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Career Corner: Dress for success

Susan Coyne, Career Services Consultant | Fanshawe College | News | April 10th, 2006



The first impression you make meeting a potential new employer may be vital to surviving the interview so why not make it a favourable one. You may feel confident with your communication style, firm handshake, and direct eye contact but have you fallen short on your personal grooming and attire. After all, people do judge a book by its cover. For guys dressing for an interview is simple — a suit and tie will work for any setting. For women, knowing exactly how to dress and what to wear can be more complicated.

Today the question of how to dress for a job interview seems harder to answer than ever before. Office dress codes vary dramatically from company to company, industry to industry. The standard of a conservative jacket and skirt for women has given way to a multitude of fashion ensembles. Many companies offer a business casual dress code while some expect those interviewing for jobs to at least be well dressed.

Rather than leaving it to chance, the first thing you should do is research and find out what the appropriate dress code is for that company. Showing that you know something about the office culture is a signal to the interviewer that you take the job opportunity, the company and yourself seriously. So raise the bar on your interview attire to be at least one notch higher than what employees in the company would wear on a daily basis.

Most human resources and career professionals say that if you are at all unsure of what to wear to a job interview that you should err on the conservative side and wear a suit. This applies to both the guys and the ladies. For the casual interview, guys leave off the jacket but make sure you wear dress pants and a good shirt which may be paired with a sweater. Ladies, wear a nice knit top with the suit pants or skirt; for anything dressier, throw on the jacket. Although pants used to be considered more casual by the business world, today a pants suit is seen as the female equivalent to the man's traditional suit and tie. And because pants are easier to pair with other separates, you will probably get more mileage out of a pants suit than a skirt suit. Number one rule, is make sure you are comfortable in whatever you wear.

Once you've selected the perfect interview outfit be sure to check on your personal grooming and don't forget to minimize such things as jewellery, perfume or cologne. Look good but don't over do it. Just remember, wear something you feel good in and be able to say ‘I'm professional, organized and put together'.

Need assistance? Why not drop by the Career Services office in Room F2010. Visit the office to arrange an appointment with the consultant for your program.
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