Mirrors and the Office

mirrors at officeAre mirrors too girly to have in your office? Which mirrors are best for the office? Reader A wonders…

I am six-months into my first post-school job and am (as per your advice) slowly decorating my office. I’d really like to have a mirror in my office to check my makeup before meetings, etc. But, I don’t want to look vain.

I work for the state and have what can only be describer as a cube-pretending-to-be-an-office (a large cube with a door). Any tips on mirrors that are decorative but not over the top, and won’t break the bank?

Fabulous question, Reader A! We’ve talked about the mirror trick for interviews, how to liven up your office walls, and how to bring furniture into the office, but we haven’t specifically talked about mirrors in the office.  I’m curious to hear what the readers say here, because I have one very specific experience that has completely set my thinking on this issue. Here’s the story: when I was a very new first-year associate, I went to the office of a male associate a few years older than me to get an assignment. We closed the door at some point and, as I went to leave his office, I realized with some shock that he had a full-length mirror propped up behind his door, just leaning against the wall. (I suppose it was “with some shock” because this particular associate was such a guy’s guy, and I would have been so worried that a mirror would make me appear too girly that I never even considered one for my burgeoning office.) THIS IS BRILLIANT, I thought — he could check for wardrobe malfunctions (or, ahem, barn door issues), check for spinach in his teeth, etc. I bought a $10 mirror at Bed Bath & Beyond the next weekend, and never looked back. (And that male associate went on to great things, so his career was in no way limited by his mirror.  Instead, perhaps his career was aided by the lack of spinach in his teeth.) [Read more...]

Corporate Headshots: Best Practices (And What To Avoid)

Corporate Headshots: Best Practices (and What to Avoid) | CorporetteWhat are the best tips for looking good in a corporate headshot?  Should “looking good” be the goal? Reader J wonders:

I have a professional photography session coming up. Any general recommendations?

Good luck, J!  We haven’t talked about corporate headshots, or whether to wear eyeglasses in your corporate photo in a while, so let’s revisit. As I’ve said before, above all else, I think the main goal in a corporate photograph is to look FRIENDLY. Don’t try to look “smart” or interesting or (God forbid) beautiful or stylish. It’s ok if you END UP looking like smart, interesting, beautiful, or stylish, because, you know, you are, but don’t try — leave the duckface and burning, non-friendly smizes for when you’re taking pictures with friends.  As for “looking smart” — most times, your corporate headshot will be displayed next to an abbreviated form of your resume and experience.  Let people evaluate your intelligence based on those years of work, not one single photograph.  (I’d say that the model pictured here is trying to look smart.  Don’t be that model.) The purpose of the headshot is really for that two second, subconscious, gut decision: do I want to work with her?  Does she look like someone who would get me what I want, on time, with no errors?  I could say “look responsible” here instead of “friendly,” I suppose, but I think attempting to “look responsible” or “look competent” is a fool’s mission beyond combing your hair and making sure that your face and clothes are free of smudges and so forth.

For my $.02, these are some other tips: [Read more...]

What to Wear for a Polygraph Test

polygraph testWhat do you wear for a polygraph test, particularly if it’s in the same building as HR?  Reader L wonders:

Help! I applied for a position that requires a polygraph. Mine is scheduled for next week and I am concerned about what to wear. It is in the same building as HR and I do not know if I will have an interview then. I would normally wear a business suit but my suits are all paired with camisoles (due to style, 3/4 sleeves, etc.) I am concerned about this because isn’t there a chest strap you are hooked up to? This is a professional position and I am thinking of wearing a blazer and dress slacks and dark cashmere shell that hopefully I will not sweat into from nerves. This is my go-to outfit I wear to work when I do not have court because it is most comfortable and still looks nice. Have you had to think about a physical comfort issue when interviewing and choosing your outfit? For what it is worth I was informed the polygraph will be 90minutes long.

Interesting question!  We’ve talked about how to stay professional at the metal detectors, and how to wear an ID badge with style, but we’ve never addressed polygraph tests for job interviews.  My gut instinct here tells me, “call and ask” (always an option, ladies!) but in case anyone in the readership has experience with this, I’ll open it up to the readers. Poking around online I did find a number of similar questions, primarily from men about to take police exams — the serious answer seemed to be “business casual,” with the less serious answers ranging from “chicken suit” to “For your polygraph wear a tuxedo. Then go naked to your psyc eval.” Ha! Ha. Ok. [Read more...]

What to Wear When You’re Out of Town & Working Late

What to Wear When You're Working Late | CorporetteWhat should you wear when you’re planning to work late — and you’re traveling?  Reader H is gearing up for trial and wonders what to wear in the war room after hours:

I am going to be attending a two week out of town trial with two partners at my firm. During the day we will all be in suits, but in the evenings we will likely be working late. I will want to be in comfortable clothes, which for me would constitute yoga pants, but do not think that would be appropriate with my boss. Any suggestions?

Interesting question! We’ve talked about what to wear on the weekends, what to wear for a month in court, and traveling for work, but not this question.  I was in exactly this situation a few years ago — and I’m not sure I made the right decisions.   [Read more...]

Professional Women and “Empowering” Clothes

empowering clothesDo you find it “empowering” to dress how you want?  Do you think confidence gained by clothes is 100% of the answer for work — i.e., if it makes you feel confident, you can wear it to work?  There was an interesting discussion here — years ago now! — that I just took another look at, and thought would be a great jumping off point for discussion today.

I recently saw someone comment on an old post that another commenter’s words had stayed with her through the past few years, so I took a closer look at the discussion. The post was on patent leather heels — a reader wrote in wondering if they were appropriate; my counsel at the time was to be wary and avoid “eau de hooker,” as I so delicately called it, but that by and large patent leather heels were just fine for most jobs.  The real fun started in the commenting section, when another blogger named Samantha wrote in to disagree with me: [Read more...]

The Care and Maintenance of Professional Contacts

How to Maintain Professional Contacts | CorporetteHow do you maintain professional contacts on a regular basis?  You don’t want to be the junior person who only reaches out when you need something, and you don’t want to be the person who constantly pesters your mentors and contacts with questions — but where is the middle ground?  Reader K wonders:

Curious what your advice is on maintaining professional contacts. I realized recently I only reach out to people when I need something, and this feels a little … awkward? Like, “Hi, we haven’t spoken for ages, I’m now two jobs removed from when we worked together, but can you help me out with this thing?”

Great question! We’ve talked about how to network when you’re junior and how to network in general, but not in a while. For my $.02:

[Read more...]