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Its The Little Things

8 Aug

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So you’ve got the perfect interview outfit, The Row blazer over an Derek Lam shift dress you scored at a sample sale. You’re punctual – 12 minutes early, early enough to show your level of responsibility but not an over eager half hour. Your resume is a high gloss thing of beauty with every reference short of Jesus. But did you remember the little things…
1. Your smell. I’m sure I don’t have to worry about any of your being funky but I have seen (or smelled) many people make scent errors. Do NOT load up on the perfume/cologne. Remember you only smell your fragrance for about 5 minutes after you put it on…the rest of us can smell you.
2. Pronunciation of Names. One of the most embarrassing faux paus can be the mispronunciation of someones name. There’s nothing like finally scoring an interview with Stefano Tonchi and introducing yourself to Mr. Tanchy.
3. Fluff. Please study your own resume. Tell the truth. If you lied on it, remember your lies. Nothing worse than filling in your history and experience with fluff because you can’t remember what you said in your resume.
4. Did you remember your Colgate Wisp? I never leave the house without them. Just like we can smell your perfume when you cant…we can also smell your breakfast.
5. Bring several copies of your resume…a friend of mine once went in for an interview at Lucky Magazine in the beauty department. The editor said she may not have a position but would love to give a copy of her resume to the fashion department. Well…it was her only copy. Her famous last words “I don’t have another one…can I email her??”. She never got that call from the fashion department. Don’t let that horror story happen to you.

FYI…above mentioned friend is now a very successful assistant editor at an awesome publication. She survived.

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Little Fish, Big Pond

8 Aug

Working at a big corporation can be intimidating for anyone. Fortunately in our business the size of the company is not always an indication of the prestige. There are tiny agencies, production houses, designer showrooms etc that are more respected than there megahouse counterparts. But how do you manuever and make a name for yourself at enormous multi department corporations like LVMH, Conde Nast or Estee Lauder when you’re just starting out. Companies like this usually have so many employees than even the assistants have junior assistants and the junior assistants have interns.  The trick to getting noticed is to painstakingly build a niche for yourself. No matter how insignificant that niche may seem it is your job to figure out the one area you can excel better than anyone else. Convince at least one person in a senior position that you have a skill or an area of knowledge they cannot afford to do without. This doesn’t have to be your identity for the rest of your career. You don’t have to spend the next 10 years going by Amy “awesome photoshopper” Wilson. Just be sure that for now you are indispensable in at least one area. When you’re in any junior role it is always good to be a jack of all trades…but if you are just mediocre at 50 tasks – a huge corporation has the resources to hire 50 individual people who are awesome at each of those 50 tasks.

Also, keep in mind, its all too easy to get lost in the shuffle. And the reality is that people that work in creative industries often have short attention spans. Something is interesting, popular and hot one day and the next day not so much. This applies to people as well. It’s your job to keep their attention. Its not enough to blast in the door and knock everyone’s socks off with your talent and wit. You must keep it up. Don’t set the bar so high your first week that you’re incapable of maintaining that level of work every single day. You must be a rock star at every moment.

Where Do We Go From Here???

3 Aug

How do you know if you’re moving too slow? Its such a challenge, especially in our industry to know whether or not you’re on pace or lagging behind. I always tell people to be really sure of their timing before they ask an employer for more money or responsibility. Its so easy to become envious of other people in an office. How much they may be making, how close they are to the superiors, what they get to do as opposed to what you get to do. But the majority of the time things aren’t what they appear to be. When you get caught up in trying to catch up you can burn yourself.  So often I’ve seen assistants get more focused on advancement than their actual job. However there is a flip side. I’ve also seen people so afraid of speaking up that they stay in assistant positions for years and years. I actually know a woman who has been in the same junior role at the same stylist management company for 11 years! So if you really think its time to talk to your boss about your future at the company here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Know your facts before you ask your employer for anything! Don’t assume you know what other people are making or what’s being negotiated in their meetings. You may make yourself look really stupid by asking for something no one in the office is getting.

2. NEVER bring up your personal issues as a justification for a raise. There’s nothing an employer cares about less than your landlord raising your rent. Salaries are merit based.

3. Cross your t’s and dot your i’s. The first order when going into a review with your boss is to make sure you’ve covered your ass. Make sure there are no loose ends, unfinished work, mistakes that went unfixed. Trust me if you don’t address these things, your boss will.

4. Come from a gracious place. Always acknowledge why you are working there first. Talk about why you want to work there as opposed to anywhere else.

5. Don’t threaten. Don’t dangle job offers from other companies (real or imaginary) in your bosses face. Remember no matter how amazing you are…there are about 30 other amazing people waiting for your spot to open up.

6. Make sure you have a nice suitcase of achievements before you talk about new responsibility. You should be able to shoot out accomplishments you’ve made at the company with wicked ease. If you’re doing something that several other people at that company can do just as well – you should not be in this meeting.

7. Be clear about what you want. Don’t go into a review just asking for “more”. Know exactly what you’d like to be doing, how much you think you deserve and whatever perks you’d like to negotiate.  

8. Remember that its not all about the money. Be open to negotiating other advancements, a new title, better hours, more vacation days, etc.

9. Don’t be a child. The #1 most annoying thing in a meeting is petty jealousy. The minute you say “its not fair” or “but Amy gets to do it”, your meeting is over.

10. Come to the game to play. Always remember you are not in a sorority, you are at work. Leave all personal stuff behind. Don’t think you’ll get what you want because you go out for cocktails with your boss. This is a business.

In conclusion, know the difference between your job and your goal. Always know your job description and be sure you’re doing that at absolute minimum. Your job at that company is not to build your career – that’s your goal.