What to Look For in Interview Flats

What To Look For In Interview Flats | CorporetteWhat should you look for in interview flats? When, if ever, must you wear heels to an interview? Which are the most stylish kinds of flats for interviews? Reader L wonders:

I’m starting law school in August, and I’ve heard that heels (3-4″) are a MUST for interviewing and working at a law firm. However, I am a 6′ tall female. I never wear heels, since when I do, I tend to tower over everyone. Would it be appropriate to wear a nice pair of flats in my case?

Great question! We’ve talked about how to build a stylish, professional wardrobe with flats, how to wear heels (if you’re used to flats), and whether flats are professional enough for court.  As far as shoe questions go, this is important, so even though we’ve talked about it a lot, I want to stress it again: you don’t need to wear heels to look professional.  There are a number of reasons why you wouldn’t want to wear heels — from feeling too tall (although hey, I say rock it out if you have the height!), to having foot injuries or issues, to just I-don’t-wanna-itis. A few things that I would note about wearing flats for big events like interviews:

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How to Thank Your References

Steve's 80's Party, originally uploaded to Flickr by Bob. B. Brown.Reader C has a great question about thank yous to your references…

I’m anxiously awaiting a few job offers–and am wondering if a $100 gift card to a delicious local restaurant is an appropriate thank you for each of my references? (The potential offers are for healthcare-related opportunities–hospital positions and consulting gigs.) What have you done in the past?

I first misread this question as how to thank your interviewers. (No gift cards to interviewers!) I think this is a cute idea, but one that could be tweaked to make it even better:

Instead of gift cards, take your references to lunch. Ask their career advice, what they think your strong suits are heading into any new job (and, just for your ears, what they think your weaknesses might be!). Ask them how they got to where they are, what they might have done differently given the clarity of hindsight. And then… stay in touch with them. Tell them how you’re doing, ask them to lunch once a year or so and see how they’re doing. [Read more…]

Tales from the Wallet: Negotiating a Great Salary

salary negotiationReader A, a CPAA with 12 years of experience, writes with some great questions…

How does one negotiate a good compensation package? I have only ever worked for local firms. The salary data online seems to reflect “big 4” or equivalent pay scales. I have talked to a few headhunters and they all seem to think I should be making more than I am. What do I do when a prospective employer asks point blank what I am making now? I don’t want to lowball myself.

This is a particularly apt question in light of this post on the Bucks blog, calling attention to another blog posting wherein the author admitted to “bumping” her current salary up $5,000 when her interviewer asked what she was paid, and then asking for another $5,000 when they offered her the job with a “matched” salary.  Long story short:  it’s illegal to lie about your salary in job interviews! So… don’t try that tactic.

Pictured:  Fossil – Weekender Checkbook Clutch (Bright Orange), available at Zappos for $48 in orange, black, camel, espresso, green, and fun florals. Love the colorful insides and all the pockets.

Our recommendation would be twofold.  First, let’s say that you’re at Company X.  if you can get TWO job offers from Company Y and Company Z, you can sometimes play them against each other — we would probably avoid naming names, at least unless pressed, and see if company Y will increase your salary to match what company Z is offering.  Don’t leave Company X out of the mix, either, unless you’re looking for a new job because you hate your old one — rather than quitting outright, talk to the Powers that Be at Company X and say, “Company Y has offered me $__ to jump ship!”  And see if Company X will match it… and then go forward from there.

A second recommendation would be to really look at what your lower-salary job is actually giving you.  Do you get four weeks vacation?  How are your health insurance benefits?  Are there other perks, like discounts to a local gym, or on-site daycare?  We would factor that into the discussion, once the interviewer raises the issue.  For example: “I currently make $__ in dollars, but there are a number of perks that I’ve enjoyed for years and that you don’t offer.  To be honest, I would probably put a pricetag of $5K on those perks.”  Be totally honest — and KNOW what perks the interviewer does and does not offer.  In fact, this discussion might be a good time to assess those intangible perks.

This great article from CBS MoneyWatch also suggests classics like asking for a signing bonus, a performance bonus, stock options, or asking for more perks.

Readers, what are your best tips for salary negotiation?  Any great victory stories to share?

How Not to Gain Weight Over the Summer Recruiting Season

healthy office eatingSummer is nearly upon us!  As law school, business school, and college  interns flood the workforce, calendars fill with networking lunches, team building meetings, and “get to know your coworkers” cocktail parties —  all with lots of food (and alcohol).  Reader A is particularly worried about the summer associate life in BigLaw:

I’m about to start a job as a summer associate at a Big Law firm. I’ve been told to expect daily lunches out, and been warned about the corresponding weight gain that usually happens. I’m particularly sensitive about not wanting to be the High Maintenance Associate–if I’m daily asking for “dressing on the side,” will I come off as obnoxious? Any tips for navigating the summer? Thanks.

This is a great question, because the summer can be a really difficult time for both those being recruited and those doing the recruiting.  We’ve talked about business lunch etiquette before, and we’ve also talked about trying to diet while working a corporate gig — but now let’s talk maintenance.  (Pictured:  Salad Lunch, originally uploaded to Flickr by 427.) Some tips: [Read more…]

A Bald Head… and a Job Interview

bald interviewToday’s e-mail is from J, who has a question about bold hair choices and job interviews…

I’m a public policy grad student, graduating in May and applying for jobs all over the place , but many in DC (employers range from government-level, to think-tanks, to smaller non-profits). I am 22. Right now I am pretty average-looking: short, white, size 2, brown hair slightly longer than shoulder-length in a well-maintained cut. I found out this week that my close family friends’ seven-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with leukemia. The girl and I are very close, and I think of her like my sister, so obviously I’m torn up about this. Her mom says she looks up to me, and I know I influence her behavior so I try to be a good role model. She’s going to be getting chemo, the whole nine yards, and I am anticipating that she’ll have a hard time if she loses her hair. I’m thinking about shaving my head to support her. Now I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never had short hair, let alone shaved it before, and I do have some issues about the whole thing — but none of them outweigh my desire to to do something concrete to help the girl. However, my question is, do you think a shaved head would affect my chances at getting a job? Would it be likely to freak an employer out? Any general thoughts?

Wow. We have a lot of thoughts on this, and we’re sure our readers will have more. We’ll try to put our thoughts in a cogent order…

First: Our hearts go out to your sick friend, to her family, and to you.  Words can’t properly express how strongly we hope she gets better.

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Should Your Interviewer Get a Thank-You Note or eThanks?

email-or-letter-thank-you-to-job-interviewerShould you thank an interviewer with an email or a card? We’ve wondered about this for a while as well, so reader J’s question strikes us as particularly interesting…

After an interview, everyone knows that it is good manners to send a perfunctory “Thank You” note. However, is it still recommended that the “Thank You” note be a hand-written note sent through snail mail or is it equally appropriate to send a “Thank You” after an interview via email? I am old-fashioned and still send a hand-written note on nice Crane & Co. stationary, however, an email “thank you” would certainly get there faster. I am not sure what is considered appropriate these days!? Any thoughts??

First, we would say that the thank-you note should be far from perfunctory — it reinforces what you spoke about in the interview, why you’re qualified for the job, and allows you to clarify anything that you worry came across poorly.  (Pictured:  Orange notecards, 25 thermographed notecards for $152 at Fine Stationery.)

That said, we’re sort of torn on how to send your interviewer their thank-you note. [Read more…]