Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Woman's Nails May Be Too Wild for Job Interviews

DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend likes to dress fancy. For the past few months, she has taken to wearing rhinestones and other jewels on her fingernails. It looks nice, but I’m concerned because she is about to have several job interviews for relatively conservative jobs. She hopes to be a paralegal, and she is interviewing at different law firms.

I get that you should be able to express yourself, but so far, she hasn’t had any interest from the firms. I fear that she isn’t conservative enough. I think she should tone down the nails and go to the interview looking professional. Am I wrong? -- Interview Attire

DEAR INTERVIEW ATTIRE: I always think it’s wise to dress conservatively for a job interview. There is a range when it comes to conservative, but you are right that for most law firms, sparkly, jeweled nails would likely stand out -- and not in a good way.

Sit down with your girlfriend and tell you need to discuss a prickly topic. Point out how much you like her flashy style, but acknowledge that she should probably play it down during the interview process. The nails should be neutral.

Additionally, she should wear a dark suit or dress with simple shoes that are not too high and even pantyhose. She may never have to dress like that again on the job if she chooses a more progressive firm, but to land the job, she should err on the side of discretion. If she refuses, tell her that her choices may impact her employment. Ultimately, it is her decision.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working as a consultant for several years now. I started my business because people kept asking me for advice in my area of expertise. After my job was downsized, I figured, why not try to offer the same services freelance? It has been interesting. People are happy to ask me for my advice -- all the time -- but when I suggest that they hire me, they usually back off and mutter something about just wanting to get my advice on something. They even act offended that I would want to charge for my services. I can’t afford to give away my services, including advice. How can I get people to recognize that my expertise is valuable and comes with a fee? -- Not for Free

DEAR NOT FOR FREE: Now is the time for you to start promoting your services beyond your friends and family. Believe it or not, most times your loved ones are not the people who buy the things you sell. They will celebrate you and share the good news with their friends, but rarely do dollars change hands among friends.

If you are serious about becoming a paid consultant, you need to target an audience that will be interested in your services and market directly to them. You can ask your friends if they have referrals to make. Outside of that, enjoy your friends’ good will, because you will stay mad if you are waiting for a paycheck from them.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)