Category Archives: CC Connection

Didn’t get the job? Look at your hair lately?

Does your hair define who you are…in an interview?

DSC_0022As you sit twisting away at your dreads, you wonder why you didn’t get the job you always wanted, knowing you were qualified and you made a great first impression. Not being able to put your finger on a specific reason for not being called back leads to immense frustration.

Did you ever think that it may just have been because of those beautiful locks flowing from your head? Believe it or not, what you have on top of your head can have a major impact when it comes to career marketing.

Truth is, as seasons and styles change, so do hair styles. In order to better prepare yourself for that elusive interview, you must consider hair do’s and don’ts.

On a personal note, I have come across many jobs where hair was the reason for not getting the job. Thus, the next question surfaces: What is so important about the way your hair looks that makes an employer decide whether or not they will hire you?

First and foremost you must recognize that “Corporate America” has dress codes, even for hair. Most hair issues revolve around old-fashioned blue collar Monday – Friday 9-5 jobs. Given the conservative nature, many companies are concerned about image in order not to be frowned upon by mainstream America.

Natural Hair vs Straight

Natural curly hair, aka Afro, is a way for African Americans, as well as other nationalities with the same hair type, to embrace their roots. Unfortunately, there remain many negative stereotypes revolving around hairstyles. For example, many employers believe that big natural curly afro’s women wear today says too much about the person. First impressions, wrong as they may be, suggest, natural curly afros indicate the person will act like a “wild individual.” While straight hair indicates “empowerment and confidence” to the person who is interviewing you according to an ORMC HR rep.

More now than ever, women are growing their natural curly hair into big beautiful afros. But are afros too much for the interview? It appears so as “Corporate America” seems to yell a resounding “yes,” the bigger the afro, the less likely you will get the job.

Truth is: According to Afro-State of Mind author Laurie Daniel Favors, many jobs and panels frown upon the idea of women wearing natural hair in the work place.

Colored Hair

Should your hair make a statement? Often you see people topping bright hair colors such as pink and red, even darker colors like blue. But what is your hair telling the people who are interviewing you? Not to cut this short, but It may be best to minimize the shock factor by making sure your hair color won’t make the company feel as if they would be ashamed to introduce you to a potential client.

Career tip #1: Allow your hair color to should suit you, but not stand out.

My hair color was a main issue for me when working for an enormous company over three years. When I decided to dye my hair a color lighter or a color darker, I was told it had to compliment my skin tone in order to fit in with the company’s guidelines. It was made clear that if it did not, I would be forced to wear a wig while at work. Even during the interview process I was told if I got the job I would have to change my hair color upon starting.

Career tip #2: Read the fine print as hair color policies are often written in fine print within their employee booklets.

Dreads

More jobs have become hair lenient when it comes to dreads as long as they are kept clean. When it comes to initial interviews, play it safe as others still oppose or carry negative perceptions.

There remain misconceptions when it comes to dreadlocks and many employers do not like the look of matted hair, seeing them as not befitting to part of their business appearance.  “Young black men with dreads are often perceived as thugs,” said Dr. Gilo Kwesi when interviewed by Mary Mitchell on the topic.

Many of my friends have gone on interviews at a job that I used to have. During the interview they were asked if they received a job offer, would they be ok cutting off the dreads or removing the braids. Unfortunately, most of them did not agree to those terms and were denied the job because it did not fit in with that company’s “look” guideline.

Interested in a certain job that you know has a tendency to turn away people with natural, colored, or dreaded hair? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get that job offer? If so, I suggest you stick a hot comb to the hair and color it a solid color. If you want to remain with natural curls, pull them back into a neat bun. If you are not willing to change your hair style to fit the company’s appearance guidelines, you simply need to find a job that best suits you and your hair.

When unsure of the hair policy, remember first impressions are critical, recognize you not being offered a job could be due to what’s on top of your head. One more hint, always research the company and the guidelines prior to applying to the job.

Your CC Connection
Belinda Lys

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Don’t be afraid to change your career

DSC_0003Satisfied with your career?  Do you find it hard to get up in the morning with a positive attitude?  Are you considering a career change?  You’ve spent half your life, countless hours and tons of money mastering skills to further enhance the career you always wanted, but are you happy?

CC Connection Knowledge Bite:  According to Gallup’s 2013 ongoing study of the American workplace, out of approximately 100 million people in America who hold full time jobs, 50% of workers are NOT content.  (www.gallup.com)  Are you one of the lucky few?

If you are not one of the happy ones, do you start all over?  Beginning anew may require a lot more time, money, and energy.  Who’s to say you will even be successful at what you attempt to do or satisfied with the new career?  Perhaps you are thinking twice as you have an established job where you are prosperous.  If this is the case, what do you do?  If you re-boot, no doubt some will feel you lost your mind while others may commend you for your valiant endeavor.

If something is getting in the way to your career satisfaction, recognize there are many opportunities in today’s society to make just about anything possible. Why not go for it?  Truth is the main reason we don’t initiate change is fear.

Fear can be defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.

As the survey clearly infers, many individuals go through life repeating the same task day in and day out wishing they had the opportunity to do something else.  Whether the reason is because of debt, children, health, failure, vanity, etc., they find an excuse instead.  People are afraid to make sacrifices and break out of their comfort zones.  Several people I know sit around discussing what they would enjoy doing while making more money, but never act on it.

Good news: There are ways you can control your fears when it comes to drastic changes.

  • One way is to change your daily routine in small increments. For instance, try waking up thirty-minutes earlier than you normally would.
  • Influence your mind by reading an inspirational quote or listening to a motivational speaker, enhancing relaxion.
  • Venture to new places alone each week; go to a movie, have a meal, or take a brisk walk in a park.

These three simple ways can help you resolve fears by building self-esteem while keeping a positive attitude to whatever may come.

If you are truly unhappy with what you are doing in your career and want a change, don’t let fear stop you.  The only one you really hurt is yourself.  If you continue to procrastinate because you are fearful, it will take you that much longer to achieve what you really want.  Don’t go through life regretting what may have been because it will pass by a lot faster than you can imagine.

Penned by
Caroline Kika-Smithwich
Your CC Connection

Interview Attire, The Sequel

DSC_0082A few days ago we reviewed professional attire for the ladies, now it’s time to shift our attention to the fellas out there:

Men, you do not have as many options as women when they are dressing for an interview.  You really have few choices on how to dress appropriately for an interview. These tips are for you and should be taken seriously if you really want that job.

  • Wear a suit, with tie
  • This includes a long sleeve dress shirt, white in color, or matching the suit you are wearing
  • Dress socks are a must
  • A belt adds to the professional look, even if you do not require wearing one
  • Dress shoes should be polished and shined
  • Hair should be cut neatly
  • Beards and mustaches must be trimmed
  • Nails should be cut short and neat
  • Briefcase, containing your portfolio

Next is a list of what should NOT be worn to an interview and applies to men and women.  If you find that you wear any of these items below, you may want to reconsider how you are dressing for interviews.

  • Jeans, t-shirts, shorts, or cut-offs of any kind
  • Tennis shoes, boots, or flip flops
  • Excessive jewelry, keep it to a minimum
  • Overpowering aftershave, colognes, or perfumes (notice deodorant is not included here)
  • Cell phones are NOT part of dressing for an interview, leave it in the car
  • Do not allow tattoos to show and if you have piercings in places other than your ears, take them out

Common sense rules that you should always apply, even though they are common sense sometimes people just don’t get it.

  • Prepare your outfit the day before
  • Do not go into the interview with chewing gum in your mouth
  • Do not go in carrying a cup of coffee or a bottle of soda
  • DO NOT BRING YOUR CELL PHONE INTO THE INTERVIEW

It would appear that this is a quite a bit of information to remember, but it really is not.  Once you have these basic tips down, the rest will follow.

CC Reflection: Think like a professional, dress like a professional, be a professional.

Meanwhile, as for my niece, she did finally get a job using the tips I had given her on how to dress, it is a starter job, but everyone has to start somewhere and the skills she will learn will help her in her future career.

Penned by
Sharon Parker
Your CC Connection

A Woman’s Evolving Empowerment

DSC_0166Although for some it may sound ridiculous, women continue to be the victims of gender discrimination. For many, discrimination is natural and based upon an historical expectation passed forth from household to the workforce. True enough, compared to other times in history, women have achieved more respect and recognition than at any other time… let’s take a minute or two to reflect.

Helping lead the way was The Equal Pay Act in 1963, designed to protect women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. Additionally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. (http://www.eeoc.gov/).

Though legislation to balance the field is in place, gender discrimination still exists.

Going back in history we learn World War II proved to highlight the necessity to have women become workforce active. After all, tools for war needed to be manufactured and factories were in desperate need of laborers. Statistically, before the war it was uncommon for women to work outside of their home. Thanks to the war, the number of working women rose from 14.6 million in 1941 to 19.4 million in 1944. Didn’t take long, but in only a few years, women proved they could do the same work as men.

More than 50 years ago The Equal Pay Act was passed to help correct compensation injustices. Not too long ago women were making 59 cents on the dollar for every dollar earned by a man.

Is it? Is it not? Jumping to modern times, on average women make 77cents on the dollar compared to what a man earns. Is this discrimination?

The reasons many companies prefer men over women in the workforce, even when women have a higher education level and/or the same experience as men, are too many to mention. Historically and culturally, there was (is?) the idea women want only to get married and have children, representing limitations for the employer. For the hiring manager, women represent extra expenses such as absences due to maternity responsibilities, as one of the reasons preventing women from getting a raise or a promotion… or so I’ve experienced first-hand.

Physical appearance represents another issue for consideration. (Un)Truth is, an attractive woman might represent a future sexual harassment law suit based on the number of males in the workplace. A woman that does not appear physically capable might not get even hired because the employer is making assumptions based strictly on gender without giving her the opportunity to prove him wrong. (Finn, Lisa. Demand Media)

Examining the issue objectively, Bloomberg performed an analysis and found average earnings for women to be lower than those for men. In 264 out of 265 major occupation categories, men earned more than women, representing 99.6% of all occupations. (www.bloomberg.com)

Gender discrimination is alive and kicking… no longer can our progressive country hide from the truth.

In a world of blatant discrimination, women must place success in their own hands, never settle for status quo, insist on progress, and understand that there is no limit to what can be accomplished.

Final truth: The world needs more talented, powerful, and smart women.

Already gaining steam, women can achieve equality by continuing their education, earning higher degrees, becoming entrepreneurs, and owners of their own ideas  as well as the architects of their own careers.

Penned by Carolina Mancipe
Your CC Connection

RESPECT in the work place begins with you

DSC_0064True enough, everyone wants to be treated with respect and dignity in the work place. Unfortunately, for many, respect and dignity as a concept does not mean that it can be bought or paid for in the workplace, it has to be earned, and I am a firm believer in the old saying “respect begets respect” and yes, we must treat others in the same way we desire to be treated. This means doing things that would professionally motivate others to do unto us what we do unto them.

Respect in the workplace is a fundamental expectation and the concept ‘professional respect’ is gaining much popularity because it relates to equity, justice, fairness, courtesy, and living peaceably with others. In fact, many would agree that apart from job stability, remunerations and compensations, health benefits, and work life balance, RESPECT is THE potent reason why many employees would keep or seek out new employment.

In the workplace, everyone wants and deserves recognition, such as being respected for hard work and the values they add to the company. Another truth: Appreciation counts for a lot of motivation while not recognizing the hard work a person brings to the table amounts to discontentment and lack of respect.

CC Connection tip: Workplace respect is based on the abilities and skills of an employee being sensitive to diversity and treating people the way you would like to be treated.

Here are a few tips you can do to create an environment for workplace respect to thrive:

  • Treat others the way you would like for people to treat you: This is the number one rule that would promote a healthy and civil workplace and atmosphere in any organization. Treating people with politeness, kindness, and courtesy goes a long way to create a work friendly environment.
  • Be sensitive to the ability and contributions as well as the disabilities of others: Be sure to acknowledge the fact that everyone has something to offer, no matter how small or intangible you think they are. To encourage mutual respect, get rid of that egocentric and ‘I know it all’ attitude. Remember, the world does not revolve around one person, namely YOU.
  • Be attentive and listen to what others have to say: It is rude to speak over people. Do not cut people off when they are speaking and of course letting them know that you are attentive makes people happy.
  • Encourage others around you by urging them to express opinions and ideas: Fact is, the success of a company cannot depend on just one person; it takes a team, their ability and contributions to make things happen.
  • Name calling, insulting people, and putting others down is a big NO. This is such an irresponsible thing to do, in fact it is one of the fastest ways to lose the support and respect of others in the work place. Name calling, insulting and undermining others eventually adds up to become workplace bullying, not a pleasant thing to be associated with and you don’t want to deal with that.
  • Be in control over your words and actions at all times: You can check yourself and be in control by not acting before you think. Knowing what brings out the worse and the best in you enables you to better manage reactions.
  • Build bridges of friendship, trust, and respect: A true bridge builder is sensitive and offers solution-based approaches to resolving workplace conflicts. Being able to deal with diversity by treating people with fairness and equity is the key to positive relationships.

RESPECT for others starts with respect for you. In order to earn the respect of others you must be able to respect yourself and this will inevitably attract the respect and civility of others unto you.

Get Connected!
Alache Mary Bagna
Your CC Connection

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the wait, or not!

DSC_0093You nailed the interview, sent a thank you note, now what? What happens after the interview is totally in your hands?

Research shows that along with a thank you note, the follow up phone call is the least used way of checking the status of your application.  This phone call is not only beneficial to you, but helps remind that interviewer of your keen interest in the position and company.

CC Connection Tip: A simple follow-up call keeps your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind.

Is it rude to call you ask? Not at all, especially if you set the phone calls up at the end of your interview. Before she shakes your hand and bids you on your way, she typically asks if you have any other questions. Your answer should be yes, followed by “when do you expect you will make a decision?” The interviewer then will give you a time frame therefore, setting up the phone call.

How soon is too soon and how many calls are too many?

Keep in mind the time frame given and whatever you do, do not call ten minutes after you walk out the door. Within the next few days, make a professional call. If the interviewer is not available to receive your call, leave a message. If she does not return your call, try one more time. If you receive silence once again, perhaps it’s time to cut your losses and move on.

Remember a follow up call can become a double edged sword do so not be the stalker… nothing good comes out of that.

CC Connection Tip: One (or two) calls can made the difference.

With so few taking that extra step, you can be in the driver’s seat quickly. Truth is, the only person that can make that phone call seem rude or classless is you.

Penned by:
Louann Alicea
Your CC Connection

What NOT TO SAY at a job interview

DSC_0089According to a majority of hiring managers, one of the most common interview mistakes is: Talking TOO Much.  With that in mind, let’s spend the next few minutes reflecting the concept of “talking” and what it means to talk too much (or about irrelevant things).

A mistake made by rookie candidates (okay, seasoned ones too) is to get sidetracked and start talking about personal life issues, no matter how warm or welcoming the interviewer may be.  In other words simply answer the question and keep your answers to the point and focused.  Truth is, sharing the wrong thing makes it easier for the hiring manager to reject your candidacy.

Subjects such as spouse, home life, or your adorable children are topics falling into the area invading too much info. Rule is, an interview is a professional situation – not a personal one. With professional sitting center stage, examples of things not to say include the following:

  • How much does this job pay or when does paid off begin?
  • I hate my current employer.
  • I didn’t like my previous boss. Talking bad about your previous employer gives your interviewer the impression you are difficult to manage.
  • I am not aware of any weaknesses.
  • How many vacation days will I get?
  • I don’t have any questions for you.
  • In five years I’ll have your job.
  • When responding to: “Tell me about yourself.” Do not answer talking about your place of birth, experiences in grade school, or bad relationships.
  • When responding to:Why do you want to leave your current job? Do not say you want to leave your company because of anything relating to pay or benefits.
  • When responding to:How would your current or former colleagues describe you? Avoid responses like; “the only employee who did things right” or “a great guy to hang out with after work.”

Many hiring managers suggest candidates who seem perfect get crossed off the list by saying something senseless, irrelevant, or discriminatory.  In general, do your best to avoid discussing personal dislikes or negative comments.

CC Tip of the day: After answering questions, stop any inclination to ramble.

Once you interview successfully, thank the hiring manager for their time and follow up with a thank you note.  Good luck on your job search.

Your CC Connection