June: Tie the Knot with Your Career!

During the month of June, Dress for Success joins the world in celebrating marriage!

While the tradition of June weddings dates back more than 2,000 years, it is not the bridal-bliss type of marriage that Dress for Success is now honoring. During this sixth month of the year, we encourage our women to marry their personal passions to their professional dreams and create a life-long career that they will love!

That is why I am thrilled to present our exclusive interview with the iconic Sylvia Weinstock, whose passion for baking led her to build a sweet empire that today represents the pinnacle of confectionary luxe. Also this month, we’ll hear from a small business owner who found her passion for affordable wedding planning later in life, but didn’t let “cold feet” stop her from saying “I Do” to her entrepreneurial dream.

Wedding puns aside, it truly warms my heart to bring you this issue of the Dress for Success Blog. As CEO of this organization, I have the privilege of going to a job everyday that I absolutely love. The joy and fulfillment that my career brings me is a gift that I hope every woman will give to herself. When we do what we love, we are more willing to do it with excellence, enthusiasm, and endless energy. That alone may be the greatest proof point for my belief that love is the universal key to success.

As you read through the posts in this edition of our blog, I encourage you to search your soul and find the type of work that would lead you to your professional bliss.

Close your eyes, open your heart, and listen closely to your spirit. If you hear your personal passion whispering “Will you marry me?” I hope that your professional goals will enthusiastically answer, “YES!”





Joi Gordon is the CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide

Marriage: Joint Lives and Joint Bank Accounts

Financial Advice By: Carmen Wong Ulrich

Q: I’m getting married in less than two months, and I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to joining my finances with my future husband’s! Where do I even start? My fiancé and I have barely talked about money since we got engaged! Help!

A:  I wish you’d asked this question after your third date!  When it comes to money and love, it’s rarely too early to start even some discussion.  But it’s also never too late.

Start by pulling all your financial-facts together:  How much debt do you have and in what form?  What kind of savings do you have as well as any other assets?  What state is your credit record in?  Both of you should make this a starting point—the facts.  By being upfront, especially about debts, you can both avoid surprises down the road, say, when you buy a home together.

This is just a jump-off point.  From there, start talking about assumptions and expectations about household expenses such as who-pays-for-what.  Set up a system that you both can agree on, for example, maintaining one household checking account that you both contribute to in order to pay joint bills such as rent or the mortgage.  And just as importantly, discuss your financial goals:  Do you want to start up a joint annual vacation fund?  Or save up for a home or kids’ college education?

Come to the table with an attitude of partnership, not confrontation.  After all, if you’re partners in life and in love, you should also be partners in money.

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the co-Founder and former President of ALTA Wealth Management and a Professor in NYU PolyTech‘s school of Finance and Risk Engineering. She is an author and the former host and co-creator of CNBC‘s “On the Money,” and currently the money advice columnist for Good Housekeeping, a contributor to MSNBC and CNN as well as a frequent expert guest on ABC’s “The View.

Discovering Your Unique Professional Strengths

By Reesa Staten, Robert Half

Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike. We all have individual strengths that define who we are and distinguish us from every other person on the planet.

Do you know what makes you unique? If you can describe to a potential employer what you bring to the job that no one else will, it may be all you need to convince that person to hire you. Knowing your strengths also will help you choose a career that will give you the greatest job satisfaction.

Whether or not you know it, you are a specialist at something. Maybe you are great at solving problems, or perhaps you’re known for your ability to create order out of chaos. These are life skills, but they also are highly transferrable to the job market. For example, problem-solving abilities are essential in any customer service or technical support role. If you can help someone troubleshoot an issue he or she is having with a product or service, and keep that person happy in the process, this is a highly marketable job skill. Likewise, if organizational skills are your strength, you may excel at leading projects and people. If you have worked in a particular industry for many years, you likely have a level of knowledge that makes you a specialist in that field.

If you’re not sure what your strengths are, ask people you know. You will be surprised at how quickly they can name them. Take this information and build on it. Consider jobs in which you have excelled in the past or courses in school that engaged you the most. These are clues into the type of work that will give you the most enjoyment and be the best match for your personality.

Remember that you are unique, and your dream job may not resemble those of your friends or family. I have a friend who is a top salesperson for a Fortune 100 corporation. She travels constantly, juggles half a dozen major accounts worth millions of dollars to her company, spends a fair amount of her day solving problems for her customers and knows she is only as successful as her last commission. Her job is like climbing Mount Everest every day. Her unique strength? She loves tackling big challenges, which means she loves (and excels at) her job.

You may also love a challenge, or your ideal career could be just the opposite. You may be looking for something more predictable, and you may choose routine over volatility. Jobs that appeal to you probably involve close attention to detail and adherence to specific, repeatable processes. There is an employer out there looking for someone just like you, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about what most makes you happy.

Some professionals have specialized skills but fall short when it comes to marketing themselves.  Robert Half recently released a research paper that describes the importance of specialized job skills in the workforce.

Following are six tips to help you showcase your unique strengths:

1. Create a specialist resume. Your resume should highlight your individual specialty areas and interests. For example, if you’re an accountant who has worked in the healthcare industry, emphasize not only your accounting skills but also your healthcare expertise. Add a “Summary” section that briefly describes your most relevant attributes and experience. Remember to customize your resume for each job opening.

2. Be seen online as a specialist. Add keywords to your profile on sites like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter that reflect your areas of specialization and participate in online groups in your areas of interest.

3. Know yourself. Remember that you have transferrable skills that will benefit you in almost any field or industry, such as being great with people, highly organized, creative, detail-oriented or something else. If you’re just beginning your career, choose a specialty area that strongly interests you and acquire additional skills and training in that area. A career focus that you are passionate about is more likely to lead to long-term success.

4. Acquire more education. The unemployment rate for professionals 25 years or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher is roughly half that of the general employment rate. Depending on where you are in your career trajectory, consider completing a degree or certification in your field that you never finished — or never pursued.

5. Fish where the fish are. For example, one of the fastest-growing fields right now is healthcare. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one-third of the projected fastest-growing U.S. occupations are in the field of healthcare. Job demand is expected to remain high across the healthcare spectrum, including for doctors and nurses, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, medical lab technicians, and more. Professionals who provide support to healthcare organizations, such as dental hygienists, medical records clerks and medical assistants, are also seeing rising demand for their services. If your strength is helping people, the healthcare field offers tremendous opportunities to do just that.

6. Work with a specialized staffing firm. A staffing company that specializes in your field can help you accurately highlight your strengths and specialty areas in job search materials.

Once you to identify what you like doing and are good at, direct your job search accordingly. You will be much more successful in a career that inspires you, and employers will value your enthusiasm and motivation.

Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at reesa@roberthalf.com.

The Success Diaries: Tyra Berger

Dear Younger Mrs. Tyra Berger,

You finally did it! You found what you love to do! For so long you watched others find their niche, excel at things they loved, and you asked yourself: What am I good at? Why don’t I have a career or hobby that I LOVE?

Well, you found it.

Wedding and event coordinating first appeared to you as someone else’s dream, and as they were reluctant to jump in and try it, you encouraged them to follow their dream, and offered that you would help them. You both jumped in and gave it a whirl, coordinating one wedding or event after the next. While your business partner realized it wasn’t for her, you quickly realized that you were in love with every aspect of helping others plan for one of the most important days of their lives, their wedding day.

Tyra, you have turned Divine Possibilities into an increasingly evolving wedding and event coordinating business. You realized that all of the years at your 9-5 were preparing you for the organization and detail-oriented skills you would need to be successful at your new-found love.

It hasn’t all been easy. There have been many moments when you have thought this wouldn’t work out, but you have so many people on your side who are encouraging you to push forward and do what you love, that you almost have no choice but to continue to do what makes you happy.

As you continue growing your business, stay focused, stay informed and remain on top of your game. Know that you have finally found your niche and that realization along with your determined entrepreneurial spirit, you will continue to excel and be successful.

Keep on keepin’ on!!


Today’s Thriving Mrs. Tyra Berger

Tyra Berger is the owner and trained professional wedding and event coordinator of Divine Possibilities, LLC.  Since 2005, Tyra and her staff have provided quality work and unparalleled service while working with budgets of all sizes.  Tyra has over six years experience coordinating weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and many other events with extreme organization and detail. Tyra provides personal service and welcomes the opportunity to coordinate your event!

Ask DFS: How Do I Make My Interview Follow-up Stand Out?

Dear DFS:

I’ve been on a few really great interviews lately, but I’m never quite sure how to follow up afterwards.  I’ve read countless online articles and received numerous tips from friends about following up with potential employers, but each piece of advice seems to contradict the last. Do I shoot them an email, send them a thank you card, keep it formal, or be more conversational? How many follow up gestures are appropriate, and how soon after the interview should I reach out to the employer? I’ve heard that following up can make or break an interview. How do I make my follow-up stand out from the rest?

Confused in Cleveland,


Dear Jessica,

Your questions regarding after-the-interview protocol are excellent.  I can see how the information you gathered from a various sources may be confusing.

First of all, you can occasionally get a clue as to your follow-up approach at the close of the interview. Simply ask, “what is the next step?” or “when will a decision be made?” You may also ask, “May I contact you in x amount of days?” (Five days is usually appropriate.) This may give you the timeframe from which you can operate. Be sure you get the interviewer’s business card, so you have the correct address, email and spelling of his/her name.

If by chance you learn at the interview that you will not be a candidate for the job, it is still important to follow-up with a thank you. You never know what the future may hold in store. As the old adage goes, “never burn your bridges.”

Regardless of your post-interview approach, immediately follow-up with a thank you note.  It can be an email, but a hand-written note may set you apart from the other applicants. Emails certainly are the means of communication used by most professionals today, but nonetheless, follow-up with the written note. A rule of thumb is to send an email within 24 hours of the interview and the written thank you by the end of the day after the interview.  Be sure to use professional-looking stationary and note cards for your follow-up correspondence.  This type of writing material is inexpensive and can be purchased at many convenient locations or online at places like Walmart or Thirtyone Gifts.

In all written correspondence, whether electronic or on paper, use a formal greeting, such as Mrs., Mr., or Ms. as a prefix to their last name. For women, it’s good to use Ms., as you may not know their marital status.  Your note should begin by expressing your appreciation for the opportunity and name the position for which you interviewed to help them remember you. This should be followed by 2-3 sentences that express why you believe you would be a great employee. Include the strengths you discussed in the interview. Close the note by thanking them again and that you look forward to hearing from them. This sets an expectation. Use a closing such as Sincerely, Respectfully, etc.  It’s also a good idea to list your contact information under your signature to make it convenient for them to reach you.  Before you press send or drop that letter in your mailbox, always check for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors.

As to additional follow-up, this is where it might be a bit tricky.  Remember, at the close of your interview you learned when a decision would be made. Therefore, don’t call in a couple of days when you were told it would be a week or two weeks.  You must remain patient.

The thank-you can be considered your first follow-up.  Contact the interviewer again when you were told a decision would be made.  If you don’t hear about the job, reach out one more time a week or so later. This could be by telephone call, email or written note.   Any more than three follow-ups and you may be considered a “pest.”

Some common considerations when making a follow-up telephone call are in order.  Try to get through to the individual who interviewed you.  Leaving a message with a receptionist will not allow your follow-up objectives to be accomplished. But, never be pushy with a receptionist.  Always be on your best behavior. Once you reach your interviewer, begin by politely reminding them of whom you are and the position that you applied for. Ask if the position has been filled.  If it hasn’t, ask whether or not you are still in consideration. Should you be told you are still in the running, avoid launching into a long conversation about why you are perfect for the job. Instead, express your continued interest in the position and your enthusiasm for working with them. Do so in a straight forward, polite and brief manner. You may ask when a decision will be made. Regardless of the outcome of this conversation, always conclude with a thank you.

Good luck in your job search!

Judy Chambers

Executive Director

Dress for Success Austin