Category Archives: Featured

16 Essentials of Men's Style

Put This On is blog series devoted to “dressing like a grownup.” Their advice is practical and comprehensive, though I may not agree with all of it. I combed their site and summarized gold nuggets that are specifically helpful to job seekers.

According to Jesse, “Your goal in dressing for an interview should be to convey that you care about the opportunity, and that you’re willing to be part of the team. You should dress conservatively, without ostentation, and err on the side of formality. … Basic interview attire is a navy or gray suit, black shoes, a white shirt, and a simple tie. … Never showy, always appropriate. Simple, neat, never distracting.”

Below is a summary of 16 essentials of style that every job-seeking man should consider.

  1. Jacket should follow the lines of your upper body and not be too loose or tight.
  2. Suits in gray, navy (and also in black, in my opinion).
  3. White dress shirts.
  4. White t-shirts underneath dress shirts.
  5. Unbutton the bottom button of jacket and/or vest.
  6. Buttoning the top button is optional on 3-button jackets.
  7. Black belt with black shoes, brown belt with brown shoes.
  8. Belt or suspenders, but never both.
  9. Standard dress belt ~1 1/4″ wide; don’t go narrower. Wider than 1 1/4″ is casual.
  10. Pants are fine with or without cuffs, with or without pleats; but without is more modern.
  11. Pant length somewhere between bottom of heel and where shoe heel meets the ground.
  12. Tailor suits, sport coats or pants as necessary.
  13. Tie should have a dimple in the knot.
  14. Tie should reach belt line–not above or below belt.
  15. Wear a tie only with a suit, sport coat or sweater, but never solo.
  16. For casual attire: light-weight wool pants, khaki pants, good straight-cut jeans with no holes, patterned long sleeve shirts, solid polos and sweaters.


Body Language Improves Interviews

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy reveals in the below video that altering your physical posture, even for only 2 minutes, can change your hormone levels and the way you feel and are perceived by people. This can equate to better interviews.

Use expansive body language which can include shoulders back, arms out, and smiling. She recommends practicing such actions prior to an interview to raise your testosterone level and to lower your cortisol level. Higher testosterone is associated with confidence, power, and higher risk tolerance. Lower cortisol levels are associated with less stress and calmness. This combination is linked with effective leadership. Contracted body language (closed) is linked to feelings of lower status and worth, and is exemplified by hunched shoulders, head lowered, crossed arms and legs, and not smiling.

This research gives scientific evidence to what most of us already know–that simple actions of smiling and using open body language can improve how people are perceived by others. Try it before and during your next interview!

Amy Cuddy: Power Poses from PopTech on Vimeo.

Unpaid Internships: Legal or Illegal?

A few months ago I blogged about the ethical concerns surrounding unpaid internships in the article, Unpaid Internship: Is It Worth It?. This article, on legality, covers the other half of the controversy. New York Times sparked the debate last year in their article, The Unpaid Intern: Legal or Not, and it’s been a hot topic nationwide ever since.

The focus of the debate revolves around unpaid internships at for-profit companies. The following 6 points must be met in order for unpaid internships at for-profit companies to be legal according to federal law:

  1. The training (internship), even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction
  2. The training (internship) is for the benefit of the trainees (interns)
  3. The trainees (interns) do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees (interns), and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded
  5. The trainees (interns) are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training (internship) period
  6. The employer and the trainees (interns) understand that the trainees (interns) are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training (internship).

What this means in plain English is that virtually every unpaid internship at a for-profit company is illegal. Why? Because it would be almost impossible for a company not to derive at least some “immediate advantage” (#4 above) from intern activity. Organizations must produce goods and services (producing “immediate advantage”) for their survival. Therefore why would interns be separated from this essential role? Answer: they’re not separated.

If all unpaid internships at for-profit companies are illegal, what should students do if they wish to pursue this type of internship? First of all, it’s unrealistic for students to try changing deep-rooted systems like this. Getting good experience matters more, and sometimes it may require volunteering time as an investment. After all, some industries refuse to pay interns because they don’t have to; industry competition may be fierce and jobs rare. Film, fashion, music, sports and entertainment industries are known to be this way. These industries consider “payment” to be industry exposure, contacts, insider access, and a foot-in-the-door. The federal government has threatened fines on companies that violate these laws, but large scale enforcement is hard to imagine in our current (or future) economy.

Most people who have spent a decent amount of time in the work world probably recognize that their path took multiple turns, sometimes into lesser known areas. Investing time and personal resources are often necessary steps to pursuing dreams.

Job Attainment: Liberal Arts vs. Other Majors

Is it a problem that no defined job path exists for humanities and social science majors? Hey, it’s not much different for undergrads in business, communication, and psychology. Flexibility is a benefit of generalist-type degrees, but it can also be a liability in trying to land certain jobs.

So why would someone hire a liberal arts major over others? Analytical thinking, creative problem solving, and effective communication are some of the skills liberal arts majors are trained in. And these are qualities most organizations value highly. One problem, however, is that the jobless rate tends to be higher among recent liberal arts grads compared with other majors.

The New York Times illustrated this problem in a recently published article showing the percentage of college grads under 25 years old holding jobs that require degrees (a.k.a. the college labor market):

1. 71%, Education
2. 69%, Engineering
3. 68%, Math/Computer Science
4. 65%, Health
5. 57%, Physical Science
6. 56%, Business
7. 51%, Communication
8. 46%, Humanities
9. 45%, Area Studies (including Social Sciences)
Source: NY Times, May 19, 2011

These statistics reveal that choice of major can affect how long it takes to get a job, which can have a significant financial impact on recent grads’ salary earnings. People attend college partly to enrich their lives but also to become equipped to land jobs with a higher skill level and salary. This same article said recent college graduates’ median salary is about 41% more per year ($11,000) compared to people without college degrees. A $11,000 disparity may seem low until you realize that it includes full-time, part-time, and temporary workers–in addition, there are many people who earn more than the median.

It’s no mystery that high-demand skills, such as nursing and computer science, produce higher salaries than lower-demand skills. But how much should this influence peoples’ choices in majors? Should people who are passionate about, say, humanities refrain from studying humanities for economic reasons? Short term economics may indeed be challenging, but what about long term job prospects? It seems reasonable that people who do what they love can eventually earn decent earnings if they are persistent in improving skills in their target area while also pursuing key decision makers in their field.

Why is it hardest for Humanities and Area Studies (Social Sciences) majors to land jobs after graduation? One reason is likely because cost efficiency is more important than ever in organizations. People without specific training to boost revenue, cut expenses, or invest company assets can be perceived to hold less value in many organizations. This doesn’t mean, however, that humanities or social science majors are less capable of producing cost efficiency. Nevertheless organizations tend to make more conservative hiring decisions during hard economic times. In other words, they may perceive it as a higher financial risk to employ humanities or social science majors over some other majors.

On the other hand, companies like Google and Apple are now reaching out to humanities and social science majors (source: NY Daily News, Sep 4, 2011). “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, than yields us the result that makes our heart sing,” says Steve Jobs of Apple. “Products must appeal to human beings, and a rigorously cultivated humanistic sensibility is a valued asset,” says Damon Horowitz of Google. The NY Daily News article describes a trend in some universities to mix technology, liberal arts and communication to equip people for the workplace of today. To what degree is Biola heading in this direction?

For anyone who might suggest that a liberal arts education has a questionable future, here are some recognizable names who hold humanities and social science degrees and have achieved some form of career success (source: NY Daily News, Sep 4, 2011):

Bradbury Anderson, CEO of BestBuy, BA in Sociology
Kofi Annan, Politician, BA in Economics
James Baker, Former Secretary of State, BA in Classics
Jerry Brown, Governor of California, BA in Classics
George W. Bush, Former President, BA in History
Bill Clinton, Former President, BA in International Affairs
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State (and former Senator), BA in Political Science
Ethan Coen, Filmmaker, BA in Philosophy
Katie Couric, Journalist, BA in English/American Studies
Rivers Cuomo, Musician, BA in American Literature
David Duchovny, Actor, BA in English Literature
John Elway, Athlete, BA in Economics
Jodi Foster, Actress, BA in English Literature
Art Garfunkel, Musician, BA in Art History
Rudy Giuliani, Former Mayor of New York, BA in Political Science
Philip Glass, Composer, BA in Mathematics and Philosophy
Matt Groening, Creator of the Simpsons, BA in Philosophy
Bryant Gumbel, Journalist, BA in History
Kareem Abdul Jabaar, Athlete, BA in History
Michael Jordan, Athlete, BA in Cultural Geography
Ashley Judd, Actress, BA in French
John F. Kennedy, Former President, BA in History
Tommy Lee Jones, Actor, BA in English
Lisa Loeb, Songwriter, BA in Comparative Literature
Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader & Pastor, BA in Sociology
Bill Maher, Entertainer, BA in English
Steve Martin, Performer & Actor, BA in Philosophy
Phil McGraw, TV Psychologist, BA in Psychology
Toni Morrison, Writer and Nobel Prize Winner, BA in English
Conan O’Brien, Entertainer, BA in History and American Literature
Barak Obama, President, BA in Political Science
Michele Obama, First Lady, BA in Sociology
Regis Philbin, Talk Show Host, BA in Sociology
Brad Pitt, Actor, BA in Journalism
David Plouffe, Political Consultant, BA in Political Science
Natalie Portman, Actress, BA in Psychology
Sally Ride, Astronaut, BA in English (and Physics)
Stephen Riggio, CEO of Barnes & Noble, BA in Anthropology
Janet Robinson, CEO of the New York Times Co., BA in English
Philip Roth, Writer, BA in English
Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice, BA in History
Willard Scott, TV Weatherman, BA in Philosophy & Religion
Maria Shriver, Journalist, BA in American Studies
Paul Simon, Musician, BA in English literature
George Soros, Philanthropist, BA in Philosophy
Mira Sorvino, Actress, BA in Asian Studies
Sonya Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice, BA in History
Michael Steele, Politician, BA in International Relations
George Stephanopoulos, Journalist, BA in Political Science
Barbara Walters, Journalist, BA in English
Meg Whitman, CEO of HP & former CEO of eBay, BA in Economics
Robin Williams, Entertainer, BA in Sociology

One Way to Meet Biola Alumni

Most recent college grads are ill-equipped to land a job according to an April 2011 survey by Braun Research. They underestimate how much time and effort job searching takes. 29% wish they would have spent more time building a professional network – including connecting with alumni.

“Networking can be scary,” says Lindsey Pollak, a career expert who focuses on Generation Y in the workplace, “but about 70% of jobs are found through networking.” Fellow alumni are more receptive to connecting for job search purposes than other people, especially if approached in a thoughtful and appreciative way.

In light of the importance of networking, Biola’s Center for Career Development is bringing an amazing group of alumni to campus on Nov 3 to mingle with students over dinner. Alumni from Disney, Universal Studios, Mattel, The Getty, Oakley, Microsoft, ECCU, B Jones Style, Vizio, IJM, Boys and Girls Club, and Olive Crest. Register now for this fun event before all the seats are gone: Evening with Professionals

Source: The 10 Worst Mistakes of First-Time Job Hunters, Oct 11, 2011, by Kelly Eggers

"Liberal Arts" & Leadership Jobs

You may have heard it said that the liberal arts prepare people for leadership. But what exactly does that mean? Before coming to an understanding of how liberal arts equip individuals for leadership, it’s important to know what leadership in action looks like. Susan de la Vergne in her article, The Liberal Arts and “Leadership”, stresses that leadership doesn’t always equate being in charge. Instead, it “describes a collection of characteristics and abilities that employers are desperate to find in both candidates and employees.” She gives the following examples of what leadership at work looks like:

1. People who can visualize, from several different perspectives, what needs to be done next (on a project, for example) and can describe it to others.

2. People who sign up to do what’s needed, who demonstrate initiative.  They say, “I’ll do that!”—and then they do.

3. People who are relatively comfortable with ambiguity, e.g., conflicting priorities, changing interpretations of “the facts,” or inconsistent direction given by managers who simply forgot what they said last week.

4. People who aren’t surprised by their colleagues’ strange behavior or by individuals’ or groups’ emotional reactions to everyday news and events on the job.  They understand something about human motivation.

5. People who work well with others from different national cultures, not just that they’re pleasant and accepting of all nationalities, but that they understand the differences in communication, conventions, and social interaction and how that all plays out on the job.

How the Liberal Arts Prepare Employees

de la Vergne elaborates on a few points:

Visualizing and describing work to be done—calls on imagination and communication.  It takes imagination and an understanding of human behavior to think through [what should be done, who will talk to whom and what the issues really are in a given business situation], abilities developed in a liberal arts education.  It also calls on the abilities to write and speak clearly, to carry forward on the ideas and plans generated in the meeting.

The third one, about ambiguity, is something liberal arts students are much better prepared for than their counterparts in vocational majors.  Engineers and computer science majors, for example, specialize in determinism.  It’s either right or it’s not. That’s why they’re good at designing bridges, calculating satellite performance, determining load capacity. But many situations in business aren’t like that at all.  They’re murky, conflicted, ever-changing.  Students who have studied culture, history, art, and language aren’t uncomfortable with situations where there can be more than one right answer, more than one #1 priority.  The liberal arts aren’t about correctly predicting an outcome—as business likes to and engineering must.

de la Vergne also says that those “whose education has prepared them broadly as communicators, analysts, researchers, readers and people who understand something about human behavior are likely to say “yes” to many opportunities.” They are often better at taking initiative because nothing seems too far from their “expertise.”

What skills do you think are necessary in leadership? Do you agree that liberal arts students may be better equipped for leadership than vocational majors? Why or why not?

Read Susan de la Vergne entire article: The Liberal Arts and “Leadership”.

College World vs. Real World

Did you know that college students average 8.3 hours of sleep a night, while professionals average 7.7 hours? This may seem surprising; while in college you feel like you’re constantly working on something, staying up late and are exhausted. But in reality more professionals are working over 40 hours a week and getting less sleep than students. Similarly, students average 3.6 hours of down time per day, while professionals only average 2.6 hours a day.

Concern about appearance, however, is the biggest difference between students and professionals cited on the infographic below. Professionals judge each other heavily by their outward appearance. It can make the difference in being chosen for a job, promoted, or can lead to job loss. On the other hand, how often have you rolled out of bed, thrown on a t-shirt and gym shorts and ran to class, bed-head and all? It probably hasn’t ruined your grades or done other major damage…at least not yet.

Job Search In a Strange Land

Today I received an email from a Biola alum who wishes to secure a job in a middle eastern country–not an easy task. She was given a contact name of someone who is known to hire women in that country and asked me how I suggest pursuing communication with that contact. I’m sharing my response to her because job seekers can use this same approach when pursuing a contact in any country including the U.S.

“For many reasons it’s preferable to call (vs. email) if you can sleuth out his number. Either way, try to learn as much as possible beforehand about his business operation. Examples of research questions include:

  • What is his specialization?
  • What type of countries, companies, and/or individuals constitute his main clients?
  • How does he market to his target audience?
  • What volume of business does he generate?
  • How long has he been in the trade?
  • What is his background?
  • What are some perceived problem spots in his business?
  • How/where is he trying to grow his operation?

“Craft your introduction ‘cold call’ based on answers you uncover to the above questions, and focus on the areas where you possess both interest and experience. For instance, you might say something like, ‘You were referred to me by ____________ who I met in Jordan this summer. S/he thought that you and I may have similar professional interests in ____________. I was wondering if I could schedule a 10-minute phone call with you to find out more about your business and seek your advice on securing work in [country name]. What time of day would be convenient if I called you, say, next Thursday or Friday?’

“Toward the end of your call, you can test the waters to see if there might be work available in his business; if work seems improbable you can ask him who he suggests you call (and request their number).

“The key to a successful call is making it easy for him to feel like he can help you with something. If your only question is whether he can hire you, then there is a high chance that your conversation will be cut short because he may not feel like he can help if he can’t offer you a job today. It’s best to keep the conversation open-ended and focus on learning about his background and his needs rather than emphasizing your wants. Keep in mind that you’re building a contact list to call on later as needed.”

10 Most Innovative Fashion Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Fashion Companies. What other fashion companies do you think should have been included? The following text is copied directly from their site: Top 10 Fashion

01 / Burberry »

For breathing new life into a luxury stronghold. Burberry has not only emerged as one of the best-designed and most successful luxury brands, but also the most technologically advanced. Last year, the fashion house live-streamed its runway show in 3-D and offered an unprecedented 72-hour presale to consumers worldwide.

02 / Opening Ceremony »

For building a global brand that still feels exclusive. Opening Ceremony continued its takeover of all things hip in 2010 when it opened a second New York location at the Ace Hotel (shops also exist in Tokyo and Los Angeles). Founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are also responsible for moving popular brands to the U.S. market, including Havaianas, Acne, and Topshop, as well as becoming an authority on design collaborations, working with designers and creatives from Levi’s to Chloe Sevigny to Spike Jonze.

03 / RentTheRunway »

For being the Netflix for dresses (and handbags and accessories). In just a year, its website has attracted 750,000 members (adding 20,000 a week) and built personal relationships with more than 100 designer brands, including Proenza Schouler, Nina Ricci, and Alice+Olivia, offering dresses to fashion-obsessed consumers nationwide–a four day rental costs just 10% of the retail cost. The company’s revenue for 2010 is estimated at $6 million, and is expected to grow to more than $20 million in 2011.

04 / J.Crew »

For redefining affordable American style. Following the successful openings of The Liquor Store and The Men’s Shop in New York (which feature limited-edition items like Red Wing boots, Thomas Mason shirts, vintage finds such as Timex watches, and a suiting shop), the company has continued to spread its message with a series of specialty boutiques. Last summer, the company launched the much anticipated e-commerce site for women’s brand Madewell, and in September it debuted an innovative and risky online outlet store–open only on the weekends–complete with chat-ready personal shoppers.

05 / CreateThe Group »

For being the behind-the-scenes player helping such luxury brands as Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Tory Burch, and many others to create a strong online presence. Fusing a strong tech team with a passionate creative team, the company offers e-commerce solutions and original advertising campaigns. CreateThe Group’s work has resulted in a 30% increase in online sales for David Yurman, tripled repeat visitors to Juicy Couture’s website (and created a company-specific social network), and doubled traffic to Oscar de La Renta’s site.

06 / IMG »

For being the power broker behind nearly every Fashion Week worldwide. New York Fashion Week, for example, is responsible for bringing $770 million worth of economic activity to the Big Apple, and IMG successfully upgraded the event in 2010 by moving it to Lincoln Center and adding digital invitations and check-ins, better accessibility for attendees, improved design of the runway theaters to offer advanced production capabilities, and a presentation space to attract more up-and-coming designers.

07 / 3.1 Phillip Lim »

For its nimbleness in the burgeoning Asian market, both on the manufacturing end and in sales. The brand, led by Lim and CEO Wen Zhou–both of whom are Chinese–celebrated its fifth anniversary in October with a runway show on Beijing’s Forbidden City Wall. Featuring all Asian models, it was the first time an international designer of Lim’s generation ever showed in the country.

08 / Forever 21 »

For giving the low-price chain a high-end sensibility. Sisters Linda and Esther Chang (28 and 23, respectively), daughters of the founders, have used their perch running the marketing and visual departments to make changes such as merchandising departments based on trend. Thanks to their input, the company made some of its biggest moves in 2010, including a maternity and plus-size line for the now $2 billion company.

09 / Monique Péan »

For being an eco-friendly jewelry designer. Pean, a 2009 CFDA Fashion Fund winner, handcrafts pieces from materials such as farmed pearls and beads made of recycled crushed oyster shells, buffalo horn, woolly mammoth tusk and walrus ivory (all of which are fossilized and obtained through naturally melting glaciers).

10 / QVC »

For becoming so much more than television trunk shows. The $7.4 billion retailer has become a multiplatform company, with one-third of all sales done through its website. By teaming with high-profile celebrities including Rachel Zoe, the Kardashian sisters, and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, QVC is reaching a younger and more tech-savvy audience.