Featured! The First 90 Days: 5 Suggestions to Help New Hires

I recently contributed an article for TrainingIndustry.com’s blog and wanted to share it with my readers. Please visit this link.

If you are a leader, mid-career or otherwise and want to set your new hires up for success, then this is the article for you! Alternatively, if you want to consider how you, the individual, can be successful walking into a new role, there are a few nuggets of high-quality information that can prepare you for the first 90 days. Factoring in your supervisor’s perspective can be very enlightening and advantageous. Happy reading!

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Navigating the Office Dress Code

Navigating the Office Dress Code

We have all heard the advice to dress to impress. In the job hunt process, this lesser considered step in preparation can have a big impact on your professional perception.

It takes only a tenth of a second to form an impression of a complete stranger from just the appearance of their face and cues from their nonverbal behaviors. The majority of people form an opinion on others within the first minute of their introduction. In the face of a job interview this makes the process even more competitive.

Office culture and employer dress codes can often feel as though you are navigating the battlefield trenches. Have you ever stared deeply into your closet with no certainty or confidence for what you should be wearing? In many cases we wonder what actually defines business formal from business casual? For past generations of workforces this subject was not as complex, professionalism once had a uniformed appearance. Today, there are many more creative jobs, digital start-ups, internet companies, shared work spaces, and a rise of on-trend offices. All complicating the question of what attire fits most appropriately for my place of employment. Of course, dress codes will vary across locations, positions, lines of work and company cultures. Eventually you go from interviewee to proud employee and decoding the dress code comes more natural with ease. As a prospect or candidate for a desired position, crafting the perfect professional image can feel daunting. Beyond receiving an employee handbook (which often comes once we accept an offer), defining professional dress code and company culture is ambiguous. Imagine if we wasted less time worrying about what to wear and focused more of our energy on preparing to sell ourselves for a position.

The Five Most Common Office Dress Codes in Job Listings

Business Formal

Always dress Business Formal for interviews. Use your best judgement when including subtle pops of personality. Men should wear a two or three-piece suit in a neutral or dark color along with a plain (white) formal shirt, solid tie, cufflinks (or watch) and black/brown shoes (your belt should match your shoes). For the ladies, A pantsuit or skirt-suit is suggested, complimented with a button-down blouse, modest accessories (small, fine jewelry), dark tights and a closed-toe heel.

Business Professional

When dressing for any position you want to avoid dressing more than one tier above your respective office dress code, this will avoid an overdressed feeling. Dark colored suits, formal shirts and conservatively-patterned ties are acceptable options for men in a Business Professional setting. For women, conservative length skirts with solid colored blouses and neutral-tone accessories are most common.

Business Casual

Business Casual is the most commonly misconstrued dress code. Casual does not mean leggings, denim nor athleisure wear. This business setting is more versatile in terms of color, prints and pops of personality. Men can be comfortable in formal shirts in any color/pattern. Sweaters and cardigans are comfortable alternatives to a dress shirt. Ties are optional and chinos are a nice substitute for dress slacks. For women, a Business Casual environment is more inviting of statement jewelry, flat footwear and loafers.

Small Business Casual

Small Business Casual is very similar to Business Casual with a more creative flair. Differences include, the ability to wear denim (dark colored), open toe footwear (nice sandals), well-kept sneakers, as well as polo shirts or collarless shirting. Small Business Casual allows room for aspects of personal style and individual personality. Although as professionals we must remain conscious of becoming too relaxed with our image.

Creative

Creative Dress Codes are the most undefined. Specific niche dress codes will depend on the specific culture and field of the company. Trendy fashion items including layers and stylish accessories are acceptable. Although sneakers and T-shirts are also acceptable, your clothing should always be wrinkle free, appropriate in size/fit, and of course, clean.

Even the most prepared candidates who research the prospective role as well as the company background, will commonly forget to consider the office dress code. While at an office, either for a tour, to drop off a resume or for your interview rounds, be sure to get a sense for what others are wearing.  That said, no matter how formal or informal, you should prioritize comfort, fit and confidence, first impressions are powerful. Your potential employer is not only looking for candidates who fit a skill set but also seek individuals who embody a positive energy (a well-tailored outfit and a sharp pair of shoes might be the dignified suit of armor to empower you on interview day).

Quick ways to gain the insights on company dress codes prior to your interview

  • Be Observant. If you know someone already employed, use them as a resource. Take note of what others in the company are wearing on a daily basis.
  • Explore the company’s social accounts. Here you can gain a perspective for the culture and day-to-day office life. Employee headshots are often formal and don’t depict the true standards of dress for that business.
  • Visit the surroundings of the office. Watching people pass through the lobby or an employee parking lot will give you a better sense for what people are wearing.

T.M.Lewin, London-based tailors established in 1898, have been historically recognized for their invention of the “coat shirt,” the first shirt to feature buttons down the entire front of the garment. Fashions have surely changed since then; the dress shirt has cemented itself as a true staple in professionalism. The T.M.Lewin have embraced this connection and are seen to be experts in office-ready work-wear. T.M.Lewin a helpful guide to help us Crack The Office Dress Codes allowing aspiring professionals to navigate the working world with style and ease. If you happen to be in need of an impressive look for your upcoming interview or first day on the job; T.M.Lewin has a premier selection of men’s shirts and timeless blouses for the ladies.

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Conduct a Job Analysis, Get the Salary you Want

Conduct a Job Analysis, Get the Salary you Want

As a trained salary negotiation facilitator, I’ve presented facts, resources and strategies to many individuals across the globe to help them enter into and walking away successfully from negotiation conversations. Today, I want to provide a tool, the job analysis, specifically for professionals who want to remain with their current organization but know in their hearts and minds that they deserve a raise or recognition for the work and results they contribute.

The job analysis is a resource I used to uncover what I wanted and needed next in my career. Between Spring 2013 and Spring 2015, my department had been through several leadership changes, the loss and subsequent increase in new staff members, and an increase in expectations not only from our senior leadership but also the media regarding best practices in our field.

Needless to say, we were under the microscope and we all needed to step back, assess what our jobs are and should be, and determine our individual investments in the future of the department. So in the Spring 2015, my company’s HR department asked that all staff in my department complete a job analysis.

What is a job analysis you ask? Well, a broad strokes definition of the two parts are:

Part I: A detailed examination of what your work requires
Part II: A detailed examination of how it is working

The 2 Parts of a Job Analysis

Part I: A detailed examination of what your work requires

In the first part of a job analysis, you give a detailed examination of the

  • tasks that make up a job,
  • the conditions under which they are performed, and
  • what the job requires in terms of potential for achievement, behavior characteristics, knowledge, skills, and the physical condition of you, the employee.

Part II: A detailed examination of how it is working

The second part of the job analysis includes:

  • determination of the most efficient methods of doing a job,
  • enhancement of the employee’s job satisfaction,
  • improvement in training methods,
  • development of performance measurement systems, and
  • matching of job-specifications with the person-specifications in employee selection.

At first I could only think about how completing this exercise would serve the institution. But later I realized that it was helping me learn more about what I need and want out of my role and, ultimately my career. In salary and raise negotiations, it is imperative that we first consider our needs. Then we consider what the market is willing to pay us. It is the combination of those two factors that give us the foundation for a productive conversation with our current or future employer.

What the Job Analysis Showed Me
I’d never had the opportunity to spend this much mindful consideration about how and where I was spending my time in my current role. It showed me that I had outgrown the work. I realized I like being part of strategic conversations, but I wasn’t able to in my current role. And at a time when the institution was reconfiguring positions, the job analysis gave me the courage to talk about what I was discovering with my supervisor. When my supervisor later reviewed the results of my job analysis, she agreed that I had outgrown the position and offered me a promotion for a position that had been written into the budget but she had waited to fill. I even had the opportunity to help her write the job description, pick my title, and advocate for the work I would do in the role!

Because the job analysis is an objective, deliberate evaluative process, the exercise productively moved me away from the negativity surrounding my professional situation. Evaluation happens for most professionals either at both the mid-year or end-of-year mark. But I highly recommend that you complete this exercise now (no better time than the present) and prior to at least one of your evaluations.

Get your step-by-step job analysis Guide
Ready to dive in?! Sign up for my newsletter and receive my step-by-step guide, Raise Your Awareness, Raise Your Salary today.

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Top 5 Mistakes Smart Employees Make and How to Avoid Them

Top 5 Mistakes Smart Employees Make and How to Avoid Them

Smart people make mistakes. We are human after all so what are some ways that we can mitigate mistakes? See my five tips below both from personal experience as well as from my observations of others in the workplace.

1. Not actively reflecting on goals and experiences. I know this can be a daunting task for many but by not doing so, you may end up choosing a field that does not match your personality, goals, natural insights or ways of working. Smart employees are focused employees who make a transition and seek opportunities for advancement based on what will truly make them happy both personally and professionally.

2. Not asking. Considering that the worst answer to most questions that advocate for what you want professional is “No,” I consistently advise on how to prepare for the ask, whatever it may be. Women especially fall victim to not asking because of the fearing of asking for what they want. Practice speaking up and clearly write down your reasons for making the ask so you can establish a solid foundation for speaking up. Finally, practice your pitch, considering all options and possible responses to increase your confidence. Confident employees are smart employees.

3. Not being able to identify and curtail demonstrating passive aggressive behaviors. Fellow professionals are able to see right through your fake kindness and collaborative persona. The last thing you want is to spoil your reputation with your most first degree network, resulting in ill feelings towards working with you. Smart employees pause first to consider the implications of what you write in your emails, opt whenever possible to have face-to-face conversations with coworkers instead and step away from a situation for a moment to neutralize your emotions and be productive and rationale in your response perhaps a few hours or day later when you have had the chance to cool down.

4. Not developing patience in times of transition. It is not fun waiting for the sun to shine but digging in and trudging through can really demonstrate commitment, dedication and your willingness to be uncomfortable with uncertainty. Knowing how to transcend uncertainty and still thrive in your own career and development will provide you with a great deal of content for future interviews and will build resilience—a skill every smart employee needs.

5. Neglecting to build community. It is important to be present and to access the resources that will keep you fresh and engaged with the people who care about the same things, personally and professionally, that you do. Your network is your greatest asset and your personal growth is just as important as your professional growth. Why not be smart and do it at the same time! Join the company softball team, organize meet and greets on your campus, volunteer for a local organization such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters or the local humane society.

 

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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Take a Break. Create!

Take a Break. Create!

Several months ago, I challenged myself to do something creative for an hour, every day for a week. I did this because I felt, at the time, a lack of productivity. Even though I was getting a lot done in my professional and personal lives, I felt drained and needed inspiration. Looking back, I realized the gains that one week brought me (many times over) to this day.

Gain #1: I now prioritize including breaks for myself in the day. I used to spend every moment of free time I had in between student appointments and meetings trying to get through my to-do list and was completely drained. The excitement I felt for the creative journey and this challenge allowed me to focus on something each day for myself. I shared with my coworkers and friends what project I was working on each day. It is amazing how a challenged allowed me to create space for reflection and fun. I felt like a more joyous person because of these efforts.

Gain #2: Creativity centered me. By tapping into a part of myself that I had previously lost, I felt like me again. Creativity unleashes a thinking side of you that no other activity can. I am not completely knowledge in the science of this; however, my lived experience sent the message loud and clear that I need to take breaks and create more often than just get through my to-do list. Productivity and success meant more to me than a list I was able to check off.

Gain #3: I am a social person who can create with others and also by myself. The key to holistic creative momentum is to spend time creating on your own and to understand yourself enough to invite people into your experience. The creative pieces you produce become more meaningful when shared. I was blending my personal passions and interests with my professional capacities. This felt “right” to me. Plus, as I said above, I was able to inspire others to be creative by telling them what resources I discovered. I felt like I was more interesting to them and I got to flex my educator muscle, build community in my office and inspire others to experiment with their creative side!

So now you are wondering what activities I actually did, correct?! Here you go. I encourage you to try some of mine, come up with your own and share them with me. I am always up for a creative adventure experiment!

Monday: To get started, I asked a friend who always has an idea for a challenge or a fun activity for some suggestions and resources. One site she suggested was Paintfont.com. Through this site, I was able to write letters and characters into a couple templates, scan the sheets back into the site and it created a font with my own handwriting! So cool! I use that font now when I am typing anything personal in a word document. It adds a nice, fun touch to my work and makes me happy…bonus!

Tuesday: Next, I tried to come up with five songs that capture my personality. This was tough as you can imagine because there are soooo many songs! What was fun about this experience was that it was a reflection exercise and also a throwback experience. Many of my songs were from the 90’s and early 2000’s (i.e. Des’ree You Gotta Be and Whitney Houston I Wanna Dance with Somebody…classics!)

Wednesday: This was my favorite activity of the week. I created an Imaginary Mastermind group of Steve Jobs, Lindsey Pollak, Robert Downey, Jr., Oprah and Jimmy Fallon (pictured above). An Imaginary Mastermind group is essentially a group of people you admire and to whom you can turn (hypothetically) to gain inspiration. It gets you out of your head as you contemplate a decision, build gumption to help you move forward or channel the qualities that you so admire about them into your own behaviors and patterns.

Thursday: Coloring!! I rediscovered my Snoopy coloring book that I bought when I first moved to MA and did not have much of a social calendar yet because I was trying to build my friend group and meet people. Not only did this make me smile and take me back to my childhood, it also helped me reflect on my last 2 1/2 years in MA and how far I have come since those early days in Western MA. Plus, Snoopy is an awesome dog!

Friday: My newest coworker inspired me to complete both a personal and career vision board*. She shared with me the concept of the law of attraction and the power of contemplating and visually positioning your goals to be able to remind yourself every day about what you want. It’s a powerful activity that also gave me the chance to get to know her better as we sat cutting out magazine clippings. Now, instead of just thinking about my goals, I had a place where they lived and I could view them every day. It is a powerful representation and reminder of who you are and want to be. (*Finishing these boards took several days- view my Career Vision Board below)

Saturday: I tried a new recipe. Pinterest was my friend this week as I search for activities and I found myself gravitating more toward the recipes posted, especially the vegetarian options so I tried the Crispy Baked Peanut and Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry (Minimalist Baker). It was amazingly delicious!!

Sunday: Prezi has this sister site called Prezume. I was able to visually represent my resume in a traditional Prezi format. They offered three templates. Through this, I tested an alternative resume option for students I advise in the arts and ended my week of creativity considering a new way to represent my own work and volunteer experience– a win, win!

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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