No Murse for me, thanks!

The Man Bag

Well, it appears some of our more opinionated and sensitive readers from the other side of the isle felt ignored on the discussion of what to carry into that perfect first interview with that perfect first agency. That’s right – the men!  And while some of the suggestions on what we could do with certain parts of our anatomy were riotous, the power-saws were nevertheless flying.  So we apologize. Wholeheartedly.  And in an effort to make right a terrible wrong, as any Official Temp does, let us jump headfirst into the subject and tell you men what you should be carrying into your first interview with that perfect first agency: NOTHING!

Look, we’re going to get to that.  But you haven’t got the interview or the assignment yet, and you’ve just blown a substantial wad with your new wardrobe. AND, we haven’t even started on resumes so any additional sticker shock at this early stage is going to be too painful and will only throw you into a tailspin.  Baby steps, remember.

But since you made such a stink, we’ll warn you now to start saving the winnings from your beer-pong-betting because you’re going to have to lay out some solid scratch on a decent Messenger bag when you are ready.  Yes, we said it — Messenger Bag. Not Murse. No Murse. Ever. Sure, some of our well traveled friends might bristle that men all over Europe carry a Murse, why not here? Well, that’s fine for Europe, but we’re here in the U.S. where we have football and the highest rate of gun violence of any industrialized nation – you can’t just throw a Murse’s into that.

And, since you’re so impatient, he’s a single consideration until we cover it in depth – much later. Royce-Leather-Saffiano-Leatherry-Laptop-Messenger-Bag-a13f199f-6d83-4289-98dc-5b93b85d11a7This is a comparable that you should be aiming for, the Royce Leather Saffiano Laptop Messenger Bag. The measurements are amazing, 13” high, 14.5” wide, and 3” deep with excellent lining and a zipped enclosure inside. If you do some online looking, you could probably find one of these on sale for a little over $100. If you’re not sure and need to see it purchase prior, by all means, hit the stores we’ve mentioned in previous posts. And if you can afford to knock it up to Tumi or another high-end brand with the same look, by all means.

Happy?

P.S. The contributing editor who wrote this is – a man.

You say you worked where?

References

An article we recently stumbled upon, profiling some imbecile discussing references, made us want to address this important issue sooner than later as you prepare for your new life as an Official Temp, and that issue is references.

In this particular article, this I’m-smarter-than-everyone-else-in-the-room-techie-boss asked potential candidates during interviews for contact information for someone who didn’t like them in their previous job – as a way to balance out the good references and attempt to obtain a “real picture of the candidate.” That’s like asking your blind date over dinner for their ex’s phone number, just to get a “feel” of who they really were pre-divorce. Imbecile. But it does raise a point – that is, making sure you’ve got some good reference letters when preparing for battle.

Agencies actually prefer not to have to do background checks. However, they are left with little choice as a new survey from CareerBuilder.com points out.  More than 2,500 hiring managers found that a whopping 56% have caught job candidates lying on their resumes.  The biggest whopper?  Embellishing skills or capabilities.  Another 54% say they’ve caught applicants taking extreme liberties when describing their responsibilities in a given position.  And even more sadly, 25% have seen people who have claimed to be employed by companies they couldn’t find on a Google map.  That takes some enormous balls.

Written references are the only sure-fire guarantee for a limited background check and can actually be a way for you to rise to the top of the pile, especially those written from senior executives where you might have interned for over a summer or two, and it doesn’t have to be a direct supervisor, just someone who liked you in that company. In addition, if you’re experience is light on your resume, which will be heavily discussed in our coming post on resumes, get reference letters from friends or the parents of friends who work for big name companies and who are willing to provide a character reference. It impresses the agency that you put the thought into the process and they’ll know that you’ll know how to represent them accordingly with any temp assignments they send you out on.  And an Official Temp always knows how to represent.

John Nash

Look, we’ve all made mistakes which can make background checks a bit tricky, so references are a great way to fly when starting that new temping life.  Three is the ideal number.  They should be on the letterhead of the company that person works for, succinct, no more than three short paragraphs, and always offering a phone number to call to discuss how awesome you are, which they never do.

It’s that simple.  Now start asking.

Hunger Games

Facebook or Food? You Decide.

The Hunger Games
Originally devised as a way to help misunderstood Harvard students stay connected to other underprivileged friends on campus (cough-cough), Facebook morphed at lightening speed, and in our opinion, into a global tabloid for lonely shut-ins to shotgun the minutia of their lives, sans logic, and spawned a plethora of other social media sites, most of which have become a dumping ground for bad behavior, or worse, pictures of cats.

Regardless of the arguments playing out over invasion of privacy, your social media footprint can mean all the difference between invites to interview, or you taking another trip to the .99¢ store for instant Ramen.  Why?  Because prospective agencies and employers now go straight to Google, which always leads to a search of your Facebook page, followed by Twitter, and ultimately Instagram, which can spell disaster for weekend warriors.  And if the crime scene is too bloody, they won’t even bother with your LinkedIn account.

Jobvite, a respected recruiting platform that handles applicant tracking, released a 2014 Social Recruiting Survey that should help put a lid on documenting your hard-partying ways:  93% of hiring managers and agencies will review a candidate’s social media profile BEFORE making a decision to interview them, let alone hire them.  Are you listening?  Another 55% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they find on social media AFTER initial consideration, with 61% of those double-takes receiving a negative.  Sucks to be popular, doesn’t it?

A final statistic?  According to Money Magazine, the number one blunder leading to the drop-kick of a potential candidate?  You guessed it – drinking.  Yep, all those hilarious pictures of you and your friends on Instagram, completely trashed at TGI Friday’s with you regurgitating their famous onion blossom, guarantees your phone won’t be ringing.  So, if you’re planning on starving or borrowing even more money from your parents, by all means, leave those magic moments online.  And if you’re really looking to be humiliated, be sure to let them find your profile on Tinder.

An Official Temp loves a short-cut, but not on this one.  Don’t waste time with those startups that promote and promise to scan and remove any unfavorable material where you loiter online. These services might be well and fine for a general wiping down of the furniture, but for a job like this, only serious elbow grease will do – your own.  There are some very good sites out there that can walk you through it.

So, start scrubbing.  Or, go hungry.  You choose.

2 P’s =T

It’s All About Totes Baby!

One extremely valid quandary we hear from the ladies side of the isle ALL the time is what to sling on their arm when hitting that temp agency for the first time.  It’s a valid conundrum.  It breaks our hearts to see the Un-Official Temp at interviews, poised in a proper waiting room sitting position (take note!), legs together leaning to the left, crossed at the ankles, hands in the lap.  And under her chair is a purse, knapsack, and portfolio.  Sad, right?  But luckily you’re now reading The Official Temp blog, and learning to correct any business of fashion-business faux-pas.  And that’s why we endorse nothing other than the tote, the only thing the Official Temp female proudly struts into meetings.  And why shouldn’t she?

Today’s totes are both formal and casual, elegant and functional, and provide for mind bending efficiency, keeping things organized and tidy — including printed resumes staying flat, your MacBook Air safe and snug, and any other thing that our female Official Temp might need for her career outing (we will discuss formal packing for interviews later).

Only black or brown will do, solid, in a sturdy leather or a very good matte vinyl.  No patterns or stamping – and that includes ANYTHING by Michael Kors, Coach, or any faux designer bag you might have bargained from some sidewalk vendor (we suggest you throw that one away – Official Temps don’t do knock-offs, except for pearls).

Totes High Res

Avoid making the purchase online.  You need to see and feel it, and confirm that it screams business elegance.  Banana Republic makes some great totes, and you can find some good offerings at J. Crew and T.J. Maxx, and of course, Ann Taylor.  Tory Burch has some fantastic options, but she’s a bit heavy on the appliqués and you want to avoid those at all cost.  Pick a size that feels right to you, but still resembles intelligence and balance.

And if you decide you want to give your new tote a power-boost in confidence, tie a small silk scarf around the handle (preferably something with a fair amount of yellow and white in it), and voila.

See?  You’re one step closer to being Official.

Forward

Our Welcome Letter

JobFair.jpg
In the End there is Always a Beginning (death excluded).

So— you got sacked from your last job.  Big deal.  Face it, you hated them anyway. What’s more, those cubical lemmings had no idea how to appreciate you, your wicked sense of humor during intense corporate meetings, your kindness in showing up late each morning as a courtesy to those needing a jump-start, or your killer flair for pranks and practical jokes.  And we won’t even get you started on how intellectually superior you were to them or how popular you are on social media outside their myopic organization.  Reality is, they did you a favor.

Why?  Because as a soldier in the new economy you are ready at last, to bravely move into turbulent and unchartered waters with your independence, innovative ideas, hard earned experience, and the bitter-rich emotional baggage that comes with it, which is why you are now ready to be — an Official Temp!

As an Official Temp you are in demand and licensed to consider yourself an entrepreneur, a free agent, a single scout in the vast wilderness of corporate greed and shameless backstabbing.  That’s right.  It’s a whole new globally-economically-connected world, with immeasurable wreckage, and we can all pay great thanks to Wall Street malfeasance, corporate downsizing, pension raiding, startups, start-downs, and legalized slave labor.  Yes, because of wildly reckless business behavior, temps have moved into the forefront of not just a handy enhancement or replacement to one’s immediate business needs, but have in fact become one of the most valuable commodities in today’s commerce (just ask Amazon and Walmart).

More than three million individuals are currently working in temporary positions each day in the United States.  In addition, young workers will average 8.6 different gigs before they reach the age of 34, making temping all that more attractive for those who are commitment phobic or seeking new horizons.  And many of today’s most gifted temps aren’t just the pink collared.  Men, especially in the tech and manufacturing sectors, now make up 30% of the temping workforce.

Simply stated, the sky’s the limit – but only if you’re an Official Temp.

We ourselves have been to the bowels of hell and back. Battle veterans who are here to share all of our temping experience to your benefit.  If you can name it, we’ve conquered it.  Banks, insurance companies, asset management and legal firms, commercial and residential real estate organizations, startups working out of a garage, and even some adult “industries” we’re too embarrassed to admit. And on the subject of embarrassment, we’ve even temped in that reptile tank known as the entertainment industry.  But that’s another blog.

Why are we reaching out you ask, using what little free time we have living a Los Angeles life?  We find it our social duty and moral obligation to report the trials, tribulations and truths about what it really takes to become the most marketable temp on this planet.

We will help get you through the darkest of days and the bleakest of nights on the road to a new you.  Let our blog serve as your bible, your new best friend, even your lover if need be.  No matter what your background, color, creed, sect, denomination, orientation, handicap, felonies, it doesn’t matter.  Treat this blog as your survival guide.  A simple, no-nonsense-thousand-points-of-light approach to changing your life with you calling the shots. Because sooner or later everyone is going to have to temp – so why not make it Official?

And remember, an Official Temp never runs out of office supplies for their home, if handled the right way.  It’s all about the angles.

Now let’s get started.

TIME TO ROLL

Getting Started

top hat sprint

With corporations paying more attention to shareholder greed than work-related PTSD claims filed by the minions making the profits happen, keeping lean has seduced many a company into replacing full-time folks with temporary employees long before the latest recession.  In fact, anyone would be hard pressed to find a single company, no matter its size, not taking full advantage of the temporary work force, or as freelance techies like to call themselves, the Contingent contractor.  Whatever.

Simply stated, temps in the previous century had proven to be of tremendous value versus the lazier, in-house crowd, and the reason was obvious: The temp of the past was a willing participant to be obliterated by immediate and unreasonable demands based on the belief that the employer-du-jour could hand the temp an e-ticket to easy street with a steady income and some measure of security.  The temp of the past was also a willing participant in accepting birdseed as pay, always a measly fraction of what the permanent employee might be making annually – with zero benefits.

That was then – this is now.

In 2014 alone, the number of temporary employees soared to an all-time high.  According to published reports, ADECCO, one of the largest staffing agencies in the United States, had an average of 650,000 temps on payroll with 100,000 client companies.  What does this mean to you?  Plenty.

Temping offers an amazing opportunity to explore an enormous array of diversity as well as securing marginal stability while still leaving plenty of elbowroom for a flexible, fun-filled schedule.  What’s more, where health insurance, holiday pay, and vacation time were exclusively reserved for the permanent employee, understand what a difference a movement makes.

The temp force is expected to grow by 15% each year with a whopping 49% of employers stating that they will be hiring temps in 2016, which is why a majority of temp agencies are reaching well beyond the normal scope of marketing to attract those looking to join the rank and file in this exploding market.  This includes offering the exact same perks presented by major corporations to its permanent staff – and that includes more money!  Yes, today’s temp can actually negotiate his or her hourly rate.  Agencies are even sending out recreational vehicles to college campuses and job fairs, snapping up potential temps wherever they can.  And why wouldn’t they?

The fact is, temps are no longer the ugly stepchildren of corporations brought in to answer a phone, type a letter, make coffee, or help with the big filing projects.  Nope, temps today have become a sizzling commodity, especially those with extensive social media skills.  In addition, temporary agencies are one of the fastest growing service providers in the U.S., with Manpower being one of the largest employers in the world.  What started out as a simple and basic purpose to hire a substitute slave for a single day — or many — for the most menial of tasks, has turned into a wildly profitable industry, $115 billion as of 2014 to be exact.

BUT –  chances are you are NOT reading this blog to be bored stiff learning statistics of companies benefiting from your sweat and aching back.  You are reading this blog for the benefit of numero uno – you!  So, whether you are an untrained divorce’, recent grad, or even a recent parolee, your future is about to change, big time.  And as any warrior knows – going into battle is all about mental preparation and attitude adjustment.

1. Shed the labels.

We ourselves have endured horrid names – Corporate Orphan, His Girl Friday Night, Seat-warmer, Inept eye-candy, you name it.  Not to mention some nasty whispers overheard in the lunch room to our lack of efficiency or perceived intellectual challenges.  Not you!  The new you IS hotter than a fireplace poker on a winter night, and you are certainly eligible to relish in some of the more favorable titles being adopted by the Official Temp – Freelancer, Staffing Associate, Specialist, Independent Contractor, Free-spirited God.  These are the respectable names you can take home to mom and dad without getting blank stares and questions, such as “a what?”

Whatever you choose to call yourself, own it.

2. Bury the Limitations

We all have our limitations, and unfortunately a history.  That is inescapable.  There isn’t a one among us who hasn’t tried on their own to stalk for the dream job through outdated sources online, and failed miserably.  In truth, trying it solo rarely works and if by some miracle it does, by the time you finally receive an offer for fulltime employment, not engaging in some exciting temp positions first, desperation for income will overpower any rational judgment and you’ll end up stuck once again in another horrid situation.  Where’s the fun in that?  Nowhere, that’s where.

The bottom line is simple:  You need to retain certain luxuries in life that you’ve grown ever so fond of, which might include, say, a roof over your head and occasionally putting something in the fridge from Trader Joe’s, so remember this –

We are here for you! Allow us to guide you step by step, post by post, on how to shine and tower above the rest. Take our hand and follow us through all stages of becoming the ultimate Temp, an Official Temp.

From haircuts to handbags, neckties to etiquette, eye contact to thank you notes, if you name it, you’ll learn it here, the RIGHT way.  We can even teach you how to negotiation your own salary, and even a possible parking space.  Remember – it’s all about angles.

So let’s roll.

For the seasoned employee looking to retake the market for a career change at the advanced age of, oh, say 34, and is worried about competition from the new grad – know this. The playing field is about evenly leveled between retreads and fresh-faced college students.  Statistics always make us feel better, so here are a couple for you:

  1. Only 15 to 30% of today’s graduates actually hold in their hungry little palm an offer of employment upon gown day.
  1. The remaining 70%-plus will be forced into temping while searching for the dream job their parents promised would be there if they attended college in the first place.

JUST SHAVE IT, ALREADY!

A word about facial hair

Cutting Beard
In reality, a potential employer, or more importantly, the potential agency that can potentially get you to that potentially-perfect employer, could not possibly care less about your stabs at social positioning, and care even less about your well groomed, extensive facial hair.  And that means beards – the ever popular added follicle feature below one’s nose that has turned geeks into hipsters, and some aging men into believing it’s some fountain of youth, which it isn’t.

It’s all about marketing yourself properly and professionally, and any potential employer isn’t interested in your social influence or the stylistic statements you are trying to make on Friday night pub-crawls, bad art openings, or Sunday morning farmers markets.  What they care about is your ability for flexibility and conformity.  They have their own culture and they expect you to move with it.  Sure, if you are working in tech or creative, have your little ZZ Top beard and just show up on time.  However, for the rest of you – shave it.  Don’t get a committee of friends involved on the decision making, they won’t be the ones signing your check and friends almost never tell the truth when asked “do you think I look good with it?”

Just shave it.  End of discussion.

Men’s Wardrobe

A Starter Kit for Starting Out
1Guess what?  You’re already talking even before you open your mouth when going in and meeting with a potential agency, and that’s because your wardrobe is speaking before you do.  It only takes an instant to form an opinion, one that can last right up to agency rep closing the interview with, “We’ll be in touch if something comes up.”  So, if you didn’t have the advantage of a prep-school education, learning the appropriate way to dress for the occasion, you’re going to need to learn business dress basics for crushing it on that first temp interview.

Style is everything, and the key to success for the Official Temp when walking into that agency or first assignment is to look like you don’t need the job.  That’s right.  Because of this egomaniacal and shallow society of ours, the one who looks like they have it has it!  And in today’s business climate, enhanced by the nasty influence of reality television, it’s all about image and you’ll be a lot happier on this planet the sooner you realize it.

Don’t believe us?  Check out this little fact:  65% of employers say that between two identical candidates with the exact same experience, they will always hire the better dresser.  See?

We’re not expecting you to be an office fashionista, or pray at the style-alter of Carey Grant, as we do here at The Official Temp.  But, we do expect you to be able to start selecting some killer basics for your business wardrobe that will carry you straight into lunch invitations with senior management.

THE SUIT
You don’t have to break the bank, not entirely, but we are going to ask that you at least break a sweat in your search.  And that means groundwork.

Our first starting point is always Nordstrom’s Rack.  If there’s one in your area, you can find amazing deals on great labels at one-third the cost of major department stores.  We ourselves have found white-hot Theory suits there for practically nothing.  If they don’t have one in your neighborhood, a good runner up would be Banana Republic, that would be on-sale Banana Republic.  Or, if you’re lucky enough to live in a city with an original Brooks Brothers – run to it like you’re on fire.  Their staff knows exactly what they are doing when it comes to business attire.  The most important thing here to remember when you’re beginning your pursuit is this — you’ve got to treat your search for a killer suit like you’ve just landed the date of your life, and you want that person to fall in love with you.  There’s no difference.  And don’t waste your time at TJ Maxx or Ross, they aren’t going to have what you need.

The Jacket
Buying the perfect interview suit requires some Official Temp guidance.  And as an Official Temp, there is only two colors for you.  Dark grey or Navy blue.  Solid – no patterns or stripes!  Period.

Look for a wool-blend gabardine (or all wool, of course), and two button straight cut.  Don’t even stop at the double-breasted suits for one minute.  They’re absurd unless you live in London.  And ALWAYS make sure there’s button-hole stitching at the cuff.  Nothing screams “cheap” louder than cuff buttons with no button-hole stitching.

Where ever you go, always bring a dress shirt with you, no t-shirt underneath.  Slip the jacket on, button the first button, and place the palm of your hand against your chest.  If it is too easy, the suit is too loose.  You want it fitted, without being too tight.  If there is a creased “X” where the suit is top buttoned, it’s too tight.  There should never be buckles in the fabric or any creases near the shoulder.  It should ultimately feel like an extension of your skin, flat, not something you’re swimming in, nor lacking for oxygen. Check for any rise below the collar on the back of the suit between the shoulders.  The jacket arm length should fall right at the top of the wrist, keeping in mind that the shirt should poke out no more than ½” in length – max.

The Pants
No Pleats!  It’s not a golf course.  Flat front always.  Be sure when trying the pants on that they create an attractive line, not something akin to curtains with a belt, and be sure that they taper nicely down the leg, with the smallest break possible at the front of the pant where the material meets the shoe.  You can buy the pants a little larger if you’re worried about any fluctuations in weight, as they can always be taken in.  Never buy too snug, it’s virtually impossible letting out pants that are too tight.  And please remember to wear underwear – not boxers when you’re trying on your suits (do we really need to explain why?)

The Shirt
Go back to Banana Republic for this one.  They make some of the best fitted dress shirts for the buck.  Yes, we will be discussing at a later point the differences between Poplin, Pinpoint, and Twill, but for now you need to think one word – Cotton!  White.  Straight point collar.  Proper length, dropping ½ inch maximum from the sleeve of the suit.  Not too loose, not too tight.  Spend the time looking for the right shirt – do not rush it.  This really sticks out with an interviewer, if he or she thinks for a minute you borrowed anyone’s clothes because they don’t fit right, and then you’ve just blown your morning getting ready for nothing.  And no French cuffs – ever.  And please use the collar stays!

The Tie.
Dark, preferably Navy, any particular pattern, as long is it isn’t distracting.  Think sophisticated or Sunday Mass.   And it really needs to be silk.  It just does.

The Knot – Single Windsor.  YouTube directions.
The Length – The bottom tip of the tie should just barely touch the top of the belt buckle.

Belt
For God’s sake, just invest in a decent black belt, 1 and a ½ inches in width, and one that fits properly – which means, never more then three holes past the buckle.  Two is pushing it.  One hole, and they may not validate your parking.  And pass on anything matted or gold-plated, and certainly no screaming buckles by high-end designers, knock-off or otherwise.  That’s just tacky.

Shoes
Back to Nordstrom’s Rack you go.  We have found jaw-dropping deals on men’s shoes, good men’s dress shoes that will last you a lifetime if you take proper care of them, including solid brands such as Gordon Rush, H by Hudson, Clarks, and Cole Haan.  DSW, if you have one in your neighborhood, is also an excellent source for dress shoes at a reasonable rate.  You need to be careful about buying shoes on-line, unless you’re a skilled shopper.  Like suits, you need to see and feel them before making the purchase.

They should be black, lace-up, a good polish, and with no more than a 1” heel.  Clean and simple.

Socks
Believe it or not – this is an important subject.  We’ve actually seen people wearing white socks into interviews with really bad suits and even worse shoes.  Not the Official Temp.  You’ll be able to show off some of your flare later down the line with crazy socks, which we love with good suits.  But until then, stick with black sheer socks, or in very rare instances, you can push it with some dark plaid socks, but they better be conservative.  Not cotton, but wool.  Wool actually absorbs moisture better and reeks less when you kick off your shoes at the end of the day, and is another way of caring for your new found purchase.

Accessories
No.  Period.  Remove all rings but your wedding ring, that is if you’re locked in that institutional dungeon.

Watches
Nothing loud and obnoxious.  It isn’t a club.  If it’s smart and doesn’t distract, by all means.  However, a real winner with us is any Swatch watch.  Not the bright ones, but the darker colors. They are still completely cool and make a statement that you are practical, professional, and breezy all at the same time, such as you probably play volleyball on weekends right after you balance your checkbook.  Employers eat up these watches for some reason.  And if you should be fortunate enough to have a valuable timepiece, perhaps willed to you from a relative upon their death, leave it at home.  You’ll just piss-off the interviewer and they’ll spend the entire time staring at it, wondering why they don’t have one.  It’s human nature.

Coming up – haircuts and mannerisms.  And don’t worry.  We will get you up to the fashion big leagues, becoming the best dressed person in your organization, but baby steps.  One at a time. Until then, get shopping.  Remember, you’re an Official Temp now, and you have a uniform.

Oh, and picking up a copy of Italian GQ wouldn’t hurt.

A Ladies Quick Guide

What to Wear to the Interview2

Ladies, let’s be blunt.  What your mother should have explained to you in those early and impressionable years is that aside from it being a very cruel planet, nothing is more critical to long-term sustainability for a woman than looking good.  Even more so in business, which means your daytime armor had better be on point when tackling your new future.

The Official Temp girl is in charge, and being in charge means the right dress-code – and it does matter, especially to the hiring side.  Don’t believe us?  As we pointed out to the men in their same section, there’s a little fact that you better get familiar with right now:  65% of employers say that between two identical candidates with the exact same experience, they will always hire the better dresser.  Not maybe, always.

If you had the good fortune of attending at least one private school, then you get the whole mindset to uniforms and coordinated dressing.  Even if you were raised a semi-WASP, having attended the ballet with your parents on occasion, chances are you’ve got a grasp on what to wear.  The rest of you – read on.

You don’t have to have a Birkin Bag, a Chanel jacket, or strive to clone yourself after Anna Wintour, also known in fashion circles as Nuclear Wintour, but you are going to need to learn about business style that goes beyond a label or a pattern stamped to death on wallets and purses.  So listen up gals, we are going to show you how to select some stellar interview essentials, your starter-kit, if you will, for your business wardrobe that will carry you straight to acing the interview, and quite possibly being asked to join “the team” for happy hour later that day – them picking up the check, of course.

THE SUIT
The corporate world for women really has not changed that much, so here’s a MUST to ponder when looking for a parking spot at the mall – keep it conservative.  Just like the men, the stores you are going to want to hit first would include Nordstrom’s Rack, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor for sure, Brooks Brothers (if you are lucky enough to have one in your area), and even an Express.  For the record, we think H&M is really gaining speed into the more wearable work clothing.

When selecting your suit, stick with dark — Navy blue or a deep charcoal gray.

THE SKIRT
Go for the short-skirt.  This is a classic starter, with a slight A-line shape, usually with a couple darts in the front, and a very small break in the back at the bottom of the hem, no more than 2”.  The hemline should always come just above the knee, and if you can find the higher wasted skirts that rise up above your waste-line, hovering just around the navel – grab it.  They shape a woman beautifully and show a real flare of sophistication.  And like anything, the material should be a wood blend, and something that won’t wrinkle when your sitting.  Gabardine is always our favorite word.  Ann Taylor could be your first stop on this hunt.  They do have an awesome selection of women’s business essentials.

THE JACKET
Unless you are purchasing a jacket-skirt combo, let’s review a few tips on the top half.  What you need to look for is a two button jacket, straight cut, with a notched collar, chest pocket, and flapped front pockets.  Look for jackets with Princess seams that lead to a cutaway hem.  These jackets are killer.

The second choice is the single button jacket, but be careful with lengths.  Always keep your jackets just above your hipline.  This particular jacket is young, fresh, and really helps to show your curve without you looking cheap.  Like the skirt, the materials and colors should ALWAYS match – and never be afraid to run it to your tailor as quickly as possible.  The amount spent in dollars will be priceless if a jacket looks cut to order.

THE BLOUSE
As a rule, it’s always best to offset the intensity of dark colors with a complimentary.  Anything white or in a blush color will be ideal, keep the blush color for Navy, the white for the dark grey.  And you have to make it silk, that’s all there is to it.  A little debt here will be worth it.  Be sure it is properly loose, nicely cut, complimentary, and either button-down or slip-over, even with a slight collar, but no deep plunge lines.  Please.

ACCESSORIES
PEARLS!  A good strand of double, medium gage, and close to the neck without being a choker.  This is a mandatory staple for the Official Temp gal, so go out and get yourself a nice pair – there are some amazing imitations out there – but just keep your mouth shut about it.  It’s all about perception, because you can always make your perception a reality – right?

Earrings?  Keep them so simple that they are almost non-descript.  Tiny pearl studs are the best choice and safest way to go, unless you have some really cute small gold hoops.  And we MEAN small!  The rest, keep them on your earring rack above your nightstand.  Most of that crap is for night crawling anyway.  And if you have diamond studs – shove them in your ears as fast as you can when you get out of the shower, and don’t look back!

Bracelets?  No.  Take every one of them off.  You don’t want the interviewer thinking to themselves, “I wonder if she can type with those?”

Rings?  No.  Just no.  Don’t make us say it.

Nails.  A tasteful length, a SOLID color, no designs, and keep the color to a blush or a tasteful red.  Not hooker red, nice red.  And no French tips.  Those were very 2010.

PERFUME
NEVER.  No interviewer needs an asthma attack when they’re just trying to fill a position, and Official Temps don’t choke others out of oxygen in elevator rides, nor marinate themselves in a vat of cheap perfume thinking they smell beautiful.  It’s no.  Never.  Ever.  Don’t wear it.  Good soap.  That’s your perfume.

SHOES
Like diamonds, shoes are a girl’s best friend.  Here you can have a great time with shoes, but again, less is more, except for expense, and you must maintain a few guidelines because the shoes can make or break a deal when it comes to interviews, and people can always spot a cheap pair of shoes the minute they drop their eyes on them.  So, if you have been successful cutting some financial corners on the suit, your shoes are just going to have to lean in the direction of expensive.  Again, your mother should have told you long ago – you can tell everything about a woman from three things:  Her wedding ring, her handbag, and her shoes.  We told you, it’s a cruel world.

Get to Nordstrom’s Rack or DSW for sure to make the first pass on hunting.  If nothing can be found at either store, be brave, pay the $10 for street parking, and get to a nearby Barney’s Outlet, or a Saks Fifth Avenue, sale rack only.  Sorry ladies, it’s just the way it goes.  Heavy is the head that wears the tiara.

As much as we love slides, you’re going to have to stick with the classic business pump.  But the good news – there is such an array to choose from, you can get your creative juices flowing.

That’s where we stop today, but fret not.  Next issue we will be getting a bit more hardcore in the preparation – including haircuts and proper etiquette. But until then, hit your local Loft, Banana Republic, and if your budget allows splurge on Theory and Alice & Olivia. You’re so close to getting that contract – so you better put your best looking foot forward.  Make that best pump.

See you soon!