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VOL. 129 | NO. 105 | Friday, May 30, 2014

Angela Copeland

Dressing for Career Success

By Angela Copeland

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You’ve been applying online for months, and finally something has clicked. You have an interview in a few days for the perfect job at the best company in town.

This scenario sounds great on the surface, but can often lead to stress and anxiety when job seekers prepare to suit up for their next interview. And it makes sense, because your outfit can impact your overall interview success.

A friend who lives on the more casual West Coast interviewed for a position in the more formal East Coast. Unaware of the difference, he wore jeans, surprised everyone with his casual attire and lost out on the job.

Fortunately, there are a few simple rules you can follow to help you prepare. Overall, you want to minimize distractions. A job interview is about your skills. It’s about what you bring to the table. Dressing in an inappropriate or flashy way will take the attention away from your talent.

Wear a suit. In most interview settings, a suit is always the best answer – even on casual Friday. Go with something conservative like a gray or black suit. Women should opt for a pantsuit unless you’re interviewing for a more conservative industry, such as engineering or financial services. In those cases, select a skirt suit, but don’t forget your stockings. Bare legs are never appropriate.

Pick a shirt that’s also understated. A button down dress shirt works well. Consider something in blue, white or another neutral color.

For shoes, a black leather pair is your safest bet. Women should stick with a closed-toe shoe that’s flat or has a small heel. This isn’t the time to wear your trendiest or tallest pair. Also, ensure they’re clean and neat looking.

Jewelry, hair, and makeup should all be subtle. Try to limit your jewelry to no more than four pieces such as one pair of earrings, one ring, and one necklace. Remove body jewelry, and cover tattoos if possible. If you have long hair, consider putting it back. Use a neutral palette on your eyes and lips.

Your nails should be well groomed. At a minimum, they should be clean, relatively short or medium in length and filed. For a more finished look, apply a neutral color of nail polish.

Stay away from cologne or perfume. You never know what allergies your interviewer may have.

If your budget is small, find one look you feel confident wearing. If you’re looking for a deal, watch for sales, look online and check with community organizations. Consider having a tailor modify it for a relatively small fee, so it looks like it was made for you.

When it comes to your appearance, the key to landing your next job is successfully showcasing your skills and talents to your future employer. Dressing in an overly attention getting way will distract from those talents, and leave a negative impression. Follow these simple guidelines and you will be one step closer to landing your dream job. Then, you can participate in jeans day!

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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