Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: formal wear

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to formal wear.

Heels: how high is too high for work? (Featuring fascinating footwear facts)


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Friday’s video had a great fashion tip; however, it was targeted mostly to men.  To even out the score, here’s an article written by Lisa Mesbur at Workopolis with some tips for our female readers.

This article originally appeared in the Workopolis Career Resources Blog

Staring at those six-inch stiletto heels sitting your closet and wondering whether you can get away with them in the office? Maybe. It depends on where you work.

Before we get into the related guidelines, here’s something you can use in conversation around the watercooler:

High_HeelsThese days, yes, high heels are generally seen as an attractive – OK, sexy – footwear choice for women, but history tells a different story. High heels can actually be traced back to the 9th century, when savvy Persian horsemen used them to help keep their feet in their stirrups, and it wasn’t until the late 1500s that higher heeled footwear caught on amongst the male and female aristocracy and upper classes in Europe. In the 1670s, vertically challenged monarch Louis XIV of France literally and figuratively raised his stature in court with custom-made crimson high heels, and until the 19th century, high heels worn by both men and women were symbols of status and power. After all, heels were impractical, delicate, and terrible for trudging through dirt or mud – perfect for long days being admired and waited on by servants.

Fast forward to the Victorian period, when changing fashions revealed women’s feet and ankles and made men’s footwear more utilitarian. High heels began developing their modern, more feminine connotations in the late 1800s, and by the turn of the last century, they were pretty much exclusively a girl thing.

Except for the Cuban heeled Beatle boots and glam platforms of the 60s and 70s, Western men’s footwear has mostly steered away from shoes that elevate more than a modest inch or so, while entire industries are now built around women’s love of the highest heels. For many of us (raising my hand here), they’re an indispensible closet staple – but should we always indulge in our heel-love in the workplace?

OK, the guidelines: here are the three heel rules you should definitely follow when trying to figure out how high is too high for work.

1. Respect your work culture

Sorry, diehard heel-lovers, but do allow the norms of your workplace to determine the height of your heels. Of course, the same rules don’t apply everywhere; government offices are notoriously lower-heeled environs, as are most conservative businesses. But when I worked for a national fashion magazine, many of the female staff regularly tottered around in 4-inch spike heels festooned with feathers, arbitrary buckles and rhinestones – and that was perfectly acceptable (part of the job, in fact). In general, it’s wise to take your cues from the ankle-down profile of your senior colleagues and managers – if the boss lady is rocking towering heels, there’s a greater chance that you might be able to get away with it, too.

2. Assess your heels’ impact

In an ideal world, every working woman – every crop top-, miniskirt- and chainmail-wearing employee – would be evaluated solely on the basis of her skills and competencies in the workplace. Alas, we don’t live in an ideal world, and what we wear elicits judgement whether we like it or not. It’s a prickly subject, but the truth is undeniable: higher heels are a potent symbol of female sexual power. Ultimately, of course, you should wear what makes you feel good, but it’s smart to assess the impact your footwear will have on your clients, your colleagues, and your bosses.

One recent, albeit controversial, French study suggests that the higher a woman’s heel height, the more men will help and pay attention to her. What’s your experience?

3. Plan to walk a mile in those shoes

Well, if not a mile, then the distance back and forth to your boss’ office at least a dozen times, to that new Thai restaurant, to that meeting three blocks away – you get the idea. Regardless of where you work, it’s essential to choose a heel height that allows you to move freely, comfortably, and – maybe most importantly – well. Hobbling, wobbling and limping by 3pm hurts your feet, of course, but it also won’t inspire confidence in your coworkers or bosses. If your heels are too high to spend a competent workday moving around, communicating, having brilliant ideas and just generally kicking butt at your job, you probably need to leave them at home.

How to Tie a Bow Tie


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Believe it or not, the bowtie is back and becoming a common fashion trend in formal wear.  While you may not wear one to the office, if you’re attending a networking event, an executive-level meeting, or a formal outing with friends and want to add a bowtie to your ensemble, you’ll need to know how to tie one.

Take a look at this helpful video from Business Insider where Matt Fox demonstrates his quick and simple method for tying a bowtie.

Body Language Techniques to Ace Interviews


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Jennifer Farrell By Jennifer Farrell,
Proposal Team Lead at Eagle

A firm handshake with a bright smile is a great way to start an interview. To keep the positive momentum moving forward, try out some of these body language gestures. Used properly, they are guaranteed to give the impression that you are relaxed and confident.

When you first sit down, keep your hands on the top of the desk and lightly fold your fingers. This keeps you from fidgeting with your hands, which can be very distracting.

Sit straight with your legs together and cross your feet at the ankles. This posture grounds your hips and forces your body to tilt forward slightly. Leaning toward the interviewer gives the signal that you are interested in what they have to say.

Begin mirroring the interviewer because copying another person’s gestures garners acceptance.  Be careful with this technique though, it needs to be handled delicately and it’s not always appropriate. For example, smiling when someone smiles at you is a great mirroring technique; fake sneezing after they sneeze is not.

Use “interested” head gesture positioning.  Tilting your head down automatically hunches up your shoulders, which makes you look insecure or defensive.  Tilting your head too far back forces your nose up in the air, which gives the impression you are over confident or egotistical. The best head gesture to gain acceptance is to tilt the head slightly to one side.  With your head tilted, relax your face and jaw muscles too. Try this head position in front of a mirror before you use it in an interview.

Keep your hands away from your face. Touching your face a lot belies insecurity. It also makes it appear as though you are being dishonest. If you can’t keep your hands clasped lightly in front of you (and we’ve all been so nervous that this is a challenge) then ask for a glass of water and sip from it often, or keep a pen in your hand and hold it lightly. Some people swear by a paperclip.

Pay attention to your palm positioning throughout the interview. Locking your fingers together is an aggressive gesture, as is pointing at someone (or drilling a piece of paper with your finger to drive home a point), whatever you do, don’t hold your hands palm down against the desk.  The best position if your hands are free is to open your hand, letting it rest palm up. This gesture non-threatening and submissive.

handshakesFinally, some advice about hand-shakes: When you are just meeting someone it is appropriate to shake hands up and down with 2 or 3 pumps. Handshakes to avoid include the Glove (other hand clasping the outside of the shakers hand), and Wrist (other hand clasping the wrist of the shakers hand), the Elbow (other hand clasping the elbow of the shakers hand) and the Shoulder Hold (other hand patting the shoulder of the shakers hand). These are all handshakes that are overly familiar and leave the receiver feeling somewhat violated and suspicious by their over familiarity.

Let your body language do the talking and you won’t have to! Tell us, what are your favourite tricks to use during an interview?

Tips for Business Travellers


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Depending on your expertise, your client, or demand in your hometown, there’s a good chance that as an independent contractor, you have to travel for business.  At the start of July, we provided some tips to maximize your time on the road.  Further to that, we surveyed some executives at Eagle who travel frequently and came up with a few extra tips:

  1. Be organized and don’t leave stuff till the last minute.  Pick your seat, book your hotel, etc. well ahead to get best prices, the right schedule and the seat/hotel you want.
  2. If you have not been there before do a little research.  Google map the area, look at hotel amenities, look at a local tourist sites for restaurant options etc.
  3. Consider using discount sites like Hotwire to get best pricing.
  4. AirplaneDon’t stress yourself out by arriving at the airport at the very last minute.  The more experience you have the more clear you become about how long it take to get to the airport, get through security etc.  Be sure to leave yourself time to pick up water, reading material, and snacks once through security.
  5. Don’t rely on the airline for drinks or food. It might work out fine, but be prepared.  Bring your own bottled water and nutritious snack.  You need to stay hydrated, and fed!
  6. Have all of your travel docs together (electronically and/or on paper)
  7. Create a “reading” file with photocopied/printed articles to use time productively (Note: an e-reader may do this even more efficiently)
  8. Create an airplane folder of work items you can “knock off” while captive on a plane.
  9. Exercise where possible. Consider a skipping rope, running stairs, push-ups and sit-ups if there is no gym.
  10. Travel as light as you can and do not check luggage if at all possible.  Some very specific thoughts on travelling light:
  • Get light luggage;
  • Mix and match clothes (ex. one suit with two pairs of pants will go a long way);
  • Learn to fold efficiently, so things don’t crease;
  • Pack as few toiletries as possible and  use hotel “stuff” when available;
  • If travelling to the same place all the time consider, leaving some stuff at the office there, (shirt, tie, pants, toiletries, casual clothes etc.);
  • Take exercise gear and pack stuff inside the shoes (razor, socks, underwear etc.) to save space; and,
  • Think through your stay and don’t take things “just in case”.  Do you really NEED casual clothes? If so, can a pair of jeans and a t-shirt complement your work jacket and shoes?

Business travel can be a real chore but if you do it right then you can minimize the hassles.  We’re sure there are many frequent travelers out there who have their own tips and tricks. Feel free to comment below!

10 Tips for Your Job Interview


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A while back, we asked our Recruiting Team to give a few pointers to independent contractors to help them increase their probability of success in job interviews. Here are their top tips:

  1. Learn a little about the company you are interviewing with. Your agency should give you some information. Take it one step further by looking at the client’s website and reading their annual report.  The best way to find out about a company’s current activities is by looking at their recent press releases.
  2. Research your interviewer. Know all the details about the person or people you are meeting.  Check out their LinkedIn profiles.
  3. First Impressions Count! Be sure to know where you are going and get there on time, or even a little early.
  4. Badly Dressed InterviewDress appropriately for the occasion.  Always err on the side of caution.  It is better to be over dressed than under dressed.
  5. Bring your resume. Some contractors have both a “short form” and a “long form” resume that gives more detail about their work. Bring copies of both.  These can be useful to an interviewer.
  6. Prepare for the interview. Make sure you are ready for any questions they might ask you.  Read the job description carefully.  It usually offers clues as to their priorities.
  7. Prepare some questions for them.  Ask questions about the role, the team, the project, the environment etc.  Ask clarifying questions in relation to the job description.
  8. Be confident (but not arrogant) and answer questions directly. Don’t try to avoid questions, if you don’t know the answer then fess up.  Truth goes a long way!
  9. Try to relax, smile, hold eye contact and be friendly with your interviewer.
  10. Be aware of annoying habits that you may have when under pressure, for example tapping or clicking your pen, scratching your head, sniffing etc.  Once you’ve identified these habits, make a conscious effort to avoid them.  Keeping a notepad handy and writing notes through an interview will not only show that you’re interested but can also help provide a distraction from those habits.

Contractors typically will have hundreds of interviews in their career so refining interview skills key in ensuring many successful contracts.  What helps you with your interviews?  Share your advice with your fellow contractors by leaving a comment!