Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Acing Getting a Job: Clothing Edition

Waiting for and trying to get a job offer was easily the single most anxiety inducing thing I've ever done or gone through.  I didn't have a lot of guidance in terms of clothing before my first career fair and interview, so I am going to try and break down what I learned so everyone else can learn from my mistakes.

There are three basic steps in the process, and unfortunately you can't (or, shouldn't) wear the same thing during each step because you will be meeting with the same people multiple times.  This doesn't mean you need to run out and buy 5 different suits though - work with what you have.  You probably already own a blazer of some sort, buy pants to match it and there's one suit.  You will likely have to buy one suit; I went to J. Crew and used my student discount to pick up two suits in one - a skirt, pants and jacket in a medium heather grey.  It was an actual investment (and not just a "you'll wear this forever" investment) because I got a job out of them and this job certainly makes me more money than any job I could have gotten wearing jeans and a sweater.

  1. Career Fair: this is the first and most important part.  If you don't kill it at your career fair, you're not getting to any of the next steps.  This is a good time to wear your skirt suit or a suiting dress under a blazer like this Theory one shown above because you are going to be standing the whole time, and these look good and professional while standing.  You're going to be standing as one person among a sea of plain black pantsuits, so stand out!  I always recommend getting suits in grey or navy because this will make you memorable, and that's what you're looking for - once they remember you, your incredible personality and unbeatable intelligence can do the rest.  (similar: Kasper Sheath Suiting Dress and Suiting Separates, Preston & York Bistretch Suiting Dress [love this])
  2. First Interview: this is probably going to be held at your school but may also be at their office.  You can get a feel for the office environment based on how your interviewers are dressed and their formality, but your best bet is to stay formal with a classic fit suit and button down, and always, always wear pants because you don't know what the seating arrangement will be.  Learn from my mistakes - I wore a skirt to a first interview without realizing we would just be sitting facing each other not at a table and spent way too much time worrying if my legs were crossed properly or too much was showing.  Play it safe and don't do it.  I still maintain that you should not wear black. (similar: Theory Max C pants [the best], Express Editor Pants, Anne Klein Classic Straight Leg Suit)
  3. Second Interview: now it's really time to give people a feel for who you are.  If the first interview wasn't at the office then this one definitely will be.  I say to go with pants again because it's always safer when you're going to be sitting and talking to multiple people, but if your first interview was at the office and you know how this one will go, by all means go for the skirt or dress.  I love this tweed Theory suit because it's so classic with a twist, and the suit on the right (which is my actual J. Crew suit) has an added flare due to the big oversized bag and long sleeved tee shirt underneath.  Don't be afraid to be a little more daring for this one - after all you want them to know that you'd make for a fun coworker as well as an excellent employee.  (similar: Lafayette 148 Tweed Suit Jacket, Kasper Scalloped Blazer and Straight Leg Pants, White House / Black Market Espresso Tweed Suit Jacket and Pants
While I won't make an absolute guarantee that following any of these rules will get you a job, I can say with certainty that at least if you don't get it, you know it has nothing to do with how you look.

How did everyone else's job interviewing process go? Were you as clueless as me? 

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