Monday, March 16, 2009

Is Your Wardrobe Keeping You Unemployed?

If this economy has taught us anything, it is to invest in ourselves rather than in frivolous objects. Investing in how you look is a smart strategy in tough economic times. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed persons increased to 12.5 million in February. With so many people competing for the same jobs, your job search strategy must include your visual appearance in order to gain a distinct advantage over your competitors in this tough job market. When you feel good about your appearance, you will be more confident and composed during an interview. These qualities inspire trust and confidence in potential employers.

First impressions are made within a few seconds after meeting. Based on your visual appearance, your potential employer will either view you as a good fit for the organization or a bad one before you’ve even had a chance to sell your skills. You can use those first few seconds to your advantage by dressing professionally.

As in interviewing, every detail matters when it comes to dressing well. Regardless of the type of position for which you are interviewing, dress up. Dressing up will show that you not only have respect for yourself but also for the organization and for the person with whom you are interviewing.



  • Wear dressy tailored separates or a classic suit in a neutral color, such as black, navy or charcoal grey.

  • Wear a tailored dress shirt and coordinating tie.

  • Wear clean and polished shoes. Women should wear pumps with a heel height where they can walk confidently.

  • Wear a skirt that hits just above, at, or just below the knee.

  • For women, always wear hosiery in a color to match your skin color. Bring an extra pair with you in case you get a snag or a run in them on the way to the interview.

  • Wear clothes that fit properly. A slight alteration can make a big difference in the way a garment lays on your body.

  • Have clean manicured nails.

  • Wear a clean watch with a metal or neutral leather band.

  • For men, match your socks to your pants.

  • Wear a neat professional hairstyle that is kept away from your face.

  • Carry a nice briefcase or portfolio to hold your resume.

  • Carry a conservative leather tote or handbag that coordinates with your outfit.

  • DON’T

  • Wear flashy jewelry, bright colors or bold prints.

  • Wear thick or colorful makeup.

  • Wear a low-cut blouse or short skirt.

  • Wear cologne or perfume.

  • Wear anything with a logo on it.

  • Wear a sports watch.

  • Chew gum or have anything else in your mouth.

  • Smoke before the interview.

Unless you are interviewing for a creative position, it is best to dress conservatively in neutral colors. Since you will likely be asked to attend multiple interviews within a company before you are formally offered a position, be sure to have at least three different tops to wear with each bottom (for men, shirts and coordinating ties in different colors and patterns, and for women, blouses in different colors and prints).

In the end, you want your potential employer to remember your confidence and personality as opposed to your appearance. In an interview scenario, if people remember what you wore it is usually for the wrong reason.