Each time I attend a hiring event, I see some things that make me wonder. There are typically 5 types of people I meet at job fairs. Let’s take a look at their dress style and learn from each one how to make a great first impression with HR professionals.
5 People You’ll Meet at Job Fairs:
Somewhere between their On-Duty time and Off-Duty time, this person forgot to switch out of their military clothing to some degree. This is the person who wears military clothing along with civilian clothing. A nice suit, highly starched shirt, and power tie, initially made a great impression until you noticed those shiny military formal patent leather shoes. Or, maybe the shoes tested positive for 100% civilian issue, but the tie came straight from the Military Clothing Sales store.
A fashion look such as this could give the impression to Hiring Companies that you have not made the full transition yet. Be sure to be thoughtful about your wardrobe. Refrain from wearing military clothing with civilian clothing. Show the company you’re ready to work in their world.
High & Tight
High & Tight is the person who shows up straight from the barber shop – sometimes hand-brushing their suit to get the hair clippings off their clothing. Freshly cut hair and clean as a whistle, if you placed this person within a group of employees at your company, guess who is going stand out?
Consider trying to look more like the Employees at your potential work place. Now you don’t have to bust regulation, but letting your hair grow to the limits of military standards during the interview process might help you a bit here. At the opposite end of the spectrum is what I like to call, “I don’t care hair.” Make an effort to make the best impression possible.
T-Shirt Mania seems to be creeping in these days at job fairs I’ve attended. Granted, some companies are known for their casual atmosphere and “come-as-you-are” culture, but when making the first impression this is not the dress code. Business Attire is the way to go. If you look at the companies at the job fair, very few have casual dress. Every once in a while a company representative will wear a short sleeve shirt with khaki pants. Even if they do, you’ll want to consider dressing better than they do and skip the T-Shirt.
Good Jeans are Bad Jeans
Jeans just do not belong at job fairs. Unless you’re applying for one of the companies that sell a particular brand of jeans, dress up in business attire. (I have yet to see anyone purposely dressing in jeans to mimic or mirror a jean manufacturing company representative at a job fair.) Even your “Good Jeans” won’t cut it here. Don’t be seen in jeans.
You have enough challenges within the context of an interview, e.g. trying to discover if you’re the “right fit” in the social sense of the word, so why create a negative perception with clothes that don’t fit? Take some time to make sure your clothing fits properly. Remember your Official Photo? Your uniform fit you as perfectly as possible, didn’t it? Your clothing for interviews should be treated with as much importance as that photo.
Take your clothing to a seamstress or tailor. Remember, a recent weight loss could equal a bad fit. That old suit or dress you bought years ago might need some alterations. Keep in mind that some clothing companies offer lifetime free alterations, so in those cases, there’s really no excuse for a bad fit.
At a Military-focused job fair, the people representing companies know you’re in the Military. If you arrive in uniform, by creating this first impression, the company representative is more likely to expect to hear you speak with lots of military jargon, expect you to present a résumé that’s full of acronyms, and expect to get the impression that you’re not fully prepared to make the transition.
Leave yourself enough time to change out of your uniform. This is one way to show your prospective employer you’re fully ready to become part of the team. You’ll probably never wear your Military Uniform to your potential workplace, so why wear it now? Take the time to look the part.
Learning from these five examples of what to be careful of when putting your look together can help you make the best first impression possible.
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