ALC Consulting

October 6, 2009

An Unabashed Plug for a Group

As you are looking for a job and getting beyond the applying online route and are actually talking to real people, you may find yourself panicking. You have to talk to real people and you do not know how to do it! How do you carry on a conversation? How do you gauge what kind of impression you make on others? How do you answer even basic questions about who you are?

There are several solutions besides the one of not doing anything. You can pay lots of money to a professional coach and take lots of public speaking classes.

But if you are on a tight budget and cannot afford any of these solutions, there is a rather inexpensive and fun way to develop your skills at speaking in front of and to others: The answer is (drum roll please) Toastmasters. They can be found at

Or, if you are local to Oregon, try this URL,

Why would joining an organization, which forces you to get up and speak before others be good for me, if the job I am searching after doesn’t require me to do a lot of speaking? Well, even in IT shops, where I have toiled for years, you have to present information to colleagues and bosses in an organized manner. You have to talk to people who do not share your background and expertise, and get them to understand what it is you are trying to do. You generally have to go through an interview in which you want to present your best self. What better place to learn all of these skills for a very small amount of money.

I speak from personal experience. Most Toastmaster clubs are filled with supportive people who help each other develop their abilities presenting their best selves in front of others. Even though I have spoken in public many times, and taught school for many years, there are still many valuable things I have learned from my club; how to run a meeting, how to be a better listener, how to think on my feet.

Besides that, Toastmasters can be a lot of fun. You get to meet interesting people and who knows, one of them might know of an opportunity for you. Ya never know.


June 22, 2009

More Help from Your Friends–Part 1

Filed under: Interviewing,Preparing — Anne Cloward @ 6:04 am
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Are you brave enough to do this?

As part of your interviewing preparations, ask for some help from your friends. But not just any friends; the friends you need to find have two major qualifications:

  •  They have fashion sense and know what is appropriate dress:They always look well put together, no matter what the occation:
  • They are willing to be honest with you.

By fashion sense, I mean, the person who always looks put together at work. Disqualify anyone who wears the following: 

  • Shorts.
  •  Jeans.
  •  Skirts that are too short.
  • Pants that are too low-rise or too tight.
  • Blouses that are too low-cut or too short – don’t show your cleavage or your belly.  
  • Underwear (bras, bra straps, briefs, boxers, etc.) that is visible. Don’t wear any underwear that shows – even if your bra straps match your top.
  • Flip-flops or sneakers.

Refer to the photos above for an illustration of what they should not consider appropriate work dress.
Inappropriate dress translates to inappropriate work. Some people honestly believe that sloppy people do sloppy work, and that carelessness carries over to the work place.

From the Career Solvers Web site:

Every year after the big celebrity awards shows, the pundits weigh in on the best and worst dressed of the evening and Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards was no exception. Many of the popular style columns and blogs are already “dissing” Renee Zelwegger’s dress, Susan Sarandon’s sunglasses, and Beyonce’s poorly contained cleavage. And while an interview isn’t quite the same as a walk down the red carpet, hiring authorities are paying attention to what candidates wear to job interviews. Here are some of the biggest fashion mistakes I see job seekers make.


  1. Long fingernails with bright or distracting nail polish. Nails should be clipped short and it is recommended that you wear clear or light polish.
  2. Short skirts. Make sure you can sit and cross your legs comfortably. If your teenage daughter thinks your skirt is the right length, it is probably too short.
  3. Too much jewelry. Multiple bangle bracelets can be noisy and distracting during an interview. Only wear one pair of earings (and only in your ears).
  4. Too much perfume. An overpowering scent can quickly turn a one hour interview into a 20 minute interview. Go easy on the perfume or skip it altogether.
  5. Inappropriate footwear. It is fine to wear a shoe with a heel, but stay away from stilettos and open-toed shoes.
  6. Big Hair. If you plan to wear your hair down, try to keep it off your face. Otherwise opt for a neat style that pulls the hair away from your face.


  1. Unruly facial hair. Clean shaven is preferred. If you have a moustache or a beard, get a trim before the interview.
  2. Long Hair. Off the face and ears is best.
  3. Unkempt fingernails. Nails should be trimmed and clean.
  4. Too much cologne. Same reasons as stated for women.
  5. Unpolished Shoes. It’s not just about having a nice suit. Clean, polished shoes complete the look.
  6. Lose Change. Jostling change in your pocket can be noisy and distracting. Clear out your pockets before the interview.

During an interview you want to be remembered for what you said.

Action Steps

Have your friend review your wardrobe with you and make suggestions for improvement, if it is needed. Have them shop with you. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get good clothes. If your budget is tight (and whose isn’t these days?) learn how to shop thrift shops.

If you need a haircut, get one from a decent stylist. It’s the cheapest form of plastic surgery.

Becky Meier, who manages two weekly job seeker meetings in my town, mentioned one day that men who are clean shaven are 30% more likely to be hired. Clean shaven men are perceived as being more honest. Grey is fine for a man’s hair, but a grey beard ages him.

 Next: Making more use of friends and their advice.




June 18, 2009

Interviewing—What Not To Wear


In case you haven’t heard, when you get to the point that you have landed an interview, you have a good chance of getting the job. Since your résumé has presented you well, and you meet enough of the requirements, the company would now like to see if you will fit in. This decision may be made in less than four minutes.

How much information can you communicate in four minutes? Not a lot. So much of their decision is made based on non-verbal cues. What you wear, how you present yourself, how you introduce yourself, all influence that decision. As my friend Rich Kolikof, from the Winthrop Research Group, states, “There is always an emotional element to hiring decisions.”

Piercings and Tattoos

I know that you feel that you are yourself and people should accept you for who you are. But many people are offended by multiple piercings and tattoos. One or two earrings are fine, but leave the bolt in your tongue, your two nose rings, lip and eyebrow rings at home. Cover your tattoos with sleeves. If you look anything like these two photos, make the appropriate adjustments. Just follow the instructions below.

Cover those Tattoos!

Take it out!

Get rid of the casual clothes that make you look as if you are headed to the beach, or anywhere but the office.

Leave these home!

Cover your shoulders!

No dumb T-shirts!

Ditch the torn jeans!


Try for a more professional look. It does not matter how casual the office is, you are the newcomer here. Take your cue from this collage of tastefully dressed ladies.(Just kidding!)

One city went so far as to make it law. Check out this link.

Next: Interview questions

June 17, 2009

Interviewing—More Homework

Filed under: Interviewing,Preparing,Professionalism — Anne Cloward @ 4:47 pm
Tags: , ,

Step 2- Looking for Connections

Now that you have the scoop on the company, go to LinkedIn. You do have a LinkedIn account, don’t you? (I will publish a quick start on Linkedin one day.)

No matter what page you are on, the search functions is always at the top of the page. Look at all the Search options you have. Look up the company and then look at people who work there who are on LinkedIn. Read as much as you can about the company and its people.

Step 3—Logistics Planning

This is just common sense, but bears repeating. You know the address of the place you are going to visit since you asked the Admin who made the appointment for it. If you are the slightest bit unsure of where you are going, either plan a route using, MapQuest, Google Maps, or the local public transportation planner. If you have a GPs, and plan on using it, program in the address.

Even better, (and I have done this before) make a dry run the day or night before your interview. By doing this, you will be sure you know where you are going. If there is any local construction, you will be aware of that too.

Step 4—Your Folder

Compose a folder for your interview. I like to do this the night before, so I don’t forget things. It should contain:

  • Two copies of your résumé (someone may not have read it, so be prepared)
  • Any notes you have on the company, or questions you might want to ask at the end of the interview
  • All your job history information. (If you need to complete an application, you will have dates, company names and addresses)
  • The names, addresses and contact information for your references
  • Any confirmation information that you have from the company, including the phone number of the person who you need to report to.
  • Your directions to getting to the interview site.

Next: What to wear to an interview.

June 16, 2009

Interviewing—Doing Your Homework

Filed under: Interviewing,Preparing — Anne Cloward @ 4:20 pm
Tags: ,

I know, you thought your days of doing homework were long past you, but when you are searching for a job, you are always doing homework. If you get a phone call requesting and interview at XYZ company, your assignment begins now.
Before you hang up: Get as much information as you can about your interview.

Who are you going to interview with?

What is the title of this person? (HR Specialist or Hiring Manager?)

Will it be a group interview?

Where are you located? (Unless you are very familiar with the area, this can be quite important, since some large companies have multiple buildings on their campuses.)

Get on the Internet and start searching:

    Look up the company’s website. Even if you know Nike makes shoes, go find out more about the company and their philosophy, etc.

If they have a business site, so much the better. This is where you can research the company from a business standpoint. Sometimes this is a part of the public site.

See what Business Week and Fortune Magazine have to say about them. That should give you a wider view of the company.

Don’t read the negative stuff. All companies have their flaws and someone will write about them. This stuff can stick in your mind and come out at the worst time. I know this from personal experience.

Next: More Interviewing Homework

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