The Interview Series - what to wear

Tricky. Tricky. Tricky.

I think most people struggle to put a decent outfit together on a daily basis let alone for something important as a job interview. I mean you just have to look at people on the streets of any major city at lunch time. Unkind but true. Have some pride people! There is no need for dressing shabbily even if you don't have a lot of money. In Australia Target and K-mart have great pieces for work as do many of the slightly more expensive chain stores. Rant over.

So, unless you are going for a very creative job I think it's best to err on the side of conservative. You want the interviews to be interested in you and what you are saying, not be distracted by what you are wearing. Though having said that I did go to my last job interview with pink hair....more on that later.

The most conservative and dressy type companies include finance and banking, accounting firms and consultancies and some technology companies. Wear a suit in a dark colour and a nicely pressed shirt or women could also wear a business type dress like this:

Actually this kind of outfit would suit pretty much all interviews and companies unless you are going to a job at a funky creative cutting edge company.

But you don't always have to wear a suit. It's just an easy option. Other options include:

For men: dress pants or suit pants and a long sleeve business shirt. For a more casual company you could possibly do a short sleeve shirt but I can't say I like them. Lace up brogues or slip on more business type shoes. No sneakers. No thongs

For women: Tailored skirts or pants and a blouse or top, no t-shirts. Closed in court shoes. No sneakers and no thongs.

The last interview I went to I didn't have anything that resembled a suit in my wardrobe. I had been working in an industrial part of Sydney for an industrial distributor and suits weren't really the expectation. Plus I'm not really that fussed about suits (even though I am recommending them here). I also had pink hair. My sister was horrified! "what are you going to wear?"

I think I wore a red jacket and black pants to that interview, with the pink hair. You see I figured that this was me. I had really good experience for the job and figured that if they had an issue with my hair, well then maybe that company wasn't for me. You can only be this bold if you are confident in your abilities and yourself generally. I got that job but don't recommend you turn up with coloured hair or lots of facial piercings and visible tattoos. Most interviewers are still very conservative and even though these things don't affect your ability to do the job in most cases you won't get the job. Some exclusions are funky cool hairdressers, where coloured hair, tats and piercing are expected. As well as sneakers or thongs.

If you need some inspiration head over to Pinterest and do a search on work wear or work fashion.

Lisa x

The Resume Series: Resume Basics - the top 10 do's

In times of change and organisational restructuring a good resume is the ticket to your next role. Over this week and the next I'll be covering the basics of resumes. Here is my first post on the topic - the top 10 do's!

Lets face it. Resumes are hard. They are hard because we don't do one very often. They are hard because they get out of date quickly and they are hard because mostly we don't know what a prospective employee is looking for. The job ad may detail a number of things and you may have addressed them in your cover letter and/or resume and you still don't get an interview. Ugh!

I would like to say the process of choosing candidates for interviews is scientific but often it's not. I mean, there is a correlation between choosing resumes that match the selection criteria but it's sometimes a little random. Humans are not particularly rational (despite what some humans tell you) so no matter how closely your resume meets the specification you may or may not get chosen. That's life and unless you have been discriminated against you should just move on. Big companies now use sophisticated resume selection and recruitment software but I'm a little sceptical about how effective it is, though there isn't much choice when you receive hundreds of applicants for any given role.

So what are my top tips for creating or updating your resume?
  1. Include basic contact information:  You don't need to provide two email addresses, two phone numbers and your home address. Cut it down. I think a mobile phone number and an email address is adequate. Put them in the header or footer. Will look good and be easy to find.
  2. Have a "normal" email address. No and no sexymamma81@gmail. Also don't use your current work email address. That's just bad form.
  3. Be crystal clear. You can always say something in less words. Make sure you do. Be succinct and if you are not good at this get a friend to read it for you and ruthlessly edit.
  4. Be short. I have seen a candidate for a senior role get the job on a one page resume. It can be done. I think 2-3 pages is fine. No more. 
  5. Stick to the highlights. No one wants to read War and Peace. No one. I promise, your work history is not that interesting.
  6. Be relevant. To the job vacancy. That is all. You look like an idiot when you apply for a job with nothing that matches what the company is looking for. Overseas students pay attention.
  7. Spell check. I can forgive one, maybe two spelling mistakes or typos. More pedantic people will not and if writing is part of the job, you are done for.
  8. Only include your highest and most relevant qualifications. A massive list of certificates obtained by attending time management 101, team building for dummies and "intro to excel" have no place on your resume.
  9. Don't flick it. Online job boards make it very easy to apply for jobs. Don't apply for everything that looks even slightly up your alley. It wastes everyone's time.
  10. Tailor your resume for every role you apply for. That might sound like hard work but you should be choosey what you apply for and not apply for that many roles at the same time. 
 What would you like to hear about in regards to resumes? What do you struggle with?

Lisa xx

Career musings. Who wears the pants?

I have noticed something in my current job. The shock on my male colleagues face when I say I have a nearly 4yr old and a 14 month old. This is often followed by questions and statements:

How do you do it?
How do you cope with everything?
How do you travel? 
How does your husband cope?
Wow! or Whoa!!

It's generally a disbelief and shock and and sometimes a little judgement. Judgement that I could possibly leave the house with such a small child there. I guess. I'm finding the double standard quite surprising but I'm not always offended. It comes from a curious place. Usually. And when it comes from a curious place I am always happy to explain how my husband Arran and I work it. I myself am curious about the double standard I perceive to be there.

It seems to be ok that men work when they have a little baby, but not women. Has anyone else experienced this? That women somehow have that magic ingredient that only they have, which means they are the ones who need to be the primary caregiver. Of course if the baby is being breastfed then it's a little tricky but on all other matters it's not. I think a lot of women promote this too. I have seen men in the relationship with a small child treated as though they are stupid or unworthy to look after their own child because they do things differently with the kids. 

From the very start when Aiden was a new-born, Arran used to defer to me on lots of issues, because he perceived that I somehow knew how to do something for him, because I was the one who gave birth. Complete crap. I didn't automatically get an instruction manual as my milk came in. Nor was I an expert just because I carried him for 9 months. In the end I said to Arran that I only knew about as much as him and that he could make decisions too. Arran took it all on board and probably became a bit of a baby hog. He had as much or as little confidence as me. That's ok. Made both our lives easier.

I don't believe men get the same questions in the workplace. They don't ask each other these questions, and if they do it's about sharing and comparing and showing how proud they are of their beautiful children. There is no judgement. I don't think men consider judging other men about their children because there is an assumption, in my view, that there is a woman somewhere who is carrying the child care and domestic burden. 

The questions I get the most is "how do you work and travel with small children?" I don't think a man in the same circumstance would get this question. I'm not sure Arran ever gets this question when he is away for the weekend, riding his bike in the middle of nowhere. Will any of his mate's acknowledge or even wonder who is looking after his two boys when he does Tour Divide in June this year? Men seem to acknowledge that it's hard at home with small kids and they will have to "pay" when they get home from a work trip. There seems to be a belief that the man will be in a "points" deficit when he gets back but there is no issue with him working long hours or having to travel away from home. It's ok because there is a woman around and she is expected to look after the kids and tend to the home, whether she works outside the home or not.

I get questions like "how does your husband cope?" Firstly, no one asks me that question when Arran goes away! I am just expected to cope. Secondly, I think it's also offensive to Arran and to men, who are completely capable of looking after kids if only women would just let them. 

When I have to travel for work of course I miss Aiden and Charlie, and they miss me. There are lots of "mum, mum, mums..." from Charlie when I'm not there and lots of "Where's Mummy" from Aiden. I try to do a few things to make the days I'm away a little easier for Arran, who has to take the burden of getting them to and from childcare, caring for them if they are sick and feeding them, dressing them, bathing them and generally making sure they are ok. 

But I enjoy the time away too. How shocking! What kind of mother am I? I enjoy hopping on a plane in my freshly dry-cleaned work clothes free of drool and jam. I like having a little time to myself to read a magazine. I enjoy having a hotel bed all to myself without the chance of being woken by a screaming child and having to fling myself out of bed in the small hours of the morning, to replace a dummy before the crying escalates so much that it will take 30 minutes to settle him down. I like just having to do my own hair and get myself dressed. I like eating breakfast alone in the hotel restaurant or a nearby cafe. I like not having to get up and down a hundred times to tend to some small child's need during said breakfast and then rush them to daycare. I'm sure my male colleagues who travel also enjoy such things. And I like coming home again. Actually the time I came home to a vomiting bug wasn't great....anyway you get the point.

I love my work and the company I work for. I also enjoy working with men. I have always worked in more industrial businesses which have tended to be more male dominated. I often find myself as the only woman in the meeting. I like these businesses because they are practical and down to earth, and I feel like what I do can make a difference. That's all very well but driving innovation and creativity in businesses requires diversity of thought and that I believe requires diversity in the employee group. Different ages, different experiences, different cultural and religious backgrounds, different ways of working, and men and women in different roles across the organisation. 

Inspire me

I wanted this post to be an observation of what I experience at work, as a woman and as a woman with children. I wanted it to be thought provoking and a conversation starter. I asked Arran to read the post before I put it live on the blog, mainly because I didn't want the post to be too critical. I love my job and our workplaces are what they are, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be challenged and continue to evolve to be places where every person can contribute and be valued, not matter their personal circumstances.

After reading this post Arran and I had a really good conversation about his experience at work and how his responsibilities looking after our beautiful boys are perceived. It's not just women who are struggling. Men who want to contribute equally to looking after their children find it hard in the workplace as well. He suggested I write a follow up post about this but I had a better idea. Arran is an accomplished writer. He writes his own blog called Musings of a Wannabe Racer and has written articles on mountain bike riding for many print and online magazines.

Arran is going to be a guest writer on this blog next week, giving his view of how people in his organisation view his want and need to care for our children equally. Stay posted!

Develop me

Great TED talk from Hanna Rosin on the crisis for men and the rise of women.

Just for me

If you happen to me a mum, like me, you might like this blog called Fox in Flats. It's a fun and inspiring blog to help you to be stylish. Not everything needs to be serious! Enjoy!