You submitted your cover letter and your resume and you finally got the call; they want to interview you! Now what?? Don’t panic. Here’s what an interview that doesn’t suck looks like from beginning to end:
No matter how stylish, edgy, cool, or awesome the salon, unless there are poles in the floor, a bouncer, velvet ropes, and dollar bills flying through the air, do not dress like a stripper. Before everyone gets offended, being a stripper is a legitimate, money-making job, but there’s this thing in the work world called “dress for the job you want.” That means, if you want to be a super stylish, edgy, cool, awesome stylist, dress like one. If you want to be a stripper, dress like one. It’s pretty simple. “What should I wear, Heather?” Great question. Anything that is clean, unwrinkled, stylish, and doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke or food or anything other than clean clothes. Black is an industry standard and a color you can’t go wrong with (and, p.s., you can buy it in volumes at Kohl’s for dirt cheap in their clearance section). A cute, shrunken jacket paired with a black wife beater or tee shirt, black coated jeans, with black boots or flats is always a cute look. Not into the coated jeans? Pair it with a black pencil skirt and pattered tights. Most important, make sure your hair, makeup, and nails are on point. The salon industry is the fashion industry. Look the part.
Interviewing for a job is like auditioning for a TV show or a movie; go in there and give them your very best. That means smile, give a firm handshake (not a wussy, sucky, dead fish handshake, or that weird, wussy handshake that looks like you expect them to kiss your hand or something – so weird), lots of eye contact, and speak clearly and articulately. Rehearse if you need to. Ask a friend, a parent, or a trusted mentor to ask you some interview questions and then rehearse your answers. There is nothing wrong with being prepared. In fact, there’s everything RIGHT with being prepared. When we’re hiring, if someone comes in prepared, polished, and on-point, we’re interested. Want the job? Be that person.
Come in with a list of your own questions. “What kind of questions, Heather?” Great question. Questions like this: What are the qualities of the ideal assistant (or, whatever position you’re applying for)? Will I be interviewing with other team members? Who makes the final hiring decision? What does a typical day look like? Can you describe it? What made you decide to open your own salon? What keeps you inspired? Do you have a favorite industry icon? If you had to start your career over, what would your now-self tell to your then-self to focus on? By asking questions like that instead of, “How much am I going to make? Am I going to get tipped out? Can I take off the week of Thanksgiving to travel with my parents? Can I leave early? Am I expected to stay even if all the clients are gone and I’m done? When will I get my own chair?” When you ask the salon owner or manager about their career, their inspiration, you’re showing them that you’re not a selfish, suck employee. You’re building rapport, developing trust and relationship, and letting them know that you are a career driven, interested, team member. People enjoy talking about themselves and their successes – especially successful people – but most people don’t want to appear like their bragging. So, by asking someone about their success, you’re giving them permission to brag and to feel good about their accomplishments. #winning
After the interview
Make sure you send a real, handwritten thank you card to whoever you interviewed with that says something like this: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. I really enjoyed our conversation, and getting to learn more Salon Blah Blah and how it came to be was truly inspiring. Please keep me in mind if any opportunities become available at Salon Blah Blah. I would love to be a part of your amazing team. Warm regards, Your namn this world of digital, nothing sets a candidate apart like receiving a gorgeous Papyrus card (you can find them at Target) with a handwritten note inside. You’re welcome.
Here’s to getting the job and not sucking at it!
So, how many of you didn’t suck this week at work because of what you learned here last week? Hopefully, all of you. This week we’re gonna go over how to put together a kick ass, un-sucky resume. Ya ready?
Accurate contact information
“What does that mean, Heather?” Accurate contact information means your current telephone number, your current address, and an email address that you actually open and read. “But, Heather, I have like five email addresses that I made when I was like eleven. They’re all filled with spam and I can’t remember the passwords anyway.” I know, I know, so don’t give them those email addresses. Instead, go to www.google.com and create a gmail account that you use only for job searches. It should be your email@example.com, period. If that is taken, do your firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com (that should work). Just make sure it’s profesh, easy for someone else to type, and you check it every day. If you don’t want this email address to go to the email cemetery (the place where all the unused email addresses go after they’re filled to the brim with spam), don’t use it for online shopping, in store shopping, school, friends, or anything other than your job searches.
Let’s move on to your telephone number. Obviously, the number you put on your resume should be a telephone number where you can be reached easily – ie. your cell phone number. Make sure a.) that your voicemail message is a professional one, and b.) that if you don’t recognize the number but you answer it anyway, you answer it like a nice, normal person, not someone who sounds caught off guard, suspicious, or otherwise unfriendly. “What do you mean, Heather?” I’m so glad you asked. Allow me to provide examples of voicemail messages that suck:
Brrrrrrrrrrrrrringgggg: Voicemail picks up (latest pop song playing in the background is the first thing heard) then “Whut up? This is Alexis. Can’t get to the phone. Leave your number and I’ll call you back.”
Brrrrrrrrrrrrringgggg: Voicemail picks up (gritty, low voice) “Yoooo. Can’t talk. Leave them digits and I’ll holla back.”
They are both examples of unprofessional voicemails. I’m not saying you have to sound like your mom or some corporate drone, but sound like you want the job. Now, on to how-to answer the phone when you don’t recognize the number without sounding like you’re trying to screen your calls, avoid a bill collector, or afraid it’s your baby daddy’s new girl: “Hello!” Yup. It’s that simple. Just say hello in a friendly, happy voice. They’ll ask to speak to you and if it’s the job you’ve been waiting to hear from, you’ll sound happy and upbeat, possibly even excited, and they’ll hear that enthusiasm in your voice. And, if it turns out to be the bill collector you’ve been trying to avoid, you can pretend you’re not yourself (“This is her sister, she can’t get to the phone.”) or, if it’s your baby daddy’s new girl, you can go from nice to nasty in a hot second. #problemsolved
Here’s where you can connect all the awesome things you did in school to the job you’re seeking. Oh, wait, you didn’t do anything awesome in school? No worries – we’ll cover that in a later post. When putting together your resume, make sure you put your most recent education first. Now, I’m not talking about recent certifications or non-credit classes. I’m talking about official education; high school, college, beauty school, technical school, etc. Here’s an example:
Pulse Beauty Academy, Downingtown, Pennsylvania 2013 to 2014 Graduated: Diploma (received license from PA State Board of Cosmetology after passing both theory and practical exams in October of 2014)
Bishop Shanahan High School Downingtown, Pennsylvania 2010 to 2013 Graduated: High School Diploma
The most recent education is listed first with the credential received. The education prior to the most recent is listed after with the credential received. “But, Heather, I didn’t finish college. How am I supposed to put that on my resume without looking like I suck?” That’s a great question. If you attended college (or, any other school after high school) put the name and address of the school in the same format I did above but where the word graduated is put studied instead, and list the subjects you studied or the degree you were working toward. Then during your interview you can explain why you didn’t complete your degree. “But where do I put the classes where I received a certification?” Another great question. Certifications can go directly after the education heading and education content under its own heading: Certifications. K? Cool.
Your work experience
Oh, man, this is where a lot of resumes fall apart and really start to suck which really sucks because this is where your resume really needs to shine. “What do you mean, Heather?” Let me give you an example. Most people just list the tasks they were required to do at their job: sweep floors, greet customers, file, answer phones. “But, Heather, I wasn’t the CEO. I was the cashier and the stock person.” I get it, but was that all you were? Think back and answer the following questions: Did you smile? Did you help customers pick out costumes? Did you provide excellent customer service? Did you sweep the store in between customers? Did you Windex the door and windows when it was slow? Did you ask your boss for extra responsibilities? Did you come in when you weren’t scheduled if they asked you? Did you go above and beyond? (P.S. Pay attention here because this is where a superstar will stand out from someone that sucks because this is where a superstar will share all the ambitious, outgoing, kind, helpful, things they did while on their last job.) And, if you didn’t do any of these awesome things at your last job (or, your current one) then a.) you suck, and b.) at least now you’ll know how to shine on the job. You’re welcome.
Formatting your resume
Make it easy to read, don’t make it a cluster, and put it on nice paper (heavy stock). If you’re still not sure about what a great resume should look like, check out some sample resume websites like this one. Remember, you don’t have to be a corporate drone to get a job but, unfortunately, being super creative can sometimes come off as unprofessional. Finding the happy medium is sometimes the toughest part. If you want to know if your resume sucks, feel free to email me a copy of yours and I’ll let you know.
Here’s to another week of not sucking at work!
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine defines denial as this: a primitive ego defense mechanism by which a person unconsciously negates the existence of a disease or other stress-producing reality in his environment by disavowing thoughts, feelings, wishes, needs, or external reality factors that are consciously intolerable. In other words, a person pretends that a situation that is happening in their lives isn’t really happening at all. Oddly enough, however, the very mechanism people in denial use to protect themselves is the very thing that prevents them from actually helping themselves.
Considered one of the most primitive of the defense mechanisms and one of the most frequently used by individuals with an undeveloped, or immature, ability to cope with reality, denial is also usually accompanied by regression (“If I don’t think about it, it’s not real.”) and people existing in a constant state of denial and regression can pay a high price mentally, emotionally, and socially. With such harmful repercussions as a result, why do people choose to exist within these mechanisms? Sigmund Freud, the armchair psychologists psychologist, claimed that in order to reduce feelings of anxiety, human beings are driven towards rationalization. Saul McCloud, a teaching assistant at the University of Manchester, concurred stating that rationalization is the cognitive distortion of “the facts” to make an event or an impulse less threatening, or to protect the person’s self-esteem. It’s the conversation that plays out like this:
“My husband (or wife) does this (or that) behavior (or thing) repeatedly and makes me (or our family, himself, herself) look bad not because he (or she) doesn’t love me (or our family, himself, herself) but because (insert lame, overused excuse here).”
If you, or someone you know, lives in denial, you’ve heard statements similar to that one that may be about the person’s job, their family, their friends, their kid’s friend’s parents; however, most people, when making excuses like that for themselves, rationalize on a fairly conscious level. McCloud had this to say about those individuals, “For many people, with sensitive egos, making excuses comes so easy that they never are truly aware of it. In other words, many of us [they] are quite prepared to believe our [their] lies.” Sounds like a recipe for disaster for the friends and family who aren’t prepared to believe the lies. So, what are they to do when confronted with the denial and rationalization of a loved one or colleague? It’s an area where, according to another mental health professional, they had better tread lightly.
Michelle Aycock, a licensed psychotherapist and contributor for the Savannah Morning News, wrote about the impact of denial on relationships in a recent online article. Highlighting the difficulties of having a relationship with a person in denial because of the inability to confront the individual (due to the fear of repercussions), she had this to say, “Some people enjoy floating down the river of denial.” In other words, you can confront a person living in denial until you’re blue in the face but the only reaction you will most likely get is continued denial (“Your face isn’t blue at all, it’s red.”). She offers the following advice for dealing with a person using denial as a chronic coping mechanism:
Don’t try to take on or fix their problems. As difficult as it may be, let them deal with the consequences of choosing to live in denial however bad.
And for the person living in denial, she offers this:
If people are telling you you have a problem, then you probably have a problem.
Is there any hope for people in relationships with others living in denial? According to veteran psychologist, Dr. Bev Smallwood, there is. Smallwood wrote in an online post that if the person acknowledges and examines the areas in their life where they haven’t been completely honest and then, with that same honesty, reflects on her suggested activities below, there is hope.
Life is not easy and with all of the demands we are faced with in the 21st century, so it’s easy to understand why so many people choose to live in denial. Oftentimes, it’s easier than facing the ugly truth! But if are constantly living in denial because of situations and circumstances in your life that are repeated over and over again, and it’s causing the people around you to a.) not have candid conversations with you about your situations and circumstances because they know you’ll have a melt down, or b.) concur with you and your bullshit because they know you’ll have a meltdown, it might be time to step out of the river of denial and onto dry land.
Elevator pitch. You’ve all heard the expression before but may be wondering, what exactly is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch can best be defined as your verbal business card, your sixty seconds of fame, and a great one can mean the difference between getting clients or scaring clients away. Meant to create excitement or, to create desire in a potential client to want to learn more about you or your company, a lot of elevator pitches do the exact opposite simply because the language used was dull or boring. Or, maybe the language was colorful and descriptive but the person’s down-trodden tone of voice and defeated attitude dropped the bottom out of what could have been an awesome elevator pitch. Wondering what a bad one might sound like? Here’s an example of a dull, boring pitch to the question, “What do you do for a living?”:
“I work at Pulse Beauty Academy. It’s a cosmetology school in Downingtown.”
Wow. Underwhelming, right? Pretty sure the person wouldn’t be interested in an amazing career in the beauty industry after that response. An example of a better elevator pitch might be:
“I’m a DayMaker at Pulse Beauty Academy in Downingtown. It’s where people who want to have the most exciting and successful careers in beauty, fashion, and business come to get educated.” Or:
“In the most amazing industry on earth; where people achieve their dreams, have fun, make money, and live beautifully.”
The last two sound a thousand times better than the first response, right? Now, I’m not suggesting that every person you come in contact with will be a potential lead, but you never know who knows who knows who…so, this week, challenge yourself to develop your elevator pitch. And, if you already have one, challenge yourself to develop a better one, head into your local Starbucks and test yours out. Share your successes and fails here – I’d love to hear about them!