Monday, September 3, 2012

Interview: Christie Leigh Mueller

Happy Labor Day! Speaking of...would you like to get a job?

Our friend Chelsea Hanson  interviewed Christie Leigh Mueller, business etiquette consultant and author of "Gridiron Belles: A Guide to Saturdays in Dixie." (Remember: we'll announce the winner of our FREE GIVEAWAY of her book on Sept. 5!)

Before we give her book away, however, we’re going to help you get a job —or at least prepare to get a job, thanks to Mueller’s wisdom. Here we go!

Chelsea Hanson: What the key point to focus on in a cover letter?

Christie Leigh Mueller: The key to a cover letter is to give a personal touch in a professional tone. In your cover letter, you have the opportunity to highlight a few of your experiences and explain why they will make you the perfect candidate for the position.

Are unconventional resumes a way to stand out or can they harm you?

You always want some degree of uniqueness to your resume, but that’s not to be confused with being unprofessional.  Stay away from scents, bright papers, items that fall out of an envelope, or singing e-mails.  Rather, be unique in your ability to present a clean, well-organized, impressive resume.  You’d be surprised how much format can influence your interviewer.

If the owner of the company is very young, maybe only a few years older than yourself, do you address them as Mr. or Ms. or their first name? 

Despite their age, the owner of the company is still your superior in the business world.  Always err on addressing them as Mr. or Ms. until they advise you otherwise.  You always address people how they have asked you to.

When it comes to soliciting for unlisted jobs, how can a young person investigate opportunities without being a bother?

Simple and sincere conversation. It’s too forward to ask for favors before you’ve established a relationship with someone.  However, it is acceptable to ask someone for advice for getting into your desired career. Asking for advice gets them thinking about that particular field and is a natural segue for them to offer to introduce you to the people they know that could offer you a job.

If you do ask a professional for help, always be considerate of their time be it during a conversation or reading your e-mails.  Do your homework on the subject, follow up if you say you’re going to, and above all, do not expect them to do all of the work for you.

Where’s the best experience—interning for a big company, or a smaller, lesser-known company that might offer more freedom?

I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.  There are countless benefits to both.  If you worked for a big name in the industry, a reputable company obviously saw you as someone worth hiring. But, what if your main responsibility was making sure the boss’s coffee had one cream and two sugars?

With a smaller, lesser-known company, your work experience and creativity was likely developed. Your abilities were likely seen by your colleagues.  

In either case, play up your experiences, the projects you were a part of, and what you learned simply by being around the office.  You’d be surprised what you can learn by a boss you observed from a distance at a large company.

Many young people market themselves online with blogs or otherwise establishing a brand presence. Is a recommendation from someone you only know online as good as one from a personal recommendation?

Establishing yourself and a brand in cyber-world is an accomplishment in itself and should be used to your advantage during the interview process.  It is in essence, a small business.

It is, however, easy to hide qualities or shortcomings behind a computer so for recommendations I would stay with a stronger reference from someone you know well.

What about clothes—what do you recommend wearing for an interview?

When dressing for an interview, do your due-diligence and figure out what the dress code is at the office.  Dress accordingly.

Note, it is never, under and circumstance, acceptable for you to wear jeans to an interview. There are plenty of options available to be less formal than a suit but more put together than jeans if the company warrants such dress.

Remember, your first impression is at stake here and your outfit directly reflects on your abilities as an employee.  

Thank you, Christie Leigh Mueller! Check in with us on Sept. 5 to see if you've won a copy of "Gridiron Belles!"

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