Series 6: Interview Tips

Photos of Fashion Business Management students.

Preparing for an interview can be both exciting and nerve wracking.  At least for me it is.  As a result, I always find myself overly prepared for job interviews.  Equipped with a notebook and pen, I go into an interview as if I already have the job, helping me turn any feelings of uneasiness into those of confidence.  Here, I will share with you my tips to help prepare you for your next interview.

  1. Do your research

Preparation is key and should always involve conducting preliminary research on the company you are being interviewed to work for.  Why do you want to work for this company?  What is it about their history, reputation and their values that makes them so desirable?

Find out how many people will be present in the job interview and who they are.  I recommend Googling the interviewers to find out more about who they are and the job positions they hold at that company.

2. Review the job description

As a refresher, go over the job description again as well as the cover letter and resume you submitted to the company.  It might have been weeks or even months since you applied for the position.  Be prepared to further explain how your soft and hard skills make you a good fit for this job and how your personality, work experience, and education would make you an asset to the company.

3. Prepare a list of questions

I suggest preparing a list of questions to ask during the interview process.  This is your opportunity to interview the hiring manager to determine if the company is a good fit for you.  Ask questions about the culture of the company and the dynamics of the department you could potentially be working for.  Feel free to take notes throughout the interview as a reminder of topics to bring up once it is your turn to speak.

4. Body Language and more

Let me remind you that the hiring manager liked you enough on paper to call you in for an interview,  so be confident!  Greet your interviewers with a big smile, introduce yourself and offer a firm handshake (depending on COVID-19 restrictions of course!).  Show that you are attentive and actively listening to what the interviewer is saying by making eye contact throughout the interview.

Best of luck and take care,


Series Five: Creating a Professional Social Media Presence

Creating a professional social media presence is an important mechanism for preparing yourself for work in your chosen field.

Once you have applied for a job, potential employers may search for your social media accounts to learn more about you and to see if you are a good fit for their company. In this blog post, I will share 3 tips on creating a professional social media presence.

  1. Performing a social media audit

A social media audit is conducted to see what platforms and websites a user has created in the past and take inventory of the content.  It can also be performed to alert an individual user to other information and photos posted on the internet that may concern them and of which they were not previously aware. At the end of this exercise, you will need to decide which accounts to keep active and public and which ones to either make private or delete all together.

To begin, I suggest listing all the social media platforms and websites you have ever created and take notes of what is on each one.  Once you have done this, conduct a Google engine search of your full name and a social media site.  Do this for every social media platform you have ever used and write a brief description of what you found. Was the information that appeared in the search about you? If the information you found was not about you, then who was it about?

Based on the information you found, how comfortable would you feel about a potential employer seeing that information? Is the information outdated? Do you feel the content is a true reflection of who you are now? Taking inventory of your platforms and their content is the first step in determining how you currently appear to an online audience and whether or not this accurately reflects the image of yourself that you want projected.  How can you make changes to your platforms and their content to help you land a job?  Close old accounts or make them private if they contain content you do not want potential employers to see.

2. Showcase your strengths

Vivian L. Inspired Spaces Tabletop Competition

Use your social media platform to showcase your professional talents. If you are currently in an artistic program or have recently graduated, show your audience the projects you have worked and/or are currently working on. Make sure to draw attention to the steps you took from start to finish as it will promote and educate your audience about your strengths.

3. Create a brand identity

Use your full name on your social media platforms. This will allow your audience to find you more easily.  Use the same profile image and banner photo across all of your social media accounts as well for consistency.  Include a short bio in all of your account profiles along with any links to your blog or website. Be aware of who your audience is and use your authentic voice when writing and posting content.

Join me next when I will be posting Series Six: Interview Tips.

Until then, take care.


Series Four: Job Search Tips

Photo of Kirsten Burkard at Bloor Street Entertains.

Job searching can sometimes feel overwhelming and intimidating.  Reviewing your self assessment plan can help you by giving you fresh confidence in your skills and keeping you focused on your career goals. 

In Series Four: Job Search Tips, I will share with you tips that helped me with my previous job searches. 

  1. Where to look? 

A number of online job search engines exist to help seekers find their dream jobs., for instance, is a popular choice for employers and job searchers alike as it allows the searcher to create an account profile, add job preference filters and post their resume online that is then searchable by employers and recruiters.  Many employers also post jobs on LinkedIn and by selecting certain options and filters through their account settings, users can opt to receive notifications for the latest job postings in their field of interest and apply directly. 

Another option is to use the services of a head hunter. A head hunter is a person hired to represent a company in a particular industry by finding and matching suitable candidates to available positions. There are a number of agencies that offer this service. When you sign up with one of these agencies, you will gain access to their online portal of job postings and descriptions to which you can then choose to apply.  Generally, the head hunter will read through your resume and cover letter and then meet with you for an interview. They will then decide if you meet the requirements of a particular job and whether you should be interviewed by the company offering the position. The head hunter will also reach out to your references on behalf of the employer. Head hunters are paid by the employer once a candidate is hired.  Job seekers should never be asked to pay the head hunter for their services.

It is also common for companies to post careers and new job openings on their websites. Take some time and make a list of the companies you would like to work for before getting started on your job search.

I highly recommend you stay in touch with your program coordinators and faculty.  They are often emailed directly from companies regarding available entry-level positions.  It helps to give your contact information to your coordinator before graduating so that you can be easily notified of new opportunities.  

2. Reviewing the job description

Carefully read through the job description to make sure you have the required work experience, education and skills before applying.  The job description should state the hard and soft skills as well as the number of years of work experience the company has deemed necessary to successfully perform the work they are offering. 

3. Applying for the job

You are now ready to apply for your dream job!  I recommend researching the company when writing your cover letter (refer back to Series Two: Cover Letter for tips!).  From your research, use a few examples of why you admire the company and explain why you would be a good fit for them and the best candidate for the job. Make sure to showcase your skills that are also listed in the job posting.  Needless to say, only mention skills in your cover letter that you actually possess! 

Remember to address the cover letter to the hiring manager.  I suggest calling the company to find out who that person would be. 

Make sure to tailor your resume to the specific job position you are applying for.  Remove any non-essential skills or job history that would be considered irrelevant to the current position.

4. Following up on the status of your application 

I suggest waiting two weeks before calling or writing to the hiring manager to follow up on your application. You want to give the hiring manager enough time to thoroughly review your cover letter and resume as they have also likely received applications from other interested candidates. When you are following up, be respectful and reaffirm your interest in the position.  You may want to briefly reiterate your skills and remember to thank that person for their time. 

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Five: Professional Social Media Accounts.

Until then, take care.


Series Three: LinkedIn Tips

Professor Anna Cappuccitti at the Dex showroom with students in the Fashion Business and Fashion Business Management programs.

LinkedIn always seemed to me like this daunting monster of a platform. I confess that I had an account for about nine years before posting any professional content besides my profile photo and my name.

When I first created my LinkedIn account, I was concerned about posting any of my resume details because I was afraid that my employer at the time would stumble upon it and think (incorrectly) that I was actively looking for another job.  I did not fully understand all of the benefits of having an account and that there was more to it than just job searching. In Series Three: LinkedIn, I will share five tips for creating a strong LinkedIn account, whether you are looking for a job or you simply want to network with like-minded individuals in your field.

  1. Select the Appropriate Profile Photo

Including a professional profile photo is important as it allows your “connections” to put a face to your name and get a better sense of who you are.  Use a current, tightly cropped headshot of yourself in business attire.  You are dressing for success and you want your photo to make a professional first impression on potential employers and recruiters.  

2. List Your Core Skills

Whether you are a student or a member of the work-force, as long as you continue to learn, your list of hard skills will also grow and evolve.  For this reason, I recommend updating your skills list at least once a year so that your most current and developed skills are always adequately represented in your profile to potential employers and recruiters.   I suggest keeping your list to 3 to 5 core skills. You can then ask for further endorsement of these skills from your connections.

3. LinkedIn Feed

Your LinkedIn feed should highlight news, stories, and other information relevant to your field and give your connections the opportunity to comment and get involved with current industry topics that matter to you.  Sharing content in your feed allows your connections to see what interests you and can help set you apart from other profiles.  Look for news articles, case studies, and the latest research from reputable sources to share.

4. Commenting

Increase engagement through commenting on other people’s feeds and the news they share.  Write something thoughtful that relates to what others have posted, whether it be a congratulatory message to one of your connections for starting a new job or receiving a promotion, or commenting on a case study they have shared.  Make sure you are clear, concise, and keep the comments constructive.  I also suggest commenting on the feed of someone you admire professionally.  The most important part of engagement is to make meaningful connections with other people in your industry.

5. Follow Industry Leaders

Industry leaders are the thought leaders of your field of interest.  They are actively engaged in advancements within their industry and are recognized by others for how they contributed to its evolution.  These are well-connected, influential people with a substantial amount of industry experience and insight.  You can re-share relevant content these leaders have posted for your own connections to see.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Four: Job Search Tips.

Until then, take care.


Series Two: Cover Letter Tips

Image from Adobe Spark

A cover letter is an important complementary support document that should always accompany your resume when applying for employment.  It represents the very first impression you will make on a potential employer and should effectively and persuasively demonstrate who you are, your knowledge of the company you hope to work for and how your unique set of skills and accomplishments would make you the best fit for the role you are applying for.

In this post, I will be sharing five tips for creating the foundation of your cover letter that will be just as important as your resume. Cover letters should be revised and tailored to each new job you apply for.

  1. Formatting

Your cover letter should be only one page long. Be sure to use the same letter head, font and font size you used when creating your resume. The font should be simple and easy to read. Your cover letter should be about three to four paragraphs in length.

2. Address the appropriate person

Find out the name of the hiring manager so that you can address the correct person when writing your cover letter. This will show that you have done your research and set you apart from other applicants.  Try looking for this information on the company website or directory, if there is one, or call up the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager.

3. Do your research

When writing your cover letter, be sure to research the company you are applying to work for. Look up the company online and follow their social media platforms. This can provide you with some additional information about the company that you might not have been able to get from simply looking at the job posting. Include in your letter why you want to work for the company and reference your research. If you don’t know anything about the company, it will be difficult to convince an employer why you want to work for them and why they should hire you.

4. Your experience

In this section of your cover letter, you will explain why your education, work experience, and volunteer work make you a strong candidate for the position. Here, you can mention your hard and soft skills. For example, I would advise highlighting your experience with video conferencing and working virtually with supervisors and team members. During these unprecedented times, I am sure you have gained a wealth of knowledge in these areas from either working or studying from home.  These new skills will speak to your ability to be flexible and adapt to new and challenging work environments.

5. Editing

Your cover letter should be edited by a friend or mentor with strong proof-reading skills. I recommend using the same proof-reader that edited your resume. They will be able to refer back to your resume and make educated, objective suggestions regarding use of specific skills or experience you might have failed to mention in your cover letter.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Three: LinkedIn.

Until then, take care.


Series One: Resume Writing Tips

I can’t tell you how many different resumes I have written and updated throughout my working life.  My skills, education, and experience are fluid and ever-evolving such that I am constantly having to make updates and revisions in order to keep my professional profile as current as possible. 

There are a number of great online resources that provide tips on resume writing.  If you don’t already have a resume and are worried about proper formatting or if you just want to update an existing resume, some of these sites also offer free downloadable templates you can use as a guide.

The five tips outlined below should set the foundation of your initial, basic resume.  Use this as a template and add or subtract from the details you share based on the job you are applying for. 

Fashion Business/Fashion Business Management students at the Dex showroom with Coordinator Anna Cappuccitti.
  1. Create a basic resume 

A basic resume is your foundation piece to build upon once you begin applying for jobs.  This should include clear contact information so that you can be easily reached by potential employers.  I would suggest creating a professional email address that consists of some combination of your first and last name (eg., not and include your preferred phone number (likely your mobile number).  

Make a note to set up a professional voicemail message that states your name and a brief message for your callers.  This is the first time the hiring manager will hear your voice, so you will want it to sound pleasant, calm and clear.  I suggest preparing your voicemail greeting by writing out a brief script of what you want to say before recording to avoid forgetting important information and having to re-record multiple times.

Your basic resume should also include your hard and soft skills (see last week’s post on self-assessment), your job history and education in chronological order, starting from most recent.

2. Use easy-to-read font

I suggest using Arial font in size 12pt. If you absolutely have to, you can go as small as 10.5pt, but no smaller. Make sure your font is clean, simple, and most importantly, easy to read. I would stay away from creative font styles unless you are aware of the company culture and confident it would be acceptable.   Otherwise, keep it simple and stick to Arial.

3. Proof read and edit your resume

The biggest distractions for employers reading resumes are spelling and grammar mistakes.  A hiring manager is not likely to continue reading a resume that contains typos and other errors.  They are looking for your ability to communicate strongly and effectively as this is a skill needed for most jobs.  Always make sure to re-read your resume with a critical eye.  I always ask a friend with impeccable editing skills to read my resume and cover letters before sending to any prospective employers. 

4. Resume length

Keep your resume 1-2 pages in length.  Some hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes for a single job and if your resume is too long, it may get dismissed as too convoluted or time-consuming to read thoroughly.  You need to sufficiently showcase your skills, education, achievements, and current and previous work experience that are relevant to the job posting requirements in a way that is clear, concise and avoids confusing or unnecessary jargon.

Note: Once you begin applying directly to job postings, you should customize your resume and cover letter to each application.  I suggest saving the job posting along with your custom resume and cover letter in a folder for safe keeping.  It can take weeks or even months to receive a response from a potential employer and you will want to be able to reference and refamiliarize yourself with the posting and files you originally sent to the hiring manager in the event they reach out to you. 

5. Highlight your achievements

This is your time to shine.  List all of your achievements!  Give yourself credit for all the hard work you have done to get where you are today.  Now is not the time to be humble.  In fact, I encourage you to boast.  Whether you’ve been recognized for academic excellence, volunteering or extracurricular activities, acknowledgement of your dedication and achievements is an indication to a hiring manager that you are a motivated individual who works hard and can rise to any occasion.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Two: Cover Letter Tips.

Until then, take care.


Introduction to the 6-part Series – Personal Assessment

The objective of this 6-part series is to provide you with some key steps that you can take to help you create and establish your profile as a professional in your field and start your career by finding a job. I will be sharing tips on various career-building topics ranging from creating a strong cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile, to navigating job searches, preparing for and following up an interview, building professional social media accounts, networking and building engagement in your industry.

Personal Assessment

Personal assessment is an important first step you need to take before you even begin writing your resume. This is the time to consider which career path you would like to take within your designated field. It also gives you a better idea of the types of workplace environments that might suit you.

Let’s get started!

Clear your mind and reflect on what area of study, within your college program, you enjoyed most or in which you performed best.  If this can be narrowed down to a specific course, what was the focus of that course?  If you worked with an industry partner while studying, what did you do that brought you the most satisfaction? 

After you have done this, also ask yourself which courses, if any, you had some difficulty with and why?  Answering this question will allow you to identify any weaknesses within your acquired skill set and reflect on how to improve upon them.

Begin Brainstorming

I want you to begin brainstorming your skill set and reflect on times you were recognized for your achievements, values, and interests.

There are two kinds of skill sets: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are knowledge and expertise you have gained through your education and any additional forms of technical training. These skills are measurable.

Soft skills are skills that you have gained through life experience, such as the way in which you communicate; your interpersonal skills. These skills are often transferable to many different careers. 


What awards or special recognition have you received?

Why were those awards given to you?

How did your hard and soft skills help you to achieve this recognition?


Values are important to your career because they help describe the type of person you are.  They can be a key indicator of behaviour and how you might respond to different situations in the workplace.  For example, if you value trust, you are likely someone that would be able to keep information confidential.

Describe your character.  What type of personality do you have?

What are your values?

Are you a “people person”?

What type of attitude do you have? For example, do you typically look at things in a positive way, a negative way etc?  Are you typically an optimist or a pessimist? 

How do you react in stressful or challenging situations?


Interests are made up of anything and everything you enjoy doing or want to learn about.  Interests can be broad, such as having a general interest in reading or music, or they can be more developed hobbies such as knitting or painting. Identifying what your interests are also has the added benefit of helping you figure out what you are not interested in.  Narrowing down your interests will help you decide what to focus on and develop going forward.

Your task is to review the questions above and answer them. Having a better understanding of who you are and what you enjoy are crucial to your job search.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series One: Resume Tips.

Until then, take care.


Series Three: Setting Goals

Now that you have completed Series One: Finding Happiness During Uncertain Times and Series Two: Creating Routines, welcome to the final series: Setting Goals!  Setting goals is an important tool, not only to help you stay focused, but to inspire and motivate you to pursue your dreams and put yourself on the path to achieving them. 

Designed by a Fashion Arts student

Exercise One:  Make a list

As you may have noticed, I love making lists, but making a list of goals is always especially fun and exciting because it gives me something to work towards!  I like to start by writing out a list of 10 goals.  These goals could be any combination of things I want to accomplish.  Some could be modest, short-term goals such as successfully completing a course, while others could be big and outrageous, long-term goals such as designing and planning a Grammy after-party for Beyoncé. Once I have my list of 10 goals, I will select one that I want to start working on and map it out. 

Now, you try it!

Exercise Two:  Goal Mapping

Once you have your list of 10 goals, grab another piece of paper and write that goal at the top, big and bold.   Start mapping out your goal by answering the following questions: 

GOAL MAP: Career in Law

  1. What is your goal? e.g. To be admitted into a graduate law program.
  2. Why this goal is important to you? e.g.  Becoming a lawyer is my dream career.
  3. What is your deadline to accomplish this goal? e.g. September 2021
  4. What are the three action steps you must take to complete your goal?

e.g. a. Finish undergraduate degree with a 3.7 G.P.A.

       b. Earn a 160 LSAT score.

       c. Apply.

5. What is your deadline for completing each of the three action steps?

Be as specific as possible when answering the questions above. You want to have a clear idea of what your goal is and how you plan on achieving it.  Once you have established your deadline, you can break down your action steps even further if need be and give those smaller tasks additional due dates.  Refer back to last week’s series: Creating a Routine to help you stay on track and don’t get discouraged if your goal map needs revising along the way.  This is a normal process and as you delve deeper into the development stages of your goals, things often change course and sometimes for the better.  The most important thing is to keep an open mind and embrace new paths this journey may take you on.

Photo credit: Adobe Spark

It is completely up to you to decide if you prefer to share your goals with others or keep them to yourself, but if you know that you sometimes have a hard time staying on track, try telling a close friend or family member about them.  This can help keep you accountable to your goals and motivated to succeed.  

Best of luck!


Series Two: Creating a Routine

Photo credit: Adobe Spark

Finding a routine can be key when attempting to achieve some kind of normalcy in your day-to-day life.  It can help you feel in control by adding some structure to your day and making sure you are devoting enough time to yourself and your loved ones.  My favorite part of creating a routine is the organization involved.  It takes planning and flexibility to adapt to changing schedules and deadlines. 

Time allotted for work schedule:

When I build my routine, I look at my calendar and begin by plugging in any regular or fixed obligations, such as my work schedule.  I will enter my start time, end time, and lunch break. Since these events take up the most significant part of my time during the week, I block them in my calendar first.

Make a list of priorities for the week:

Prioritizing tasks week-to-week allows me to stay focused and more effectively pace exciting projects, while keeping me from procrastinating others.  I write this list at the beginning of the week (my week begins on Sundays) and include five of the most important tasks I need to complete.  Once I have narrowed down my five top priorities, I estimate how long each task should take to complete and tentatively plug them in to my calendar. 

Move your body for 30 minutes a day:

Once my schedule is prioritized, I can begin filling in the rest of my calendar for the week.  For me, this means deciding when I am going to spend time exercising!  I aim to move my body for at least 30 minutes a day.  Spending some time walking outside (remember social distancing!) while enjoying the sunshine and nicer weather always makes me feel better.  I also like to take advantage of a number of strength training, yoga, and pilates classes that instructors are offering for free through their Instagram accounts.  If you are interested in knowing which free accounts I use, please send me a message and I will get back to you with the details. Exercising each day, even for a short time, acts as an instant mood booster. 

Refer to your happiness list:

Last week I posted Series One called Finding Happiness During Times of Uncertainty and Looking Forward to the Future.  In the blog post, I discussed an exercise that concentrated on listing ten things that currently make me happy.  When creating my routine, I refer back to that exercise and review my happiness list.  I schedule time in my calendar to do one of my happiness activities each day of the week. 

Sleep schedule:

We know that getting enough sleep per night is beneficial to both our health and our productivity. Making sure we go to bed and wake up at the same time every day may seem boring and predictable, but since the average adult generally needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep out of 24, it becomes an important consideration when planning our daily routines.  

Spend time reflecting on your day:

Reflection is a way to deconstruct the past and learn from our experiences.  I always set aside some time each evening to reflect on what happened during my day.  Is there a way I can celebrate that moment? On the other hand, was it something I wish had gone differently and could the outcome have been affected if I had planned my routine another way?

Okay, your turn!  

Build a routine that works for you.  Create weekly goals for yourself, prioritize them and find ways to incorporate the things that make you happy. 

Next week, I will post Series Three where I am going to share how to map out your goals.

Until then, take care.


Series One: Finding Happiness During Times of Uncertainty and Looking Forward to the Future

We are living in a strange and uncertain time. Under normal circumstances, I would not write a blog post that is this personal.  However, as we all sit at home trying to adjust to this “new” normal, I thought I would take this moment to share some of the things that are helping me get through my day-to-day life in isolation with the hope that it might offer even a few of you, some comfort food for thought.

To start, I have acknowledged and come to terms with the idea that it is okay to not be okay. Experiencing a million different emotions is something I am contending with on a daily basis. If you are feeling anything similar, just know that you are not alone.  Everyone’s situation might be different, but we are ultimately in this together and there are things we can do to help one another along the way.  

One exercise that I have found helpful is to write a list of ten things that currently bring me happiness. These are things that I do for myself, that make my day a little brighter and bring me comfort.  We all have different coping mechanisms, and what makes you happy and brings you joy is unique to you.  These are mine:

Stephanie’s Happiness List While Social Distancing During a Pandemic:

  1. Drinking my morning coffee. I enjoy the flavour and scent of a freshly brewed cup.
  2. Having a short dialogue with my tabby cat, Bacon. He is vocal and will respond with meowing and cooing sounds to my morning interrogation: “How are you, Bacon? Did you enjoy your catnip?”.
  3. Watering my plants; I have many and love seeing them grow.
  4. Taking a long bath.
  5. Reading.  I read every night. I am currently reading  For Small Creatures Such as We, by Sasha Sagan.
  6. Drawing.  I enjoy drawing still life of florals.
  7. Going for a walk in my neighbourhood (while social distancing!).
  8. Lighting candles; the scent and flickering flame is relaxing.
  9. FaceTiming my friends and family.
  10. Yoga.  I have been practicing Kundalini and restorative yoga.
This is “high fashion” Bacon the cat.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao

Now, you try it.  Take a few minutes to find yourself a quiet space in your home, grab a piece of paper, pen and your favourite warm beverage.  Spend the next ten minutes making a list of ten things that bring you happiness; the things that currently bring you joy.  Tape your list up somewhere you will see it every day and make time between your daily tasks for one or more of those things.

One of my many plants.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao
For Small Creatures Such as We, by Sasha Sagan.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao

Through all of this and no matter how I’m feeling, I remain hopeful for the future.  Writing down what I plan on doing once the pandemic is over has also helped me stay positive.  This brings me to my second happiness exercise; a future happiness list:

Stephanie’s Future Happiness List:

  1. Hugging my family.
  2. Enjoying a wonderful meal with friends at a new restaurant.
  3. Being back at work and sharing my office space with my co-worker, Ginny.
  4. Swimming at an outdoor public pool.
  5. Watching a live sporting event.
  6. Travelling to South America (destination yet to be determined).
  7. Having a picnic.
  8. Exploring the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.
  9. Seeing a movie.  I like comedies.
  10. Grocery shopping at St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday morning.

Okay, your turn. Take some time to list the ten things that you will look forward to doing once the pandemic is over. Once you are done hang your list somewhere you will see it often and be reminded that you will get to enjoy these experiences in the near future. This is a great list to keep building on when you have new ideas! Refer back to it whenever you feel you need to.

Next week, I will post Series Two where I am going to share tips on how to build a daily routine that works for you.

Until then, stay safe and be kind to yourself.

Take care,