As a woman, choosing between a skirt or pants for a job interview can be tricky. On one hand, you want to appear powerful and assertive at the job interview. However, you also want to appear conservative enough for a professional environment. In this article, we will discuss whether skirts or pants are more appropriate for job interviews.
Before we start, please understand which types of skirts we are talking about. This article will discuss conservative skirts, generally knee-length, in the pencil or A-line style. We will not talk about miniskirts, high slit skirts, or other revealing garments. Everyone knows that a revealing skirt or pants that are too tight are not appropriate for a job interview.
Fun fact: A recent study showed that skirts make a better first impression in the workplace than pants.
A study carried out by the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. found that women in skirts still make a better first impression than women in pants.
This study included 300 participants, both women and men, between the ages of 14 and 67. For the study, participants were asked to make snap judgments about businesswomen wearing different professional outfits, with their faces blurred out. Each photo would feature a woman in a skirt or pants—the color and fabric would be the same. Then, the participants had to rate each woman based on confidence, trustworthiness, flexibility, success, and salary.
Within 3 seconds, study participants showed they strongly preferred the skirted businesswomen.
Professor Karen Pine, one of the leaders of the study, commented that women “have to maintain an identity that balances professionalism with attractiveness and the skirt suit may achieve that balance without appearing provocative.”
Fun fact: In the U.S., you can sue an organization for discrimination based on “denial of right to wear pants.”
Well, at least in California! As part of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code Section 12947.5, preventing someone from wearing pants is a kind of discrimination. The official FEHA complaint form provides a category titled “denial of right to wear pants.” Interestingly, there is no “denial of right to wear a skirt” option.
Other U.S. states haven’t officially protected a worker’s right to wear pants, but generally, women are almost always assumed to have the option to wear a skirt or pants in the Western world. As an example, this author’s mother wore formal pants to her own wedding! These days, an employer that requires all women to wear skirts could face legal and ethical issues, especially considering that the growing population of Muslim women generally require either ankle-length skirts and dresses or pants to preserve their cultural tradition of modest attire.
Honest opinion: While you have the right to wear pants, a skirt is generally the safest choice for a job interview, unless wearing a skirt would make you feel uncomfortable.
Ultimately, what you wear to your job interview should help you succeed in that interview, not serve as a fashion statement. Think about whether wearing a skirt or pants would help you during your job interview and choose accordingly.
According to educator Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., skirts are usually still the best choice for job interviews because they are traditional attire. A formal suit with a skirt and flat shoes or modest heels is still the standard business outfit. She especially recommends a skirt suit for conservative industries, such as law, banking, and financial services.
However, she warns that women who are uncomfortable wearing a skirt may not present well at a job interview. We agree that it is better to arrive looking confident in pants than nervous and awkward in a skirt. A skirt might also be physically uncomfortable if it is cold—tights can only do so much. You wouldn’t want to arrive shivering, right?
Dr. Hansen also stresses that a skirt or pants should always be part of a suit. That means a jacket in the same color and texture, worn as part of a coordinated outfit. Your overall appearance is much more important than a specific garment.
The bottom line: Keep both professionalism and your comfort in mind.
Whether to wear a skirt or pants to a job interview is ultimately a personal choice. There’s no right answer. You need to pick a job interview outfit that fits the environment of the company you’re interviewing with and your own level of comfort.
If you do wear pants, slacks with a crease are still considered the most professional. If you wear a belt, it also needs to look conservative. Obviously, flashy belts and big belt buckles are not acceptable.
For skirts, pick a hemline that hits your knees. You can go just above the knee if you’re short, or just below if you’re tall-or just don’t want anyone to see your knees. If you must cross your legs while wearing a skirt, do it at the ankle.
Hopefully, your interviewer will be too impressed by your excellent resume to pay attention to your skirt or pants anyway!
If your job hunt has you feeling down, relax for a few minutes by checking out some funny cover letters. These funny cover letters, which we found online, were all used by real applicants. Reading them will not only amuse you, but remind you of the dangers of presenting irrelevant “experience,” wasting the hiring manager’s time with cutesy gimmicks, or attempting to use dark humor in what is supposed to be a professional correspondence.
Funny Cover Letter #1: Elementary School and Internet Accomplishments
This gem of a funny cover letter was first posted on the message board of the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club on April 10 of 2008. The user who submitted it, a regular, said their friend had just received it from someone applying for a business development associate position. Here is an excerpt:
I won 3 of my 4 elementary school spelling bees and it was here that I first made the newspaper with my picture. Years later, in the mid 1990s, my picture graced the papers many more times as an all-state and state champion runner. I am blessed by God.
In addition, my math skills are excellent and really consider myself a numbers guy. In elementary school, my flash cards multiplication skills set the standard for excellence. I have 3 semesters of calculus under my belt and was the co-captain of the calculus team.
My IQ is rated by tickle.com at 131.
You may be thinking that the author of this unintentionally funny cover letter was looking for a job while in middle school, but no. Apparently, on his resume, he said he had a Bachelor of Science.
Now, the grammatical errors are annoying and the reference to a religious belief is distracting, but the biggest problem is clearly that he is wasting the reader’s time by listing irrelevant experience. It is better to present a brief cover letter than a cover letter stuffed with fluff.
Funny Cover Letter #2: Even Santa Wouldn’t Hire This Elf
Our next funny cover letter-or cover poem, rather-comes from the marketing experts at Killian Branding. An applicant submitted this cover poem to them in what we can only guess was an attempt to be clever:
Twas 4 weeks after Christmas
And all throughout Killian and company
Human Relations pondered over
Who would be the next intern/employee?
The staff in their cubicles, all snug in their chairs
While visions of lunch in Chi-town were their only main cares
The big boss in his office, and me still at Miami
Both nervous and wondering: our hands remained clammy
When out in the mailroom there arose such a clatter
Employees from all over crowded to see what was the matter
Back in my apartment with a smile laid back
I knew once they’d opened my letter; there was no turning back
The sun on the streets of busy Windy City
Gave the luster of midday to 322 S. Green
When, what to their letter reading eyes should appear?
A girl with some spunk, and evidently no fear
As Ivory goes along with a substance called soap
Everyone looked at each other with a small gleam of hope
“It’s time to stop letting all the normal folk dance
And open our eyes, and give this chick a chance!”
That’s just an excerpt-the original is a full-length piece. Setting aside the fact that this applicant can’t write poetry, this gimmicky format is exactly the opposite of what a busy hiring manager needs to see. However, the worst thing about this cover letter is that it doesn’t speak to the company’s needs. After 180 words, the applicant still hasn’t given the hiring manager a single reason to hire her. No qualifications, experience, skills, or anticipated benefits to the employer are offered, unless “spunk” and lack of “fear” are somehow core job competencies.
As you can imagine, this poetess did not obtain the position for which she applied.
Funny Cover Letter #3: Fear and Loathing from Human Resources
This next excerpt comes from someone who actually did become a successful writer eventually. While this is an intentionally funny cover letter written by someone with a strong command of the English language, it’s still obviously ineffective:
I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.
Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.
By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.
I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)
Nothing beats having good references.
Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.
If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.
The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.
Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.
I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don’t give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.
If this sounds like an obnoxiously modern lack of respect for authority, keep in mind this cover letter was written in 1958. This person obviously did know how to attract attention through writing and could have used this talent to write an appealing cover letter instead of an inappropriately funny cover letter.
Again, putting aside the use of expletives and the tone, this cover letter does not speak to the employer’s needs. It is not until about 300 words in that the author starts explaining why he is qualified for the position, and even then, he says that the supporting evidence he’s enclosing is outdated. It is not until about 400 words in that he starts talking about what he can offer The Sun.
Of course, bad-mouthing one’s previous employer in a resume or cover letter is another big job hunting mistake, even if justified.
The bottom line…
Your cover letter is supposed to be a concise business letter. You do not have time to list experiences or qualifications that have nothing to do with the position for which you are applying. You do not have time to be cute, clever, or gimmicky. Swagger will not compensate for a lack of substance. Human resources managers have seen all the funny cover letters imaginable already. They are much more likely to be impressed by a cover letter that dives in, presents the information they want to know, and ends on a professional note.
High school students and even middle school students are often eager to take their first steps toward adulthood by working part-time. If you are a teen who wants to work, understanding the youth employment situation can give you a better picture of what to expect. Knowledge of U.S. labor laws can help you figure out which types of jobs and work shifts you can apply for. Keep reading to find out about these topics and learn practical strategies for working while in school.
The job market is tough for teenagers right now.
Well, the job market is tough for everyone right now, but especially so for teenagers. Jobs for high school students and minors are especially hard to come by. As of August, the unemployment rate for teenagers was 24.5%. That’s the highest of any demographic group.
Basically, it means that about 1 out 4 teenagers who has been actively looking for a job has been unable to find one. So, expect to apply to a lot of jobs before getting your foot in the door!
U.S. labor laws restrict jobs for high school students and teens according to age.
The law limits the types of jobs high school students and middle school students can hold. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Youth Rules website provides examples of jobs teenagers from different age brackets can hold.
Jobs for Middle school students: 13 or younger
As a middle school student, you can’t do most types of work until you turn 14, but you can still start earning money. While walking dogs and mowing lawns might not sound exciting, this type of work will prepare you for bigger jobs later.
Examples of age-appropriate jobs from the Department of Labor:
- Delivering newspapers
- Acting/performing (movies, TV, theater, radio)
- Working for your family-owned business (owned or operated by your parents)
- Helping on a farm (you must have a parent’s permission)
Jobs for high school students or middle school students: at least 14
Now that you are finishing up middle school or starting high school, you can do many more types of work. However, you still can’t do any type of work considered hazardous by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Still, there are plenty of opportunities.
Examples of age-appropriate jobs from the Department of Labor:
- Office work
- Grocery or retail help
- Restaurant service
- Movie theater employment
- Baseball park positions
- Amusement park positions
- Gas station help
Jobs for high school students: 16 and up
Jobs for high school students open up a lot once you turn 16. You can now hold any job that isn’t considered hazardous. Rather than listing the many types of jobs you can hold, it’s easier to list the jobs you still can’t hold. Keep in mind that the Department of Labor makes some exceptions for apprenticeship opportunities in these hazardous jobs.
Examples of prohibited, hazardous jobs from the Department of Labor:
- Making or storing explosives
- Driving a vehicle or helping a driver
- Forestry services (fire fighting, fire prevention, timber management)
- Logging, sawmilling
- Operating power-driven machines (there are exceptions)
- Meat processing
- Making tile, brick and similar products
- Demolishing and shipbreaking
U.S. labor laws also restrict the kinds of hours teens can work according to age.
Just as the Department of Labor sets the standards for acceptable jobs for high school students and minors in general, they also specify the hours in which teenage employees can work. The following guidelines come from the Department of Labor’s Youth Rules website.
Working hours for middle school students: 13 or younger
Since the jobs that students your age are allowed to hold are positions that regular child labor laws don’t apply to anyway, there are few specific limits on working hours. These are usually part-time jobs, however, and you need a parent’s permission to hold them.
Working hours for teens: 14 to 15
At 14 or 15, you can now hold many potentially full-time jobs, so the Department of Labor gets more specific about the hours you can work.
Outside of normal school hours, you can work after 7 a.m. and until 7 p.m. During the summer, from June 1 to Labor Day, you can work until 9 p.m.
You are not allowed to work more than:
- 3 hours during a school day
- 18 hours during a school week
- 8 hours during a non-school day
- 40 hours during a non-school week
You can’t work during school hours, unless you take part in an approved Work Experience and Career Exploration Program. Then, in addition to being able to work during school hours, you can also work up to 23 hours per week during a school week.
Working hours for high school students: 16 and up
Jobs for high school students 16 and up can involve any hours. You can now work during normal school hours, too.
Finally, if you want to work in high school or middle school, follow 5 pieces of common-sense advice:
1. Keep school your top priority.
Jobs, for high school students and students in general, should always take a back seat to school responsibilities. If your grades start slipping, you come back from work without enough time to study for tests, or you need to rush through your homework, it’s time to cut your hours or find a different job.
2. Start small.
Don’t sign up for lots of hours right away. Start slowly and figure out what you’re comfortable with first. It’s better than possibly disappointing your new boss or coworkers later.
3. Tackle the transportation issue early.
As a teenager, there’s a good chance you don’t have your own car yet. So, you will need to figure out a way to get to work on time. If your city’s public transportation system is decent, look up bus schedules online and plan a route to get to work. You don’t want to take the last bus that can get you there on time—you want to take the one before that. It’s better to be half an hour early than 5 minutes late.
Otherwise, you’ll either have to take your bike, walk, or find a reliable carpool. Try using Google Map’s walking directions or bicycling directions to see how safe and how far the trip is. Joining a carpool with your coworkers can be a good option, but only if they’re dependable.
4. Stay organized.
Make sure you choose classes as early in the semester or year as possible and pick up your work schedule as early in the week as you can. Let your boss know about changes in your availability, such as final exams week, ahead of time. You may want to keep a planner, wall calendar, or to-do list app with your assignment due dates and work hours regularly updated.
5. Budget your study time.
Bring a few assignments, school books, or e-books with you to work. If your boss allows you to do homework or read during downtime, this can be a great opportunity to get caught up. You can also do an assignment while on the bus or listen to an e-book on your headphones while walking or riding your bike to work.
The bottom line on jobs for high school students…
Working can be a great experience for teens. However, tracking down jobs for high school students is hard in this economy, where even experienced workers are unemployed or facing lay-offs. You can improve your chances of being hired by knowing which positions the Department of Labor allows you to hold at your age and which shifts you can work. Once you are hired, following simple guidelines can help you get the most out of your new job and show the world how responsible young people can be.
President Obama’s jobs plan, also known as the American Jobs Act, aims to help unemployed Americans return to work. Congress is currently deciding whether to pass the American Jobs Act, reject it, or try to modify it. This article will explain some of the possible effects of Obama’s jobs plan on unemployed Americans, along with some of the criticisms of the plan.
Obama’s jobs plan would keep unemployment benefits at the same level, establish reemployment programs, and give companies incentives to hire the long-term unemployed.
The phrase “long-term unemployed” refers to people who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. The Department of Labor’s August Employment Situation report found that 6 million U.S. residents are facing long-term unemployment.
According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, Obama’s jobs plan would keep the current unemployment benefit limit set at 99 weeks. Without the renewal, the limit would expire at the end of 2011. This could give the long-term unemployed more time to get back on their feet.
States would also be required to begin robust reemployment programs to help the long-term unemployed. Companies would have the opportunity to give unemployed people a free trial run while the workers receive payment from unemployment insurance funds. Plus, companies would receive a tax credit worth up to $4,000 to hire people who have been unemployed for over 6 months.
However, according to the Wall Street Journal, some labor advocates worry that companies could abuse these opportunities to take advantage of desperate unemployed Americans.
Passing Obama’s American Jobs Act would make discriminating against the unemployed illegal.
As ironic as it sounds, it is not uncommon for companies to discriminate against unemployed Americans.
A recent study by the University of California, Los Angeles found that, all other factors being equal, employers were less interested in interviewing or hiring unemployed applicants. This was true even when the applicant under consideration had been laid off or quit voluntarily.
A recent CNNMoney article by senior writer Chris Isidore confirms that discrimination against unemployed Americans is a serious issue. Many job ads have begun including restrictions like “unemployed candidates will not be considered” and “must be currently employed.” Even international phone manufacturer Sony Ericsson included this restriction in an ad for a new position in Georgia, according to Isidore.
Obama’s jobs bill would make this type of discrimination illegal. Employers would no longer be allowed to place ads saying they won’t consider unemployed Americans or to refuse to hire anyone solely because of their employment status, according to an analysis by Pete Kasperowicz of The Hill. This is found in a part of the bill titled “Prohibition of Discrimination in Employment on the Basis of an Individual’s Status as Unemployed.”
However, Representative Louie Gohmert says some unemployed Americans might abuse this new law by filing trivial lawsuits against companies who choose not to hire them for legitimate reasons. He argues that companies might be less inclined to interview unemployed Americans out of fear of being sued.
Obama’s American Jobs Act would provide funds to hire back teachers who were laid off.
Obama’s jobs plan would put $30 billion toward hiring back teachers who were laid off and preventing more layoffs, according to a recent article by U.S. News & World Report. The plan could save 280,000 teaching positions while helping schools hire back tens of thousands more who were laid off.
However, Rick Newman of U.S. News & World Report says Congressional Republicans are not likely to go along with this type of spending, which is similar to what was already attempted with the 2009 stimulus plan. Many Republicans consider the 2009 stimulus plan unsuccessful.
The American Jobs Act would fund renovations to provide jobs for construction workers.
Obama’s jobs plan tries to address the needs of the over one million unemployed construction workers in the United States.
According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, Obama’s jobs plan would create jobs for construction workers by putting $95 billion toward renovating community colleges, schools, roads, waterways, airports, railroads, vacant houses, and foreclosed homes. Obama’s jobs plan would also put $10 billion toward paying for a national infrastructure bank to utilize public and private investments to cover construction projects.
But, critics argue there may not be long-term growth ahead of the construction industry, according to the Wall Street Journal. Adolfo Laurenti of the financial services company Mesirow Financial says that construction workers just aren’t in as much demand as they were during the housing boom, so Obama’s jobs plan might just provide a temporary boost for these unemployed Americans.
Rick Newman warns that Republicans are unlikely to support this level of spending, since the 2009 stimulus plan investment in construction was seen as relatively ineffective.
The bottom line on Obama’s jobs plan…
Obama’s American Jobs Act is meant to affect unemployed Americans by giving companies incentives to hire the long-term unemployed, make discrimination against unemployed people illegal, provide funds to hire back teachers who were laid off, and create jobs for construction workers. However, critics of the plan say companies could abuse the ability to hire unemployed Americans as temporary workers, unemployed Americans could abuse the ability to sue companies, and hiring back teachers along with creating jobs for construction workers already flopped in 2009.
Whether or not the American Jobs Act makes it through Congress, the media coverage of Obama’s jobs plan has raised public awareness of the problems facing unemployed Americans, particularly teachers, construction workers, and the long-term unemployed. Only time will tell when and how these issues will be resolved.
The Department of Labor’s Employment Situation report for September is just barely better than the August report. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.1%, while just 103,000 new jobs were added. Remember that, last month, 45,000 telecommunications employees from Verizon’s U.S. Northeast wireline unit went on strike, and then most eventually returned to work under the terms of their old contract.
So, if you cancel those out, we’re actually looking at 58,000 added positions. As a benchmark, 150,000 positions would need to be added each month just to keep up with population growth, so the employment situation is still bleak.
In this article, we will discuss relevant figures from the September Employment Situation report.
How many U.S. residents were unemployed this past September?
Just like in the August Employment Situation report, about 14 million people were unemployed. The size of the labor force increased slightly from 153.6 million people in August to 154 million people in September.
How many people were not looking for jobs, but still interested in working?
The number of people interested in working but not actively seeking employment, considered “marginally attached to the labor force,” edged down slightly this past month. In August, there were 2.6 million “marginally attached” people, while in September, there were 2.5 million. This is basically the same number reported in last year’s September Employment Situation report.
Within this group of 2.5 million “marginally attached” workers, 1,037,000 were “discouraged workers.” These people felt the job market was too difficult, their education or training had been inadequate, or that employers would discriminate against them. This is a small increase from the 977,000 “discouraged workers” in August.
So, where did the relatively few jobs added come from?
In September, the professional and business services sector jumped forward, adding 48,000 positions. Among the hottest services were systems design, management, and technical consulting services.
What exactly is the “professional and business services” sector? According to the Department of Labor, it’s a supersector that actually includes 3 different parts.
The first is the professional, scientific, and technical services sector. Workers in this group include lawyers, accountants, bookkeepers, architects, engineers, designers, programmers, consultants, researchers, advertising specialists, photographers, translators, interpreters, veterinarians, and other professionals, scientists, and technical gurus.
The next sector within the professional and business services group is the management of companies and enterprises sector. This sector is composed of legal entities that hold securities or other equity interests in companies or enterprises. They do not actually administer, oversee, or manage companies—they use the money to keep a controlling interest or influence management decisions.
The third sector is made up of the administrative and support and waste management and remediation services sector. The people in this sector perform many day-to-day tasks needed to run a business. Workers in this group include office assistants, human resources personnel, clerical workers, collection specialists, security guards, janitors, and other workplace helpers.
Temporary help hires are also part of the professional and business services sector.
So, this boost in the professional and business services sector could be seen as a good sign for the average worker. At least companies are confident enough to hire people for the tasks they need.
The other job creating superstar was, of course, health care. Health care positions, always the silver lining in post-recession Employment Situation reports, increased by 44,000. Ambulatory health care services are still in high demand, with 26,000 positions, while hospitals added 13,000 more positions.
Were there any significant changes in the unemployment rates for the major U.S. demographic groups?
Not really. They were quite similar to the August numbers.
The teen unemployment rate did drop from 25.4% in August to 24.6% in September. The unemployment rate for black Americans also dropped from 16.7% in August to 16.0% in September.
The jobless rate for Asians rose from 7.1% in August to 7.8% in September, not seasonally adjusted.
What are some other interesting features of the September Employment Situation report?
The September Employment Situation report shows a continuing trend toward Americans taking part-time work, but not by choice. In July, there were 2.5 million Americans who worked part-time but wanted full-time work. In August, there were 2.7 million, and in September, there were 2.8 million. If we compare this number to last September’s count, 2.5 million, we can see that involuntarily working part-time is becoming more common.
The job hunting strategy at the moment seems to be “take what you can get” in terms of hours.
The bottom line on the September Employment Situation report…
This past month, relatively few new positions were added, although many Verizon workers who were on strike did return to work, boosting the overall numbers. The professional and business services sector picked up, while the health care sector stayed strong. It seems Americans are dealing with the difficult Employment Situation by taking part-time jobs, even if they would prefer full-time work.
While a part-time job may not be as prestigious as the employment you’re used to, it will at least prevent the gaps in employment that can throw your resume off balance and lead to prodding interview questions. It can also help prevent you from becoming a victim of discrimination against the unemployed as you continue to look for full-time work, an increasingly common problem in post-recession America. According to a recent study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, employers are less likely to interview or hire unemployed applicants, all other factors being equal. This holds true whether the applicant reports being laid off or quitting, despite the fact that society in general does not seem to view workers who were laid-off negatively today. Plus, of course, a part-time job will make you some money.
So, hang in there, do what you can to improve your resume now, and remember that the economy will improve eventually.