So, from the time you enter the location, until the time you have safely left, you must assume that you, your poise, your demeanor and your clothing are being constantly observed
That would seem reasonable, yes? And yet.
Think about it from the interviewer's perspective: they've brought you in because your resume has indicated that you could do the job. Now, they want to meet you. They want to figure out how hiring you would affect the company. Is your personality a match? If they hire you, you become an ambassador of the brand. (Cheesy but true.)
The interviewer wants to see what it might be like to spend 8 hours a day with you, day in, day out. Would you be an asset or would your co-workers throw away their previous differences and bond over long, obsessive debates regarding the best way to kill you and hide your remains.
And if you're networking, think about this: you're a walking/talking advertisement for yourself. Right?
So if you're drenched in Axe cologne, or wearing a skin-tight, neon pink suit (true story, btw), or if you hand out business cards with unicorns or glitter on them, or in "interesting" colors...or if you are unable to say what you're looking for, or if you barge into other people's conversations, or if you get drunk...yep, that's the person I'm going to want to help. That's the person I'm going to risk my career for.
Instead, how about you err on the side of being a boring adult? Consider the industry you're applying for: if you're an attorney, or a banker, and your business card is anything but conservative and detail-oriented? Really? That artsy, black-and-white scene of a deserted train-station might make an awesome photograph--especially if you're a 15 year-old girl, "expressing" your "talent"--but on a biz card? Nor should there be any drawings, shots of semi-naked girls or strawberries, or quotes from "Eat, Pray, Love." (Unless you're networking to be a stripper in which case, hello missing the point.)
There are some industries, for example, wherein a man wearing a red tie is considered "daring"...and then you'll hear stories of people showing up for interviews in flip-flops, or with a nose-ring, or fake nails painted blue, or wearing clogs, or in jeans. I promise you, in that situation, before you even open your mouth, the interviewer has already mentally crossed your name off the list of potential candidates and is instead composing a snarky Facebook status regarding your Ed Hardy t-shirt.  
The basic rule of thumb is that you should always be more professionally dressed than the interviewer. If they want to show up wearing jeans, or Uggs, fine: they're employed. You are not. You're there to impress. Please write that down somewhere and commit it to memory: you are there to impress these people, not horrify them by chewing gum, or texting, or not wearing a bra, or brandishing a fresh tattoo, or using profanity, or talking smack about your current employer, or shrugging and saying, "I just need a job, you know?" (I can't. I I cannot.)
And if you're going to a networking event: PREPARE! Go to and get you some plain business cards (name, normal email, cell phone is fine. You know what I mean by 'normal', so don't even, bikerchick69 or hotboyz83 or phatbootygurl. Do not test me. You will lose.). Wear a conservative suit, or a dress which doesn't make me feel like I should buy you a drink, and ask you if you like long walks on the beach and mention what beautiful eyes you have. Body glitter? It's a networking event, not the walk of shame home from Delta Tau Omega's kegger. Tone down the make-up. Go easy on the J.Ho "Desperacion" perfume. Shake hands. Smile. Have a little spiel prepared. Be as charming as your mom thinks you are.
Trust me on this: people want to help you, but you have to help them help you!
You want to impress people with your tact, intelligence, understanding of social norms, with a promise of all
the great stuff you'll contribute. Conversely, you do not want impress upon people your representation of the destruction of our culture, by forgetting to turn off your cell-phone during the interview... and your ring-tone is "Me So Horny."
Jewrican Factoid #5: When I was 8 or so, my father--a much more wonderful man than I deserve--used to bribe me to go to shul with him by constantly feeding me. So I'd devour two McDonald's burgers, a quarter-pound of chocolate Queen Anne's Lace cookies, a bagel, a chocolate egg cream, some apples...just on the way there. I'd be constantly eating and constantly chattering to a man who thought I was wonderful just the way I was. Thanks, dad!

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