Look the Part to Get the Job

Have the rules changed for corporate dress?  Young workers and jobseekers seem to think so.  “The idea that you have to wear hose and heels to the office every day died a decade ago,” one 20-something staffer told me.  “In Florida?  In July?  I don’t think so!”  It certainly seems that office dress codes are much more relaxed.  Men have ditched ties and jackets unless they are meeting with clients; women are not concerned about bare arms or a little cleavage in the conference room.  But what about the job interview?  Have the rules changed there, too?

Not according to 500 recruiters surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  67% of recruiters listed inappropriate or provocative dress by applicants as the factor most likely to kill a job offer (see nearby survey) followed by Having a typo on your resume (58%) and letting your cell phone ring during the interview (40%.)  “No matter how casual you think the office will be, the interview is still a formal business meeting – a sales presentation to a very important client,” one college recruiter told me.  “If you don’t understand that, you’re not really ready for our company.”

The first thing your interviewer will do is scan you from head to toe – that critical first impression.  You may not get any extra points for your sense of style or designer labels (so relax, guys) but you may lose an offer if you don’t match your attire to the occasion.

To make the cut, avoid these fashion missteps (courtesy of Yahoo! Jobs):

For women, short skirts and open-toed shoes are not appropriate for interviews. Bare legs are also a no-no. Always wear skirts that come to or near the knee, closed-toed shoes and stockings. Avoid floral prints and brightly patterned blouses.

For men, an ill-fitting suit sends the wrong message and can imply that you’re not attentive to detail. A few dollars spent on tailoring is well worth the expense. Don’t neglect your shoes – again, a great polish indicates attention to detail.

Men should also avoid eccentric or flashy ties, since they can look unprofessional or overly casual. Other items to steer clear of include casual shoes and turtleneck or polo shirts.

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