10.8  Slobs Don’t Get Jobs!

Far too often I notice people showing up to job fairs and interviews with a laid back attitude and looking pretty casual. As a matter of fact, some candidates are in slinky party outfits or worse, jeans and t-shirts. Many do not bring a portfolio of their work or even a resume. This is just not acceptable! These are formal hiring opportunities. Some will justify this with a shrug - that the clothes they choose reflect who they are. Well that attitude is likely to result in unemployment. Slobs don’t get jobs!

Job Fairs and formal interviews require a professional presentation of yourself and of your credentials. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. First professional impressions are usually made at job fairs, in interviews, or at professional conferences and conventions. You need to look good! You need to look like a serious professional both in your attire an in your job seeking documents. If you do not, you will not get hired. It is as simple as that. There are way too many highly qualified people on the market for you to look like a dip and expect to get a job.

It is going to cost you a bit to get your fashion act together, but it is totally worth it. Great places to shop include:
  • The Men’s Warehouse (men only)
  • Talbot’s (women only)
  • Nordstrom’s (if you have unlimited resources)
  • Macy’s, JC Penney’s, and Kohl’s (if you have modest resources)
  • Landsend.com (if you hate shopping)
  • J Crew and Banana Republic (if you love shopping)
  • Gap (slacks for the business casual look)
  • Thrift stores (if you have no money and unlimited time)

These are all places where you can find the professional outfit you are looking for. And an added bonus with the recession is that every thing is on big discount sale! I helped my daughter Elizabeth find (and buy) an interview outfit at Banana Republic and things were 75% off- really nice stuff! The end-of-season discounts also apply if you time it right.

I know you have no time to accomplish this task now. You need a nice professional outfit anyway. As a matter of fact, everyone does. This doesn’t have to be painful or take a long time. Just before a career event one year I stopped at Talbot’s and picked up a new jacket and top. I just walked in, told the clerk what I wanted and I walked out 15 minutes later with a skirt that is one size smaller than I thought I needed. Well that was a treat!!! And the items were more than 60% off!

First inventory your wardrobe. If you open the closet and all you see are t-shirts and jeans, you know you have your work cut out for you. No, khaki pants are not formal professional attire. I know, I know. Everyone at the companies you want to work for wears them just about everyday. But we are not talking about everyday wear for after you have the job. We are talking about what you will wear while trying to get the job.

Next, make a list of items for your shopping spree. Here are items you need to purchase: A suit or slacks/skirt/dress and a nice complimentary color blazer/jacket; multiple long sleeve white or light blue shirts/blouses; 2-3 neck ties (men) (buy the extras for when you drip spaghetti on your tie); A belt (men); and matching shoes.

Buy only natural fiber items
  • Shirts should be wrinkle resistant cotton
  • Blouses can be silk or cotton
  • Slacks should be made of worsted wool or gabardine. These fabrics breath and are good for summer as well as winter in California
  • No polyester!!!
  • Avoid linen - it wrinkles

Go conservative. Reminders to help you avoid interaction with the fashion police:
  • Navy blue, grey, black and sometimes olive green are good color choices for slacks and skirts or suits. These colors never go out of style
  • No colored or printed t-shirts under your shirt, they show through
  • Don’t show skin that should be covered
  • No white socks
  • Don’t wear excessive jewelry - keep it simple
  • Avoid perfume or cologne
  • Hide your tattoos

Having your wardrobe together will make a huge difference in projecting a professional image to the employers you hope will employ you. Impress them once and you are in the door. Startle them or surprise them with your wardrobe, and that may be all they think about while speaking with you.

You feel better when you look good too... and that is the point. You need to feel good and you need to project a good image.