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!
The story is as old as time.
You’ve always dreamed of starting a business. You and a friend decide to strike out on your own. You form a partnership and, boom, you’re on your way to making your dreams come true. The partnership starts out (like most do) crazy fun. During the early days there’s a heady excitement that makes long hours, no money, and little to show for all the work you’re putting in, a “We’re-gonna-look-back-on-this-one-day-and-laugh,” experience. The stress level is high, your partner’s and your patience is worn thin, but you both suck it up and keep plowing forward. Moodiness, elation, depression – it’s par for the course, right?
Fast forward a decade and all the start-up giddiness is gone. The frenetic day-to-day roller coaster craziness? It’s been replaced with steady, business-as-usual work days. And, your business partner’s mood swings, negative attitude, and manipulative survival-of-the-fittest mentality exhibited during the start-up days? They’re all still there.
Your business is established now! Your partner’s still acting like he’s too stressed, too exhausted, too overworked? I thought times were good? You both enjoy a flexible, relaxed schedule and (finally) cushy paychecks are de rigueur. So, why is your partner still miserable? Why is he still acting like the sky is falling? Is something going on that you don’t know about? Concerned, you start digging into your company financials; who knows – maybe your partner is feeling the year-end pinch? That’s when you realize the impact your partner’s decade old eat-or-be-eaten mentality has had on the organization as a whole and now, not only are you wondering what kind of weirdo you’re shacked up with, you’re actually beginning to question the survivability of your partnership.
But wait – slow down here – everyone has a bad day, right? I mean, it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to have a series of bad days, right? Starting a company is tough! And, for Pete’s sake, we’ve all snapped at a colleague at one time or another, or sulked behind our monitor for a day (or two), ignoring our office mates, mumbling about how much we hate our fucking job. Is that a reason to suddenly want to part ways? In most cases, probably not, but according to studies, If the bad days your partner is having have turned into years? Then it may be time to determine if the negative behaviors that you and your staff have brushed off as, “You better stay away from him,” “He’s in a bad mood today,” Ugh. His team lost last night,” are actually negative behaviors at all, or if your partner’s bad days are merely his dysfunctional management style in disguise.
Dictionary.com defines dysfunction as not performing normally, having a malfunctioning part or element, and behaving or acting outside social norms, and defines management as the person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business. So, then, it would probably be safe to say that the definition of dysfunctional management could be the malfunctioning person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business while not performing normally and/or behaving or acting outside social norms. I’m pretty sure we’ve all reported to a dysfunctional manager at some point in our careers – the sales manager who always got a bit too tipsy at happy hour sales meetings and then spent hours spilling the beans to her subordinates about her affair with the company’s VP and how it ended badly – or, the department manager who blatantly favored the guys on his team over the women and would take them to strip clubs and golf outings for meetings while leaving female subordinates at the office with a casual, “We’ll download tomorrow,” as he left the office. Dysfunctional managers are everywhere but (surprisingly) some people wouldn’t recognize one if that dysfunctional manager was their business partner. Huh? I sit right next to the guy, you may be saying. Ever hear the expression, “Can’t see the forest through the trees?” It’s based on the ancient expression, “Can’t see the psycho partner through the door.” Now you know why.
So, to determine if you have a dysfunctional business partner, take a minute to read the bullet points I gathered from Med Yones’ amazing article, and then answer the questions I added to each of the bullet points. The comprehensive article, written for the International Institute of Management’s Executive Journal, outlines with laser accuracy the characteristics of a dysfunctional workplace (which, by default, highlights the characteristics of a dysfunctional manager).
• Dictatorial Leadership: Management that does not allow disagreements out of insecurity or arrogance [How does your partner lead?]
• No 360 Degrees Feedback: There is limited or no leadership performance feedback [Does your partner allow subordinates to give him or her feedback?]
• Personal Agendas: Recruitment, selections and promotions are based on internal political agenda [Who is your partner promoting, and why?]
• Political Compensation: [raises], bonuses and perks are not fairly linked to performance [What criteria is your partner using to determine raises?]
• Unequal Workload Distribution: You’ll find some departments are underutilized while other departments are overloaded [Does your partner favor one department over another? Why?]
• Fragmented Organization Efforts: Interdepartmental competition and turf wars between rival [departments] lead to the emergence of silos, which results in communication gaps. [Does your partner create or allow turf wars? Do you find departments unwilling to work with one another?]
• Too Much Talk: Plans are heavy on talk but light on action. In a political corporate culture, image management becomes far more important than actions [Or, A.T.N.A. Does your partner talk out his or her ass but never delivers?]
• Ineffective Meetings: Argumentative and heated cross-divisions meetings with discussion and language focusing on point scoring and buck-passing rather than sharing responsibility and collaborating to solve the problem [Observe your partner in meetings – body language, posture, eye contact, tone of voice. Observe if staff members object or disagree with the partner or do they yes him or her to death for fear of backlash?]
• Lack of Collaboration: Every person for himself/herself. Low sense of unity or camaraderie on the team. The key criterion for decision-making is What is in it for me? [Does your partner encourage a W.I.F.M. culture? How has it negatively impacted your business?]
• Low Productivity: Management wastes more time and energy on internal attack and defense strategies instead of executing the work, innovating and overcoming challenges. Critical projects fall behind on deadlines, budgets and performance targets (e.g. sales, market share, quality and other operational targets) [What controls do you have in place to ensure your partner’s dysfunctional management style isn’t, or hasn’t, negatively impacted your business? Would you know if they were?]
• Constant Crisis Mode: Management team spends most of their time on fire fighting instead of proactive planning for next-generation products and services [Dysfunctional managers love to “put out fires.” In fact, you may even hear your partner using that expression all the time as in, “I’ve ben putting out fires all day.” Sound familiar?]
• Morale Deterioration: Muted level of commitment and enthusiasm by other teams. Even successful results cannot be shared and celebrated due to animosity and internal negative competition [You may have noticed the decline in morale and could have, possibly, shared your concern with your partner whose reply may have been, “Fuck ‘em,” followed by laughter to put you at ease.]
• Backstabbing: Backbiting among the [staff] becomes common and public [Perhaps your partner engages in the same behavior WITH the staff.]
• Highly Stressful Workplace: There is a high rate of absenteeism and a high employee turnover rate [Or, even worse, your employees quit but don’t leave, their work a clear indicator of their mental “I-already-quit” status.]
Still not sure if your partner is dysfunctional? Consider the greater impact your dysfunctional business partner may be having on your business. In an article written for MIT Sloan Management Review, authors Cialdini, Petrova, and Goldstein, revealed some of the additional, not so obvious, side effects of dysfunctional management that contribute to “ruinous fiscal outcomes.” They included reputation degradation [people don’t want to buy from a company that sucks], lower job satisfaction [people don’t want to work for a company that sucks], and fewer candidates in the employment pool [because people don’t want to work for a company that sucks]. Yikes. Starting to see why determining whether or not the years long depression your business partner has been in is, in fact, just depression and not dysfunctional management is critically important to the overall health of your business and, possibly, the survivability of your business? Yones’ research revealed that employees in an environment where they feel disrespected, taken advantage of, or abused, will oftentimes resort to passive aggressive behaviors like intentional sabotage, excessive absenteeism, or purposely produced substandard results in their work. “But I give them pep talks all the time,” you may be saying. I hate to disappoint you (your partner probably does that to you enough) but your positive attitude can’t make up for your partner’s shitty attitude. Yones’ study also revealed that employees view positive company initiatives with skepticism [and, oftentimes, intentionally undermine them] because buy-in no longer exists for them. Add to that the studies that have revealed that in environments where dysfunctional management is the norm, employee theft and shrinkage are exceedingly high.
The long and short of it? Having a dysfunctional business partner can not only be an aggravating energy suck (hello), it can cost your company a lot of money and, quite possibly, annihilate the dream you started the partnership with. So, is there hope for people with a dysfunctional business partner? Can dysfunctional partners be fixed? Next time, we’ll explore partnerships what happens when a dysfunctional partner is confronted and why you shouldn’t expect a healthy, normal response from an unhealthy, abnormal person.
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