Posted by: Dana Lee | July 21, 2009

Dress For Success

I had a day to myself recently, and decided to beat the heat at a movie.  While I waited in the lobby, I saw a gentleman in shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes (with his sunglasses on, no less!) approach the manager on duty.  He said that he was looking for a position; she told him what positions they were filling, and gave him an application form to complete.

What struck me as odd in this situation was the fact that this was a grown man – not a high school student out for the summer, or a college student looking for flexibility in schedule.   While I tried to mind my own business, all I could think about what the first impression that he gave to the manager.  I understand that he was not applying for a management or professional role, however he was applying for a job. 

Times have changed when it comes to appropriate work attire – no doubt about it.  Fifteen years ago, men wore suits and ties; women wore panty hose.  Most companies have gone to a “Business Casual” dress code now, and are more lenient in their office attire.   If you see people in suits now, it is because they are either in sales or interviewing for a new position.   

Think of the first impression you want to give a hiring authority.  Do you want them to see you ready for success?  Or do you want them to think that your job search is an afterthought, which might leave them to believe that your work ethic leaves something to be desired as well?

Know the environment of the company with whom you are interviewing.  If you are going to be working in a corporate environment, you need to be prepared to dress professionally for the interview.  Suits are still necessary for corporate interviews; if you have never had to wear suits before you need to invest in one or two good ensembles.  For women, it is acceptable to wear pant suits with coordinated jacket and pants. Panty hose are not a necessity any more (as I sit in the July heat, I am so grateful for that!), but professional shoes are.  No strappy sandals for an interview!  If you arrive at the company and notice that you are overdressed compared to the staff, bring it up in the interview – they will see it as a sign of initiative, that you were paying attention to your surroundings, and that you care about the environment that you hope to join.

If you are interviewing for a position where employees wear uniforms (such as movie theatres), it is still important to put together a strong presentation.   While a suit might be overkill for such a situation, there is a proper look to leave the right impression.  Professional slacks, a button down shirt and nice shoes would probably work well.  Make sure the items are well pressed, too!

Remember…You never get a second chance to leave a first impression.  It’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed…even if you are only applying for a position at a movie theatre.


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