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 firstname.lastname@example.org, period. If that is taken, do your email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org (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!
I went to work for my husband eight years ago when he decided he wanted to open a beauty school and I’m pretty sure that’s when my definition of work-life balance changed. I came from a traditional corporate work background – you know the drill – go to work, do your thing, and at five o’clock, turn it off. Even with a busy sales career that required extensive travel and life as a single mom, I still managed to maintain a life, one that consisted of riding my horses, exercising, running, and spending time with friends and family. I read magazines for leisure, cleaned my own house, and on weekends went into the city for dinner with girlfriends. I had a firm grip on my career and my life; the only balance I sought was whether to ride every other day, or run every other day.
While the school was being built, I continued to work at my full-time sales career and worked part-time, recruiting students and giving tours, in the mornings before my day began, in the evenings after work, and on the weekends. It was an exciting time but neither of us noticed the candles burning at both ends, nor did we realize the habits we were creating at the time would haunt us even after the hungry days of being a start-up were long gone. But with every penny we had going into the business, work-life balance really was no longer a corporate buzz-word or water cooler conversation – it was work-work, period. In my mind (and in reality), if I wasn’t selling, we weren’t making money, and if we weren’t making money, we weren’t eating. And, in the beginning, since it was only us and I was responsible for the sales and marketing, and my husband and his business partner were heading up education and operations, if I didn’t work, we literally didn’t eat. Those were lean days, and they ended up lasting years. The fear of failure, of losing our house, of my husband’s business partner losing his house, of us going belly up, gnawed at me every day and at night kept me far from sleep. But every enrollment, every sale, drove me to want another, and then another, not to mention the insane satisfaction and pride I got knowing I was making my husband’s dream a reality.
Steve Toback, a former senior executive in the technology industry (and, probably no stranger to the work-life balance conversation) wrote a brilliant piece on the work-life balance myth and had this to say about my lament, “We stay connected 24×7 because we want to. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head when you answer a call or a text when you’re supposed to be playing with your kids or out to dinner with your better half. So why do we do it? We love the attention. It makes us feel special. We’re addicted to it. No kidding.” Yeah, Steve, no kidding. But why? Why does working so much make us feel special? When did the latest text or email become the new aphrodisiac? According to Harvard Business Review contributor, Leslie A. Perlow, “Many — if not most — of us are addicted to success. We are successaholics not workaholics. We’re obsessed with work because of the satisfaction we get from the kudos for achievement, not because of some deep-seeded satisfaction from working long hours, as an end in itself. And what this means is that it is the definition of success, not some ingrained personality issue, that is at the source of why we are always on. If this is true, then turning off requires changing what we value in each other, not changing ourselves.” She goes on to share the results of an experiment she conducted where people were applauded for taking time off and shunned for staying plugged in. She concluded that people who appear to be thriving on a non-stop work week are actually thriving on a job well done. I love that story, but what if the judge of the “job well done” is actually the person doing the job? I was beginning to feel like Indiana Jones.
Fast forward eight and a half years, and the business we worked so hard to make successful is just that; yet, my work-is-life mindset vacillates between feast-or-famine and we’re-not-quite-there-yet mentality, choosing to lag behind the business’s obvious success, choosing instead excuses ad nauseam for the countless hours spent on Hootsuite “updating our site” into infinity. Had I trained myself to live in this space of always being “on,” my phone pinging incessantly with emails and text messages? Was my lack of balance excusable in light of the fact that we owned the business and that if it wasn’t successful, our family could lose everything? Or, was I using all of those covers to hide the fact that I am a workaholic and that I’d rather be working than doing pretty much anything else? To make myself feel better, I googled “successful entrepreneurs, work-life balance,” and this is what I found – “If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, there is no such thing as work-life balance.” Thank you, Paul Brown.
So, rather than over think this whole work-life thing, I’m going to a.) go back to my seashore vacation (yes, I’m writing this while on vacation – another sign of a workaholic with zero work-life balance – but, hey, I’m writing it at midnight and everyone’s asleep) and b.) I’m going to follow Steve Toback’s advice, “The next time you hear yourself complaining about how little time you have or your lack of work-life balance, try this instead. Think about your priorities. Think about what you spent your time on that day, that week, that month. Then think about what you didn’t get to do. If there’s a disconnect, do something about it. Simple as that.”