How important is appearance and presentation to getting or keeping a job?

Colorful ties

How you look, which includes your grooming and what you wear plus how you present yourself are very important to getting and/or keeping a job or in landing a new piece of business. In all my blogs and other writings, I do not spend much time on this subject, so here it is.

On page 199 of my book, The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business, I do say: “Don’t drink alcohol at client or customer events.” And I say: Dress well and stays in good physical condition for you.” Those tips are just as important as the other 16 Career Tips listed.

Gone are the days when we all must follow specific dress codes like men must wearing ties and women can’t wear pants or slacks. But even with these two examples, there may be exceptions.

I always thought about myself at the event and tried to think through what was proper attire. I would find out what others wear either every day or to any event. Then I would dress once small notch above that level. For example, it is easy to take a tie off but almost impossible to put one on, so I’d wear a tie.

And make sure your clothes are clean and look great and your shoes–men and women–are shined, etc.

Wearing too much aftershave or perfume can be a huge turn-off in office situations. So use these moderately.

I have always said that listening is the key to good communication, so listen before speaking.  And don’t dominate any situation. Make sure everyone is participating in any conversation. Ask questions to get others involved if they are reluctant. Remember that when you are talking, you are not learning anything.

Keeping in shape for you means just that. No one expects everyone to be a triathlete or marathon runner. However, being in good shape and looking that way just might mean to the other person that you have the energy to do the job.

It is hard for me to say what a woman should or should not wear in any situation. So talk to other women about what is appropriate and make a decision based on that input. Still, the general concepts mentioned here apply to both men and women. This is true if you are going to an event or making a presentation in the board room.

If you are presenting, rehearse. Know what you want to say and say it. Speak with a polite voice and with confidence. This will most likely help you create a great first impression.

So, in summary, dress appropriately, stay in shape, and listen before you speak. And, have fun.

John J. Bailey is a veteran public-relations professional, former agency owner and author of The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business. Learn more about John, hear what others are saying about his book, and purchase your own copy in hardcover and for Kindle.

Avoid being laid off or downsized. Make an entrepreneurial decision today

Tired of what you see and hear at work? Maybe it's time to make your own call.

Tired of what you see and hear at work? Maybe it’s time to make your own call.

A friend of mine told me recently that he had turned down a good job to keep his own business going. “Excellent!” I said, especially since this is Detroit Entrepreneur Week 2014. This made me think of W. Edwards Deming, the father of Total Quality Management, who said: “Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins. No contest.”

You all know that I was laid off or downsized four times early in my career, which totally irked (insert stronger word) me. In all those situations, my termination was because some person above me had either made a bad decision to add my function to the company, or they made many bad decisions that led to cutting staff and me.

After the fourth termination, I vowed to never let it happen again. I began an unrelenting quest for more knowledge, I built my network to the point where I had more contacts than my bosses, and I committed myself to always doing the best possible job in my volunteer work as well as my professional work. These steps helped me become the best professional I could be, while establishing and always growing my network, and building my reputation as a person who gets things done.

Still I was about to be laid off or downsized a fifth time because of an acquisition (and some incompetent person above me in the org chart). So, I started my own firm, finally realizing that the only way I can be sure not to be cut from a payroll is to maintain the payroll.

It is not easy for sure. But, you have control of you. You “own yourself and your career” when you own your own business. My friend told me that he knew he made the correct decision to keep his business but, “it is scary,” he said. I told him that fear is a great motivator.

So, keep this in mind as you build your career and future. If you are in charge of you, you make the decisions, not someone else.

Make an entrepreneurial decision today.

Building and Promoting You!

Building and Promoting You!A friend of mine asked me how he could promote his reputation as a professional. He said, “I am good and I want others to know it too.” He wants more business.

He said that had done a great job of promoting myself during my career as a public-relations expert and wanted to know how I did it.

I explained that first you have to be good, and always do a great job for your customers or clients. Always. This is a career-long commitment to excellence.

Then you have to let others know how good you are and in a way that is not offensive, while meeting the ethics and standards of your profession and yourself. You do this by building your network and by keeping them informed of what you do and how well you do it. This can be done by direct or indirect contact. Use of social media directly communicates, and being involved in your profession and community indirectly communicates.

With social media, you can let others know of your successes, without mentioning specifics, like the time I helped a company repair its damaged image through positive messaging. And you can write about your successes in blogs and/or e-newsletters as well. You can also speak out on subjects that show your professionalism and commitment.

Next, by being involved in professional and community organizations, you are building your network and showing this network how damned good you are. You are showing your peers that you say what you mean and do what you say, thereby building not only your network but your reputation. But you can’t just be a member, you have to be involved and have to “make a difference” to the organization. And you are helping your profession and community. How perfect is that?

Once you are financially successful you can consider other ways of reaching out such as paid advertising but, even this must be supported by first, always doing the best possible job.

The perfect gift

Give

During the holidays my thoughts turn to my family. What can I give them all that will have the greatest impact? I keep trying to find the perfect gift.

And I think about society in general, as well.

Recently, I received a note from a business associate reporting that while she was in a meeting that went well over the allotted time, she was certain her parking meter had run out of time. However, a kind stranger had put in enough coins to cover my friend, even leaving a note wishing her the best holiday season ever.

We’ve all heard stories about people in line at a restaurants buying food for others. How wonderful is that? Just yesterday I saw a story on local TV about a man giving $100 bills to people to help them out. Or, how about billionaires that give untold millions to charity, all for the good of society?

For many years at the holidays, my company gave donations to various charities instead of buying and mailing holiday cards. These gifts were always greatly appreciated. And this year, my wife and I gave to Gleaners. Our donation was matched by The Ford Motor Company, therefore buying holiday meals for 600 people. (Thank you, Ford.)

In 2014, I plan on continuing to offer my business services to anyone to help them start a business or build a business or get out of a job they are “stuck” in or just give career input, based on my 40-plus years of experience. At no cost.

It seems to me that the perfect gift is the gift of giving. May this gift of giving lead us to Peace on Earth.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all.

Will technology terminate your job? Save your career with new skills and a second language

Technology, education, training, language, skillHundreds, perhaps thousands of kinds jobs have been eliminated by advancing technology and changing times. This will continue into the future and forever. Will yours be one of the jobs to be eliminated in the near future? If so, what are you doing now, or will do in the future, to prepare yourself for a changing career landscape?

To illustrate, here are but a few of the jobs that are already gone or have changed dramatically in recent years:

  • Almost anything to do with typewriters and paper
  • Radio and newspaper reporters
  • Video (store employees and owners, videographers, distributors, manufacturers, movie studios)
  • Cashiers and bank tellers
  • Call center staffs
  • Receptionists, secretaries and administrative professionals
  • Draftsmen, “desktop publishers” and typesetters
  • Postal employees
  • Travel agents
  • Fighter pilots

We can all add names to this list. Even top executives and corporate or organizational leaders face uncertainty, as companies buy and sell each other, sacrificing one CEO’s or president’s position for efficiency’s sake as there is almost never a need for two. So what are we supposed to do as we move through our careers trying to make a good living for ourselves and our families?

Ongoing education, new language skills are essential

One thing is certain. The last class we attended, whether it was in trade school or for our doctorate, should not be the final. We must all continue to learn to keep up with the demands of society. In the United States, we need to take this very seriously as the rest of the world is ahead of us in the important subjects, such as math, science and technology, writing and reading. This is true with our students of all ages, including adults.

Can Americans keep up? Absolutely. But, we will need to refocus on the important subjects within our own professions. I know we can learn new things. Take fantasy sports, for example, which js a serious, multi-million dollar business. We are likely the global leader of the fantasy sports industry, especially football. But what if one day, out of nowhere, the rabid sports fans of some foreign geopolitical power came along and began to beat us at our own game. Would we take it? Certainly, we’d work harder to draft better players, make smarter trades, and reclaim our championship position. At least I’d like to think we would. We have yet to reclaim the world’s lead in science and engineering…

The passion many of us have for fantasy sports is exact kind of fervor we need to face global competition for future jobs. What if we were told we could only compete in fantasy sports in another language, like Hindi, Japanese or Mandarin? Would we stop playing? Again, I’d like to think we’d pick up a second or third language. Think of all the computer programmers in the world that learned English so that they could code. Most all PC code is English, yet there are millions of programmers all over the world. For them, learning English was a matter of career survival.

So let’s master those languages now. (Especially Spanish! After all, approximately 40 million people in the United States speak Spanish today, and that number is projected to grow.) Also, we must recognize the urgency to first “get equal” with the rest of the world and then reclaim the passion to “get ahead.”

The jobs of the future will be occupied by those with the best educations and command of the most relevant languages. Make technology a mark of empowerment, not a measure of excuse.