Abercrombie & Fitch is just being Abercrombie & Fitch

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The internet seems to be in an uproar of Abercrombie & Fitch’s newest insult, large people (specifically women) shouldn’t wear their clothes. At least the company is honest about their brand and expectations.

Communications expert, Tim Miles, author of Good Company: Making It, Keeping It, and Being It wrote in his blog, the Daily Blur that A&F is the anti-Dove, anti-inclusive. He goes on to explain why this is good business and advertising for the A&F brand.

“I think public protests outside their stores would make CEO Jeffries squeal with glee,” Miles wrote. “He welcomes this publicity as a siren song to his shallow end of the pool.”

Miles is 100 percent right.

A&F seems to have the spotlight every few years whether it’s with their hiring practices (or firing practices), the outlandish and teen-coveted, sexualized magazine or a $50 T-shirt with an explicit message (see the entire product criticism on the A&F wikipedia page).

The main point is that the general public and media are talking about A&F and all those conversations just make the cool kids want to buy the clothes and others to see what they’re missing.

Exclusion is nothing new for A&F and it isn’t hurting the business bottom line. It may not be ethical, kind or bettering the world in any way, but is selling clothes, albeit skimpy, overly expensive clothes.

Vote with consumer dollars, if you don’t like their business practices, you don’t have to shop there. Just be wary of forbidding your teenagers from shopping at A&F, it will probably lead to them buying the clothes and telling you they’re borrowing it from their bestie. (Not that I ever did that myself…)

Full disclosure: I interviewed for a job at A&F in college. I made the mistake of not wearing a full, current season A&F outfit to the interview (apparently an A&F t-shirt and A&F jeans weren’t enough, I was supposed to wear the jewelry, perfume and flip-flops too) and ultimately wasn’t hired.  

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Resume Mistakes

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If you aren’t already following Undercover Recruiter on Twitter and checking out the website, you’re missing an excellent resource. The no-nonsense style and advice is perfect for anyone in the job market.

Take for example, the recent post 7 Things You Can’t Hide in your Resume by Karalyn Brown (on Twitter @InterviewIQ), all seven are critical errors that you might not have previously considered.

1. You are not a native English speaker. This advice goes both ways. If your main language is English and you’re applying for a job abroad (even in the UK!) make sure you have a local native read your resume and cover letter. Hint: if they laugh, chuckle or grimace  you’ve missed something.

2. Inflating your experience and skills. This is a giant red flag. Granted, you might not get caught until after you’re hired, but the second your employer finds out you can’t edit an entire broadcast story on tape to tape in under 10 minutes, as you stated on your resume, you should expect to be shown the door. In today’s digital age, it is easy to catch liars.

3. You’re not very confident. Just like overselling yourself is a red flag, underselling yourself is just as detrimental. Be proud of the skills you have and your work experience. Don’t be afraid to state what makes you uniquely qualified for the postion you are applying for.

4. You want to keep your age to yourself. Most new graduates and seasoned employees are afraid to put dates on their resumes. This might hurt you more than help you. If a college degree is required, the potential employer might want to verify you received the degree from your stated university (see No. 2 above), that can be hard to do without a graduation date. Work experience and skills can usually give a potential employer a ballpark figure on your age, don’t make them work too hard.

5. You lack marketing skills. Your job is to sell yourself! You are marketing a product you know super well, you! Just don’t be smarmy.

6. You aren’t really that bothered about this job. Why this job? Why should the hiring manager consider you above all other candidates?

7. You do not write very often, or well. Be concise and clear. Read your cover letter and resume out loud to yourself. Vary how you start and end your sentences.

What other erros might make your resume end up in the circular file (trash)?

It’s ok to be quiet in a tragedy

I’d like to clarify in more than 140 characters a Tweet I sent earlier today. The Tweet was: “Every business social account does not need to share “thoughts and prayers are with #Newtown.” If you can’t add to the conversation, don’t.”

The context came from both my Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter feed. In both, businesses and organizations were simply posting some variation of: “We’re deeply saddened by the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to all affected.”

It was overwhelming and distracting. Those kinds of statements don’t add to the conversation. Coffee places, non-profits, businesses and the like, didn’t need to say anything. At best it comes across as trite, at worst, like this Tweet from KMart, which Matt LaCasse posted to Facebook after seeing it elsewhere, comes across as very insensitive.

KMart tragedy Tweet

In a 24/7 news world, it is crucial for brands and business to follow news and revamp on the fly.

As digital marketer, Lauren Fernandez, (cubanalaf) points out, there are times when it is appropriate to say something. She replied to my tweet with, “We did so when canceling our contest today, and felt it was appropriate. I still do.”

Fernandez also adds, “It’s appropriate for brands to do so if product, company values or brand location ties into it.”

I agree with her on both points. Her first comment is the right way to acknowledge that plans changed and events and people take prescience over promotion.

Do you manage a social account for a brand or business and agree or disagree?

Content: Value and Information

Content is King

The opening session keynote speaker at the HUG Super Forum (I’m attending for work) made some really great points about making content work for you to gain clients or customers.

AK Stout, the owner at Saying it Social, emphasized that creating fresh, new content, not only helps your SEO, but also adds value to you or your organization.

She said, people aren’t using search engines to find a “plumber” like they would use the yellow pages, instead they are searching for, “how to fix a leaky faucet.” If your plumbing business can be on the first page of results for how to fix a leaky faucet, you’re more likely to gain that person as a customer when they can’t fix the leaky faucet themselves, or when they fix it using your information and another big plumbing issue comes up later.

The same is true for you. If you can be on the first page of results for whatever your niche or your company’s niche is, the more likely you are to gain that the person searching for that information for the project or in the future. You’ve provided valuable information without trying to overtly sell something.

Which was Stout’s second point, overtly selling turns people off. If instead you can provide value or desired information before pushing yourself or company, then you’ve gained their trust and you’re more like to gain a sale in the future. It’s a different mentality than in the past.

Think of that when you’re interviewing for a position. Instead of selling yourself, prove you can provide the value and have the necessary qualities for the position.

How do you provide valuable content and gain trust?

The current job market

Two recent Harvard Business Review posts cited some interesting statistics from the September U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

“As of January 2012, the median time that wage and salary workers in the U.S. had been with their current employers was just 4.6 years,” according to the first HBR post by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott. “Other recent data points are equally disturbing: The staffing company Randstad says that 40% of employees are planning to look for a new job within the next six months. Another survey notes that 69% of employees are already at least passively shopping for new job opportunities via social media today.”

Further, most of those looking fall into entry-level positions. The old saying, people accept a position for the company and leave because of management may ring true. However, the perspective of this follow up HBR post also by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott focused on how those managers can work to retain employees and convince them to stick with a company or organization for the long-term.

The authors suggest managers can retain employees by following the Five Rs of employee relationships, which is also a good list for a perspective employee to use to judge a perspective company.

Responsibility: How much responsibility will you have? Are you trusted to do your job? Are there ways for you to grow in the position or gain new skills?

Respect and Reward (these go together): How do supervisors in the company show they respect their employees? How are employees recognized or rewarded? How will I know you’re committed to me as an employee?

Revenue-sharing: What’s in it for me if the company does well this year? (Fair warning: it probably isn’t a good idea to ask the question exactly that way in an interview setting.)

Relaxation time: How is time off handled? Is it by department? What about sick time? In all businesses, there are busy times, what if you need time off then?

What else can you use to judge a potential employer?