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 What constitutes an "interview suit" anymore?

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
fiddlerbird555 Posted - 01/25/2008 : 10:51:15 AM
I'm job hunting for the first time in nearly 20 years. Last time I mostly wore a cheap female version of a suit -- jacket, feminine blouse, skirt, nylons, low pumps. They guys still wear suits, but I'm not sure about ladies. (I'm an engineer & mostly work with men and besides I'm in California)

I could use some advice and perhaps some cross-culture (US) reference points (i.e. if you tell me I need to do something, let me know your background a bit). My hair is greying, though it's long and thick & looks good, I never did wear makeup so I probably couldn't carry it off convincingly. The types of jobs I am going for are technical or just maybe technical management.

____________________________________________________

I can go loopy, or I can knit. Your choice.
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Jaknit Posted - 03/18/2008 : 4:08:58 PM
Great work fiddlerbird555! Best of luck with your move and your new job.

Jan
Punctuatedknitter Posted - 03/18/2008 : 07:42:43 AM
Congrats!!!
counterculture Posted - 03/18/2008 : 05:01:41 AM
Awe, fiddlerbird555, you made my day! Congratulations! Thanks for the update. All the best to you!
kdcrowley Posted - 03/17/2008 : 8:16:01 PM
quote:
Originally posted by fiddlerbird555

Well, I got the Colorado job, moving out in April, family joining me in June (school). FWIW, what really impressed folk was the cover letter. My actual qualifications are a bit eclectic, but I managed to come off as someone who can seriously think about what the group is trying to accomplish. Wish me luck finding a house. Interview suit was all black, unused inheritance from MIL (She had a personal shopper) with bright green (flattering on me) shirt underneath. Made up as much as I could endure, hair dyed rather badly but conservatively (hey, it was my first try).

____________________________________________________

I can go loopy, or I can knit. Your choice.



YAY for you!

On the cover letter, well just goes to show, you never can tell!

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
fiddlerbird555 Posted - 03/17/2008 : 8:10:09 PM
Well, I got the Colorado job, moving out in April, family joining me in June (school). FWIW, what really impressed folk was the cover letter. My actual qualifications are a bit eclectic, but I managed to come off as someone who can seriously think about what the group is trying to accomplish. Wish me luck finding a house. Interview suit was all black, unused inheritance from MIL (She had a personal shopper) with bright green (flattering on me) shirt underneath. Made up as much as I could endure, hair dyed rather badly but conservatively (hey, it was my first try).

____________________________________________________

I can go loopy, or I can knit. Your choice.
counterculture Posted - 02/14/2008 : 04:33:20 AM
fidderbird, Good Luck to you and keep us posted. It's a lot of work finding work..I'm in the same boat
fiddlerbird555 Posted - 02/13/2008 : 5:24:36 PM
Actually, one of my interviews is in CO. Next week.

____________________________________________________

I can go loopy, or I can knit. Your choice.
kdcrowley Posted - 02/12/2008 : 9:12:06 PM
Too true, KL.

Rule #1 in negotiations: Be prepared to say no and walk away, even if you don't want to....just be prepared and believe that you will, that way they will believe it too!

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
KL Posted - 02/11/2008 : 9:34:29 PM
When dealing with salary negotiations-Employer always has the final word. And their goal is to get the best person for the job at the lowest cost. Period.

They always ask you what you are looking for.

I always plug in 20-30% more than what I am willing to settle for. When they counter offer, it is usually right in the ball park that I wanted.

And rest assured, they probably would have gone higher.

They may say "No" at time of interview- but you may get the "Yes" at a later date.

I have been in positions where I just said "I believe my worth to you is not acceptable at this salary".

Guess what? I came in where I wanted to be. And Who knows? It may have been more!

Don't sell yourself short.

They have a figure in mind- as should you.

It is hard to say "No Thank You"- but it can really work in your favor. JMO, KL
kdcrowley Posted - 02/11/2008 : 7:28:09 PM
quote:
Originally posted by CatherineM
You have to feel your way through this stuff, and also realize that if it's that damn hard to negotiate the corporate culture, you may not want to be part of it.

Catherine
http://yorkiedog.blogspot.com


Damn straight, Cath.

Anyway, I hope that you are still doing the job search, since maybe you can get the next company to pay for the relocation....wouldn't that be a bonus? Best of luck anyway!
Bethany Posted - 02/10/2008 : 8:23:30 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Punctuatedknitter

I find it interesting that cover letters in some businesses are basically useless. I think for most academic positions (professorships) they are very important. It is very interesting hearing about the cultural differences between fields.



Interesting. I was applying for assistant professorships this fall and my adviser told me that cover letters were basically useless, too. (I think he said he generally threw them out without reading them when he was on search committees, assuming the chair of the search committee hadn't thrown it out already.) It was the research statement (and to a lesser extent, the teaching statement) that was important. My cover letter basically just said in much more professional language, "I'm applying for a job, the stuff is in the envelope, I bothered to cut and paste your name and the name of the university into this letter, please give me a job, thanks!"

But I gather in some fields of academia there isn't a separate research statement? In that case, I can see that the cover letter would be vital, since I assume that's where all the stuff about your interests and experience would go.

CatherineM Posted - 02/10/2008 : 8:02:23 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Punctuatedknitter

I find it interesting that cover letters in some businesses are basically useless. I think for most academic positions (professorships) they are very important. It is very interesting hearing about the cultural differences between fields.



I think so much of this advice is specific to the business culture and also regional. I can't imagine anyone taking off points for wearing open toed shoes to a job interview in Florida (unless you are a man, they are pretty much not allowed to show toes until they are on the payroll.) You do have to know the culture you're entering, and if in doubt, that is how headhunters and agencies earn their keep.

Catherine
http://yorkiedog.blogspot.com
CatherineM Posted - 02/10/2008 : 7:53:55 PM
quote:
Originally posted by sandyt

I guess the positions that I'm addressing are the ones that serious candidates are considered over a period of days after the completion of all of the interviews. There is that business venue. Notes should be posted the same day and will arrive within a day or two. There isn't really a substitute. If someone has scheduled the time to interview a prospective candidate, they should be shown the respect of a formal thank you.

A pretty note??? Huh?? Formal note card in white or off-white, plain envelope, neat handwriting. That's it. A stamp. A few sentences. No more.




Oh no, you mean I should throw out the scented pink stationery? (nod to "Legally Blonde" there). There really is a substitute in most industries. I don't know all industries, obviously, I've only hired regionally for specific positions in two big corporations and one regional privately held building company, so I don't hold myself out as the bottom line by any means. But I do think depends on how the job prospect came to you. If a headhunter hooked me up and all of my interaction with the prospective employer was formal, I'd send a handwritten note on a plain white note card, let them analyze my handwriting, if they are that crazy I'd like to screen them too.

If I found it myself via an online search, and we communicated via email all along, email is the mode of communication and there is no reason to change it. Emily Post may still be great for weddings, but a lot of business communication has gone to email and there is no reason to ignore this to be "proper." Proper can backfire as stuffy. You have to feel your way through this stuff, and also realize that if it's that damn hard to negotiate the corporate culture, you may not want to be part of it.

Catherine
http://yorkiedog.blogspot.com
Punctuatedknitter Posted - 02/10/2008 : 7:50:13 PM
I find it interesting that cover letters in some businesses are basically useless. I think for most academic positions (professorships) they are very important. It is very interesting hearing about the cultural differences between fields.
CatherineM Posted - 02/10/2008 : 6:56:08 PM
KD saved me a lot of typing. I agree that in the interview process it's non-linear, and when I was the person doing the hiring the last time around, I really didn't read or care about cover letters. If you send one, it should be short and sweet, a professionally phrased: I'm applying for this job. I have (name a couple of your basic qualifications in ten words or less) skills. Looking forward to discussing with you...blah blah, yadda yadda, whatever, they've stopped reading by that point. Ditto thank you notes - yes, it's a nice touch and it shows good follow through, but if you sent your resume via email and emailed me later to say thanks for the interview, that's fine.

And on the salary negotiation - research the market and know what you want, and hold firm - I negotiated my last employer upward over $10k by politely but bluntly telling the HR guy he was lowballing for that particular position, and I'd be happy to direct him to people who could confirm this. My attitude is, if they retract the offer because they don't want to pay you a fair salary for your position, exactly why is this a bad thing?

And this may be regional, but I have learned that in this market you have to negotiate a good number going in the door, because there ain't no annual raises to count on no more. The last two employers did every other year increases - and no, not just for me, that was their official policy. And 3% was the max across the board for one of them. (Of course if you are the head of the division your 3% is a lot bigger than your minions.) A 3% raise every other year doesn't even keep up with the cost of living - which is why I left that place and aggressively negotiated my next salary. So you don't want to settle for a smaller salary going in the door anticipating that you will "catch up" later. You might, you might not.

So Says the Unemployed One in Floriduh, who is hating the market here and planning to move as soon as she can unload this house.

Catherine
http://yorkiedog.blogspot.com
Bethany Posted - 02/10/2008 : 5:22:54 PM
Interesting. I emailed brief thank-you notes to the main people I met with for the job I interviewed for in December (my adviser said it was fine to email short notes, and my experience is that university mail systems can delay items for a surprisingly long period of time) but even if I had sent the letters snail-mail it would never have occurred to me to hand-write them. I would have printed them out on letterhead, the same way I did my cover letters. Is hand-writing normal for some sorts of positions? I don't inflict my handwriting on people if I can help it!

What alarms me is that empirically, handwriting analysis is pretty much useless. You may as well ask for the candidate's birthdate and draw up a horoscope!
knottyknitter Posted - 02/10/2008 : 3:58:24 PM
quote:
Originally posted by mokey

I hate Emily Post! We read her stuff for a good laugh.

I could see for a top level position, but not regular gig. Same for unsolicited resumes. Please don't show up at our office, ignore the sign and expect to get an interview.

Brought to you by the tongue in cheek-y monkey
---------------------------------------------------------------------





We actually got a lot of entertainment out of the last handwritten notes we received from a candidate after the intervew (we do a group peer interview at my work). It was obvious that he had mailed them on his way out the door from the interview, based on how quickly we got them. I wondered if he had pre-written them! All they did was show us that he was too desperite actually. I agree - an e-mail note for most position is just as good. Especially in a technology position, such as the one the OP is going for (engineer - I believe?) The only time in recent years that a handwritten note has made a positive impression is after we interviewed for an in house graphic designer, one candidate sent notes that were written on very obviously hand-crafted note cards. Since we were hiring a designer, this was impressive - and helped us see a little bit more of her creative personality. She even spelled my name incorrectly on mine, but it didn't matter (we weren't hiring a copy writer!). She got the job. But all other positions - hand written or e-mailed - makes no difference. And Mokey is right, some companies do handwriting analysis. I worked part time for a small company years ago who routinely did that for new office employees! Yikes!

http://blog.kittyknitter.com
My blog at Kitty's Knitterbox
kdcrowley Posted - 02/10/2008 : 2:49:36 PM
In my recent search, my search was all done via email and online. I do not send a resume to a company unsolicited, because they all want to know what position you are looking for, unless you know that they are doing keyword searches. And I ask you, if you are looking for a job, what good does it do to send your resume to a company that does not have open positions? And to be perfectly honest, I don't do cover letters really anymore....they get binned, and have not seemed to matter in the long run.

My new company, I put in my resume to the engine, but also applied for a position, they called me the next day and it was less than a month to offer. I did all of my thank yous by email. Same thing with the Russian mafia, all by phone and email. The point is to express that you are still interested after the interview.

As for serious candidates being considered over a period of days, well, that is optimistic, I think that they are considered over the whole period as part of the process of weighing and considering, I don't think it's linear at all. And I think that days may be appropriate at a certain level, but realistically, it is usually more of a weeks or months timeline at the higher levels, unless a company is motivated to fill, and then there will be other considerations.

Anyway, the rules are really more of a guideline, and all career advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Someone told me that I should not negotiate the salary on my most recent offer, which I did not follow. Good thing, because I got an extra 5% salary, which might be more than my next raise, and that amount will affect how much I can contribute to my 401k, my bonus calculations, my raise calculations and other benefits, like the life insurance for my family. Why not try? The advice by the way was that if I countered, they would retract the offer, as opposed to counter the counter....which is ridiculous, they are usually expecting to be countered and don't make their best offer off the bat. Of course, Mickey D's aint gonna negotiate for the fry cook job, but I bet that they do for the managers.....It all has to do with where you are.

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
sandyt Posted - 02/09/2008 : 9:07:25 PM
I guess the positions that I'm addressing are the ones that serious candidates are considered over a period of days after the completion of all of the interviews. There is that business venue. Notes should be posted the same day and will arrive within a day or two. There isn't really a substitute. If someone has scheduled the time to interview a prospective candidate, they should be shown the respect of a formal thank you.

A pretty note??? Huh?? Formal note card in white or off-white, plain envelope, neat handwriting. That's it. A stamp. A few sentences. No more.
CatherineM Posted - 02/09/2008 : 9:00:47 PM
There are different business venues. If you're in a situation where your resume was solicited by email, you accordingly sent it with your cover letter via email, and a phone call or two later you show up for an interview, I don't think it is tacky to send your thank you note via email - that is the medium used throughout. In an environment that moves at a fast pace, even if you go home and write a pretty thank you note on lovely stationery right after the interview and walk right to the mailbox and send it via snail mail, it can get there after the position was filled. If they were doing business via email and you respond via snail, you don't get style points, you get dinked as someone who didn't notice how they did business. Granted, a lot of that "sense of urgency" is posturing and crap, but still, it's THEIR posturing and crap, and you need to spot it and play along.



Catherine
http://yorkiedog.blogspot.com

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