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Have you been promised a promotion or salary increase?  Have you been told that the fresh challenge you’ve been craving – and worked hard for – is just around the corner?  More importantly, is it now six months or a year since those opportunities were outlined – but they have yet to materialize?

Many employees find themselves in a situation where their company has repeatedly promised to take care of them, however after months of waiting, it can begin to feel like they’re just paying lip service to the idea.

If this is you, it’s time to consider a high risk-strategy that some career-minded individuals are reaping the rewards from.

It’s not for everybody – but worth considering if you are determined to progress your career and want to give the process a kick start.  Do you want to live with the frustration of waiting to see if promises come to fruition – or are you willing to do something about it?

Leverage Can Work

If you’re good at your job and you know – or think – you are valued, there’s one sure-fire way to find out.  Get yourself an offer.

Prepare your resume, apply for opportunities outside your current company and get some leverage. What’s the worst that can happen?  If you end up with a great offer on the table from a competitor to present to your boss, it’s crunch time.

Either they step up and increase your responsibilities or fulfill that promised pay raise – or they don’t.  If they don’t, you’ve got a good opportunity to pursue.  If they do, mission accomplished!  It’s win, win.

More often than not, its medium sized businesses where this strategy works best.  Small companies may not be in a position to boost your role; and large organizations often don’t have as much riding on individual responsibilities, unless you’re already on the management team.

Busy – and bottom-line focused – executives will overlook successful individuals for promotion time and time again.

Whether you’re flying under the radar, too good at your current job to move on, or need progression but don’t have anywhere to go,  you need a catalyst for change if you don’t want to stay stuck in a rut.

Nicky Hoffman decided to take this approach last year – and has never looked back.  A sales rep at a successful engineering firm, she had long been promised a senior account manager role.

She knew she could procure another position, had established a huge book of business and was confident that her clients loved her: “One year after the promotion had been broached; I knew I had to speak to my employer yet again, but it had got to the point where it was unprofessional to keep bringing it up.  I felt I had to take control of the situation.”

Nicky soon found out if she really was a valued employee, as she had hoped.   She secured an offer with a competitor, re-approached her company and the very same day she found herself in front of the CEO accepting the role of senior account manager, along with a 45% increase.

“They knew that if they lost me, it could have been a big problem.  Some clients would have been unhappy, some may have followed me to the competitor, plus it would have been hard to replace me – or swallow the cost of retraining – in the industry I’m in.”

By proactively seeking some leverage, Nicky helped her company realize they’d dropped the ball.  She didn’t complain, so she was still viewed as a team player; instead she succeeded in strengthening the respect of her peers for making a strategic move.

It’s true, the majority of those electing to use a counter offer find it doesn’t come to fruition. But it’s a guaranteed way to establish your true worth – and that’s as good a reason as any to give it a try.

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Often, potential employers will post jobs on Workopolis, Careerbuilder, Monster, Craigslist, Kijiji, and other job boards/sites anonymously.  Even if the job description looks perfect for your skill-set, this can pose several problems for an application.

Firstly, any job-seeking professional knows that the first thing you do before applying for a job is check out the company’s website.

Not only to arm yourself with valuable information for your application and hopefully interview, but also to decide: Is this a company that you even want to work for?  Are they a big player or a one man band?  Are they ethical and financially stable?  Are they a good fit with your career path?

The second problem that anonymous job postings present occurs when it comes to the all-important cover letter and resume preparation.

It is of course imperative, as a professional, to tailor your cover letter and resume to the company and the specific role.  But if you don’t know the name of the company, how are you going to do this effectively?

If you knew what the company did, you could make a much stronger case as to why you’d be perfect for the job.

Not to mention highlighting and re-wording relevant aspects of your resume to ensure your potential employer can see that your experience is a great fit – especially if it’s an executive position. You certainly wouldn’t call on the resume writing experts to work their magic for an anonymous position.

The solution is, don’t waste your time with a killer cover letter and tailored resume.  Get their interest piqued and find out who the company is, before you let them see more about who you are.

Simply send your cover letter as the body of an email.  Explain that you are conducting a confidential job search, that you’re incredibly interested in the role, and that after reading the job description you are sure it’s a position that you are a good fit for.

Then outline that if they’re interested in connecting with you, they can call or reply with details about their company and you would love to send them your resume.  Even include a link to your LinkedIn profile, but do not include your resume.

Provide them with an incentive to call you.  There’s nothing wrong with saying “If you’re confidential, then so am I.”  Leave the ball in their court – if they’re genuine and are in a position to hire, they will have no problem disclosing more information at this stage.

Get wise to anonymous postings.

The company you are applying to could have a legitimate reason for posting a position anonymously – many do.

They may not want internal applicants.  They may be about to re-shuffle or lay off current employees and don’t want the job-holder to get wind of upcoming changes.  The position may be funded off the back of a confidential contract they’ve just won.

For every legitimate anonymous job posting, however, there’s one waiting to lead you up the proverbial garden path.  Often (perhaps unprincipled) job agencies will post fictitious job roles to hook you in as a candidate, perhaps even try to charge you a fee for finding you a genuine position.

That’s the nature of job-hunting though – and if you haven’t put a huge amount of energy into your application, by replying as a confidential applicant, you can happily chalk it down to playing the game.

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A recent survey done by Resume Target on LinkedIn confirmed what entry-level professionals already know when looking for a job and going to job interviews: the biggest problem breaking into the market nowadays is a lack of experience.

According to the numbers, 61% of the participants believe this to be the biggest issue.

“I am going to be a new grad in April 2012, so I have begun my professional job search just recently. Most of the job postings I have found require at least a year of experience. I don’t understand how entry-level positions can require that much experience. You would need at least four internships to get a year’s worth of experience”, says Curtis Denos, Math tutor at BYU-Idaho.

The survey also showed that (12%) chose lack of confidence as the other biggest issue.

11% of the survey’s participants pinpointed lack of information about the opportunity when they apply and read job descriptions. Lack of coaching for job interviews –  received 10% of the votes – and “difficulty in building a resume” came in at 7%.

The majority (60%) that answered the survey were men between 18 to 29 years old. The survey was done between September 19th and October 4th.

Because of the recession, young people have been finding it difficult to break into the corporate world. A degree is no longer a certainty of getting a good job after all. “School brilliance does not necessarily translate into real life applicability.

I think those grads that have real work experience or solid volunteer experience demonstrating their skills and abilities will have a leg up when it comes to getting a first chance”, says Stephanie Douglas, owner and operator at Culture & Diversity Consulting for Our Colourful World.

For Hardik Jogani, Senior Design Capstone Project at Rutgers University, lack of networking skills can also be a problem. “There is a big emphasis on who you know and not only what you know. If a student builds his or her network early, he or she will be able to gain plenty of experience through internships and extracurricular activities.”

Sarah Gayer, owner of Sare and Associates, believes this is the key to success, be it for new grads or more experienced workers. “You need to start networking as soon as possible. While in school or employed.

There is nothing like being approached by someone, who is all of a sudden asking you for a job when they could not be bothered before to even give you the time of day. Networking is something that needs to be done every day and it is ongoing, it never ends”.

She believes everybody should have a management plan and not only applying to job boards once in a while. For Sarah, the jobs are there, but, as they are not being advertised, you have to get known by the company.

But how do you get the employers’ attention if you don’t have enough experience? Deborah Rooney, who is the owner of Power Resumes & Coaching, suggests looking to the resume first.

“The challenge for my new grads has been how to build a sharp resume and cover letter, how to navigate their job search, along with the important fact that many of their parents have been downsized. These parents have been unemployed at length and those jobs were eventually divided into multiple opportunities for grads.”

Steve Gallison, master team member at Career Management Alliance and founding director at POAC, believes you have to think out of the box sometimes. For his son, who graduated with a dual degree in business and marketing, the alternative was to open a large restaurant chain and create a plan to open a 40-seat restaurant/bar.

“My son says ‘Since the ship wasn’t coming in, I was acquiring the skills and stamina to swim out to the ship’. Starting a restaurant business in this economy is iffy, but he will be poised to take advantage of the business when the economy gets back on its feet”.

In fact there are three things entry level professionals can do to compensate for the lack of experience. The first thing is to create a professional profile on social media websites.

The other two are networking and volunteering, and they can also be related.

Entry level professionals have to be more social and start networking early. Find places where they can meet people in their industry and start building out relationships. Another good alternative is to network through volunteering. This way, you can be referred you to other people, opening possible new opportunities of engagement with potential employers and hiring authorities.

I encourage entry-level candidates to stay tenacious, but also humble. You have to know how to use your transferable skills and know your personal professional pitch. You have to be able to communicate your value with clarity and without mumbling.

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As CEO, Steve Jobs built a strong, innovative and remarkable personal brand that has become bigger each day. The company’s new CEO, Tim Cook, is quoted as saying that Jobs’ vision and leadership “guided Apple to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company”.

Because of that, the company’s future is still upbeat. In his resignation letter, Jobs wrote “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it”.

Jobs’ reputation serves as a proper model of how essential personal branding is when establishing customer loyalty and targeting market success.
Personal branding is very similar to company branding, you just need to adapt some concepts.

Specific images and icons become associated with the brands they represent. By developing a unique approach for yourself, you are not only maximizing your opportunities for exposure but constructing a career that distinguishes you from others.

Whatever brand symbol you develop, it should also reflect your personality, background and interests.

Here are some tips to help you structure your personal branding statements and, as a company does, project yourself to the world.

1. Creating a personal brand

The first step in marketing yourself to a public audience. It is all about how people see you. So first of all, you need to organize what you like to do, your goals and how you want people to see you and feel about you.

2. Design your brand and promote it.

In a product, you can see how a company communicates with their clients. This is also visible in the type of advertisement companies choose and how they make themselves available. That means their visual and verbal vocabulary is expressed in design, advertisement and networking.

So first, you need to take care of your image and plan your actions. Visibility can equal credibility.

3. Use social networking tools

Use LinkedIn and Facebook to fully optimize your public profile and also promote yourself. The social networking websites expand your network and help reach people that interest you.

This is sure to get you noticed. Just remember you want to use a visual and verbal vocabulary that suits what you want to transmit.

4. Use “emotions” to show your brand

Having a vision is important. Let people understand what you think about things that happen around you. This way you sound approachable and involved in other people’s causes.

Companies that have a vision statement, ethics and remain interested in clients’ lives are most likely to succeed. Just remember to establish a target so your goals are clear to your public.

5. Putting yourself into your target’s shoes

This helps you explain why you are an expert in doing something and how you can be useful to other people. Using Steve Jobs as an example again, he said Apple’s employers ask themselves what they would want as clients. That is now company motto.

6. Maintaining your public image

This can benefit you in numerous ways. Everything you do impacts on your image, including your online presence, communication skills, resume-writing style and even how you dress.

Because you only have a few seconds to make a lasting impression, it is important you get it right the first time. Make sure your personal brand reflects who you are and that you continuously make an effort to improve it.

7. Take your message on the road

Market your brand and message. To take it to the next level, go in person to events that provide networking opportunities. Get together with people of your field and strengthen your professional connections.

8. Clarify, not persuade

Constructing a brand is more than just trying to sell your product – or yourself, in this case. The best way of gaining credibility, after making yourself visible, is to educate your audience.

Clarify your accomplishments, use numbers, facts and ROI (Return On Investment). Be clear about what you can do and what you have done. Do not try to persuade by selling, but by educating.

This is also one of the intricate strategies that a brand like Apple has used to capitalize their success.

No matter what, keep in mind that the brand you present must be consistent.

How effective is your personal brand? Submit your resume and we’ll let you know!

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Think it really matters how you dress? If you’re an overall good person, shouldn’t people realize it and not judge you based off your threads?

Well, I hate to be the barer of bad news, but people judge you based off of the clothes you wear. I don’t care if you’re walking down the street, or sitting in a business meeting; people are constantly looking at what you’re wearing.

Over the past 10 years I’ve dressed like a bum, worn decent clothes, and dressed like a boss. I must admit, there is a huge ROI in wearing nice clothes… especially in the business world.

The Bum Years

When I first started out as an entrepreneur I didn’t have much money. So whenever I went out to networking events I either wore baggy jeans that looked like I had poop in my pants or slacks and a shirt that typically didn’t match. Most of my threads were from Target.

As you can probably already guess, half the issue was that I had no sense of style and the other half was that I didn’t want to spend too much money.

Whenever I walked into meetings or went to a conference people wouldn’t really give me the time of the day until they got to know me. Once they learned I was somewhat smart they were willing to listen to me and potentially work with me. The issue was, it took people a while to warm up to me because no one wanted to waste their time talking with someone who looked like a chump.

After a few years of going through this, a friend of mine kindly suggested that I spend a bit more money on my wardrobe, pay more than 10 bucks for a haircut, and get a decent pair of shoes.

I invested two thousand dollars in making myself over. And boy, it made a huge difference…

Note: During this phase of my life, my hourly consulting rate was under $100.

My big break through

With my new clothes, a somewhat decent haircut, and nice pair of black shoes I made a break through. At first I noticed that people were more willing to talk to me when I went to conferences. I also noticed that during my business meetings people took me more serious.

However, none of those things really mattered because they weren’t big breakthroughs.

What was a big break through was that people assumed that I was somewhat well off because I was dressing much better. When I starting talking to potential customers they naturally assumed that I was successful and my services were costly because I was better dressed.

So when it came down to locking in new deals these potential customers started offering me more money. As I got a taste of money making, I wanted more, so I decided to take things up a new level with my wardrobe.

Note: During this phase of my life, my hourly consulting rate went up to $250.

The Boss Years

From Gucci suits, to designer shoes, to 5 figure watches, I stepped up my appearance as much as I could within my financial constraints. And boy, not only was there a huge ROI, but it was a much bigger difference than I ever experienced between my bum and normal stage.

By dressing to impress, successful business owners started to flock to me when I attended networking events and people listened when I spoke in business meetings. In addition to that I was praised for wearing rare watches that other business owners wanted, but didn’t have.

This experience taught me that successful people like to hang around with other successful people as they tend to feel comfortable around themselves. Now, by no means am I saying that all successful people dress nice, but the chances are if someone comes up to you and they are wearing a 5 figure watch, they have money.

And when you start talking about business with these successful people, they know that if they do business with you, it’s going to be costly for the following reasons:

By dressing like a “boss” my credibility went through the roof with other business owners and I was able to do things like close 7 figure business deals.

Note: During this phase of my life, my hourly consulting rate was above 4 figures.


Although you should dress to impress because there is an ROI, there are a few caveats that you ought to know about.

The first is that if you aren’t clever dressing to impress won’t work well for you. People will see right through it and you won’t build any valuable business relationships. So before you go out and start spending money on clothes and watches, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

The second thing that you need to know is that after you have “made it” and people know you’re successful, it doesn’t matter how you dress. Although I still feel I have a long ways to go in my career, most people see me as being successful.

These days I wear sneakers, cheap t-shirts, and I don’t really sport fancy watches because I want to focus on work. That stuff was never me, and although I used it to get further in my career, I still prefer shopping at Target over Nordstroms.

In the short run, dressing to impress is definitely worth it, but you also have to make sure that it doesn’t get to your head.

You can quickly start spending thousands of dollars on clothes and after a certain point, there really isn’t a big difference between a thousand dollars on a suit versus spending five thousand.

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Would you expose your boss’s wrongdoings if you were treated unfairly?

In the comedy film Horrible Bosses starring Jason Bateman, we can all learn a thing or two about being mistreated in the workforce.

It’s not a topic we often talk about, but it’s something that we can’t ignore. Although this film is quite funny, it has some serious undertones that address the darker side of the workplace.

Bateman’s character, Nick, hates his boss for not giving him a promotion after the eight years he’s spent working for him. He thinks he’s done everything he can to deserve an office of his own but his high expectations are blown away when his evil boss, Mr. Harken (Kevin Spacey), takes the senior position that was intended for him.

Experiencing the same kind of trauma are two of Nick’s friends, Dale and Kurt, who have similar attitudes about their bosses. Conflicted by what to do, the three guys meet each other at a bar to discuss their misfortunes.

There they also meet an old friend of theirs, who recently quit his job and is in dire financial debt. That’s when they realize it’s better to be employed than not at all. However, they still start a revenge plot to get back at their bosses for making their lives miserable.

According to the film, here are some invaluable lessons to be learned:

1. Never arrive late to work. Get there two hours early and stay there for two extra hours.

In reality, you should always try to arrive to work at least 10-20 minutes early and leave work 10-20 minutes after the 5 o’clock mark to keep things organized.

You don’t want to constantly hit the door at 5:01 pm because it makes you look uninterested in your role. Employers need to feel you have ownership in what you do.

2. Say goodbye to your love life. You only have yourself.

In theory, your work is your life and you spend most of your time at work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get out more and spend time with your friends and family.

It’s never good to be secluded from the rest of society so don’t work too hard all the time – learn to manage your work/life balance.

3. Drink a whole glass of scotch at 8:15 in the morning because your boss manipulated you.

If your boss has a habit of abusing their power – its not the kind of environment you want to thrive in. Try to keep up with your boss’s expectations but if they keep controlling you until your about to crack, maybe it’s time for you to find a new job.

4. Keep your job

Even if you hate your job today, don’t let your frustration get the best of you. You may not have any other choice but to work at your current position, so be grateful that you have a job.

Remember you still have to pay the bills! But if you are at this point already, it may be a good time to start building a job search strategy.

If worse comes to worse, seek a therapist about your situation. Perhaps you can find other ways to deal with your work-related stress before it becomes worse.

Although this film doesn’t suggest you to actually “kill” your boss to succeed in the workplace, it teaches us about self-discipline and workplace strategy.

So again I ask – would you expose your boss’s wrongdoings if you were treated unfairly?

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Some key insights to help you prepare & ace your phone interview.

When it comes to job-hunting, phone interviews are tests. Everyone has them. They are sometimes the standard first step in the hiring process. If you pass, you’ll be offered a deeper, face-to-face job interview. If not, that’s the end of your candidacy.

But phone interviews can be nerve-wracking. Only 30 per cent of the meaning we get from people comes from verbal communication. The rest comes from non-verbal cues. So, it’s tough when you have solely the voice to work with.

But, surprisingly, job-seekers tend to undervalue the significance of phone interviews, considering it not as important as face-to-face interviews.

Since phone interviews can happen at any time during your job search, here I share my top tips to help you during your phone interview and make sure you do great and move on to next phase:

Develop a rapport

Selling yourself is not easy. Building rapport is one of the most fundamental sales techniques. In a sales capacity, rapport is used to build relationships with others quickly and to gain their trust and confidence – this means establishing a bond – or some sort of common ground – with your interviewer.

It helps if you do some research on them. Know their alma mater, their specialties or even hobbies – if you have anything in common with them, that would make a good icebreaker.

This means doing your research on whoever will be interviewing you and looking them up on LinkedIn to see where their background lies.

Keep your answers simple.

Be clear, concise and structured with your communication. After all, hiring managers typically have dozens of phone interviews to get through.

Set the stage of what you plan on telling the interviewer.

Part of being simple and compelling is being organized. As you share your accomplishments and skill sets with the interviewer, it’s a good idea to use what’s called signposts – words like firstly, secondly and thirdly – to signal where you are to the interviewer.

Highlight unique accomplishments and results that are relevant to role and industry.

You should aim to highlight specific achievements in your past experiences. It could be anything being the first in the industry to launch a specific initiative, being among one of the top sales reps (if you’re in sales) or achieving a record-breaking promotion X years.

Remember, you want to stand out from the dozen or so phone interviewees as much as possible.

Use buzzwords, industry jargon in your answers.

Know the buzzwords for the job and the field, advises Mary Greenwood, human resources manager for the City of Winter Park in Florida. According to Greenwood, if you don’t understand a question because you don’t know what one of the buzzwords is, that could hurt your chances for the job.

Speak slowly.

As you know, phone interviews are clearly not the same as face-to-face ones. It’s much clearer to listen to someone when you’re standing in front of them in flesh and blood.

That’s why it’s important to “speak slowly and allow for pauses,” according to Kathleen Brady, career coach with Career Planners LLC, based in New York, and former director of recruitment of Jackson Lewis LLP.

Be enthusiastic!

It’s always important to be enthusiastic in any interview. But it’s even more important in a phone interview. “The interviewer will not have the benefit of non-verbal communication (and) nor will you,” says Paula Soileau, former CFO of the American Heart Association and co-founder of Affintus, a recruiting and predictive job matching service.

But Soileau recommends not to overdo it. Strike a balance between sounding passionate and blatantly sucking up.

Part of your checklist should be reading through the company’s annual report to see how they present themselves in the market using specific keywords.

Keep in mind to make a list of questions based on your homework on the organization. It speaks to your curiosity and interest in the position. And remember not to undervalue the importance of phone interview.

You want to do your best to sound enthusiastic, professional and right for the company. That way, you’ll pass the test and the hiring manager will want to pursue you further.

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Whether you’re starting out on LinkedIn for a job hunt, a strategic partnership or a way to open up a new opportunity, you need a strong professional network (think quality over quantity).

Without this online rolodex, it is much more difficult to get through the door of a whole spectrum of possible career choices or business relationships.

If you know the industry you want to get into and you have a few places to target, developing strong connections with people in your work field would help you greatly. To maximize your network, you should utilize LinkedIn to its full potential. It’s like Facebook…but for professionals only.

To get the most out of what LinkedIn can do for your job search or for your business venture, follow these 5 easy steps.

Re-connect with old friends and colleagues

If you know any previous employers, colleagues, peers, associates and acquaintances – you should find a way to get in touch with them. Send them an invite to connect with them and see what’s going on.

Re-introduce yourself and make a fresh start. Always re-acquaint with old friends or colleagues so that you can develop a deeper connection with them in the future.

Find recruiters and hiring managers on LinkedIn

One of the best ways to make quick connections is to upgrade to a premium account. This will allow you to connect with any recruiter on LinkedIn and fully optimize your job search.

Not only do you have access to over 100 million member profiles, you can contact any of the industry professionals on LinkedIn you want! You get expanded search results, expanded profile viewing and an expanded view of who has seen your profile as well. That’s a lot of access! So take advantage.

Develop a strong contact list

You should constantly develop relationships with business partners to make sure they know you via your personal and professional brand.If you can make strong connections you will already have a higher percentage of gaining new opportunities.

LinkedIn is a great place to reach out and build partnerships, arrange meetings and to discuss plans. Collaboration is your competitive advantage and LinkedIn gives you that edge.

Join LinkedIn groups and relevant discussions

Engage in daily topics in groups and join relevant discussions. If you want to add more connections, you have to be active on LinkedIn daily.

It’s not enough to just reply to someone’s post, you have to start your own discussions and get people to join in on your conversation. This way, you will have a number of followers that you can share and gather information with.

Make connections with people you don’t know

For example, if you like someone’s blog, why not reference their name on LinkedIn and send them an invite saying you really enjoy reading their content?

Did you know that for every connection you make, you have access to their personal connections as well? You can use this tool to your advantage by sending InMails to a targeted audience. Start sharing your profile with as many people as you can to jumpstart your career.

The best way to connect with new people on LinkedIn is to introduce yourself. Think of how you would approach a professional at a junction that you didn’t know but have read their blog or even seen them on TV. Don’t just send an invite to someone and wait for them to reply.

Show that you’re interested in getting to know them, especially if you are in the same industry as they are in. A couple of sentences could go a long way.

An example I received the other day:

Hi Amos, thanks for sharing good suggestions, links on the group discussion and your website. Like to keep in touch instead of only using the “follow” button. Thanks! VW

After you tried optimizing your network on LinkedIn, you should build solid relationships with your contacts. If one of your connections refers you to their hiring manager or even sends your job application to their department, you must send them a thank-you letter as a token of your appreciation.

You could even arrange a time to thank them in person or make a call over the phone to personally show your gratitude. These little things can go a long way when it comes to developing strong connections with people in your own industry.

Neal Schaffer, author of “Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing” concludes: “Before you establish your LinkedIn network you need to get your house in order. Completely fill out and “brand” your profile – it will greatly increase the chance that previous classmates and colleagues will remember you as well as give you more credibility and increase the chance that those you reach out to will positively respond to you.”

Don’t be at a loss of words. Start networking without a network today!

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What you wear to work matters a lot when it comes to displaying a public image. If you are working for a large multinational company, you probably want to look as professional as possible.

Corporate suits and dress pants are appropriate for these types of businesses. On the flip side, if you are working for an oil or manufacturing company, cargo pants and overalls are most likely the norm.

From business attire to casual wear, it’s important to look your best when you go to work. After all, it’s a major reflection of your character and what you represent as an employee.

If you work at a large business building, closed-toe shoes and blouses are the best fashion choices. If you are in the working field, t-shirts and jeans may be your type of style. If you are a gymnast, then track pants and sweatshirts are your go-to outfits.

Getting dressed for the office doesn’t have to be hard work. You don’t have to leave your personal style behind just to look professional in front of your boss. Your goal is to project a professional and confident image of yourself, regardless of your career level.

Don’t be a fashion victim. Let us suggest some formal, yet trendy work attire to wear!

Business Dress Codes

Formal Business Attire

For professional men and women, this means black dress pants and black blazers. For women, a matching blouse or linen shirt would go best with matching socks and shoes. You don’t want to wear green socks in black leather shoes. Make sure you colour-coordinate every piece of clothing and try on neutral colours.

For business people, it’s always a good idea to try on several suits before deciding to buy one. It should fit your body perfectly and you should feel comfortable in it. Don’t wear anything that is too tight or too lose. Leave some breathing room in the outfit and attach belts and accessories to make your outfit stand out.

Corporate Casual Wear

For working men and women, this can be interpreted as anything from shorts and hats to sundresses but it mostly refers to – “smart business” attire. Think of a pair of dress pants and a blouse for women, or for men button-up shirts and black pantsuits. Sleek knits, skirts and tops are all examples of casual wear.

Don’t wear anything too fancy as to distract other employees. Denim, t-shirts and flip-flops are only acceptable under the most casual of work environments. Under any circumstance, you should always ask what the standard dress code for a company is and it’s usually determined by the person you report to.

Small Business Outfits

If you own a start-up company, you can wear whatever you want as long as it makes you happy. Generally speaking though, it’s always wise to pick a standard suit and hang it on the back of your door in case you need to attend a public meeting.

Come up with a contingency plan, or a backup plan, like a jacket tucked neatly in your office closet for emergency purposes. You never know, you may have to use it one day.

Pack an extra suit and tie as well as clean socks, leather shoes, dress shirts and dress pants to work. So if someone calls you to a conference in the middle of the day, you’ll be dressed to the nines when you go.

You should avoid clothes with ruffles and keep your work attire in a bag. No tacky clothes like golf shirts with collars, unless you are going golfing later in the day.

Fashion No-Nos:

Risky Clothing

Sometimes what you wear to work can make or break you. The last thing you want to do is pull a career killer outfit and permanently damage your work image.

You want to avoid something that is too sexy, like see-through lace shirts, miniskirts, spaghetti straps, sheer tank tops, loose-fitting sundresses and strappy stiletto sandals.

Also, you don’t want to wear anything too casual such as jeans, shorts, t-shirts, hats, sunglasses and sneakers. Lastly, you should avoid wearing clothing that is too sloppy. These would include wrinkled clothing, multi-layered outfits and long, oversized baggy-fit clothing.

Style Mistakes

Jewellery Choices

If you must wear jewellery, keep it to a minimum. Don’t wear oversized earrings or what we usually call – chandelier earrings. Things like jangles that make noise or stacks of bangles can be quite distracting.

Instead, opt for stud earrings or single bracelets and necklaces that look formal and conservative.

Colours and Designer Labels

You may not know this but colour plays a huge part in your overall professional image. Depending on your mood, there are different vibes that each colour gives out. For example, red tends to be aggressive-looking while navy blue makes you look more trustworthy.

Gray is conservative and black is chic. Most of these colours go best with pantsuits, skirts and office shoes. Also, if you are really into designer labels, avoid going overboard with your taste and limit yourself to wearing one designer suit or carrying one designer bag to work.

Everything from the style, color, lengths and fit of your fashion choices will come to bite you back if you are not careful. What you wear speaks volumes about your character and lifestyle.


So if you are concerned about your career, pay close attention to what you wear. It’s always wise to go for something more professional than something cute and trendy. Keep your look polished; wear shirts with cufflinks to big meetings and collared shirts to show professionalism (like they just came out of a drycleaner).

This is not a walk in the park or even a Saturday picnic. It’s your workplace – so treat it as such.

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