Checking my look, checking my attitude

Y’all remember Christina Binkley. She’s the super-savvy Wall Street Journal columnist who quoted me awhile back regarding key economic indicators (in this case, Ben Bernanke’s beard — don’t ask me to explain; follow the link).

Anyway, today she’s giving advice on how to be unemployed with style, so of course I paid close attention:

Laid Off? Check Your Look … and Your Attitude

Newly Jobless Update Wardrobes, Rein In Resentment and Embrace Punctuation

… In the aftermath of a layoff, style is critical. And it’s about more than the decision to polish a wardrobe. The way people comport themselves after losing a job can make all the difference in what comes next. From how they convey the news to colleagues, to the type of clothes they wear and how they punctuate their emails, the newly jobless must use careful footwork to navigate the job hunt.

When in doubt, it’s a safe bet to retreat to conservative styles. After Michael Bragg was downsized from his New York-based job at a high-end European fashion brand, he went out and bought a new pair of shoes—lace-up, American-made Aldens. Play it straight with email, too. Sure, sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to shoot off a short, all lowercase missive to a colleague. But punctuation is a risk-free option. The same goes for social-networking. Now is not the time to post pics from a beer-sodden barbecue and share them with everyone in your network….

Good advice, that last bit. Hang on a sec while I go pull a couple of things off of YouTube…

…OK, I’m back. (While I was there, I updated my channel so it no longer says I’m “the VP/Editorial Page Editor of The State, the largest newspaper in South Carolina.” Along with style and attitude, I’m assuming accuracy is also important.)

Back to Christina’s piece today … I hope bud will take careful note of the advice therein. bud doesn’t seem to think I should be wearing clothing that requires dry-cleaning while unemployed. I disagree. Christina’s with me. Folks, I get up every morning, put on my coat and tie (shirt and pants, too — details are important), and go downtown to have breakfast at the usual place (Doug knows where). Only way I know to stay in the game and maintain contacts. To me, networking seems key. Looking like you’re ready to go to work this minute also seems advisable.

As for attitude — I think I’m OK there, too. I didn’t get upset and cuss anybody out when I got laid off. I mean, y’all can go back and see what I said at the time, here and here and here (I even said nice stuff about Mark Sanford). Maybe there will be a delayed reaction sometime, but I haven’t really worked up a good mad yet (which is actually sort of out of character for me, but there it is). I guess as a vice president of the company I understood the situation too well. Thirty-eight people were getting the ax that day, and they needed some of them to be top management. I got picked (and had the honor of being the one mentioned in the news story). Way of the world. Stiff upper lip and all that. A chap must face facts, and other pseudo-British mumbo-jumbo…

So I’m doing everything right. Of course, it hasn’t produced full-time permanent employment yet, so after a few more dry-cleaning bills maybe I’ll try bud’s approach, but for the moment I still think Christina knows the score.

9 thoughts on “Checking my look, checking my attitude

  1. kbfenner

    well, at first I thought you were writing about Christie Brinkley, but now…

    Well, outside of the South, you do realize that your colorful bow tie and seersucker look would come off a bit twee, right? Otherwise, use Dryel and iron your own shirts and get your hair cut at Great Clips on Rosewood–it’s good enough for Sanford!

  2. martin

    How about this one from SCJobs:

    This position is located with the Confederate Relic Room and Military History Museum. Incumbent functions as the liaison and operating officer of the museum’s new, separate foundation. Develops, manages, and administrates the museum’s membership program and friends organization, working with the curatorial staff for longer term museum and collection growth and development. Works with the director to fund raise for exhibit and program support, capital projects, and endowments. Operates as the museum’s public relations officer to include: administrating all media requests and events, addressing civic organizations on behalf of the museum, and building public support for the museum and its mission.

    Have you thought about something this far afield? It doesn’t pay great, but I’m a great believer in something is better than nothing.

  3. martin

    Here’s another:

    This part-time, temporary position works with the Office of Research and Statistics. Incumbent will serve as media coordinator in support of a comprehensive outreach effort in order to maximize the State of South Carolina’s participation in the 2010 Census. Job functions include developing advertising efforts, arranging media appearances/speaking engagements for SC Census staff, providing content to SC Census website, and writing brochures.

    Actually, it’s the SCGov website. Both of these jobs, above entry & here, are with the Budget and Control Board. Maybe they won’t hold a grudge.

    With all your allergies, are your medical problems serious enough to possibly qualify you for Vocational Rehabilitation?

  4. Brad Warthen

    Martin, thanks, and you’ll be glad to know I filled out applications on both of those earlier this week…

    Don’t know about the allergy thing, but keep thinking!

  5. Thom Berry

    Keep working the network, Brad; something will come through. Sitting at the keyboard in your PJ’s won’t work and gives all of us a somewhat scary mental image to get out of our heads.

  6. bud

    I just skimmed through Christina’s piece and frankly her advice is not very practical. First of all she suggests that it might be a good idea to take a few weeks off before starting a job search. A few weeks off? Tell that to the bill collector.

    Second, as Brad alluded to, she suggests a more conservative dress regimen. Really? Seems like society is moving more towards business casual. The new shakers and movers are dressing down.

    A bit of tough love may be in order here. While attitude is critical in every human endevor, especially when it comes to a job search, it is also important to recognize what’s important to prospective employers. I would suggest that most young entreprenuers are interested in a more casusal look today. I’m not suggesting blue jeans and a tee-shirt, but something along the lines of a nicely pressed golf-style shirt and some matching slacks. Perhaps you should also consider a change of venue for your breakfast trips. So far it doesn’t seem like the contacts there are doing much good.

    At the end of the day a dress shirt with tie and jacket are not what is in vogue and it could actually be detrimental. Frankly, the few people where I work who still wear ties look ridiculously out of place.

    On the other hand, if you are comfortable with the conservative dress approach and it makes you feel good perhaps that’s more important than ‘in-vogue’ dress. If you’re not omfortable with business casual it would likely come across when you’re making contacts.

    All I’m saying is times have changed. The new dressing for success rules are very different from the 1980s. A tie and dress jacket are not important in today’s world. Just look at how the president and first lady dress. And it certainly hasn’t held them back.

  7. Lee Muller

    Reagan dressed sharp.

    Obama is too casual, and doesn’t know how to dress up because he never dressed well until Ab Mikva hooked him up with real estate swindler Tony Rezko.

    Obama is an empty suit no matter what his handlers having wearing.


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