Professionalism is now engulfed by interviewing sharks trained to pick at every single flaw or reason to NOT to hire you. Don’t be a victim of the sharks by swimming in the ocean with an open wound. Over the course of the past week, the focus on professionalism rose drastically due to this week's career fairs. I thought I might as well hop on the bandwagon and help address how to be a professional.
In the last decade or so, we have become a fairly progressive society with activism, volunteerism and environmentalism, among other “isms” that now shape how we view the world and people around us. These protrude into the world of professionalism by making this the new emphasis for resumés.
Imagine it like this: we all have our own strengths and weaknesses that interviewers judge on a metaphorical points system. Every time they detect anything near a red flag, they check the “nope” box.
As much as we wish it wasn’t the case, interviewers, just like any other human, have their own subconscious biases and perspectives shaped by their individual backgrounds and experiences. You know you are qualified for the job, otherwise you would not have applied and you also know that you have stacked — or attempted to stack — your resumé to fit your major or field of study, so this is not the issue.
Whether you are in a traditional setting where you send in your resumé first or a career fair where you physically hand the employer your resumé, you also know first impressions matter because it “sets the tone.” Make yourself as transparent as possible. Try not to give the sharks a three-course meal.
Your resumé introduces your qualifications. That is strictly your foot in the door and the black and white of who you are and who you are not. Great! Your first interaction with your soon-to-be employer has been achieved. If at a career fair or interview, your appearance is what forms their next best opinion of you. Again, remain transparent. I would argue your appearance is one of the most important factors and where the small details really do matter.
I find more people worry more about how they should dress than the grammar in their cover letter and resumé. Which socks? Black or brown? How about suede or leather? Is that a scuff? Someone help me?
While I do love bright and bubbly people, do not dress bright and bubbly. You do not want to be remembered by your outfit. Make them remember you because of your brain. Dress by the book and stay within the neutrals. Bright colors distract from your word and your potential within their organization. Do not kill your own interview by wearing a purple jacket. As much as I love vibrancy, resist it at all costs. The style should be minimalist and classy.
The more you do this, the more you eliminate any preconceived biases about yourself from employers. Pour your enthusiasm into them, their company and their own vision. Besides, what they want to know is how you will benefit them as a company. Is it your quirkiness? Your work ethic? Your team-working skills? The point is this: focus on your dress and presentation. What we see impacts us more than we realize. Does this really matter? Absolutely. Be brutally honest. Be unduly transparent. Be the shark.