The Swagger Coach: Be the First in the Rat Race

swagger coach

I started working when I was fourteen. Five days after I turned fourteen, actually. I had been in the audience of a lesson on basic economics late in my eighth grade year, which talked about jobs and income and responsibility. They mentioned that you could claim your first title of employment at the age of fourteen. As an ambitious girl of about-to-turn-fourteen-in-August years old, I was excited to prove my maturity and take on a position of employment. I interviewed the day before my birthday, as the manager laughed that he had never interviewed such a young applicant. He thought I’d have the energy to handle the kids’ birthday parties. I was also under the impression that once I started working, I’d be paid tens of thousands of dollars each week, and that I’d have the willpower to save it and buy at least two cars by the age of sixteen. On a side note, I’m about to turn 26 and I still don’t have a car.

I picked up a part-time gig manning the drive-through window at the fast food place. After a year and a half, I decided that I needed a more prestigious and fashion-forward job. My second job was working at the thrift store down the road, where they sold beautiful leather bags for sinfully cheap prices. After that I worked for (in ascending levels of authority)  a lingerie shop, a children’s boutique, a vegan-friendly hand-made bath-treats shop, a matchmaking agency, an adult shop, a launching wireless phone network, and an international high-end designer accessory chain. I’ve attended, and hosted, some of the most interesting interviews I’d imagine could possibly occur, and have been fortunate in coming across some brilliant talents. Some of our strongest performers are successful at their jobs due to confidence, ability and charisma. Being able to understand your position and perform within it is a great skill which will get you far, but being able to represent and sell yourself will be your greatest asset. During peak hiring seasons (grad time, the holidays, summertime, etc) hundreds – if not thousands – of resumes are passing through hiring managers’ hands and emails, and having a boring resume can actually be worse than having a bad resume.
“But how, Jamie, do I spiffy-up my presentation to ensure I get a step ahead of the pack when applying for my first ever/next/hopefully last before I retire job?” Fear not, folks, I have le solutionne. I don’t think its actually spelled that way in french, much less is even a word at all, in any language, but I like sounding like I know languages other than English, which I don’t, because I couldn’t retain French or Spanish and then I gave up. English is enough for me, for now.
resumes stack




In the wild, the leaders of the pack usually have distinct preening techniques, usually involving a fluffed-up coat, massive feathers or a fun dance to show off their dominance. Your version of that can be as simple to execute as a well-arranged, uncluttered, personal and well-researched resume, and an application with a firm handshake and a direct greeting, using the manager’s name. I’ve seen incredible resumes, each unique in style and type, but among my favourites were clear, minimalistic and easy to navigate. By far, the most memorable have been infographic styles, which really show off the personality and creative flair of the applicant. I’ve had more traditional resumes dropped off using a softly-coloured paper, or with a eye-catching title. Don’t be afraid to show a little flair, many creative and progressive fields look for that extra bit of sparkle. More traditional and professional jobs will appreciate a more classic type of application, but a bold type across the top and an off-white sheet will certainly stand out among the stack of plain ones. Don’t Elton John it out, just use your judgement.

Here’s a secret. Its super-easy to look up some history on a company, but it’s far more impressive to research and be prepared with understanding of which direction they are headed in their future. Aligning with a team will rely heavily on your ability to accompany them into their future challenges and endeavors, and if you’re aware of them or can predict trends based on their performance, you’ll win a gold star. While interviewing a candidate once, the young woman mentioned that she had been a fan of our brand for a while, and had noticed each new store we had launched in her city for the last two years. She also outlined the new spin-off brands the company had launched, and mentioned that she’d noticed we had begun to target a younger demographic, and how she’d previously worked for stores which catered to that crowd. She expressed ways she had applicable skills without me needing to pull it from her, and I could tell that she understood how to sell herself and her skills. I’ve had folks come in with a hard-sell presentation of themselves, but when they’re not prepared to answer questions linking their abilities to our needs, they seemed under-qualified or simply not in sync with what we were looking for.
Interview Style - Be the First in the Rat Race

Interview Style – Be the First in the Rat Race by freshcollective on Polyvore
Outfit 1: Dress – Rita Di Cesare, Outfit 2: Mandala Design. Shoes – Miz Mooz, Necklaces – Curious Oddities

It’s great that you have billions of years of experience. Fabulous. Now, as a hiring manager, I’m looking to see how those years of experience will enable you to do the job I’m looking to fill. Just like that young woman did, most managers like myself are looking for folks who understand our expectations, understand their capabilities, and can make the two work harmoniously. People who specifically outline ways in which their skills can help our team go to the front of the line, for their capability to communicate in a concise, direct way. Keep in mind, as a hiring manager, I’m also looking to know how we can benefit you. We know that a happy team member is a well-performing team member, and we would love to make your experience as pleasant as possible, because we want you to like your job and be dedicated to it. So, if we have a position which you desire in your future, expressing ambition and understanding over the career path is music to our ears, since we know that our goals, and your goals, are the same.

Nothing makes for a more anticlimactic interview than being solely responsive during an interview. Asking (related) questions or asking the interviewer to expand as you go can create a very engaged experience for the two of you, while leaving questions until the end still shows that you want to know more and are serious about investing yourself in the company. Questions regarding the future of the company, results they’ve seen thus far and standard career paths within express interest and involvement, while questions such as “If you could change one thing about the performance of the last person who held this position, what would it be?” or “What keeps you loyal to this company?” show that you’re thinking a little deeper. Typically the person interviewing has been with the company for a decent amount of time, and they have likely experienced ups and downs, but asking for a personal reflection always shows that you trust their judgement and appreciate their experience. Oh, and asking about the rate of pay or disciplinary process up-front is usually not the way to score points. Typically, a job offer will be extended following a successful interview, should they select you, and at that point you can accept, decline or negotiate a rate of pay, but keep in mind that what you say and ask during your first meeting can often indicate your motives, so stay position-oriented and hold on to ask money-related questions until they’ve confirmed they’re also interested in you.

Tell me about some of the most interesting interviews, resumes and application experiences you’ve had! Reach me at and HURRY, because the first five responses will win a complimentary in-store Wardrobe Makeover! See details here:

Have a great weekend, friends!