Empty Suited Job Hunters

Have you seen the reality TV shows that teach people how to improve their image? I am referring to old programs like Image Makeover, What Not to Wear, Queer Eye, and Ambush Makeover. This season on American Idol, Tommy Hilfiger is providing image coaching to help the contestants begin to look like music stars. For the contestants who choose to listen to Tommy, you can actually see their transformation.

Job hunters go through a more elaborate makeover process. In addition to updating your occupational skills, you learn how to update your resume, customize your cover letter, dress for success, create your personal branding, build confidence, get connected to social networks, lose weight, dress for success, make your elevator pitch, and then practice your interview skills.

Image makeovers play an important role in helping you look good, and create a favorable first impression. They can also make you feel good, as in confident, self-assured and at ease in mixed or new company.

That’s the good news about image makeovers, but here is the real reality job hunters should be aware of. While looking good and feeling good may help you qualify for consideration, what keeps your foot in the door is your ability to qualify for hire.

If you cannot perform well, your credentials and made over image are pointless. This is what recruiters describe as an empty suit. You may look good on the outside, but there is no business justification to hire you if you lack the horsepower to perform well on the inside. You need the total package that spans the following three categories:

  • Priority 1, Performance Skills – your resilient mindset, flexible attitude, and adaptable personality to regulate self-motivation, good efforts, results, and any preferred characteristics (i.e., pace, sense of urgency, confidence, honesty, commitment, etc.).
  • Priority 2, Occupational Skills – certifications, academic credentials and practical experiences that build professional, technical and administrative know how related to a specific job, career, or vocation.
  • Priority 3, Job Search Skills – career planning, company research, resume writing and distribution, polished image, personal branding, time management, cold calling, networking abilities, practiced interviewing, and negotiating.

Experts agree your priority 2 and 3 skills are essential to help you qualify for consideration. However, to get the job you must also qualify for hire by demonstrating the priority 1 performance skills. Interviewers may refer to those skills as your fit and chemistry to the job and organization. If interviewers believe you have the right fit and chemistry, you may get the job even if you don’t have the best occupational and job search skills. Your priority 1 skills can often trump your occupational and job search skills in importance to employers that are concerned about improving productivity.

Despite the importance of priority 1 skills, state governments and academic institutions are oriented to provide training related to priorities 2 and 3. You can also find thousands of Internet sites that provide free redundant training and learning resources related to priority 3. Training on those lesser …

A Bondage of Education

From a very early age I can remember my parents, teachers, and friends discussing this idea of ‚Äč‚Äčeducation. What it is, what it should be, what it could be, but more importantly how I would use it to "further" my life. I had this notification that education was going to school, remembering what the teacher said, applying it to a test, and repeating the routine for the next twelve years. The term "career ready" is not only whatAVE me the desire to have straight A's in high school, but what brought me to a university. I came with hope to finally break away from the restraint that I believed was only a result of what a high school education could do to an individual's mind, but quickly came to realize that a "liberal education" from college was not that different. Liberal education was designed to free individuals from the bonds that society placed upon them, but present-day education is what holds those bonds together.

I will never forget the first time I failed a test. It was in fifth with one of my favorite teachers. I remember receiving the test back with a zero on the front and instantly covering the test up so no one could not see the sign of failure. The teacher must have seen my shock because I was told to stay after class. She explained to me how I had made a 100 but I did not "take the test right" which is what sent in the zero. From then on, I developed what college students call "test anxiety." I worked to follow directions, to be structured, and to never ask a question that could possibly be wrong. I made straight A's, participating in school organizations, was president of my class, and lived to fill the resume that would be sent to potential colleges. I did what students are expected to do. When I came to college I was excited because I could finally learn outside the perimeters of standardized tests. What I did not expect was to hear phrases from professors such as, "do not worry this will not be on the test," or or having to spend thirty minutes of class listening to students ask how many questions will be on the exam. Teachers from my high school always told us, "college will not be like this, so enjoy it while you can," but it was all the same. Listen, take notes, memorize, take test, repeat.

I began to realize that maybe this was what education was intended to be. A system that engrains students with the idea that to conform and restrain one's mind to standardization is what makes us "successful." David Brooks discusses how college students are "goal-orientated … a means for self-improvement, resume-building, and enrichment. next step. " Students go through elementary, junior high, high school, and now even universities not to "free our minds" or truly educating ourselves, but to climb the ladder of social order. One can refer …