So, you think it’s okay to drop off your resume or application in a pair of baggy jeans and a t-shirt? Think again!
How you dress says more about you than you may realize. It demonstrates your attention to detail and your judgment of what is appropriate. These are two very important pieces of information for a potential employer.
Dress the part is important.
Whether we like it or not, people judge us by how we look. First impressions matter. Not only that, but how we dress also affects our mood and productivity. You may want to believe that you are more productive in jeans and tennis shoes, but that’s probably not true when you’re in a business environment.
So, how should you dress?
Conservative! That’s probably not what you wanted to hear but it is the safest thing to do. Many organizations may allow casual attire or a casual day, but until you are quite certain about what it is, it is best to err on the conservative side. Conservative is also the rule on a job hunt. Even in companies where the culture is more casual, they still look for job seekers who stick with the classics.
What are the classics?
Dark colors and conservative suits. Colors should be black, charcoal or navy. Men should be in slacks, tie, suit/sport coat and dress shoes. Women should wear slacks or knee-length skirts, tailored suit coat and one-inch heels. All of your clothing should be ironed and shoes should be buffed. That may seem like a small detail but there have been situations where shoes made the difference. Again, those who pay attention to every detail of their clothing probably pay attention to every detail on the job.
Appearance isn’t just the clothing you wear.
It’s also imperative that you have a good haircut that is styled neatly, that your hands and fingernails are clean and your breath is fresh. Also pay attention to your jewelry. Men should only wear a watch, a college ring and/or a wedding band. Women should limit their jewelry to stud earrings (preferably pearls), two or three rings and a watch. All accessories should be simple and kept to a minimum. Now for the big one – do NOT wear cologne or perfume. Some people and books will recommend that you keep it to a minimum; my recommendation is none at all. You have no way of knowing whether or not your interviewer is allergic to perfumes. Play it safe.
There is no one perfect outfit. The general rule of thumb when interviewing is to dress one step above what you would wear on the job. Ultimately, you must decide what you are comfortable wearing and what is most appropriate for your situation. When in doubt, ask for help. There are many people who can offer a sound word of advice. And don’t forget – a smile is always the best accessory.