Career Tip of the Week: Dress for Success

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What do your clothes say about you?

In an interview, your potential employer learns about you not just from the answers you give, but also the clothes you wear.  To reference an old classic, “first impressions are everything”.  Employers are looking for professional workers who care about their job, and you want to make sure your outfit communicates those qualities.

Here are some tips so you’ll enter your interview prepared:

1. Know What’s Acceptable

For men, that means a solid suit (dark gray or black), a long sleeve shirt, and dark socks with leather shoes.  Accessorize with a belt and tie, but avoid jewelry.  A neat, professional haircut is ideal.

For women, a suit, or blouse and tailored trousers, are acceptable.  A skirt is also acceptable, but should be long enough for you to sit down comfortable.  Knee length would be best.  Wear neutral pantyhose and a limited amount of jewelry.  The point is not to make a fashion statement, but to dress respectably.

Both genders should bring a professional-looking portfolio and briefcase.  Make sure your resumes are neatly tucked into a folio; do not have any loose papers.  Women – make sure your purse is neatly organized.

2. When in Doubt, Over Dress

If you’re not sure exactly what to wear, it’s better to overdress.  Never wear a t-shirt or jeans to an interview.  If you are applying for a service job where you wouldn’t be wearing a suit, you should still wear one to the interview.  Unless you are expecting go to a work site, where a suit would be inappropriate, err on the side of caution.  It may be acceptable to wear khakis and a dark colored jacket.  If you still have concerns, seek advice from other professionals in the industry.  You could also call the company directly and politely ask Human Resources what attire would be acceptable for the department interviewing you.

3. Look Polished, Not Gaudy

To stay on the safe side, go with neutral colors and avoid patterns.  Subtle colors are okay, and help to add a pop, but avoid anything extreme or flashy.  Keep jewelry down to a minimum, and be careful with accessories.  Don’t over-accessorize.

Make sure that you’ve removed all the tags and stickers from your clothes, check for any hanging threads, and trim your nails.  Wear closed-toed shoes.  Your outfit should be form fitting, but should not be tight.  Dress conservatively.
4. Avoid Distractions

During your interview, don’t chew gum and avoid coffee or soda.  Put your cell phone and iPod away; you can check them later.  Constantly checking your phone tells your employer that you aren’t taking the interview seriously and sends the message that their time is not important to you.  If you have many piercings, take most of them out.  In general, earrings are acceptable.  Cover tattoos.
5. Prepare Ahead of Time

Don’t wait until the last minute to find out your suit doesn’t fit.  As soon as the interview is scheduled, go to your closet and try on your outfit.  Make sure it fits properly, and if it doesn’t, take it to the tailor right away or go shopping for a suit that fits.

6. Check the Mirror

Just before you go in, double check to make sure your tie is straight and your hair is in place.  Chew a mint before you go in.  Remember that last, most important piece of your attire: your smile.  This is it – good luck!

PAG benefits include programs to ensure the well-being of you and your family, such as Medical and Dental coverage (including Vision and RX), Life Insurance, 401(k) with Company Match, Flexible Spending Accounts, Employee Assistance Program and generous Paid Time Off Policies.

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