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Workshop teaches students that professionalism starts before interview

Clothes unkempt? Bad breath? Pants sagging?

Woman speaks to participants of employment workshop

Think you’re getting the job? Think again and most importantly, think before you walk in the door for your next job interview, Okema Bowers told the group of Tidewater Community College students participating in an Employment Preparation workshop inside the Student Center on the Norfolk campus.

“Where success really begins is before you get the job,” said Bowers, TCC’s Human Resources, Employment Training and Development Manager. “It begins before your resume. It begins before your interview.”

Bowers was among the speakers who shared tips with students about self image, professionalism and self confidence – all essentials to landing employment in an aggressive market.

“Be professional in how you carry yourself in the midst of people,” Bowers said. “You’re judged within two seconds of walking in the door. In 20 seconds, people feel like they know your whole life and that’s before you’ve ever said a word.”

Your haircut, your breath, your clothes – wrinkled or otherwise – carry a message, Bowers said, and students need to deliver the right message before arriving at their interview. That means wearing pajama pants anywhere but home and gossiping in the elevator are inadvisable.

“When you go out, dress like you might get the job,” she said, and radiate confidence. “I can train you to do the job. I can’t teach you to respect yourself.”

Woman speaks to participants of employment workshopProfessional isn’t promiscuous, Bowers said, and well received is not the same as well discussed. “When you leave, you don’t want there to be negative conversation about you,” she said.

Students also learned the importance of specific resumes that tailor objectives to the precise job they are applying for. Even students without excessive work experience can stress the skills they do have, said Danielle Giscombe of TCC Student Services. For example, students who have experience babysitting can stress their communication, time management and creativity skills.

Business student Jovintino Blowe was among those who took part in a mock interview, where he received feedback about his strengths and weaknesses.

“I need to appear more confident,” he said. “And I learned about dressing appropriately. You never know when an opportunity might arise.”

Blowe was also turned on to the TCC Career Resources Page, which gives samples of cover letters, resumes and offers self assessment tests that point students toward specific career paths. Career counselors are available at each of the TCC campuses. Jobs and internships are also listed on TCC’s career page via Hirenet