You may have heard the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. Anyone who has made a bad first impression in a purely social setting will know that the repercussions can be great and long-lasting. In a professional environment – such as during a job interview or an annual performance review – the effect is often permanent.
It’s no secret that those who are in the business of finding top talent and connecting them to employers who are hot to hire routinely tell their job-seeker talent base to “look professional, act professional, and get the job.” It’s therefore a bit of a shock to hear that human resources managers across a broad range of business industry types have come forward to say that half of recent college grad hires (a full 50%) do not know how to dress professionally or conduct themselves in a similar manner. Half!
So, in this first of a two-part series on creating and affecting a professional appearance, we’ll begin by discussing proper attire.
Looking the part of a business professional should definitely be the mindset of every job seeker. Let’s meet Jessica:
When Jessica went on her first job interview a few years ago, she wore a suit, fixed her hair, applied an appropriate amount of makeup, put on very little perfume, and showed up ten minutes early to the interview. Jessica made sure her shoes were free of scuff marks and that her clothes were clean and ironed. She brought a crisp copy of her résumé, as well as a pad of paper and a pen for taking notes. When she arrived at the interviewer’s office, she turned off her cell phone. Why did Jessica go to all the trouble prior to the interview? Because the economy was still experiencing a lot of difficulty, and she wanted a job. Guess what? Jessica got the job.
It would be easy to say that the economy and the jobs landscape have changed dramatically over the last decade – leaving many job seekers unemployed or under-employed. It would also be easy to say that those looking to get hired today need to put on their best professional appearance and show that they’re the top candidate for the job. The need to look and act the part of a perfect candidate has never decreased. A professional presentation for an interview is a standard that dates back to the dawn of business. And it doesn’t matter if the work environment or culture at the company for which you are interviewing is casual – as a not-yet-hired individual, you haven’t earned the right to look casual and care-free!
Professional presentation encompasses many things. If you walk in the door holding a latte in one hand, a cell phone in the other, and with flip flops on your feet, it’s likely you won’t be the first call back for a second interview. When preparing for an interview, ask yourself the following: “How can I impress this person or company? What kind of employee are they hoping to hire?”
What you’ll likely discover is that businesses of all types – from call centers to law offices – want to hire people that look and act and dress the part of the ideal employee – someone who is organized, determined, and capable. So, dress neat, make eye contact, give them a firm handshake, be prepared, don’t use slang words, spit out your chewing gum, and do not bring your cell phone into the interview.
This article is brought to you by Staffing Kansas City, a full-service Kansas City employment agency that offers temporary and permanent employment placement.