You’ve just spent the last few years wearing what ever you want, when ever you want. In fact much of the time you’ve been doing what ever you want. Now, things will have to change if you are to start a prosperous career. Graduate jobs are highly competitive. You need to do everything you can to give you the advantage.
So what about the clothes you wear, surely not that important? Surely it’s who you are and what you can do that counts? Well read on, you may be surprised what really does count on a first encounter at a job interview.
I first saw the title ‘Dress for Success’ on an initial training course for a medical sales role. My initial thoughts were of a couple of hours to catch some ‘shut eye’ at the back after a heavy night in the bar. All the men were wearing a suit of some description, I just didn’t see the point.
Let me give you a couple of real life examples which left and impression on me in this department. Early on in my career, my company restructured over a 12 month timescale. It was a bun fight for a small handful of management jobs and I was in the thick of it, desperate to gain that promotion into management. I was prepared to do anything I could to increase my chances, and remembering my course, although not too convinced at the time I thought a some new clothes were in order.
This time, instead of the usual budget trip to a high street suit seller, I went up market and bought a couple of expensive Italian suits, plus some expensive designer double cuff shirts, silk ties and cuff links. Shortly after this I turned up a company meeting wearing the new attire and feeling rather like a school boy in new clothes and not really used to wearing a tie, but the strangest thing happened. One after another, I was approached by work colleagues with the quip “you got one of the jobs then”. At first I was utterly puzzled, my interview was scheduled two weeks later? There was a simple explanation, it was the clothes!
This was a powerful lesson. The way you appear to others has a huge bearing on the way you are perceived. Dress as you have in the past, in my case a barely qualified student with only enough money to buy the cheapest scruffy suit, and this is how you will be perceived. Dress like a guy who’s just been promoted to management, and this is how you will be perceived. (Incidentally, I got the job wearing my new ‘managers suit’)
A second example which displays a different aspect of this topic relates back to a time when I was interviewing for a sales position. It was a long day in a hotel and I was into the afternoon slots. I was standing outside the hotel entrance waiting for the next candidate when I saw an old Ford Granada enter the car park. It had been some years since I’d seen one and I marvelled at what a rust bucket this really was. It parked near to me, and a young man in a scruffy suit emerged. His top button was undone, his tie knot, which was as big as a tennis ball was around 2 inches below the undone top button. His hair look like he’d been dragged through a hedge backwards with a bit of gel glinting in the sun light. As a stood chuckling at this young gent he began walking towards the hotel, I looked at my watch, oh boy, my next candidate, what had the agency sent me now.
Back at the room, there was a knock at the door, and sure enough, in he came with a big beaming smile. Unfortunately for him, I had already formed a powerful image of this chap and made a full basket of assumptions, mostly negative. After a couple of minutes I noticed a strong odour, aftershave? Or alcohol? Surely not? With the negative images piling up I had to ask him if he’d been drinking…” err, half a pint if Guinness with my girlfriend at lunch time….sorry, is that going to effect my chances” We called it a day right there.
Now, joking aside, he was actually a very personable, bright young man with a degree, and on paper, the right background for the role. Aside of the drinking bit (obviously a no no…1/2 pint smells the same as 6 pints!) he was finished before he even got in the room. Rightly or wrongly, we have a very powerful instinct to see a few pieces of a jigsaw, and then complete the rest of it in our mind. Once we have done this, even if we find more pieces, it’s as though the first once we placed are rather stuck in place and don’t want to move.
This instinct is consistent across us all. Have you ever seen a posh car, a Porche or an Aston Martin and thought ‘I wonder what he does’. We immediately assume they are some highly successful highly paid person, not that there Uncle Jimmy just left them a fortune or they won the lotto. The good news is, you can use this to your advantage when interviewing for graduate jobs. Turn up looking like you already are a graduate lawyer, and subconsciously it is much easier for the recruiter to visualise you in the role. Many good candidates don’t pass first base simply because they can’t visualise them in the role, due to the way they have presented at interview.
In summary, when it comes to dressing for graduate jobs interviews, the mantra is ‘I am, therefore I will!’ Dress is if you already have the job, not like the student you have been who hasn’t earned a wage yet. With regard to money, get the job, and you’ll soon recover the cost. Buying the right clothes is the best investment in your future you’ll ever make. If you don’t invest in this way in your future, don’t worry, you can wear what you like down the job centre!
toResign.com has thousands of career documents including Resignation Letters, CV Examples, Cover Letters, Job Application Forms and more…