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Issue 60 – First impressions

Welcome to the August edition of the Registrant Resources Edition of Information Overload. This month we look at being a director of first impressions.

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In this issue we will look at:
• Do we take our workplaces for granted?
• What are you wearing?
• Job Opportunities
• A Thought to ponder

Do we take our workplaces for granted?
Do you remember what it was like on the first day of your new job? Were you excited or nervous? Did you get up especially early to make sure your shoes were polished, your outfit clean and pressed. Did you make sure you had everything you needed for the day, change for the bus/parking meter, lunch, bottle of water – just in case they didn’t tell you where the kitchen was and you were afraid to ask, note book and pen. Did you check the bus timetable a gazillion times to make sure that you got the right one, or should you get the slightly earlier one just in case there were snarl ups in the traffic and there was no way you were going to be late, not on your first day, not if you could help it.

How long did it take for the novelty to wear off? 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months? 2 hours? Or do you still go to the same trouble today that you did when you first started? If I were to hazard a guess, I would have to say that few people take the same time and trouble to make sure they are properly prepared today as they did when things were just starting out. Of course it could be argued that you know where you are going, which bus gets you there, and where the best places are for lunch. But what happens if there is a delay caused by an accident, do you take the time to contact your employer and let them know you are going to be delayed, or do you just arrive and announce to no one in particular about the shocking state of traffic and you need caffeine.

Of course what I am talking about is Workplace Etiquette. Workplace etiquette is more than just eating with the right fork, and not speaking with your mouth full, but your daily interactions with the people that you work with, and the organisation that pays your salary. Most organisations have a professional code of conduct that stipulates working hours, standards of dress and behaviour. When did you last read it? Have you ever read it? If you are not sure where to look, the corporate intranet is a good place to start, or the employee handbook.  By the way, a copy of IEA’s registrants handbook is available on the employment pages of our website. All you need to do is log in.

What are you wearing?
And talking about being prepared for tomorrow’s working day today, we also need to discuss what you are wearing. Do you take the same pride in your appearance that you did when you were first starting out, or did life and boredom get in the way?

Personal hygiene is an emotive subject – but is an essential part of how you dress each and every day. When you “get ready” do you leave enough time to ensure that your hair is washed and brushed, similarly your teeth? If you wear makeup – do you make sure you have time to make sure yesterday’s was taken off, or are you prone to just adding another layer? Oh and perfume/aftershave does not cover the fact that you failed to shower and use deodorant this morning.

You see if you fail with the basics, it doesn’t matter what you throw over the top.  Of course you may not care, but I would suggest that you should.

Of course you could argue that everyone does the same things, so you may feel justified in your actions and dress standards. My question to you is, if you are doing a little less than you should because you can, and because everyone else does exactly the same thing, why should someone else’s actions, behaviours and standards influence yours.

So – could you do me a favour, and could you do yourself an even bigger one. You know those clothes in your wardrobe, the ones you always wear to work. Can you go and have a proper look at them. If the hems are falling down, if there are buttons missing, cuffs fraying, your white shirts are a bit of a creamy grey these days instead of the pristine white they used to be. If you can’t get into these outfits properly anymore – either because they’ve shrunk, or more likely because you’ve added a few inches to your waistline. Make a decision to replace them.

Now you do not have to spend a lot of money on new clothes to find some bargains. Shop when the sales are on if you want brand new. But if you would like to try your hand, op shops are a great place to look – here you will find those clothes that other people can no longer get into !! Oh and whilst you are at it, give them the ones you should have thrown away a couple of years ago.

The one thing you probably won’t find in op shops are shoes – well not ones suitable for work anyway! . So sales are definitely the way to go for new shoes, along with hosiery. Socks should be the same colour as your pants – so when you sit down, you don’t give your colleagues a glimpse of the cartoon socks your mother bought you.

Why should all this be important? After all you are being paid to do a job – which you do, very well (or at least I hope that you do).

Personally I find that personal appearance to be one of the biggest tell tale signs about your commitment to:

Yourself, Your work colleagues and Your employer.

Yourself: because if you feel uncomfortable because the clothes you are wearing don’t fit properly, are a bit skungie from the night before, they have definitely seen better days – after all you’ve worn the same outfits every week for the last 6 years.  And if you don’t feel good about what you look like, chances are going to be good that you will be feeling less than comfortable around other people also.

Don’t believe me? Well consider a time when you didn’t know you had a hole in your stockings. You’d gone quite happily about your day – until you went to the bathroom and noticed…. How self-conscious do you feel now? Similarly – how would you feel if you had been walking around with your zip undone, or you had lipstick on your teeth, or you forgot to put on deodorant and every time you moved your arm you got a wave of – unclean wafting under your nose.

With regards to your work colleagues: Well turn it around. Consider working with someone who didn’t wear deodorant. They cycle into work, there isn’t a shower, so they have a quick wash in the bathroom and change into their rather scrumpled work wear – that’s also a bit damp due to the fact that it poured it down on the way to work this morning. They forgot to bring their hairbrush and their first client has arrived early. What impression does that give to the client?

And if that isn’t enough, consider what happens if that person is also a smoker and pops out between clients for a quick one. Or the three-beer lunch they had with their mates. Cigarette smoke and alcohol fumes clings to fibres, so it is obvious where you have been and what you have been doing.

And what of your commitment to your employer? Well – they pay your wages, so it stands to reason they should expect a certain amount of respect from you during the working day. Which means, wearing the appropriate clothing, including any and all safety equipment that you are supposed to wear. Ensuring that your “uniform” is washed and you are ready to start your working day on time.

Next time you happen to be in a suburban shopping centre, you can test these observations in a very real and fundamental way.

What do the shop assistants look like? Are they happy to be there? What are they wearing? One of the things I have noticed is that a smile can make the biggest difference to the way you look and the way that you act. When you feel good about who you are (what you look like) and the job that you are doing you will have much better interactions with your customers.

And before you say that you don’t have customers, we are all customers of someone else. Assuming we don’t have any interaction with the outside world when we are at work we are still customers of our work colleagues and our employers. And our work colleagues are customers of ourselves.

Do you provide better customer service to the people you “like”? Why is that? If you break it down, it’s usually because of a few fundamental things, not least of which – they are polite, they smile, they treat you with respect and they dress nicely. It may seem a little simplistic, but in the main these are the things that really do make the difference.

You cannot change other people, you can only change yourself, so why not make a difference to yourself and start a new trend.

Job Opportunities

The weekly job opportunities bulletin are now added to our website, and an email sent to all direct subscribers. To view the latest edition, please visit our home page – http://www.iea.com.au. To see back issues, please visit: http://www.iea.com.au/web/Employment/Employment_Services_For_Job_Seekers/Weekly_Job_Bulletin/

To subscribe to this free service simply send an email to training@iea.com.au with subscribe job postings in the subject line and you will be added to the lists.

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A Thought to Ponder

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
Frank Outlaw
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