Graduate? Dress For Success!

So you've just spent the last few years of your life wearing what you want to and whenever you wanted to. Once your University days are behind you though, you'll need to make a few changes if you are to start your career. As Graduate jobs are highly competitive, you need to do everything you can to give you the advantage over others.

"The clothes I wear aren't that important though are they?" you ask. "Surely it's who you are and what you can do that counts?" your think? Well if you do, read on and you may be surprised what really does count on a first encounter at a job interview.

I first saw the title 'Dress for Success' on a training course for a medical sales role, all the men in attendance were wearing a suit of some description, I didn't see the point.

There are few examples which have left impressions on me throughout my career.

Early on in my career, my the company I worked for was greatly restructured over a 12 month time-scale, which resulted in a large amount of competitors for a small amount of managerial roles.

As I was desperate to progress into management, I was prepared to do anything I could to increase my chances, and remembering my course, although not too convinced at the time I thought a some new clothes were in order.

Instead of visiting a high street suit seller on a budget, I decided to go up market and purchased some expensive Italian suits, expensive designer double cuff shirts, silk ties and cuff links.

The first team I attended a company meeting wearing my new attire, I began to get approached by my colleagues asking me if I had "got one of the jobs?". My interview was scheduled for two weeks time, it must have been the clothes!

This was a powerful lesson for me and must be for you as well. The way you appear to others has a huge bearing on the way you are perceived. Dress as you have in the past, e.g. a student with little money, or like somebody who's just been promoted to management, who will be perceived better?

The second example takes me back to a time when I was interviewing for a sales position. During a break between interviewing, I was standing outside the hotel entrance waiting for the next candidate when I saw an old Ford Granada enter the car park. It had been some years since I'd seen one and I marvelled at what a rust bucket this really was. A young man in a scruffy suit emerged, top button undone and a poorly executed tie knot, around 2 inches below the undone top button.

I looked at my watch and realised that he was my next candidate. I had already formed a powerful image and made a full basket of most negative assumptions. A few minutes into the interview, I had to ask if he had been drinking, he replied with "just a half at lunchtime". We called it a day right there.

The candidate was a very personable, bright young man with a degree, and on paper, the right background for the role. Aside of the drinking bit (obviously a no no...1/2 pint smells the same as 6 pints!) his chances of gaining the position were over before he even got in the room.

Rightly or wrongly, we have a very powerful instinct to see a few pieces of a jigsaw, and then complete the rest of it in our mind. This instinct is consistent across us all, for example when you see a posh car, it's more than likely that you think 'I wonder what they do'.

Knowing this you can use this to your advantage when being interviewed for graduate jobs. Turn up looking like you already are a graduate lawyer, and subconsciously it is much easier for the recruiter to visualise you in the role. Many good candidates don't pass first base simply because they can't visualise them in the role, due to the way they have presented at interview.

Dress is if you already have the job, not like the student you have been who hasn't earned a wage yet. With regard to money, get the job, and you'll soon recover the cost. Buying the right clothes is the best investment in your future you'll ever make.

About the Author

This article is written by John Bult of Graduate Jobs