Category Archives: Job Search Skills

What to Wear at Work – Cracking the Office Dress Code

Whether you’re planning for an interview or starting a new job, knowing what to wear at work can be a challenge even for the most fashion conscious among us.   Today’s flexible,  trendy and digital work environments pose a particular challenge as many people are no longer working in a traditional office setting, so the question is often posed as to whether a dress code is even necessary at all?

So how do you know how to dress appropriately as work environments continue to evolve?  The folks at T.M. Lewin have created an infographic on how to cut through the clutter and crack the dress codes of today so that you can arrive at work both confident and fashionable from head to toe, no matter what work environment you are in.  The infographic below discusses the five business dress types and when it’s appropriate to wear them:

Business Formal – Whenever you need to impress, such as going for an important interview, always dress in business formal clothing.  Women looking to dress smarter and sharper should choose a trouser suit or a conservative length skirt in a neutral, dark color. This can be accompanied by a white collared dress shirt as shown as shown here, modest accessories, dark tights and neutral colored closed toe heels. For men, a two or three piece suit in neutral dark colors with a white or plain shirt is recommended.  You could match this with a solid colored unflashy tie and some accessories such cuff links or a watch.

Business Professional – Dressing in business professional is recommended for meetings with important new customers or giving client presentations.   Business professional for women can be a conservative length skirt in modest colors matched with a solid color top or blouse. Dark or nude tights with neutral colored closed toe heels is recommended. Business formal for men is always dark colored suits in subtle conservative patterns or pressed suit trousers paired with a matching jacket. Accompany the suit with a formal shirt in traditional patterns with a brightly colored or conservative patterned tie as shown here. T.M. Lewin recommends avoiding dressing more than 1 level up from your office dress code to avoid being overdressed.

Business Casual – Business casual is one of the more common, every day dress styles for the office or casual off-site events. T.M. Lewin recommends dressing in business casual even if you work from home as this will not only help get you into work mode but you will always be prepared for that unexpected video conference call.  Business casual for women involves dressing in skirts or trouser suits accompanied with blouses in solid colors or subtle patterns.  Closed toe heel shoes, flats or loafers and use of more casual jewelry is recommended.  Men could wear suit trousers with formal shirts in any color and pullovers with collared shirts. Ties are optional.

Small Business Casual – Every small business  is different when it comes to dress code and often times you may have to wear many hats when working for a small company.  Therefore, having the flexibility and wardrobe to alternate between dress levels may be required.  Generally speaking though, small business casual for women allows for a more casual dress style and even fabrics such as cotton or dark denim accompanied with blouses in a variety of colors and patterns are appropriate.  It is not recommended that men wear jeans unless explicitly stated such as on designated casual days. Even if denim is okay at your company, T.M. Lewin recommends sticking to dark colors, as shown in the infographic below, and straight legged styles.

Creative – Sometimes the way you dress at work depends less on the company you work for but more on the particular department or office environment you work in.  For example, if you work in an engineering or research and development department, the dress style may be extremely casual and you may have more leeway to wear your most casual of clothes. On the other extreme, if you work in a sales and marketing department where you are interfacing with customers on a regular basis, you will spend most of your days wearing your business professional outfits.  It’s best to take note of what the majority of other employees are wearing, notes T.M. Lewin,  but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, stylish and trendy according to your own particular personality and style.

tmlewin_whattoweartowork_x2_v03-1Infographic courtesy of T.M. Lewin.


Get your Resume/CV Seen

How to Get your Resume/CV Seen by Recruiters

Did you know that most of today’s Resumes/CVs are likely to go into a Resume/CV database and some of these databases contain millions of resumes?  As this process is automated, job postings will reflect the exact wording and phrases of the Job description and consequently, these are the words and phrases that recruiters use when searching these databases.  According to LinkedIn 72% of CVs aren’t even looked at says Stephen Prichard in his blog on 15 Tips To Make Sure Your CV Gets Seen. According to the article, this is because software used by recruiters and hiring managers can mistakenly decide your CV isn’t relevant for the position, preventing your CV from ever getting in their hands.

Identifying keywords specific to your line of work is now critical in order for your Resume/CV to get seen.  The best way to do this is to perform a job search on career websites for your primary job description that you are qualified to do.  Some experts recommend examining at least six different job postings so you can identify common job titles, skills required, needs, experience and most importantly, the words (keywords) they use to describe the job.  Keep in mind that some job postings can be vague, so be sure to include any specific skills and responsibilities that you know are mandatory for the job.

So once you have identified your primary job postings and all the relevant keywords, how do you prepare your Resume/CV so it actually gets looked at by recruiters?   The team at Adzuna have put together a list of Dos and Don’ts for getting your Resume/CV past the Automated Tracking System and into the hands of the hiring manager.  See the details in the infographic shown below and explained in detail here.

Get Your Resume and CV Seen

Infographic courtesy of Stephen Prichard at Adzunza

Top Tips for Writing a Successful CV and Resume

The following useful infographic on CV and Résumés highlights some of the most common mistakes that thousands of job applicants make when writing their CV or Résumé, as well as the cliches that employers hate to hear from any applicant.

If you feel you are the perfect candidate for the jobs you’re applying for but are not getting any response,  it may just be that your CV/Resume isn’t up to scratch. According to the infographic below, 10% of jobseekers have applied for 50 or more jobs without getting a response.  Some of the top 10 reasons cited include typos/grammatical errors, an overly casual tone, use of cliches, an excessively long CV/Resume, an unprofessional email address and more.

The statistics, displayed visually in the infographic below, highlight the realities job seekers face when an employer or recruiter is reviewing their CV/Resume and provides some useful tips on writing a successful CV/Resume.

Source -Infographic courtesy of  Colin Cuthbert at


10 Steps to a Successful Job Search

Searching for a job today has become a job in itself that requires planning, management and strategies in order for you to be able to conduct an effective job search.  The following steps are proven techniques you can use to manage your career and prepare for a successful job search:

Step 1. Make a Career Plan

Learn how to take charge of your life and career by studying the importance and benefits of creating a Career Management Plan. A career management plan will help prepare you to take the necessary steps to make your career goals happen and to look for ways to improve your job skills.

Step 2. Take a Job Skills Assessment

Take a Skills Assessment to help you find job options that match your skills, interests and values. Skills assessments help you learn about yourself, make better career and education decisions, present yourself better to employees, interview better, become a better employee and gain confidence. You will be happier if you choose a career that matches your unique skills, your interests and values. For instance, you may be good at organizing things, helping others, have a keen eye for detail, be easy to get along with, enjoy working on new technology and learning new things. A skills assessment will help you identify your unique work skills that you can apply to finding a job today and help you set goals for improving and gaining additional working skills.  You can take a skills assessment using the forms at or online at  More information on taking a skills assessment can be found here.

Step 3. Establish your Short and Long Term Goals

When you have completed your skills assessment, establish your short and long term goals. Your short term goal is to find a job in which you are currently qualified for and can succeed in today.

Your long term goals should be established by documenting what skills, knowledge and experience you need to gain to move forward in your career path. For example, if you want to become an Executive Administrative Assistant, use the results of your skills assessment to learn what skills and education is required by browsing the occupational handbook on or O*NET OnLine. Here you will use the results of your skills assessment to match your unique skills, interests and values to careers. Use this form from to document your short and long term goals and don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet one of your goals!

Step 4. Improve your Office Skills to Broaden your Job Prospects

Based on your career goals, establish a professional development plan and start taking the courses you need to improve your work skills. Office skills may be a good start as they are are transferable skills which means you can use them in any company or job. Office Skills that are in demand by employers today include Keyboarding, Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Databases, Presentations, email programs such as Outlook and bookkeeping software such as QuickBooks.  Office skills courses are available at your local community college, adult education centers and also online at Office Skills Online Training.

Step 5. Create your Resume and Cover Letter

Document your job objective, achievements and education using a Resume Questionnaire. Once you have your experience outlined on paper, you will be ready to make a digital copy. Analyze different resume and cover letter formats and create your resume and cover letter using Microsoft Word or other word processing program. Access to free word processing software is now readily available at or View the list of 5 completely free office suites here. You will need to know how to save your resume in different formats such as .pdf and .txt in preparation for uploading. You will also need to know how to quickly modify your resume and cover letter for different job skills

Step 6. Start Networking and Apply for Jobs

Search for and apply for jobs via traditional networking channels such as company websites, college career services, job fairs, job sites, internal hires, recruitment advertising and local employment agencies.  Do an online job search to find jobs online at large job sites such as, and It’s also important to use social networking in your job search campaign. Create a professional Linkedin profile, explore how to apply for jobs and expand your social networking circle by connecting with people and joining groups.  More info about networking for a job can be found here.

This is also a good time to find three people who will give you a positive recommendation. Most hiring managers want at least three reliable references.

Step 7. Learn Interview Techniques

Interview skillsPreparing for the interview and developing good interviewing skills is an important part of your job search. Learn how to dress like a professional and demonstrate the behaviors that employers are looking for at the interview. Also, the key to a great interview is to review and practice answers to tough interview questions and also be prepared to carry out phone interviews/screenings. Lastly, learn what questions to ask and not ask of the hiring manager during your interview.  More details on interview techniques can be found here.

Step 8 – Participate in a Mock Interview

One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to participate in a mock interview. Most job search classes or job centers may offer this service or you can practice with your family and friends. The mock interview gives you the opportunity to demonstrate preparation for the interview including exhibiting proper business attire, using concise and articulate language and demonstrating positive and confident body language.

Step 9. Make Contact and Follow-Up

Following up after the job interview is an important part of the job search process. Effectively contact and follow-up with Employers, headhunters and networking companies by sending a thank-you note and following up with a phone call. Information on creating thank-you letters can be found here.

Step 10. Continue your job search and keep your career plan current.

Motivate yourself by sending out at least 2 letters and emails each day In response to job postings to the contacts you identify within target companies.  Stay on top of your career plan and change your career plan or tasks if they aren’t working for you.

For more information about job search skills and how to create a successful career plan, click here.