Graduating from college or high school and beginning your first serious job search means you need some upgrades. Here are three improvements new graduates can spend some of their cash and time on before starting to schedule interviews.
Upgrading your wardrobe is essential if you want to be taken seriously as a professional. Invest in three professional interview outfits (men can get away with wearing the same suit while switching out shirts and ties.) You should have at least one pristine, perfectly pressed outfit ready to go on short notice, including perfectly shined shoes. You might also invest in some business casual outfits: slacks and separates, collared golf shirts, and other items you can wear that make you look relaxed yet professional. Think heading out to a golf tournament with your boss’s boss and you’ll get it right.
You don’t have to give up youthful colors to fit in with grownups at the office, but adding in some neutral jackets, skirts and slacks will help you stretch your wardrobe and allow you to wear the same outfits more often without drawing attention to them. Investing in tailoring can make a big difference in how you look in your new professional styles. Be sure to set aside a small budget each month for dry cleaning so you can keep your new look looking new.
Upgrading your accessories will give you the confidence that comes from a polished look. Ditch phone and tablet cases that are worn or juvenile (bedazzled, Hello Kitty, and NSFW designs, for example.) Invest in a substantial portfolio and pen for carrying documents and taking notes. You may retire your trusty backpack and consider a leather bag for carrying office essentials (men also look great with rugged canvas or some distressed leather version of a messenger bag.)
Finally, let’s talk about upgrading your vocabulary. It’s time to ditch phrases that mark you as a college kid: the ubiquitous “like” that seems to follow every other word, “totally” and “literally,” unless you mean them literally. If you have an uptalk habit (the tic that makes every sentence sound like a question?) it’s time to work on it until you get it conquered. To seasoned professionals, it reads as uncertain and immature.
The opposite of uptalk is “vocal fry,” the raw sizzle at the end of a sentence when (mostly young women) speakers drop their voice to a very low register at the end of a sentence. To get the effect, imagine one of the Kardashians saying “that’s so lame…”
A study conducted by four professors from Duke University found that “a large national sample of American adults we find that vocal fry is interpreted negatively… young adult female voices exhibiting vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive, and less hirable. The negative perceptions of vocal fry are stronger for female voices relative to male voices.”
Definitely worth the trouble to get rid of that habit as well.
Upgrades will make you feel more confident as you expand your professional network – confidence that will pay off as you negotiate your first offer.