Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Ask DR.JOB Q. and A: Clothes Still Make a Difference

DR.JOB
By Sandra Pesmen
(Write questions to sandra@askdrjob.com)

(Q.1) MY PARENTS KEEP TELLING ME TO WEAR business clothes to job interviews, but I'm the one going there and I see everyone in the offices I visit wearing casual pants and tops. Some women even wear tight, revealing tops in hot weather, but I think a neat shirt and pants that aren't too tight are as appropriate as an old- fashioned business dress or suit. Am I wrong?

(A.) IT'S ALWAYS BEST TO CONSIDER 'MODERATION', especially at job interviews. If you make the right impression and get the job and then notice everyone is wearing a different style of dress, you can too. But at this point, where you are trying to make your best impression, your parents are right. Dress conservatively. This isn't college; it's the real world. Even if it's not fair, you will be judged by your appearance as well as your performance at the interviews.

Get Practice with Digital Devices

(Q.2) IT JUST HAPPENED AGAIN! I GOT A text from my boss on my Smartphone asking an important question, and I shot off the wrong answer before I could stop myself. Now I can't stop him from reading it and thinking I'm dumb. I 'm an older member of the management team and still am "flummoxed" by technology, but I have to use it because everyone else here does. How can I control it?

(A) THE TRICK IS TO CONTROL YOU. The new quick, digital devices let us have too many conversations, and get our hands and thumbs into too many issues and react too quickly as you just did. But you can fight them by taking up a new mantra, suggested by Geoffrey Tumlin, author of Stop Talking, Start Communicating Whenever you get an email, immediately put it into one of three categories: "Now," "Delay" or "Avoid." Tumlin believes that will help you stop and think about the appropriate answer, to avoid issues that may disappear, and seriously consider those that are highly emotional, complicated or in other ways critical. You probably react too quickly because you aren't completely confident with the device. As you slow down, you will be.

Do You Turn in Cheater?

(Q.3) I SIT NEAR A GUY WHO'S CLEARLY 'CHEATING' OUR COMPANY.  He does the absolute minimum to get by and escape the boss' attention. Then I watch him play computer games, go on Facebook and email friends. He's a nice guy, and we like each other, but it irks me to see him do this when the rest of us are doing our best to keep this company afloat. These are hard times for our industry and I don't know if I should tell management what he's doing or be a friend and keep quiet. His actions may eventually affect all of us. How do I decide?

(A) IT'S NEVER EASY TO BE A WHISTLE-BLOWER. But in most cases, you have to decide if you want to do what is fair to the company, or to stay loyal to a friend. Studies show that liberals tend to be more righteous, and consider it "fair" to report someone who is harming the group. The same studies show that conservatives tend to protect friends in because of "loyalty."  You have to decide how much his behavior will damage the company and all the rest of you, and then weigh that against the value of your friendship. But before doing anything, take him out for a cup of coffee and explain your feelings and try to convince him to change that behavior for the good of everyone. Watching his behavior after that meeting may help you make a wiser decision.

Change 'Maintentec" Label on Job Sites

(Q.4) I'VE BEEN WORKING AS A 'MAINENTEC' for two years because I'm new to this country and I'm still learning the language. (My son is writing this for me.) I do anything necessary in this large industrial building since I'm a trained carpenter, and also do electrical and plumbing work and anything else that's needed. But I don't want to be considered 'maintentec' as I think it's demeaning. How can I apply for a better job without the label?

(A) DON'T USE IT WHEN PUTTING NOTICES on job sites online or in print media. Describe your talents and experience with no label. Also look closely at ads that ask for people with your many skills and aggressively apply for them. Send your resumes, have your son telephone them, leave messages, and repeat that week after week to remind them of you. Also, stop focusing on titles. As Shakespeare noted, "A rose by any name would smell as sweet,"

Stop 'Idea Killers'

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