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Monday, March 28, 2011

RESPECTING YOURSELF

What has the title of my article – Respecting Yourself, and James Bond, got anything to do with managing your career?

Actually, quite a lot.

OK. I finally got you completely confused. That is good. Now that you are confused, and intrigued (I am sure!!!), therefore, I now have your undivided attention.

In my experience, I have many fresh graduates failed miserably in their self – presentation, especially when coming for an interview. It is sad to know that, after all those years in university, spending so much time learning to become a ‘professional’, many of you failed miserably. And please, I know what the ladies are thinking. This article is not only for the men, but also the women. Trust me. Take a look around.

I have seen them come, with their unkempt hair, crumpled clothes, black shoes that is beginning to turn white, facial hairs all over the place, body odor, mouth breath etc etc. And I can keep going on and on and on… sounds like a battery commercial.

Wow!!! I can hear the screams of injustice, prejudice and biasness hurled at me. Screams like “you can’t judge a person from appearance only”, or “it what’s on the inside that counts”.

True. I am not denying it. But, lets try to put that into perspective.

What if you own a business. You are looking for somebody to represent your company. And it does not matter what the position is. As long as you are part of the organization, you are representing the organization. Imagine this. You are sitting in a meeting room to interview a candidate. Walks in, this person “with their unkempt hair, crumpled clothes, black shoes that is beginning to turn white, facial hairs all over the place, body odor, mouth breath etc etc”.

Question – Would you hire him / her? And please, be honest to yourself. I can guarantee you, you will have some doubts over whether this person has what it takes to represent your company.

Hey!!! I thought you said, it’s what’s inside that count. Why the sudden change of mind?

Whether you like it or not, you have 6 seconds to make a lasting first impression. Six seconds!!! That is hardly long enough for you to introduce yourself. Research has shown that, that 6 seconds carries with you a lifetime. And it takes a long long time to make amends.

As I said, let’s put it in perspective. There is no way I can judge what’s on the inside. But, I can make some inference based on the outside. If you come in all shaggy and unkempt, I am safe to say that your work will also be shaggy and unkempt.

So, what has all these got to do with James Bond? I love James Bond. I have seen all his movies at least 3 – 4 times each, and read all the books written by the man himself, Iam Fleming. By the way, a little trivia info. Ian Fleming Died the day I was born. Hmmm… I wonder… I digress. Back to the point.


He is more than a spy hero to me. He is a role model. Especially for someone who lacked self – confidence, uncoordinated, verbally clumsy, in other words, pure unadulterated “geek”. I can’t put two words together without tripping on myself. I have no sense of clothing. I even walk like … aww, forget it. Not worth mentioning.

My first James Bond movie was From Russia with Love which I saw in 1972. Even though the movie was the 2nd installment in 1963, after Dr No in 1962. That interest grew till today. I have even bought the tickets for the Premiere Show on the 15th Nov.

Why James Bond? I needed a platform we can all connect to. I believe all of you have seen at least one James Bond movie, regardless of who plays James Bond. Men, I believe, we all see ourselves in James Bond. Since we are talking about, dressing and presenting ourselves, lets focus on that. Dressing.

Bond is debonair, suave, elegant, well-groomed, gentleman. I am certain, if he walks down the hall, all men and women will turn their heads just to have a look at him. Most like with admiration and envy.

Compare that to most young graduates today. I don’t doubt there are male graduates very into fashion, the metrosexual men. You are the minority. I am talking to the majority. Using Pareto’s Law of 80/20.

Men, (women, your turn will come, soon) I am not asking you to buy expensive branded clothes. I am talking about RM200 for a full set. A long sleeved shirt, preferably white or light blue – RM30. Pants, dark colored, dark blue or black – RM50. Tie – nothing fancy, simple, plain with pin stripes – RM20. Shoes, leather, hard soled, black – RM70. Leather, also black, to go with the black shoe, RM30. Total = RM200. I know. I buy my working clothes with those prices, and people think my shirt alone costs RM100!!!

I am not asking you to buy 10 sets. Just one. If that is what you can afford. Keep using the same one over and over again for every interview. Who cares? And better yet, who notices? You are going for interviews in different places seeing different people. So, what is the problem.

And I can hear you screaming, “Where are we going to get the money?” Put it this way. You save RM50 per semester (not a month ok!), and within 10 semesters (2 in pre-university, and 8 in university) you will have RM500. More than enough to buy the clothes. And as a comparison of values, I believe your mobile phone costs at least RM1000. Again, put it in perspective. Which one do you think will help you in your interview? The RM1000 mobile phone, or RM200 clothes?

The clothes maketh the man. If you dress shabbily, you tend to behave shabbily.

Ladies, no I have not forgotten about you. Our fairer and gentle maidens!

I have seen many ladies, who are not sure whether they are going to work, or partying at a club, or worse, look as if they went to work with the clothes they slept in (including the face!). And if you are wearing tudung, the tudung looks like it is about fall off anytime, by the way you fiddle with it every few seconds.

Remember the movie “Pretty Woman”, played by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere some years back. I bet, all of you, wished you could “transform” yourself. Invest in a couple of good clothes. One, a business suit. Pants and jacket. Also, dark blue with pin-stripes. Shoes, preferably black and closed toed. Another set is baju kurung. You can’t go wrong with a baju kurung. Get a nice one. Unfortunately, ladies clothes costs a little bit more than men. But, with RM500, you can get both. Worse, if you really can’t afford it, get the business suit.

For those wearing tudung, learn to put them on. Get advice from your lecturers, relatives, or anybody who can show you how to put them on fashionably. That also goes for make-up. The best way to put on a make up is in a way that people don’t realize you put on a make up. And if you don’t, ensure your face is clean and not oily.

The idea is people, is about is respecting yourself. James Bond, he respects himself. He knows, if he respects himself, in the way he dresses and carries himself, people will respect him. In the movie Pretty Woman, the moment she changes her dressing, presents herself well, people took notice of her.

Isn’t that what you want in an interview? And hopefully have a chance in getting the job.

If you can’t respect yourself, and it shows in the manner you dress yourself, you already guaranteed yourself out of the job.

Next time, we will talk on how you carry yourself. Dressing is one thing. No matter how expensive and elegant that designer business suit you wear, it will make no difference, if you carry yourself like a loser.
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