Dress to Impress at Your Interview

We are frequently asked by candidates what the appropriate attire is for a job interview. The “anything goes” fashion rule that applies in some workplaces does not apply for most job interviews! Of course, “best practice attire” for both interviews and work differs significantly depending on location, industry and position.

While suits and ties are no longer expected, conservative dress is still our recommendation. There is never a second chance to make a first impression! The outfit you select to wear for a job interview is a big part of that first impression so don’t miss the opportunity to make a positive impression.

Prior to an interview, research the company you want to work for. By looking at employees’ photos on the company website, you can often see what dress is appropriate. If you know employees at the company, ask them about the dress code. If you are working with a staffing company, ask the Staffing Manager or Consultant who is sending you on the interview what they would recommend you wear.

Our basic guidelines are:
• Wear a conservative outfit. Be sure the outfit fits—too tight or too short outfits are not a good choice. For women, pants and a conservative blouse are always a safe choice. Suits and dresses (preferably with sleeves) are also appropriate choices. For men, slacks and a dress shirt with or without a tie are safe choices. For most jobs, slacks and sometimes jeans and a polo shirt are appropriate. Tee-shirts with or without messages are not recommended.
• Wear conservative shoes. For women, either flats or heels are appropriate. For men, casual shoes are fine and in many cases, athletic shoes are fine. Flip-flops are not a good choice for anyone!
• Avoid perfume, cologne and fragrant after-shave lotion. Many people are sensitive to fragrances and a sneezing interviewer does not make for a positive interview.
• Jewelry and scarves are appropriate and can add a professional touch.
• Visible tattoos and piercings are sometimes a negative so know the company culture.
• Unique hair colors and styles may also make a negative impression so, if practical, a conservative color and style is recommended.

Some may feel that it is not fair to be judged by what you wear or how you look. That may be true, but the reality is that you are judged by the first impression you make. Employers want employees they will be proud to have represent them. Following these recommendations will help you be the one selected because you will make a positive first impression. And, don’t forget, to use a firm handshake!

Julia Aguilar

Strong Job Applicants Often Receive Multiple Job Offers

It is definitely an applicant’s job market as San Luis Obispo’s unemployment rate remains around 3%. Employers are disappointed when their “first choice” of candidates receive multiple job offers or has accepted another job before their offer is made.

June may ease the job market for employers slightly as students enter the workforce following graduation from high schools, community colleges and four-year colleges. Also, as wages rise because of minimum wage increases and the continuing low unemployment, people who are currently employed are beginning to look for jobs that pay more, are more enjoyable, or better fit their career or personal goals.

A recent survey by Robert Half found that approximately 59% of job seekers received two or more offers at the same time when applying for jobs. The study further showed that most candidates make a decision on accepting a job within two or fewer days. We find that many applicants are ready to accept the right job as soon as it is offered.

Reasons job seekers in the survey chose one job over another included:
• Salary
• Benefits
• Advancement potential
• Commute
• Responsibilities or challenges of the position.

For employees, think about the reason you are changing jobs. Is it for more money? Is it to shorten your commute? Is it to find a job where you will enjoy coming to work each day? Is it for schedule flexibility? Consider your reasons carefully as you evaluate which offer to accept or whether to keep searching!

For employers seeking to fill open positions, be cognizant of the fact that top tier candidates will likely receive multiple offers. The offers may come quickly, particularly for skilled and/or experienced candidates. Decide who you want to hire as quickly as possible, make the best offer you can justify and, hopefully, you will hire your “first choice” for your position.

Julia Aguilar

It’s Time for Sports!

One of the most enjoyable times for parents is watching their children participate in sports. There is the pressure of hoping your child will get a hit or catch a ball in softball and baseball, make a hoop in basketball, score a goal in hockey or score a touchdown in football. Then there is the great joy when you see their successes!

Sports teach children from 5 years old through high school and college to be team members, to celebrate victories and to endure defeats. Friends from Little League through college remain friends for a lifetime both for players and for their families.

As employers, we need to be supportive of sports for the good of both parents and players. Allow scheduling flexibility whenever viable. Flexibility could include allowing employees to leave early on game days, approving make-up time if requested, allowing remote work schedules on game days, etc.

Employees will be more productive if they are not stressed over getting to a game in time or missing a game. Children will be delighted to see their parents in the stands cheering them on.

And, if you are as lucky as we are at SLPS, you will even receive Snapchat updates when players get a hit, make a great catch or strike out the opposing team!

Julie Aguilar

Were You Laid-Off or Fired?

Too often, applicants write on their applications or tell interviewers that they were fired from a prior job when they were actually laid off. Fired typically means that an employee was involuntarily terminated for cause. Laid off typically means that an employee was involuntarily terminated because of a reduction in staff.

Being fired means that an employee failed to meet performance standards, attendance standards or violated a Company Policy. Violation of Company Policy typically includes such misconduct as falsifying work time, violating any safety, health or security procedure, violating the Company’s drug and alcohol policy, carrying firearms or any dangerous weapons on Company premises, violating the Company’s anti-harassment policies, participating in horseplay or practical jokes on Company property, theft or careless damage to Company property or insubordination. Being fired is usually the employee’s fault and is usually permanent.

Being laid off means that there was a reduction in staff due to changes in the company structure, a workload reduction or budget constraints. Sometimes a lay-off is temporary and the employee will be called back to work if conditions change. Being laid off is not the employee’s fault. While a lay off may feel like a firing, it is not and it is important to accurately indicate on applications and in job interviews if you were laid off. Do not confuse the terms or casually comment that you were fired if indeed you were laid off. It may well make the difference in whether or not you are considered for certain jobs.

Julia Aguilar

Loss of Trust – Words from One of My Most Respected Early Mentors

Years ago, Byron Campbell, then the Publisher of the LA Daily News, took a big chance by promoting me from the HR Director of a small sister newspaper to the VP of HR for the LA Daily News. I was one of the first women to be given the opportunity to represent a large LA newspaper in negotiating union contracts. I transferred from managing a team of two to building a team of thirteen. I was also the only female on an executive team of eight led by Byron. I had a lot to learn and, fortunately, my boss was a wonderful, kind, smart mentor!

One of most helpful words of advice I received from Byron was: “When the trust is gone, you need to end the relationship.” Of course, you always follow the appropriate legal and management guidelines for ending work relationships, but you find a way to reach a mutual agreement on ending it because you truly cannot function efficiently without the trust of members of your team, whether your team is your department or the executive team of the company. Of course, you first investigate to make sure that your loss of trust was not due to a correctable misunderstanding or other valid, correctable issue. If, indeed, the trust is broken and cannot be repaired, solutions include the options of a transfer, voluntary termination or involuntary termination with or without an agreement depending on the situation. As Byron told me so many years ago, “When trust is gone and cannot be regained, it is time to end the work relationship.”

Julia S. Aguilar

Father’s Day

In 2016, my brothers and I celebrated the anniversary of our father’s 100th birthday. My father (Daddy Roger) was one of the smartest and kindest people I’ve ever met. He often quoted Shakespeare, could solve any math problem and wrote wonderful, amusing letters. He was fascinated by the stars in the sky and by space exploration. He played 12 musical instruments by ear and entertained us many times picking the guitar and playing the mouth harp. However, he could not carry a tune and that is one trait he passed along to me. My mother even once told me while I was singing a hymn in church that I sung like my father and I’m sure that was not a compliment on either of our voices.

He taught all of us to be interested in politics. I don’t think any of his six children have ever failed to vote in an election. I recall him always reading the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Reader’s Digest.

He turned down a college scholarship because he didn’t want to leave his hometown girlfriend who later became our mother. Our parents were married for forty years and died just four months apart. I have no doubt that my mother died of a broken heart following the loss of her “boyfriend”.

Never once did he give me, his only daughter, any inclination that girls were in any way inferior. He assumed I would go to college and enjoy a successful career. Okay, so he did once tell me he didn’t want me to have any children because he didn’t want me to go through the pain of childbirth. He assured me that with five brothers, the sisters-in-law could provide all the grandchildren he needed! I solved this by marrying someone who already had two children.

As I wrote last year, Mother’s Day can never be neglected. Father’s Day does not often get the same attention. This is a good time for all to remember and to thank our fathers for all that they did to enrich our lives.

Julia Shell Aguilar

Staffing Companies–the Experts!

June is the traditional month for graduations…and for starting and restarting careers or for changing jobs. Students graduating this year are likely familiar with job boards, websites, social media and some local and national companies’ websites. Even in this day of various options and low unemployment, it can be quite a challenge to find the job you are seeking. Job searches remain a time-consuming and often an overwhelming process for applicants both with and without experience in job searches.

One option for finding jobs that recent graduates and reentry candidates may not immediately think of is staffing companies. Staffing companies’ business model is built upon matching those seeking jobs with those needing to hire employees. Many staffing companies place applicants in temporary, temporary to hire and direct hire positions. It may be the right option for some who are seeking temporary summer jobs as well as those seeking longer term career positions.

If you would like no-cost assistance with your job search from an experienced placement team, give us a call at 805-544-1800 or contact us through our website. We’re here to help match those seeking jobs with those needing to hire employees!

Julia Aguilar

Mother’s Day Blog

Many of us were fortunate enough to not only have mothers who helped to make us strong, but aunts as well. My father’s sister, Juliet or JuJu, was the perfect aunt throughout my first 40 years. First of all, we shared the same first name though my parents modified “Juliet” to “Julia”.

When I was a junior in high school, I was dating a soldier from the local military base. I overheard a conversation between my mother and JuJu in which my mother expressed great concern that I would get married instead of going to college. I recall overhearing my aunt telling my mother, “Let me take care of it.” The following week, my aunt invited me to tour three colleges that she thought I might like to attend. We toured the colleges and drove throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for a week. I decided on the trip that I thought Radford College would be a good choice.

Shortly after our college tour, I learned that my boyfriend was to be discharged and would return to Vermont in a few weeks. Taking no chances, JuJu invited me to join her and her children on a three-week trip to California knowing that “Bob” would be gone when we returned. We enjoyed a wonderful trip on which JuJu made sure we used a Duncan Hines Book of Recommendations to determine where we ate and AAA and Best Western Books to determine where we stayed. We toured many historic and fascinating sites and enjoyed glorious evenings of swimming and talking.

As a country girl from Virginia, it is fair to say that the two trips were life-changing for me. I did attend Radford College and was even a bit familiar with California when many years later, my husband was transferred to San Diego.

Happy Mother’s Day to the aunts, mothers and grandmothers who made us strong women!

Julia S. Aguilar

AB 5 is Gone for Now!

Many businesses, including staffing agencies such as San Luis Personnel Services, were greatly relieved to receive the news today that California AB 5 is “dead for now”. The California legislature considered the bill in 2017 and continued it to 2018 with a hearing scheduled for January 18th in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The Chairperson of the Assembly Appropriations Committee declined to take the bill up for a vote in the committee which effectively killed the bill for 2018. Unfortunately, the matter could come again in a different or a new bill later in 2018.

AB 5 was definitely a “Job-Killer” bill and one of the most ill-conceived bills that I have read in many years. AB 5 required employers with 10 or more employees to offer additional hours of work to existing part-time, nonexempt employees before hiring or using additional employees or subcontractors, including temporary workers.

Requiring businesses and hiring authorities to first offer jobs to any part-time, qualified employees and to justify why a “new” employee is being hired creates laborious and unnecessary work for Human Resources and other hiring authorities to evaluate every part-time employee’s skills for any job opening. Equally important, it would frequently prevent businesses from hiring the applicant who is the most qualified for the position. Instead, businesses would have to increase the hours for less qualified employees resulting in lower productivity. It is my opinion that some companies would decide to just not hire additional employees due to the added workload, the loss of flexibility in hiring, the removal of choice to hire the best candidate and the fear of litigation.

There is no doubt that AB 5 would have destroyed many jobs –harming temporary and contract workers, unemployed candidates seeking employment, staffing firms, businesses and the California economy.

Congratulations and thank you to the California Chamber of Commerce, the American Staffing Association, the California Staffing Association and all others who worked to be sure that legislators understood the damage that could be done to employers and prospective employees by AB 5.

Julia S. Aguilar
Principal, CSP

Thanksgiving – Time to Give Thanks to Our Mentors

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reach back and thank some of those who helped you throughout your career by serving as mentors.  A mentor may be a friend, a family member, a supervisor, a company executive or a co-worker.

One of my most memorable mentors was Elvira Booker, my supervisor when I was an Eligibility Supervisor in Social Services in Richmond, Virginia.  She was smart, tough, fair and by the book.  After I had been in the position for a couple of years, she told me that it was time for me to go to graduate school.  She assured me that I would likely receive a scholarship from the State, which I did.  Two years later when I received my Master’s Degree, she hired me as a Trainer for Eligibility Workers.  That’s quite important because being a trainer has been my “fallback position” throughout my career.   I have called to thank her a few times through the years and in one call, she said, “I always felt that we had a special connection.”  So did I!

A co-worker said that he is most thankful for the sayings shared by his manager when he worked in the retail industry.  He has repeated the sayings in his own business many times through the years.

Saying: “Every one of our employees is somebody’s daughter.”
Message: Treat every one of our employees with respect. Make sure you are comfortable with what she will tell her parents about work at the dinner table.

Saying: “Thanks for telling me. No surprises!”
Message: Always keep me informed.

Saying: “Don’t be afraid of sleeping on it.”
Message: Don’t always make decisions in haste.

Thanks to all of the wonderful mentors who have helped us through the years!

Julia Aguilar