While we are in different age groups, my collegue Prachi and I were both taught the line, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And that’s part of why we think professionals and teams need to look sharp. We both agree, that dressing is a strategic tool, but there is nothing in school/college curriculum that gives us any pointers to how to use it.
I still believe that impressions count and that people want to do business with people who seem professional. What you wear on a call is as much a part of that perception as the graphic look of your presentation, the content you bring and how you present it.
Making the best possible impression is paramount when seeking employment. Even though we would like to think that our skills and abilities get us the job, appearance does count. First impressions are made within the first few minutes of meeting someone.
“Either you make a good impression or you suffer the consequences.”
An overwhelming 92 percent of 457 employers surveyed stated: “A candidate’s overall appearance influences their opinion about the candidate.”The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
When meeting potential employers, dress appropriately. Looking the part promises you a good first impression. Learn the Employer’s Dress Style.
Knowing what’s expected takes a little research, a shopping trip, and a full-length mirror. Few pointers:
1. Research the culture of the employer. A more conservative employer, e.g., accounting, finance, law, etc., will require more conservative dress. A more creative employer (retail, advertising, etc.), offers more flexibility in dress.
2. Look at the brochures, Web sites, and employees of the organization to guide your dress style. What style of clothes are being worn by the people who work there? What image are they projecting with their clothing?
3. Trust your instinct when picking your interview attire. If you have to ask the question, “Can I wear this?” the answer should always be “no.”
4. Err on the conservative side when in doubt about what to wear.
5. Avoid extremes. Low-cut blouses, sky-high stilettos, and miniskirts are inappropriate.
6. Ask experts at a high end clothing store about the fit of your suit. It shouldn’t be too loose or too tight.
7. Purchase a good quality suit. It is better to buy one good suit than several inexpensive suits.
8. Always try on your entire outfit prior to the interview day, looking for any flaws or weaknesses in your appearance. Don’t forget to look at the back of your outfit, to ensure you have a polished look coming and going.
TIP: “If you want to become more successful, you can start by making a habit of looking, talking and thinking more like the people who are successful.”
Regardless of the occasion, dressing appropriately is one of the easiest ways to impress the potential employer. It may not guarantee you a job, but it should prevent elimination from the candidate pool. If they are going to trust you with their clients, money and reputation, they should also be able to trust you to dress appropriately for any situation.