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How to find your fit in fashion
& accelerate your career
By Dione Bledsoe
Nothing Beats a Good Fit Nothing beats a good fit. It just feels right. When placed properly, people thrive, impacting the...
Recruiters Are Not Job Finders.
Rebuttable Presumption?
A while back, this article, Recruiters Are Not Job Finders was all...
Consider the Socks
It occurred to me that recruiting is a lot like
folding laundry. Some searches are clearly
defined from...
A Word for the
Choose your market segment and choose
wisely. Want to work in Fashion? Don...
Do you know what your strengths are? There are several tests out there.
I personally like Strengths Finder 2....
Self-Awareness Part 2 Life
Level Application: To Talent
What are your top 5 strengths?
Are you utilizing at l...
LinkedIn Groupie
How many LinkedIn groups are you a
member of? Two, five, 10? Did you know
that you can belong to as many ...
Remember The September Issue? After
months of planning and countless hours
of labor the September issue of American
Vogue ...
Last week a headline in Women’s Wear Daily by Sharon Edelson caught my eye, Joseph
Boitano to Exit Saks Fifth Avenue. As i...
The layoff. Few things are more unsettling. That
lurching sensation in the pit of your stomach
when receiving the news you...
Talent is not
DE: How does a resume tell a story? List your interests.
This is the only chance I have t...
For some middle management and senior executives private equity
has become a term that makes many a stomach turn and produ...
Consider Mentorship
Mentoring. What’s in it for me?
Funny how engaging in conversation can drum up n...
In case you missed it here are a few key
highlights from Adrienne’s presentation.
•	 Why the truth wil...
Will Private
Equity Get You a
It’s happening again.
A few weeks ago I mused on the current trend of senior
What would happen if companies spent a fraction of
the energy used developing consumer facing brand
culture on communicati...
In a sea of independent shoe reps how can you stand out...
What Should I Wear?
A question I am so frequently asked I’ve considered adding a secti...
No Response
Ever been on a date, thought you had a connection then never heard from them again? You texted, you
called, yo...
Thank You
Remember when your mother always reminded you to say thank you? “What do you say?”
she prompted. While most are ...
The last four consecutive searches we’ve engaged in
have required a relocation. The chi...
Call Me. Maybe.
During a recent happy hour a friend confided in me that
she is sick and tired of recruiters cold calling. ...
It’s less common today to see a resume with more than 5 years of tenure in one place.
Clearly there are exceptions to this...
a match from the interviewer’s perspective despite what appears to be the required experience. Why?
It’s not just about yo...
Perceived value: Do you have all of the experience required for this role or do you fall somewhere in the
middle. Your hir...
the industry to focus on the right fit, or is it better to get experience anywhere possible.
For this individual, gaining ...
search community for an unconventional approach, I have always held the belief that our profession could
be changed for th...
Hmm, I thought. You haven’t really answered my question. Is your goal to
attract more consumers or talent? That begs the q...
Engagement. You want to feel like you’re part of something as opposed to just a number.
In general, smaller to medium size...
I wouldn’t say I’m cynical but most of my close friends would say I’m not easily impressed. Last week I took a call from
Including an objective became passé when Saved By the Bell started
airing reruns. It’s over.
Essay Style
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL
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Fashion_Recruiter_Diaries FINAL

  1. 1. fashion Recruiter DIARIES How to find your fit in fashion & accelerate your career By Dione Bledsoe
  2. 2. Nothing Beats a Good Fit Nothing beats a good fit. It just feels right. When placed properly, people thrive, impacting their team, company and the industry as a whole. Sound lofty? The power of a proper fit illustrates why a candidate thrives in one environment and struggles in another. The fit is a good match for a company’s culture, team dynamics, candidate’s personality, purpose, skills and natural abilities. A successful placement is about more than matching a resume to a job description. I acknowledge the invaluable chemistry between candidate, company and team. Finding talent is the easy part, something that every recruiter should be able to identify. Most of my time is spent focusing on fit. When partnering with HR professionals and hiring managers I help them understand what they need and want from their future team member, leader and employee. This is not always easy. Often times we have one of two views; a highly conceptual notion of who this person is and how they will add value to the company or a detailed list of skills and qualifications. Neither is wrong but both are incomplete. In addition to a list of qualifications and desired skills I believe in understanding a brand’s heritage, company culture, team dynamics, consumer, and aesthetic. Finding the fit all begins with understanding and discernment. Part of my job is to help HR and hiring managers develop a comprehensive picture of the person that will be most successful in their given role and ultimately contribute to the success of the company. As an industry leader, executive, or CEO what are your goals and ambitions for your company or brand? I’m guessing you have a list of outcome focused goals. What about human capital? Who in your company is thriving and who is struggling? Who is missing? As we begin to look at our list of goals the answers are found in the people, the employees. What could your company accomplish if each team member was maximizing their potential and thriving? Why does the Fit exist? I believe that when people are in the right environment (for them) they will naturally impact their team members, company and the industry at large in a positive way. They will be loyal, content and they will thrive. I help hiring managers and human resource professionals take a holistic approach to determining who they need to attract, both qualitative and quantitative aspects. I encourage candidates to develop a sense of self awareness, know their purpose, strengths and to actively pursue personal growth. Here are some questions to get you thinking… • What are your goals and ambitions for your company / brand? • What types of people do you need to attract to your company to be more successful? • How will your company’s human capitol impact the industry?
  3. 3. Recruiters Are Not Job Finders. Rebuttable Presumption? A while back, this article, Recruiters Are Not Job Finders was all over LinkedIN. Nearly every angry recruiter was posting it like a banner of defiance. Can’t say that I entirely agree. As a niche recruiter, focusing in Fashion, Apparel and Accessories I want to know everyone in my industry. I encourage candidates to contact me if they have recently lost their job, are looking to make a change or simply want to be a part of my network. Why? NETWORK Instead of advertising my jobs I prefer reach out to The Fit network directly. If a candidate is a part of my network then I am able to contact them when an appropriate opportunity becomes available. I cannot count the number of times someone has sent their resume unsolicited and a few months later a client has a requirement that fits the candidate’s skill set. FIT One of the top reasons I hear for why candidates want to make a change is company culture. Tell me about it. I want to know the good and the bad. This information will help me to determine a good fit for a candidate’s next employer, saving us both time, energy and potential job dissatisfaction. I can also provide candidates with insight and direction on companies that may be a fit or those who may not. REFERRALS Although I am working on a set number of positions I typically know of other available positions in the industry. I also know a lot of internal recruiters and HR professionals. I’m happy to provide candidates with this information. True, I cannot help someone find a job. I think most people understand this concept. When candidates send me their resume or request to connect on LinkedIN I don’t think they have the expectation that I will actually find them a job. Rather they are asking for me to keep them in mind. That, I will gladly oblige. Gladly!
  4. 4. Consider the Socks It occurred to me that recruiting is a lot like folding laundry. Some searches are clearly defined from the start with well defined expectations, desired skill set and market experience. These are the easily identified socks, are you tracking? Others are vague despite a hiring mangers best intentions. A position may have a range of expectations encompassing more than one role in the traditional sense. This is more common in a small to medium sized company. We refer to this as wearing multiple hats. Or, the skill set desired may only be found in a select few companies making the candidate pool small and more difficult to identify potential candidates. Sometimes hiring managers are not entirely sure of what they want. They may have a conceptual sense of what they’re looking for, an outline, but have not developed a holistic sense of the person they need and want to hire. In these situations it’s my job to help the hiring manager determine exactly what they want. This is where discernment becomes critical. Piecing together the qualifications and personality to determine the best possible match is less than scientific and more about instinct. In these scenarios it’s Last week at 11pm I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom surrounded by socks. Late night laundry. Observing the massive pile of socks that lay before me I carefully determined the best course of action; set aside each sock until the matching counterpart was located. Only then would the pair be placed back into the drawer with the others. Some socks were easily paired, mostly those with distinctive patterns or logos. Others were not so easily matched. The all white athletic socks ranged in size and thickness, their more ambiguous state, proved a more difficult task to pair. As I neared the bottom of the pile the less distinct socks remained singled out in the area surrounding the pile. In the interest of time and wanting to get to bed before midnight, I was tempted to hastily pair them up and toss them back into the drawer. Instead I decided to stay the course until each pair was found. I hate wearing socks that don’t match. It just doesn’t feel right. It nags at me the whole day. not until after the first or second candidate is interviewed that the hiring manager is able to more accurately pin point the aspects of each candidate that they liked, or didn’t like. They begin to gain a clearer picture for themselves. This type of search requires more time, thought and again, discernment in identifying potential matches for the role. A fast food culture, the culture in which we live, the demand for “now” is ever increasing. The recruiter eager to make a quick placement fee at the expense of “fit” loses. A poor fit hurts the hiring company and the candidate both in the short term and the long run. Executive search isn’t about “filling a seat” there are plenty of staffing agencies available to fill that need, should your company decide to take that approach. Instead, the successful recruiter will take the time, ask the right questions and give careful thought to finding the proper fit. A strategic, well developed, customized, proven process is key while instinct and discernment are equally as important. Nobody wants to wear mismatched socks. The right candidate is out there, stay the course, find the fit. Consider the socks.
  5. 5. A Word for the Newbies. SELECT A MARKET SEGMENT Choose your market segment and choose wisely. Want to work in Fashion? Don’t apply at Columbia Sportswear. Your first employer can pigeon hole your resume into the types of companies who will even consider your candidacy for future employment. And the next, and so on. It’s a domino effect. We humans like to put people into boxes. I know you think you’ll be able to make the jump from The North Face to Nordstrom, and maybe you will but it won’t be easy. Why make life hard? Hiring managers like to see a theme of companies within a specific market segment. Down the road, consistency adds value to your resume and recruiters will be calling. Maybe me. Popular market segments include, Active or Athletic Apparel, Outdoor, Action Sports, Contemporary, Denim, Fashion, Intimates or Ready-to-Wear. IDENTIFY Identify 10-20 companies you’d like to work for keeping in mind the market segment per the former. What not to do: apply with any company who has a job posted on the internet. Sure, I know what you’re thinking, you need a job. Its tempting, I get it. A word to remember, equanimity. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Target only those companies you truly want to work for and eventually you’ll find a way in. Promise. Remember, your first and second job has the propensity to dictate your career path so choose wisely. NETWORK Let’s pretend for a self-indulgent moment that one of your well identified companies has a job opportunity immediately available. Great! Apply online, get the job and live happily ever after. Back to reality. That’s often not the case. The companies you want to work for may not I always feel a little guilty when a recent grad, resume in attachment lands in my inbox. I wish I could help you with your job search, I really do but I’m probably not the best resource at least in this stage of your career. You see, my clients engage with The Fit to fill senior level positions and above. This could mean anything from Sr. Designer to SVP of Merchandising. An assistant design or buyer position is a rare find on this recruiter’s list of Career Opportunities. The problem is I really love entry level candidates. What’s not to love? The creative enthusiasm, unlimited possibilities, hope and willingness to work hard and learn frequently is paralleled only to the joy of finding a perfect pair of jeans. Maybe. Maybe not. But the limitless hope and opportunity remains. I’ve made my point. The timeline of finding a job can vary depending on a number of factors. It’s best to blend your efforts. Combine the direct, targeted approach with joining appropriate LinkedIn groups and leverage your network. Don’t compromise on the direction of your career. Finding the right fit may take some time but we promise it will be worth the investment. have any positions available. That’s where networking and directly targeting becomes invaluable. How do I mean? I’m not going to talk about how leveraging your network is a good idea. That’s obvious. If you have a friend or contact at a desired company, obviously reach out to this person. There are plenty of blogs and websites that discuss this in great length. Instead let’s look at a direct approach to getting in front of the hiring squad. TARGET Start by identifying human resources and corporate recruiters within a desired company. This can be done on LinkedIn by running an advanced people search. Type in the company name and title (HR or Recruiter) and presto! A list of names should appear. Once you have a name you can then contact them directly via email or you can send them a message on LinkedIn provided you share a group. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Refer to LinkedIn Groupie as a guide to selecting LinkedIn groups to join. It’s free! I wouldn’t recommend calling or leaving voicemails. The ROI is about as high as direct mail and frankly, it can be perceived as a nuisance. Next I suggest crafting an introductory email, similar to a cover letter but more engaging. Get creative. Tell them who you are, what you do and why you want to work for their company. How do you personally relate to the brand? Are you and end user? Include your resume, link to portfolio if appropriate and then express your interest in future career opportunities their company may have to offer. You may receive an acknowledgement email response or you may get nothing. That’s okay too. Instead of sending your resume into the abyss of online applications you’ve positioned yourself directly in front of someone who has the power to interview. So while I’m not able to directly assist you allow me to offer a strategic approach to landing your first job. This one goes out to the newbies.
  6. 6. 1. STRENGTHS Do you know what your strengths are? There are several tests out there. I personally like Strengths Finder 2.0 and the Meyers Briggs personality tests. 2. CULTURE What matters to you? Do you prefer a more collaborative environment where team members share ideas regardless of level? OR a more top down – leadership lead environment? 3. TRAINING How about access to leadership training, continued learning and personal growth? 4. ENVIRONMENT Do you value an independent work environment or thrive in a group setting? Relaxed and casual – work at your own pace OR more fast- paced, structured and deadline oriented? 5. ADVANCEMENT OPPORTUNITY Is opportunity for advancement important to you? Are you aiming for a director, VP, President or beyond role? 6. COMPANY SIZE Size matters. Do you prefer a large, corporate culture with lots of layers and clearly defined roles and reporting structure? OR a more medium sized company with less layers with more flexibility and loosely defined role? 7. PASSION What inspires you? Which brands and product do you connect with? The most successful professionals work with companies and product that they personally relate to. Here are a few questions to consider at any stage of your career. Final thoughts… It’s all a matter of personal preference. There is no right or wrong answer. As an industry professional, it’s your job to know yourself. As a recruiter, it’s my job to know which companies will align with who you are. More on that in part 2. If you know who you are and what’s important to you, you’re more likely to identify the right companies that are a fit for your strengths, culture and passion. You’ll be more fulfilled and thrive. Ultimately, isn’t that what we all want? So what’s next? You know the answers to our questions. How about some life level application? Self-Awareness Part 1: To Talent Self awareness goes a long way. Whether you are casually observing the job market, open to learning about potential opportunities or an active job seeker, it’s always in your best interest to maintain a high level of self-awareness. By knowing yourself, your strengths and values you will inevitably save yourself a lot of time, energy and potential pain during the job search process. So how do we get there? Awareness to ownership to empowerment doesn’t typically happen overnight. But there’s no time like the present. Increasing self-awareness should be viewed with a sense of urgency.
  7. 7. Self-Awareness Part 2 Life Level Application: To Talent 1. STRENGTHS What are your top 5 strengths? Are you utilizing at least 3 of your top strengths in your current role? Which aspects of your role most fulfill you? If you’re not utilizing at least some of your top strengths in your job, chances are you are not happy. Identifying a role that taps your strengths is key to finding the right fit. *did I overuse the word strength? Yeah, probably but I do what I want. 2. CULTURE This one might be a little bit tricky. Talk to someone inside the company or a past employee. Ideally more than one individual. Also, consider your source. What type of culture does your source value? Are they soured or drinking the Kool-Aid? Your best bet? Talk to a recruiter who has an inside perspective of what it’s really like to work at dozens of companies in the industry. I might know one… 3. TRAINING What am I talking about? • Leadership training • Mentorship programs • Seminars or shows. For example, I worked with a candidate who valued the opportunity to attend materials shows where she could learn about the latest and greatest available raw materials and technology. Sometimes companies will publish this information but most don’t. Nike has a reputation for providing world class leadership training. If this is important to you it’s appropriate to ask HR at an early stage in the interview process. It reflects positively on you and gives the company a chance to shine. Or not. And then you know that’s not the right fit for you. Done. 4. ENVIRONMENT Independent vs. collaborative. Relaxed and casual vs. fast-paced, structured and deadline oriented? Again, this is inside knowledge but some companies have developed a reputation for their work environment. You In part 1 we asked a series of questions. Now that you know the answers let’s move from self-awareness to life level application. What shall we do with this information? In Part 2 we will offer up some suggestions on how to use this information to identify and discern potential companies for which you may choose to pursue. Final Thoughts… Did I leave you with more questions than when we started? Are you more confused now? It’s not easy to navigate the industry, identify those companies which we feel not only connected to but can also thrive in their company culture and work environment. If I know what’s important to you, I can quickly give you a handful of companies that you should consider pursuing. I can also tell you which ones you will likely be unhappy with. So what do you think? What matters most to you? know who they are. They know who they are. Depending on the market segment and product you can get a basic sense. Trend driven companies like Forever 21 will have a more intense vibe because their product and styles are constantly changing to keep up with a trend driven consumer. Makes sense right? 5. ADVANCEMENT OPPORTUNITY How is the company structured? Are they a flat or vertical organization? This is another appropriate question to ask HR. You can find out if there’s room for advancement by asking indirectly. Here’s how: • What’s the reporting structure? • When was the last time an employee was promoted? • What’s the average tenure? Or you can directly ask an industry insider. You’re the boss applesauce. 6. COMPANY SIZE As a general rule larger corporations will have more clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Meaning you may only need to focus on one part of the process. That doesn’t mean less work or responsibility. It does mean you will probably be required to work cross functionally and attend more meetings. Interested in focusing on one part of the process? This may be a good fit for you. A medium sized company will have less structured role and will allow you the freedom to get the job done with less red tape, less meetings (sometimes) but you’ll probably be wearing a few hats. If you like having more control over the overall process and more freedom this may be a better fit for you. 7. PASSION If your LinkedIn profile photo is you hiking through Peru my guess is you’re not going to be happy at Elie Tahari. But seriously, this should be an obvious one and yet for so many it doesn’t play out that way. Which brands and product do you connect with? The more you can relate to the brand, their consumer and the product the better. Your purpose is where your passion and talents collide. You know what you love.
  8. 8. LinkedIn Groupie How many LinkedIn groups are you a member of? Two, five, 10? Did you know that you can belong to as many as 50 LinkedIn groups? True story, LinkedIn allows each user to join up to 50 groups of their own choosing. You may be wondering, why on earth would I want to belong to so many groups? Spoiler alert, I’ll tell you why joining as many LinkedIn groups as you are able may actually help you find a job that is not posted on any job board including LinkedIn. I’m not saying that if you join a lot of groups you’ll get a job but your chances of being contacted by recruiters and hiring managers will exponentially increase. Here’s why. When sourcing a search for potential candidates I run an advanced search for specific titles coupled with a target company. First, let me back up and define the term source. Souring talent is recruiter jargon for identifying talent, or mining names. This is often done through a company database as well as LinkedIn. Before a recruiter can contact a prospective candidate we have to know who you are; including your name, title and current employer. At The Fit we source both our database as well as our LinkedIn network. Back to the sourcing process. Once I’ve identified a specific candidate I’d like to contact on LinkedIn I look for one of three ways to contact you directly. The first is your current employer. If it’s a well known established company I can often email directly if I know your company’s email format. For example, Dione@findthefit.net. Easy, right? If I don’t know the format I’ll check to see if we share a group. If we do, then I can email you through LinkedIn via the shared group. Lastly, if neither of the former apply then I will consider sending you what LinkedIn refers to as an inMail. If you own a paid account, which most recruiters do, you can opt to inMail anyone on LinkedIn which sounds super convenient and effective. A few things about inMails. Paid accounts have a set number of inMails that can be sent each month, sometimes 25, 50 or more so a recruiter must be selective in whom they chose to use these precious forms of communication with. That brings me to why being a member of as many LinkedIn groups as possible is a good thing. Sending messages to a shared group member or candidate is free; there’s no risk involved. That means that I am much more likely to email you directly if we share a group. See how that works? The more groups you join, the more likely you are to share a group with recruiter or hiring manager, hence making you more accessible to contact on LinkedIn. So how do you know which groups to join? A few basics. The most obvious, always join groups that pertain to your industry. Secondly, join appropriate market segments. For example, if you’ve always worked in the outdoor industry, joining Fashionista Café is probably not the best use of those allotted groups. Finally, choose a group that is specific to your job function or product of focus. For example, if you’re a handbag designer, you might want to join, Luxury Handbags. Patternmakers should consider joining Patternmakers and Graders group. From there you may want to consider joining a number of more broad and inclusive groups that cross market segments and functions. Obviously, joining groups with several thousand members are best. Chances are a recruiter or hiring manager will also be a member. I recommend being both strategic and liberal in selecting groups. It’s free, it’s easy and requires no ongoing maintenance. Will joining a group help you get a job? Not exactly, but it will make you more accessible to a hidden layer of jobs in the market that typically only executive recruiters have access to. JOB FUNCTION • Ecommerce and Online Marketing Experts (51,222 members) • Gerber Technology – CAD Solutions (1,378 members) • Retail Management (113,372 members) • Textile Designers (19,087 members) • All Retail Executive Network (53,156 members) BROAD FOCUS • Women’s Wear Daily (58,939 members) • Fashion & Lifestyle Industry Professionals Worldwide (156,777 members) • Luxury & Lifestyle Professionals (139,343 members) • The Business of Fashion (22,841 members) • Apparel & Accessory Jobs (43,052 members) • Retail Industry Professionals Group (325,554 members) MARKET SEGMENT • Premium Denim Jeans (2,237 members) • Intimate Apparel Professionals (3,547 members) • Footwear Industry (20,465 members) • Luxury Handbags (4,432 members) • Sports Industry Network (138,502 members) • Outdoor Sporting Goods Connection (15,718 members) • SoCal Action Sports Connection (5,832 members) There are literally hundreds of groups to choose from. To make the selection process easier we’ve listed a few of our favorites.
  9. 9. Remember The September Issue? After months of planning and countless hours of labor the September issue of American Vogue was finally complete. Anna Wintour’s response? “Onto the next.” In this moment I had a realization, while seemingly obvious yet nonetheless relevant to those who ever wish to seek advancement in their career. How easily and do we forget the massive undertakings, accomplishments and milestones in our careers? To some extent we live in an industry where it’s taboo to focus on anything of the past, never mind the previous season. Yet, does this mindset serve us in taking the next step in our careers? Probably not. It’s common practice at The Fit to thoroughly prepare candidates prior to each stage in the interview process. We provide specific direction, strategy and coaching tailored to the position, hiring company and candidate. Part of such preparation includes asking candidates to prepare a current or past example of each key objective on the job description for which they are interviewing. By preparing specific examples of current or past performance a candidate is able to provide evidence of their skill set and ability to effectively do the job. As opposed to an opinion based response of “Oh, I can do that,” real life examples provide proof needed to convince hiring managers that a candidate can hit the ground running; that they are proven in the skill desired. Additionally, by focusing these examples on accomplishments candidates not only illustrate their ability to meet but exceed expectations. During the preparation call the response is almost always the same “I didn’t realize everything I had done in the last 5 years or “It was difficult to remember everything I had accomplished.” Why is this? The answer is simple. As an industry, I Cataloging Achievements. Industry Faux Pas or Prudent Planning? might argue as a culture, our tendency is to downplay and often forget our achievements and quickly move onto the next task at hand. A job well done is often expected rather than acknowledged and noted. But if you’re looking to make a change to another company or simply want to move up with your current employer it’s critical that you document career highlights, successes and specific accomplishments. An employee with a well -documented career is highly more likely to win an interview, promotion or increase in pay. What employer can ignore the facts of a well presented case of past accomplishments? What am I suggesting? What am I not suggesting is that we all run about touting our successes to one another like arrogant jerks. You’re not likely to earn the respect of your boss or impress coworkers this way. What I am recommending is that you develop a career diary. Nothing fancy, a simple list will suffice. Every time you achieve some form of success regardless of the size or scope, write it down. You might consider making a practice of this at the end of each week. What did you do well this week? Did you provide coaching or training, improve a process, win a new account, etc. In this way, you will have dozens of examples to choose from when the time comes to interview ether outside your company or internally for a promotion. According to Anna, “Fashion’s not about looking back, it’s always about looking forward.” I agree, just don’t forget to catalog your accomplishments along the way.
  10. 10. Last week a headline in Women’s Wear Daily by Sharon Edelson caught my eye, Joseph Boitano to Exit Saks Fifth Avenue. As in the Joseph Boitano, SVP and GMM of the Designer and Contemporary business? Why would he abandon his rather coveted post after a 14 year tenure? Then I remembered, Marigay McKee, former Chief Merchant at Harrods, recently assumed the President post in December. Could it be new leadership? As I quickly scanned the article citing the reason for Joseph’s departure his response was quite contrary to my own assumption. In fact, he made a point of stating just the opposite, he said his decision to leave Saks had “not a thing” to do with the company’s new management. While I’m certainly not questioning the authenticity of his statement, the article got me thinking. As a recruiter one of the first questions I ask a candidate who is actively looking to make a change, is why. Why do you want to leave your current employer? Not always, but often times the answer goes something like this, “well they (the company) hired this new manager and… “ you fill in the blank. What is it about new leadership that causes so many to look elsewhere? This cycle appears consistent across the board without prejudice of level or function within companies both large and small. At the risk of over simplifying this rather complicated issue one supposition can be reduced to a common theme. People work for people. This assumption maintains truth on both sides of the hiring coin. I recently spoke with a candidate who left her job in New York for a company in Wisconsin. It’s safe to say that Wisconsin was not at the top of her list of destination cities. Nor was the role an exceedingly great one in terms of advancement or compensation. So why did she make the change? A former boss that she thoroughly enjoyed working with took a job with the same company and given the chance to work together again, this candidate accepted the job. On the flip side, I’ve had hiring managers request that I contact candidates they have previously worked well with in the past. The rationale behind both is simple, working with someone you know and work well with is a known entity. You know what to expect in terms of leadership style, skill set and personality. But it’s more than that. We spend so much time at our jobs; often more hours are spent with our team, managers and co- workers than with our significant others, friends and families. The people we work with can have a major influence on our happiness, success and drive to excel. Have you ever worked with someone who you just clicked with? Someone who motivated, encouraged or inspired you? This type of working relationship creates synergy; an intangible element of our working environment exclusive of compensation and even the larger company culture. It’s priceless. Am I saying that we should allow others to determine our futures? No, but when we find someone who we work well with, it certainly makes life on the job a more fulfilling place. What do you say? • What’s the value of a synergistic working relationship? • Would you leave your current role to work with a former (beloved) boss? • What lengths would you go to recruit a former co-worker who you knew was a great team member? People Work for People
  11. 11. The layoff. Few things are more unsettling. That lurching sensation in the pit of your stomach when receiving the news you will no longer be employed. A wave of anger, shock and despair set in as you collect your belongings and make your way to the front door. Why does the exit suddenly seem so much farther than remembered? It doesn’t matter if you sensed an imminent threat for weeks or the news surprised to the point of disbelief and outright denial. It’s never pleasant. I remember being laid off like it was yesterday. What will I do now? What will become of me? How will I pay my bills? Strangely the former surpassed the latter in great jolts of intensity. I realized in that moment that I was not nearly as important as I thought I was and that despite the story I had told myself, the company would survive without me. What? This new reality seemed impossible and yet there I was wondering what I was going to do The Layoff with the rest of my life. Sounds dramatic right? How often do we allow our jobs to assume our identity? I am nothing without this job I thought to myself as a wave of self-pity washed over me. The truth was I hated my job. I had been miserable for months and this new found freedom was just handed to me like a golden ticket to the chocolate factory; a place filled with unlimited possibility and potential. I just couldn’t see that yet. Thankfully, several years later I am grateful for that rather displeasing and unexpected day. I’ve thought many times about sending my former bosses hand written thank you notes for releasing me to what was without a doubt a blessing in disguise. That’s an understatement. With the immense round of layoffs True Religion has set in motion, I’ve received dozens of emails from freshly former employees seeking new opportunities. One email in particular gave me cause for pause. “Although it is never a good time to lose a job, I am eager to explore new opportunities, and start my next chapter.” I would argue that such a positive outlook, wisdom and joy is not the norm but rather the exception when one experiences the loss of a job. Admittedly I felt a sense of shame and jealousy I had not taken this perspective at least initially. A few things to keep in mind when experiencing the loss of a job. First let’s remind ourselves of a few easily forgotten truths. • Don’t take it personal. It’s just business. • It’s just a job and you will find another one. • You are not your job. Let me say it another way. Your job is not your identity. Examine your previous role with scrutiny. Make a list of the pros and cons of both your position and former employer. • Were you fulfilled? Notice I didn’t say happy. Happiness is a relative term. Jobs aren’t always easy or happy nor should they be. Happiness is often a byproduct of fulfillment by way of pursuing one’s purpose. Were you able to utilize your greatest strengths? • Did you thrive in the company culture and team environment? Were you challenged in a healthy way? Did the company and manager encourage you to learn and grow? What did you love about your job or company? What was left to be desired? Now that you are able to take a step back and objectively examine the evidence you will be able to make a clear and intelligent decision as to which roles and potential employers you wish to pursue. The reality which most of us chose to call home is that we would have never looked outside of the warmth and safety of routine had we not been pushed out into the uncomfortable. During the time of in between take advantage of perspective. Pursue perspective like a wait listed Balmain blazer. Maybe you’ll decide to venture into the rewards and challenges of self-employment. You’ve been threatening to start you own line for how long? Maybe you’ll choose the freedom and flexibility of consultancy. Or maybe you’ll compile the knowledge and experience you have gained from your former life and decide to actively pursue a role that’s really right for you. Whichever path you choose there is no greater fulfillment in life than pursuing one’s purpose. Choose your own adventure. “You’re the boss applesauce.” – Andy Warhol
  12. 12. Talent is not Enough RESUME TIPS DE: How does a resume tell a story? List your interests. This is the only chance I have to get to know you as a person. What are you hobbies? How do you spend your free time? List jobs that may not directly relate to the footwear industry. Most resume coaches will tell you to take any indirect experience off your resume as it’s considered irrelevant. Edwards disagrees recalling one candidate who listed ‘Park Worker’ under employment experience. As it turns out this individual mowed lawns as a part time job. “If this girl was willing to put on a jumpsuit and mow lawns she is demonstrating willingness and work ethic,” he explains. DE: There’s no need for an objective, cover letter or listing references on your resume. References are a waste of time. I’ve never called a reference. Who is going to list a reference who will say something negative?” Edwards argues. Makes sense, right? PORTFOLIO TIPS You spend a lot of time on your portfolio but don’t expect hiring managers to reciprocate. Edwards explains that you have less than 20 seconds to impress before being tossed in the “not interested” pile. DE: At Nike we would receive a huge stack of portfolios. I turn 3-4 pages to the left and right; about 15 seconds There are hundreds of articles online offering advice and tips on how to market oneself. I’ve read a few, some have value, others I might categorize as obvious fluff. I wasn’t sure what to expect from D’Wayne Edwards’ presentation on the subject at the Athletic Outdoor Young Professionals (AOYP) Winter Professional Development Event. Name sound familiar? It should. Edwards is the former Footwear Design Director of Nike’s JORDAN Brand. He ought to know a thing or two on how to effectively market yourself in a highly competitive footwear design industry. Edwards is the founder of the first academy in the US dedicated to Footwear Design, PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy. To say the least his tips were refreshingly honest, direct and attendees were glued to the presentation; furious note taking ensued. Edwards offers a rare inside look at what to do and not do to land the job. worth of review. This shortens the stack fast. 100% of your portfolio should be online. 50% printed. Include the following in your portfolio: • Table of Contents • Variety of projects • Video presentation with one or more projects • Visual communication that a 5th grader could understand • Website address • Use your name as your email address. If you’re using catlover85@gmail.com you might want to reconsider or face sudden death by elimination. PHONE INTERVIEWS DE: I’m looking for different things at each stage of the (interview) process. Aside from personality screening, I’m fact checking everything you said on your resume. If you list a specific program on your areas of expertise make sure you’ve got the experience to back it up verbally. IN PERSON INTERVIEWS DE: I’m looking for body language and how you articulate your answers. I always have other people in the room to observe the same. If you make it to the in person interview I already know what you can do, now I want to know you. It’s not all about your craft, you have to be a whole person. Talent is not enough. Design is the most scrutinized position in the industry. Millennials beware. Young people grow up communicating with 140 characters or less. Get rid of your phone for a bit. It’s all about the whole person. If you can’t talk you’re not going to get the job. Edwards shares a story of one young very talented designer who took 8 tries before landing the job at Nike all due to a lack of communication skills. THE IDEAL DESIGN PROJECT Edwards share his theory of the importance of being able to do multiple jobs. A contrast from the Nike mantra of stay in your lane. DE: 1 vs. 9. There should be 9 jobs demonstrated in one design project. Being able to do 9 jobs as opposed to one, will set you apart from the competition and increase your value. Include the following: 1. Design Brief 2. Branding 3. Research 4. Ideation – early concepts, visual storytelling 5. Prototyping 6. Solutions 7. Materials 8. Color 9. 3D Modeling 10. Rendering by hand & computer 11. Final – show me the finale, the beauty shot 12. Tech Packs 13. Packaging The ability to communicate well, demonstrate ability beyond the status quo and have a personality are all key components in marketing yourself. In an industry saturated with talent Edwards reminds us that talent is not enough. Want more straight shooting from Edwards? Offer to take him to lunch. That’s the only time he doesn’t work.
  13. 13. For some middle management and senior executives private equity has become a term that makes many a stomach turn and produces the occasional eye roll. The unsettling threat of potential job loss, fear of change and an unwelcome shift in company culture. Sure, private equity firms can add value by buying a tired brand that needs revitalization. While private equity firms are widely acknowledged as data and financial wizards many firms are realizing they need more fashion industry expertise on their teams. As a result many firms are hiring industry executives to deepen their knowledge and leverage their influence. Doesn’t it seem more reasonable to accept the suggestions of one who has lived in the trenches? Could this mean there is a new pocket of job opportunities for senior executives? I’m always eager to see where said leaders will land once departing their prestigious posts. Last week, Ron Frasch, former president and CMO of Saks Fifth Avenue, was named an operating partner at private equity firm Castanea Partners, which owns Donald J Pliner. One might consider if the grass is actually greener (no compensation pun intended). What if you’re not in line for the CEO throne? Maybe you have no such aspirations? Could this be the new corporate leadership alternative? What splendors can a shift in perspective lend a seasoned executive? Well, probably plenty. I often hear many executives express the desire to provide a more strategic view point and have the power to truly affect change at a high level without the politics of a corporate culture. A role with a private equity firm can often fulfill a desire to steer significant change and make an impact on long term success for a brand without the quarterly pressures of Wall Street. There’s opportunity to mend management problems or brand positioning. Feeling creative? 2014 predictions indicate no signs of slowing the private equity buying binge. As the industry continues to undergo major shifts in technology and eCommerce the demand for more new jobs within firms is likely to increase. If you don’t want to trade one brand or retailer for another, consider the private equity route. If you do, call me. Private Equity. Corporate Leadership Alternative?
  14. 14. Consider Mentorship Mentoring. What’s in it for me? THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS Funny how engaging in conversation can drum up new ideas and ways to approach a project or situation. It’s easy to get stuck in the same thinking pattern when the only voice we hear is our own. Often times connecting with a person less experienced can provide fresh ideas and an outside the box approach. Brainstorming sessions free from judgment of co-workers or managers. LEARN THROUGH TEACHING You might surprise yourself at how much you actually know when confronted with questions within your area of expertise. As we offer up our knowledge we learn through teaching others. Suddenly I’m reminded of something I already knew and can now put to good use. Ah-ha moments abound! NETWORKING You can never have too many friends. Having a strong working relationship with a mentee is likely to offer a valuable resource for future networking. You never know who they may know and where they’ll end up. Sound selfish? It’s not. All part of the value of giving, you’re likely to receive tenfold. PERSPECTIVE A friendly and often humbling reminder of where we once were in our own career. Suddenly all our problems don’t seem so challenging and life is pretty good after all. Common mistakes can be prevented in the future when recalling how a situation could have been better handled in the past. Have I convinced you yet? Ready to gain all the benefits of being a mentor but aren’t sure how to begin? Here’s one idea. Sign up to be a mentor with the Two Ten Footwear Foundation via Women in the Footwear Industry (WIFI). The commitment is minimal and the rewards abundant. • 21 hours over a 12 month period. That’s less than 2 hours per month! This includes: • 3 hours: Preparation • 12 hours: Talking / Meeting • 6 hours: Reflecting You don’t have to be a seasoned executive or industry pioneer to qualify as a mentor. Even if you’ve been in the industry for only a few years, chances are you have something valuable to offer and even more to gain. Who among us has not benefited from a teacher, mentor or wisdom from a friend? Throughout most of my career I’ve been fortunate enough to have some pretty spectacular mentors whom I admired and respected both within the fashion industry as well as civic leaders. I’ve sought their wisdom during difficult decisions, feedback on projects and big ideas. There are plenty of reasons as to why one should consider serving as a mentor. Helping someone else has plenty of value in itself. Obviously. It’s the right thing to do? Absolutely. So why don’t more people volunteer their time to help others grow and develop professionally?
  15. 15. Centered Leadership In case you missed it here are a few key highlights from Adrienne’s presentation. • Why the truth will set you free. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses; being honest with yourself about both. • Women are more likely to promote collaboration, inclusion and build consensus. These unique qualities set women apart so don’t leave your feminine side at home. Embrace it! • Crucible moments. Everyone has these character defining moments in life. What can you learn from these situations? • Tell the truth and shame the devil. • Know your value and don’t be timid in talking about it. • Develop your elevator pitch. You never know when you’ll be presented with the right opportunity. • Hire people who are better than you and that balance out your weaknesses. • Knowledge is power so share it with others. • Instinct is gold! Train your instincts. • Embrace the dichotomy. The beauty of “and” vs. the tyranny of “or”. For example, a sustainable line can be both eco- friendly and beautiful. True to Adrienne’s character a common thread throughout is honesty and authenticity. Honesty with oneself is not always an easy practice but always a winning strategy in leadership. I left with a few nuggets of wisdom and a sense of joy in fellowship. What’s all this talk about Centered Leadership? This concept is based on having a well of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual strength that drives personal achievement and also inspires others. It focuses on helping women maximize their potential in leadership. Being that I am biased to the female gender, naturally I’m intrigued. The 2014 Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition (OIWC) theme focuses on Centered Leadership. In support of this model they’ve offered a series of educational events that feature an executive from the outdoor industry who shares their perspective on one essential leadership skill that can give attendees success in the outdoor industries and grow their career. Last night the OIWC clan gathered at the Portland REI eager to hear guest speaker, Adrienne Moser, VP of Global Product Integration at Columbia Sportswear. I’ve heard Adrienne speak a number of times before and she never disappoints. Her authenticity, humility and sense of humor is always well received.
  16. 16. Will Private Equity Get You a Promotion? It’s happening again. A few weeks ago I mused on the current trend of senior executives transitioning from traditional corporate leadership positions to private equity roles. Glen Senk, former CEO of David Yurman and Urban Outfitters has linked with private equity firm Berkshire Partners to form Front Row Partners, serving as chairman and CEO — which plans to build a portfolio of companies in the retail and consumer sectors, Women’s Wear Daily reported. So here we are again. What kind of impact will this shift in leadership perspective have on the industry? How will it shape brands, innovation and design? 2014 predictions indicate no signs of slowing the private equity buying binge. As the industry continues to undergo major shifts in technology and eCommerce the demand for more new jobs within firms is likely to increase. Considering the new possibilities from the investment perspective how enticing will these new career opportunities become for the senior executive who is truly ready to make a change? How many companies exist without presidents, CMOs and C-Suite positions alike? With top level positions vacated a new crop of leaders will likely rise to take their place. As industry veterans swallow up investment roles does this mean an increased number of career opportunities for the next generation of leadership? Or maybe it means nothing.
  17. 17. What would happen if companies spent a fraction of the energy used developing consumer facing brand culture on communicating their company culture to potential talent? Earlier this week I mused on the growing trend of millennials taking a more strategic approach to finding a proper fit within the industry. Millennials are certainly not the only demographic who desires a company’s transparency concerning culture. If industry leadership truly believes that talent is driving their success why is there not more dedication to communicating a company’s culture? There has been improvement over the years. Most career pages offer at least a paragraph or two highlighting company history, facilities and at least a keyhole view of their personality. Sometimes these summaries feel more like advertorials than an autobiography. What if there was more? I’ve yet to meet an HR professional who wasn’t able to quickly and effectively communicate with some enthusiasm the climate of their culture. Honestly share the type of candidates who are typically successful and why people like to work with their team. Why then, is this valuable information left to talent acquisition and HR to communicate on an individual basis? The overwhelming majority of industry talent is curious. Tell us about your corporate vibe, work-life balance, leadership training, career opportunities both laterally and advancement. Transparency goes a long way in building trust with potential talent as well as preventing future misfits. Tell us about your challenges. Why wouldn’t someone be successful with your company? Why Do Companies Conceal Culture From Talent? Is the fear that being more specific will scare off talent? Maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe we should stop being so apologetic, attempting to appeal to the masses and directly target the types of talent we really want. Isn’t this the strategy most brands use when marketing to their consumers? Why is it any different with talent? If brands communicated their internal culture from a human perspective with a certain level of substance and detail would you be more or less likely to make an informed decision before wasting both parties time? How many hours would this save both sides of the interview desk, ultimately impacting the bottom line while preserving a company’s reputation? I realize I’m asking a lot of questions here while not offering nearly as many, if any solutions. While I have a few thoughts on the subject I’ll save those for next time. One thing is clear, is not on the decline anytime soon. What we do with that insight is the real question.
  18. 18. #StandOut ENGAGING IN SOCIAL MEDIA TO LEVERAGE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND In a sea of independent shoe reps how can you stand out in the crowd? Stand for something. What can you bring to the industry that no one else can? Simply, have a unique point of view. Do you have a distinct selling philosophy? Exceptional customer service that goes above and beyond? Focus in a specific market niche? Communicate your brand. Again. And again. Social Media is a free and easy way to effectively leverage your personal brand, the lines you rep and connect with new customers. Here are a few simple tools you can use every day. INSTAGRAM Since we live in a visual industry, photos are not only appropriate, they’re essential. Did you just get a new sample that looks promising? Snap a quick photo then upload to Instagram. Include a clever caption. Maybe you focus on a product detail or target customer. Mention the brand using the handle or hashtag. For example @CharlesDavidCA or #CharlesDavidCA You can also target potential customers who may have an interest in your product by way of mention, via handle or hashtag. Mentions create brand awareness for the product line, customers and you. I’d recommending using additional hashtags with keywords that relate to the product or caption. Instagram is easily searchable via hashtags and you’re likely to receive “likes” from users who are not your followers, resulting in more reach and ultimately gain the attention of potential future lines or customers. By promoting others, you promote yourself. TWITTER Twitter is one of the fastest ways to spread your brand message and create product awareness. When you upload a photo from Instagram you can also share it to Twitter. There’s a two-fer! Just leave an appointment with a retailer or wholesale account? Why not tweet it and mention the store or company? Include a photo of the retail space or product. Follow others reps on twitter, customers and the lines your rep. I’d also recommend following a few industry news accounts to stay current on trends. Remember to retweet a post you like, find value in or simply want to promote. The less it’s about you, the more it’s about you. LINKEDIN Be sure to join several relevant LinkedIn groups. Consider posting inspirational quotes, links to industry news and of course, new product. Sharing an update to your profile and posting in LinkedIn groups will increase your visibility. Your profile should be up to date, include a photo and clearly communicate who you are and what you do. This is a great place to include your selling philosophy or whatever makes you unique. By now you might be wondering, how much time will this require? Less than 30 minutes a day. The key to leveraging your personal brand is a clear, unique message. Communicate consistently through social media channels while focusing on others. How many other reps are engaging in social media to leverage their personal brand? Maybe you’ll be the first. #StandOut
  19. 19. What Should I Wear? WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO MY INTERVIEW? A question I am so frequently asked I’ve considered adding a section to our website. What you wear can set the tone for the interview. It can also have a major impact on your confidence. In an industry that thrives on aesthetics, branding and lifestyle your interview attire should be carefully planned. There are several variations to this answer all depending on the hiring company, position level and geography. HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE RULES TO FOLLOW. Never abandon your personal style. Ever. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. The more comfortable you are in your own skin the more relaxed and confident you will feel. A strong sense of personal style often indicates the wearer has firm sense of self. JEANS When is it okay? A lot of sites will tell you to never wear jeans to an interview. I’m going to challenge this assertion. If you are interviewing with a premium denim company, you should wear jeans. Just make sure it’s their brand. Obviously. SUITS If you’re interviewing for a President or CEO position wear a suite. For executive level roles like SVP, VP, EVP, etc. it depends on the company and the position. If you’re interviewing for the SVP of Design, I’m guessing you won’t wear a suit. CFOs however, a suit is probably expected. If you’re interviewing for a director level and below, don’t wear a suit. Ever. MEN Slacks and a collared shirt is an easy solution. No tie. No polos. I personally prefer a little more flare. Flat front slacks, with a fitted top (no collar) and a blazer. Cool but not too polished. Alternatively you can opt for slacks and a sweater. Choose your sweater wisely. LADIES Since women look nice is nearly everything we have a wide range of options. Slacks, Skirts, Dresses, blazers and a range of tops all work well. Just no pant suits and don’t pair skirts with blazers or you might come off as Murphy Brown. The 90s are over. Heels or flats are just fine depending on what compliments your outfit best. If you’re not comfortable in heels but want a little lift try a kitten heel. Don’t be afraid to accessories. Make your look your own. Jewelry, scarves and handbags are all part of defining your personal style and showing your personality. BRANDED APPAREL Whenever possible and appropriate wear the hiring company’s apparel. HR at a certain athletic brand once told me that when candidates arrive without a stitch of branded apparel on the first thing they do is take them to the employee store for a little last minute shopping. This is especially true for active wear and lifestyle brands. They want to see their logo or product. MARKET SEGMENT APPROPRIATE Chances are if you’re interviewing with a company you probably have at least some connection to the brand. Hopefully. The clothes you wear to a Nordstrom interview will likely be more fashion forward than to Eddie Bauer. Remember your audience. GEOGRAPHY East Coast tends to be more dressy and formal than their West Coast counterparts. Mid-West and everywhere in between tends to take into consideration weather conditions and culture. If you’re interviewing in Madison, WI you might want to dial it back a bit. Salt Lake City, UT, think active. Colorado, casual and active. Pretend you are the hiring company’s consumer and then incorporate the appropriate level of interview dress-up. You want to look pulled together but you need to look like part of the team.
  20. 20. No Response Ever been on a date, thought you had a connection then never heard from them again? You texted, you called, you Facebook stalked, you waited. Nothing. Maybe you spent the next few days recanting the event considering possible scenarios that lead to a lack of interest from the other party. Was it something I said? Maybe I shouldn’t have ordered the garlic chicken? While it could be any reason within the clockwork orange that is your imagination it’s likely something less dramatic. Regardless of the real reason it never feels good. Would you just rather have them tell you the truth? Maybe not the whole truth but something along the lines of, look I’m just not interested. Somewhere along the way this lack of communication has become the standard. The status quo no response has permeated the hiring process. How many times have you applied for a job online and never received a response? Worse yet, interviewed over the phone, sent a thank you and received no response. Worst of all, met with a potential employer in person only to never hear from them again. You thought the interview went really well. They even said they would contact you with next steps. Sadly, this is not an uncommon story. Oh if I had a penny. Has it always been this way? No. Seven years ago I applied for a job and received a letter in the mail from the company thanking me for my interest, praising my qualifications but politely declining their interest. Clearly this was a standard letter but still, it felt good and it brought closure. Did I mention I received a letter? In the mail? Not an email. A letter on actual letterhead. Why is the no-response a common practice today? There’s no simple answer. In this recruiter’s humble opinion it’s partly due to the shift in electronic candidate applicant tracking systems. This is when you apply online for a job and your resume descends into the black hole. But what about when you actually speak to another human? Well, that’s just bad form. Are we too busy to send a simple email thanking someone for their time with a polite thanks-but-no-thanks? It’s difficult to tell someone no. Rather than simply closing the loop we use avoidance to assuage the uncomfortable. It’s not right, no one likes it but it’s reality. Fortunately as a recruiter I almost never experience this. Feedback from hiring managers overflows with the good, the bad and the ugly. Could it be because they don’t have to deliver it personally and it’s up to me to relay the news? How do you handle the rejection or lack thereof? Give it a week, maybe two at the most. If you still haven’t heard back move on and let it go. The mental energy spent trying to figure out why will only consume you, preventing forward momentum. Do not take it personal. More often than not, it just wasn’t a fit.
  21. 21. Thank You Remember when your mother always reminded you to say thank you? “What do you say?” she prompted. While most are quick to offer the verbal gratitude for even the smallest gestures a proper thank you in professional settings have become confusing. When do you send a thank you? Is email appropriate or do I need to send a handwritten note? What should I say? While there are hundreds of blogs that will offer up free advice on how to navigate the thank you landscape I propose that you not only consider the how but the equally important why. First the basics. PHONE INTERVIEW • An email thank you is appropriate. If you don’t have their email address send it to the person who arranged the interview. • Thank them for their time. • Outline the top 2-3 reasons why you are interested in the job. You can weave in how your qualifications are a strong match for the role but make sure to highlight something about the company and include a personal touch. It’s likely that the person with whom you interviewed would be your manager. What did you like about them. Make it about more about them and less about you. • Keep it short and to the point. Do you like reading novels in email format? The longer the note the less likely someone will actually read it. IN-PERSON INTERVIEW Send a hand written note. I know, you’re probably already groaning. The hand written thank you is actually easier than the email and the response is tenfold. No more than 2-3 sentences including the obvious thanks for spending their time with you. Here’s where you can get more creative and personal. What kind of personal connection do you have to the brand or product? What did you love about the culture? Note something memorable from your visit. Avoid reiterating how perfect you are for the job. That part ended when you left the building. WHY GO TO ALL THIS TROUBLE? Especially considering many companies do not properly disposition candidates, engaging in the no-response trend. Thank you notes are meaningful and always well received. I love when I open my mailbox and find a hand written addressed envelope. It makes me feel appreciated and I almost never forget the candidates and clients who send them. For these people I would happily go the extra mile. Hiring managers are no different. This industry is about relationships. You never know where someone might end up. Wouldn’t you rather leave a lasting favorable impression? Even if you don’t get the job, a thank you note will set you apart from the impersonal hiring process that our culture has sunken into. Isn’t it the right thing to do?
  22. 22. RELOCATION. IT’S A TOUCHY SUBJECT. The last four consecutive searches we’ve engaged in have required a relocation. The chief challenge being the location of the company. Let’s just say that these cities have been outside of what the fashion industry might consider major metropolitan or industry hubs. Location aside each have been tremendous opportunities, offered great company cultures and competitive compensation. And I’m not just saying that because these four retailers are beloved clients. Frankly I would have not agreed to take on any of these positions unless they were anything but spectacular. Relocation is tricky. Typically there are two camps. The first group would rather cut off a limb before moving to a city that is not on either coast. Surprisingly this is not the majority. The second group is open to a move somewhere in the middle but there are usually conditions. SO WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER A RELOCATION? • There are no other relevant or desirable companies in your local area. This is true for locations that are home to only one or maybe two apparel or footwear companies. • There are no local companies hiring. It’s always surprising to me when a candidate has exhausted all local employment options and is unwilling to relocate. This happens a lot in Portland. I get it, Portland is a great city but it’s a tough market. If you haven’t had success securing a position at one of the handful of companies it might be time to look elsewhere. • You are presented with an opportunity that is simply too good to pass up. Promotion, ideal position aka dream job are both good reasons but I’ve seen candidates follow their former managers. People work for people. Money. Let’s be honest. If one or all of the said reasons align candidates always see a sizable increase for making the move. Money helps seal the deal but it’s never the primary or solo reason for a move. Change in lifestyle. Maybe you’re ready to dump your 3K/ month 1000 square foot apartment in the city? If you’re looking for spending power, a lower cost of living and a less hectic lifestyle it might be time to consider a relocation. WHEN SHOULDYOU NOT CONSIDERARELOCATION? • A relocation would be damaging to your family. Got kids in high school or aging parents? Stay put and put family first. • You are a member of the first camp (mentioned earlier) and would rather lose a limb that change your address. It has to be a fit. If the geographic location of an employer makes your skin crawl it’s safe to say the job is not a fit. Obviously. • It’s not worth it. Either the job or the company is simply not enticing enough to uproot. To the relocation nay-sayer, I might offer one piece of advice. If you are able and willing to relocate if the job, company and compensation align, consider interviewing. Remember it’s just an interview. No one is asking you to pack your bags today. You can always say no after the initial conversation. You never know what you might be missing out on. Should You Relocate?
  23. 23. Call Me. Maybe. During a recent happy hour a friend confided in me that she is sick and tired of recruiters cold calling. “Oh,” I replied, “they’re still doing that?” My friend, a 20+ year fashion industry veteran; we’ll call her Sally, continues. It went something like this. Sally is sitting at her desk in the middle of a meeting, crafting an email or working on a project when the phone rings. On the other end of the line is an excited, sometimes aggressive, sometimes nervous recruiter anxiously telling her about a career opportunity and is she interested? It sounds innocent and it probably is. Why isn’t Sally thankful for the call? Doesn’t she want to hear about available jobs in the market? Sure she does. So then why the irritation? The problem is that the timing is almost never right. Most offices are open concepts filled with listening coworkers. It’s impossible to have a confidential conversation. Maybe you need time to process the job opportunity before making an intelligent response as to whether or not you’re interested. Maybe you need more information and simply don’t have the time to ask the right questions on the spot. Your mindset isn’t right. Prior to the phone ringing you were calculating an important decision or making final changes to a sketch. Switching over to job search mode isn’t always an easy or smooth transition. You may not be as ready to absorb the information that’s being spewed at you. As much as we like to think that multitasking is a way of life, it’s not effective. The unsolicited phone call has become something of a taboo in our modern culture. With more convenient alternatives to cold calling like email, LinkedIn, etc. an unexpected phone call from someone unknown on the other end sets up the conversation for a bit of awkwardness to say the least. Back to my initial reaction and surprise that some recruiters are still employing this technique. From my days long ago working at one of the largest search firms in the US, we were required to have a certain number of hours of phone time per day. It didn’t matter how ineffective or meaningless it was; the more phone time the better. Ridiculous? I thought so. Even worse, the reason we were strongly encouraged to cold call was that senior management firmly believed as recruiters we should be able to verbally convince someone to pursue a job opportunity on the spot. Feeling disgusted? My reaction exactly. As a recruiter it’s not my job to convince you of anything but rather present the opportunity, describe the culture, and let you decide if it’s right for you. I guide at most. Never aggressively convince or persuade. Frankly, it’s unethical and bad form. I completely understand where Sally is coming from. I don’t remember the last time I picked up the phone and called someone who I didn’t know without a prearranged call with purpose and expressed mutual interest in conducting a business conversation. To that end, I personally do not take calls that are not on my calendar. Sound mean? I respect the time and privacy of the candidates I contact with the same respect for my own schedule. You’re probably wondering what kind of a recruiter doesn’t sit around on the phone all day. I don’t. I have a firm practice of only reaching out to those candidates who appear to be well qualified first by email. Then if interest is expressed I’ll arrange a call at that fits their schedule. It’s then that we can have a private, comfortable conversation with the upfront knowledge of the job expectations, company and location. I don’t like to play hide the ball. Let’s get all the cards on the table and have an honest conversation about their needs and desires. Then, we’ll talk about fit for the role in hand. Some recruiters may argue that email is impersonal. I’m not saying that all business should be conducted over email. Certainly not! I subscribe to the belief that more can be accomplished in a 5 minute phone conversation than a 94 page email thread. Most business relationships are developed through conversations, meetings and the trust that is established through said means of contact. In this situation, initial contact via email is just more effective, convenient and comfortable on the receiving end. So what can Sally do the next time she receives a cold call? Politely ask the recruiter to pause. Explain that you are in the middle of something and cannot talk. Provide them with a personal email address and ask them to send you an overview of the opportunity. It’s okay to ask for the location. For most this is a critical factor in determining interest level. Why waste time scheduling and conducting a call if relocation is not feasible. Not all recruiters will tell you who the hiring company is but it’s okay to ask. Thank them for their call. Tell them that if you’re interested you’ll respond with a few days and times that you’re available to schedule a call to learn more. Most recruiters will respect your request and be thrilled to email you alternatively. That wasn’t so bad was it? Now it’s your turn to weigh in. How do you handle cold calls? Would you rather have a call or an email?
  24. 24. It’s less common today to see a resume with more than 5 years of tenure in one place. Clearly there are exceptions to this rule. I’m aware of a handful of candidates who have more than 20 years with the same company. More with less than two years of experience within each role. Overall the industry average is around 3-4 years at one company. Why do we change jobs ever few years? Do we become bored, unchallenged, frustrated or simply looking for a better fit? There are many valid reasons for desiring change. We talk about most of them on this blog. The larger question is are we moving blindly through our career or do we have a strategic plan? I’ve spoken with several candidates who when accepting a role quietly and personally commit to x number of years before considering a change. Others who have a larger goal in mind and each position is a carefully planned step in their career. Still others who have stumbled upon an opportunity that was simply too good to resist. There’s nothing wrong with change. While most of us resist the things that make us uncomfortable, change is in many ways healthy. It causes us to grow. But again, there’s something to be said for the power of staying power. When I see a resume with 5-10 years of tenure within the same company, I know I have found someone who is loyal, dedicated and committed. Hiring managers never question whether this individual will jump ship after a few seasons or wait it out until a better deals comes knocking. They’ve got grit, endurance and the stomach to weather the storm through re-orgs, management changes and their fellow coworkers moving on. These individuals should be greatly appreciated and valued in their company. They carry an immense amount of institutional knowledge that can be passed on to incoming talent. Is tenure something you should pursue at all costs? Certainly not. If you were in an unhealthy relationship would your closest friends advise you to stick around? On the flip side nobody and no company is perfect. How will you decide when it’s time for your next move?The Power of Staying Power Every March LinkedIn reminds me how long it’s been since the inception of The Fit. I’m embarrassed to admit that I almost always forget when our anniversary approaches. This March we celebrated 6 years. 6 years seems like a long time although for many of you with more than 20 years of industry experience we probably seem more like infants. Everything is always changing in our industry, the pace quickens every year. Trends, mergers, leadership changes, new technology, the emergence of new brands while others shutter. There’s something to be said for staying power.
  25. 25. a match from the interviewer’s perspective despite what appears to be the required experience. Why? It’s not just about your skills, it’s about your background. Where have you come from? Market Segments: If you’re looking to move into the activewear space or already exist within this segment, determine who your top target employers are. Who are their competitors? It’s not impossible to make the jump between segments but remember that once you make the jump future career opportunities may be more limited to roles within this segment. It’s easier to make the switch from fashion to activwear or performance and outdoor. Not so easy the other way around. It’s a lot like models. You can get an editorial girl a catalog booking any day of the week. But, you can’t get a catalog girl an editorial booking. Rules of engagement. There’s some controversy surrounding outdoor and activewear being close enough to warrant directly related experience. This hasn’t been my experience. True outdoor and outerwear brands are less likely to consider the activewear and athletic market as a true competitor and vice versa. Retail vs. Wholesale: As we all well know there are different systems, processes and calendars associated with working in a retailer vs a wholesaler. Typically, employers want to feel confident you can hit the ground running comfortably in their environment. Size: If you’re working in a large retailer or corporate structure, your best bet is to find another that resembles size. The fear that most small to medium sized companies face is will someone accustomed to several layers, support and corporate culture survive in a more hands on, wear lots of hats environment. It’s a risk from their perspective. It may also prove challenging to achieve the compensation package with a smaller brand that may not be able to support stock options, etc. Aesthetic: This one is more subjective. This is where our egos can get bruised. Let’s say you’re working for a large retailer within fashion. Fashion can mean a lot of different things. Is a company in the luxury space targeting candidates in fast fashion? While that’s a more obvious example, think like the hiring company. Do they see themselves and your current employer as equals? This premise isn’t exclusive to fashion. The snob factor rings true within the outdoor industry. If one brand is seen as an innovation giant with superior quality, it’s less likely that they will pursue talent from a mid-market brand. Does this mean that once you’re on a path it’s impossible to make the jump? Absolutely not. It is however the path of least resistance. What’s more important is that it begs the question, where do you want to be? THIS Is What’s Important To Fashion Companies When Hiring When I landed my first real job at a fashion modeling agency as a booking agent I never considered how accepting this role would limit or advance future opportunities. Now more than a decade later one of the least enjoyable aspects of my position is informing candidates that their background is not a fit for a specific opportunity. Recently I had a conversation with a women’s apparel designer who’s focus was more fashion driven. Her desire was to make the transition into activewear. I couldn’t resist warning her of the implications this move would have on her future career opportunities. Neither bad nor good this move would have consequences open to the interpretation of one’s desired outcome. Last month we looked at a few ways to determine your ideal company culture and launch a strategic approach to your job search. This conversation prompted me to drill down further into the strategic approach for achieving your career goals. Let’s get into it. Today’s market is becoming more specialized. Declaring transferable skill set as an asset is committing interview suicide. What’s worse is wasting your valuable time pursuing roles that may not be perceived as
  26. 26. Perceived value: Do you have all of the experience required for this role or do you fall somewhere in the middle. Your hiring company will likely use this logic to justify a fair offer. Emotional: You have a number in mind of what you are hoping to achieve. Why? Is this a purely emotionally driven determination that has led you to an arbitrary figure? Rather than basing it on “I’m worth it, look to other factors that will validate your case. Why do you want this job? Is it about achieving a significantly higher compensation or is about something else that carries currency? Better culture, career opportunity, brand, product, etc. Market value: Is your desired compensation in line with current market value and geographic location? Risk: Are you leaving a job with security? Are you moving your family across the country? Once you’ve considered all of the factors weighed on both sides you can begin to develop an intelligent rationale as to how you have arrived at your target number. Being clear, concise and honest about the why will likely get you a lot closer to your desired compensation as opposed to coming in hot with a number straight out of the gate. By doing so, you’ll likely back your hiring company into a corner from which there is little room for discussion. Not to mention damaging rapport. Building a case for an offer is not a game, it’s an open and honest conversation involving both sides of the interview desk. Use This Tactic When Negotiating Job Offers Why is it sometimes so difficult to ask for what we want? Or what we feel we deserve? Money is one of the most common places where we get hung up in the interview process. We have no trouble selling our strengths, experience and personality. But, when it comes to the money discussion, we sometimes stumble. One of my closest friends is at the offer stage. Prior to her interview I sent her my standard preparation guide. Money is bound to come up during one of the interviews. There is a simple, elegant way to tackle this topic. When asked what you are looking for in compensation here is the proper way to answer: “I’m currently earning x$ base + x$ bonus. Total compensation is approximately x$. I’m very interested in this opportunity and I’m sure (insert company name here) would make me a fair offer.” That is all. No need to say another word. As a general rule, the first person to lay down a number loses. The interview process is all about building value in yourself and developing rapport, not making demands during the process. Nearly all potential employers understand that candidates desire an increase in compensation for making the change. By simply informing them honestly of what you are currently earning allows your hiring manager to begin to build what they believe to be a fair and attractive compensation package. You’re actually not answering the question, but rather responding with another question. Now the responsibility falls onto the hiring manger to speak first as to what they are thinking. The danger of blurting out what you think you want initially is that a number that is either too low or too high may take you out of the game prematurely or leave money on the table. Neither of which is desirable. Are some of you cringing at the thought of not coming right out with what it is you actually want? What will happen if I don’t ask for enough? The art of compensation conversations, notice I didn’t use the word negotiation, is just that, a conversation. Often it’s a learning conversation wherein the objective is a discovery of information. There are a few components to this conversation. The facts: What are you currently earning? What is their budgeted compensation for this role? Does your current compensation fall within their budget? Is there any room for an increase?
  27. 27. the industry to focus on the right fit, or is it better to get experience anywhere possible. For this individual, gaining design experience in a range of women’s apparel categories was critical. How does one know which companies are more likely to offer specialized vs. diverse experience? While cultural fit carries immense currency, achieving their desired career goals weighed heavily in the decision making process. When I landed my first real job at a Fashion Modeling agency as a booking agent I never considered how accepting this role would limit or advance future opportunities. Finding the right combination of career opportunities, cultural fit and brand association are critical. Today’s young talent seems to get it, considering all factors. So, you’re not a recent college grad, a millennial or just starting out. So what? How does this affect you? The bigger question is how will companies respond to the increasing demand for a well-defined company culture? How Millennials Are Getting Savvy About Strategic Approach I’m getting the sense that young people today are getting ahead of the curve when it comes to the job search. In the past week I’ve been contacted by two college students requesting informational interviews about the industry. In my ignorance I assumed their questions would pertain to daily life, advice for being successful and the like. While those questions emerged during the interview, the focus was clearly elsewhere. Both individuals focused the bulk of their questions around determining a strategic approach to finding a good fit. When I graduated from college most of my peers were concerned about finding a job within our field. As long as it came with a salary and benefits we were thrilled. Find a job and climb. That was the goal and that’s what we did. My perspective has changed significantly over the years as I suppose we each discover what’s truly meaningful. Ironically, more than a decade later I spend the majority of my time focusing on that simple, yet powerful truth; nothing beats a good fit. While I’m confident that the new crop of talent wants to earn a living and accomplish their career goals, finding an appropriate cultural fit seems to resonate at a louder volume within the millennial demographic. I’m hearing more concern over finding the right employer that aligns with their values, personality and lifestyle. New talent still values achieving desired career goals but doesn’t want to sacrifice cultural fit. One student asked whether it’s just as important for someone who is new to
  28. 28. search community for an unconventional approach, I have always held the belief that our profession could be changed for the good. Providing insight, making connections, offering advice and genuinely partnering with both sides of the interview desk should be part of the daily toil. That standard. Not the exception. But what if there was more? People are paramount. Fit is a necessity, not an optional side dish. As we move into our next phase I’ll likely watch the video a few more times to remind myself that it’s okay to be crazy. Sometimes. Here’s To The Crazy Ones Has anyone else been feeling a little crazy lately? I’m not talking about our overloaded work schedules. I’m pointing to that underlying sense of doubt, questioning oneself. Why am I doing this? Is this plan really going to work? Last Friday evening around 7pm I was planted firmly in front of my laptop deeply engaged in self-doubt when a close friend and industry pro who I thoroughly respect and admire sent me a youtube link to The Crazy Ones. Over the past few weeks I have been planning a number of new initiatives for The Fit. Not with the intention of financial growth, although should that produce additional revenue I’m certainly not opposed. Rather with the purpose of developing a deeper connection to the people who represent our industry. Unconventional and counter intuitive, these plans would soon become action without little sense as to whether or not such ideas would be well received, let alone successful. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to take the chance. Inspiration can come from many sources, but this one minute clip took the cake. It reminded me that it’s okay for all of us to be different. To want to change things. To at least attempt to overcome the status quo. When I entered the search business in 2007 I had no idea what it meant or how things worked. Working for a mega search firm the transactional business model was often preached and readily enforced. A high volume of calls over depth of relationships felt foreign and inauthentic. It became clear as to why our profession maintained an often less than upstanding reputation for being distrustful and purely motivated by money as opposed to caring for the well-being and best interest of candidates and clients. What on earth had I gotten myself into? Repeatedly in the principal’s office at my former job because I couldn’t swallow the notion of making 60+ mind numbing calls a day while my phone time was being tracked. Typically skipping morning meetings themed around overcoming objections, aka forcing jobs and candidates down candidates and clients throats. Why was executive search so opposed to a relational model? When I left the firm nearly 6 years ago I decided to give recruiting another shot. But this time I would do things a bit differently. A way in which I felt comfortable and that aligned with my values. While I have been criticized plenty by the
  29. 29. Hmm, I thought. You haven’t really answered my question. Is your goal to attract more consumers or talent? That begs the question, does an equal parts great brand and product translate to a great place to work? You tell me? As an industry professional are you more inspired by the brand and product they create or the culture in which you work? Naturally we gravitate towards product that we relate to. Particularly in the performance and outdoor market segments there’s an emotional connection to the activities we personally enjoy. But is it enough to warrant a less than desirable work environment? I suppose it depends on what drives you and what you hope to gain with a specific role. For the most part, the candidates we encounter want both a brand that inspires and a healthy culture. Acknowledging that no company is perfect, knowingly promoting a company that has a notorious reputation for turning and burning employees was not an offer I could accept in good conscience. A few days later two senior level employees from this brand reached out to me personally. Informing us that they are confidentially seeking new opportunities. Apparently the brand / product superiority was not enough for them. Brand vs. Culture We recently made a tough decision to politely decline partnering with a well-known activewear brand on a few searches. Actually, it really wasn’t a difficult decision at all. I had heard from a number of industry connections over the last year that the culture was challenging. That’s putting it lightly. Demanding pace, micromanaging, a revolving door of employees. Despite the rumors, I took the call to learn more directly from the source. I was curious, what was their perception of their culture? I always ask new clients if there are any rumors about their company or any negative perceptions in the market. To my surprise they were very well aware of their company reputation. HR shared with me most of what I had heard from candidates. She added of course some of the benefits of working for this brand, which while were not without merit carried more weight in terms of office aesthetics. Surprisingly unapologetic with little desire for improvement in the future health of their company culture. I wondered, why would someone want to work for your company? So, I decided to ask her directly. Her answer was simple, yet telling. It went something like this, we have a great product, brand and loyal consumer following.
  30. 30. Engagement. You want to feel like you’re part of something as opposed to just a number. In general, smaller to medium sized companies are a bit cozier with less red tape which typically promotes engagement. If you’re set on a corporate structure refer to Work-life balance and leverage your network to gather the information you need to make an informed decision. Another resource to consider is glassdoor.com. Sometimes you’ll find interesting comments from past employees that will offer insight. It may not confirm that the company promotes employee engagement but it will be obvious if they do not. PUTTING YOUR PLAN INTO ACTION By now, you might have 10-30 companies on your list. Now comes the easy part. Use the advanced search on LinkedIn. Type in the company name and title of the person who you would potentially report to. For example: If you’re a Director of Product Development, you would likely report to a VP. Repeat this step to determine your best HR or Talent Acquisition contact. For large companies, Director of Talent of Acquisition. In smaller or medium sized brands, HR director is more likely to be your point person. Once you have a complete list of names and titles to corresponding companies you can contact them directly either via email or through LinkedIn. Introduce yourself, express your interest in the brand and why. This is a great opportunity to include some of the reasons you were drawn to this company and why you’re reaching out. Include your resume. A paragraph maximum will suffice. Don’t write an essay on your career history and why you’re awesome. Keep it brief and to the point. You just made a strategic contact with a company you would be truly interested in working for. When the timing and opportunity is right your chances of being contacted for a role that aligns with you is significantly greater. Without the guesswork. Utilizing Strategic Search to Get YOUR Ideal Job Sick and tired of the shot gun approach to your job search? Why not try a more strategic approach? Earlier in the week we talked about the importance of knowing what you want before developing a plan of action. Whether you’re employed and confidentially looking or between jobs and actively looking, a strategic approach will cost you more time and thought but the rewards will be significantly greater. Besides, what’s the alternative? Applying online, otherwise known as the black hold of resumes. Let’s face it, this is where resumes go to die. Or, wait for the ideal opportunity to find you? A realistic possibility yet how will you know the role is right for you if you haven’t done your homework. Although this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, let’s work from a few of the examples in our last post. If you’re seeking… UPWARD MOBILITY Consider companies that are growing. If you notice a company is hiring a number of positons they’re likely adding new roles. Or, seek a company with a reputation for promoting from within. SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS OR MISSION DRIVEN Which companies in your market segment are publicly acknowledged for donating to charity? Aside from great product, which brands appear to be more mission driven? Obvious examples are: Keen, REI, TOMS, Wild Fang, etc. A BRAND THAT YOU CAN RELATE TO PERSONALLY This one is easy. Do they align with your personal beliefs, hobbies or lifestyle? SUPERIOR PRODUCT THAT INSPIRES Which brands do you admire for innovation, craftsmanship, or overall aesthetic? CONTINUOUS LEARNING. OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW PROFESSIONALLY. You’re likely to find more learning opportunities in small to medium sized companies. With less employees you’ll be given the opportunity to try new things and work in more than one function. With smaller brands you’ll get hands on experience. Some larger corporate settings offer training and development. Macys, Neiman Marcus, Nike are a few examples of companies that offer formal training programs. WORK-LIFE BALANCE Some companies have a reputation for turn and burn cultures. Others are more subtle. This is where you’ll need to leverage your network to find the truth. Who can you talk to who has worked there in the past? Be careful to not base your view on only one person’s experience. Talk to at least three. LinkedIn is an easy way to find people who have worked at your target company in the past. Talk to recruiters whom you know and trust.
  31. 31. I wouldn’t say I’m cynical but most of my close friends would say I’m not easily impressed. Last week I took a call from a young woman who was seeking some direction on which companies to target for her job search. While still junior in her career she possessed a deep level of understanding of the kinds of things she was seeking in her next employer. She knew what she wanted to gain through experience and was willing to find the right company who would foster these aspirations. Impressive. Most of us have at least a vague, underlying sense of what we desire from our work. Some of us are seeking fulfillment or engagement within a meaningful role. While others may have an aggressive list of goals and benchmarks we would like to achieve. Is it whimsical to believe that we can achieve our desires through personal efforts alone? If we simply work long and hard enough will we eventually reach our destination of personal satisfaction? Most of us acknowledge that we cannot do it all alone. We need the right environment in which to thrive. But what does that environment look like? How do we know which environments will be fruitful and which will drain us and foster resentment. This begins with some self-awareness. Rather than taking a shot gun approach to whatever comes your way, consider spending some time thinking about what truly matters to you. It’s not always as easy or simple as you may think. What matters to you? A few ideas to get you thinking… • Upward mobility. Opportunity for promotions. You’re looking for a career track. • A socially conscious company. Mission driven. • A brand that you can relate to personally. • Superior product that inspires. • Work-life balance. • Continuous learning. Opportunities to grow professionally. • You want to feel like you’re part of something as opposed to just a number. Once you have a firm grasp on what’s important you can begin to narrow down your list of potential future employers. Maybe it’s a combination. Even better. The more specific you can be about your desired culture and goals, the easier the process will become when determining fit. A company’s culture typically represents the people, systems, beliefs and scope of the overall organization. So where do you go from here? If you’re ready to develop a strategic search plan continue here for step by step instructions. Finding the Right Work Environment to Thrive In
  32. 32. OUT Objective Including an objective became passé when Saved By the Bell started airing reruns. It’s over. Essay Style Resumes are not minor cogitations. Clear, concise statements read well and without the text feeling overwhelming. Break up your points with the bullet style of your choice. References We don’t recommend including an additional page of references. When the time comes, you can simply provide your potential employer with one if it’s requested. References available upon request can go away altogether. It’s stating the obvious. As opposed to not being available? Imagery Debatable as to whether or not this was ever acceptable. Graphics, lots of color, photos, charts, etc. have no place on your resume. Communicate your experience the old fashioned way, through writing. Refer to Links. Cover Letter The controversy continues as to whether or not a cover letter is still necessary. My perspective on the cover letter is that if your resume is well written a cover letter is redundant and frankly, an extra document to read. Not time well spent. Most cover letters say the same thing. If they’re clever enough to have some substance they won’t sway my opinion of a candidate’s qualifications or fit for a specific position. One thing is for certain; if you opt for a cover letter it should be a separate document. Not combined with your resume. What’s IN and What’s OUT of Resume Design RESUME AESTHETICS What does your resume say about you? What message does it convey? In many ways the aesthetics of your resume are as important as your personal appearance at an onsite interview. A neat, clean, well-tailored resume sets the tone for a positive first impression. It may not come as a shock that we’ve seen a few resumes. A recent trend I’ve noticed is the increased use of imagery. Graphics, photos, charts, blinding color, and infographics have made their way onto many creative professional resumes. I get it. You’re attempting to showcase your creative talents in the hopes that someone will see your stunningly beautiful resume and offer you a job. But, that’s what your portfolio is for; use it. Even the most cleverly executed infographic won’t properly convey your personality or creative genius. It just looks messy. Even worse, it’s difficult for Hiring Managers, HR and recruiters to read. I don’t want to have to hunt for your most recent employer or job title. A resume should not resemble a treasure map. Most programs don’t parse graphic heavy documents. Meaning, your resume will not be properly filed and likely not found when searching for a candidate with your skill set. A few style tips for keeping your resume well groomed. IN Keyword Summary Strategically centered at the top of your resume is both convenient and aesthetically pleasing. Keywords also parse nicely. Bullets Breaks up bulky text. Refer to Essay Style as the messy alternative. Supporting evidence Percentages or numbers are a great way to prove your claim. For example, increased sales by 17% as a result of bestselling design. LinkedIn Profile The person reviewing your resume is likely going to cross reference you on LinkedIn anyway, why not save them some time and include a link to your profile. Links Have some work you would like to showcase? Sample sketches, designs, projects, writing samples? Include a link at the top of your resume.

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