Since most of my clients are applying to work in conservative, professional environments like law firms, investment banks, and corporations, I advise them to wear conservative, professional dress when going on an interview. That means a dark colored suit, a white or otherwise light-colored dress shirt, and a tie. Even within those constraints, there’s plenty of room for error for the unwary or inexperience job seeker. Pay attention to the details in your wardrobe. Such attention has several benefits. For one, going through your wardrobe can help put you in the proper mindset for the interview. But attention to detail is more than just an exercise in mental preparation. Interviewers will notice (and appreciate) your attention to detail, which demonstrates you understand corporate culture and respect both the employer and the interviewer. Even more important is in many work places, attention to detail is a job qualification. Being well dressed is a way for you to embody this job qualification. So, what are some ways where you can both avoid mistakes and shine. Where does this information come from? I spend a great deal of time talking to hiring decision-markers, including hiring directors, interviewers, personnel managers, and recruiters, especially as research for How to Get a Legal Job: A Guide for New Attorneys and Law School Students. So, these tips aren’t just my opinion, they come from the most common complaints of the people who will be interviewing you. Your dress shirt is wrinkled and has sweat stains on the underarms Do yourself a favor and double-check the cleanliness of your shirt. While you’re at it, make sure your shirt is starched and pressed. And don’t forget to wear antiperspirant! Sometimes job candidates skimp on these details because they assume they’ll be wearing their suit jacket the entire time they are at the employer. If you’re wearing a suit jacket, then no one can see your wrinkled, stained shirt. Right? Wrong. For one thing, portions of your shirt will show—especially if you unbutton your jacket at any point, and especially if you need to take your jacket off! You forgot to wear an undershirt under your dress shirt Yes, it’s customary to wear an undershirt under your dress shirt. Yes, even in the summer. Dress shirts are thinner and more see-through than you might think, and there are small gaps between the buttons. Lovely though it may be in another context, believe me your interviewer does not want to see your dark chest hair. Period. Your shoes are scuffed Take the time to polish up those shoes! A well-polished pair of shoes are critical to your overall message of professionalism and attention to detail. If you don’t have the skills or materials to polish your shoes well, then stop by a shoe-shiner to get the job done right and to bring even an older pair of shoes back to life. Your socks don’t match (either each other, or the suit) You might think no one can see your socks, so who cares what they look like? Ah, but when you sit down, those hidden socks are suddenly revealed. Appropriate dress socks are a small investment, so make it! And if you like bright, show-stopping socks, please remember the job interview isn’t the proper place to show off you eccentricity. You can do that after you have the job. Your suit or tie is out of date Whether it’s wide polyester lapels or skinny leather ties or some other symbol of by-gone fashion, an out of date wardrobe suggests to the interview you are out of date. Older job candidates should be particularly aware out of date clothes reinforce stereotypes older workers are out of touch with today’s modern workplace. Don’t let an old outfit sabotage your new career move. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
We get it. Looking for work can be scary, especially if you’ve been at it for a long time and haven’t gotten any results.
Understanding which fears are getting in the way and how to overcome them will make all the difference. Sometimes you might not be aware of which obstacle is getting in the way of your goals. If you want to overcome these fears once and for all, we invite you to join us!
In this training, you’ll learn how to:
- Utilize strategies for coping with your job search fears
- Be confident in your job search—from writing your resume to networking
- Face your fears and move forward
Join our CEO, J.T. O'Donnell, and Director of Training Development & Coaching, Christina Burgio, for this live event on Wednesday, October 5th at 12 pm ET.
CAN'T ATTEND LIVE? That's okay. You'll have access to the recording and the workbook after the session!
Are you feeling defeated because you've done all you could do to attain a job, but have yet to land one? Examine your internal dialogue. Yes, put down the resume, halt the job search, and join me in this deep-dive exercise of exploring your thoughts...
What are your beliefs about your candidacy? What “vibe" are you transmitting during your phone interview, exuding through your body language, projecting with your attire selection, and reinforcing via your resume and cover letter?
If your lack of confidence is holding you back in your job search, try to think about the following:
Others can sense your lack of self-confidence.
Lack of confidence can be "smelled" a mile away. Negativity, cynicism, and a "poor-me" attitude is not attractive at all—no matter how you try to mask it.
While it may seem too simple and bordering on just "self-help" talk, the beliefs we hold about ourselves are fundamental in our success. The concept of reversing negative internal narrative seems simple; however, actually changing what you are thinking, feeling, and exuding is not—but it can absolutely be accomplished!
We guarantee that if you have lost the job offer, perhaps even during a second interview, the person who got hired sold their qualifications with more confidence, was more persuasiveness in promoting their value, and closed the deal (job) by assertively reassuring the employer that they were the best choice!
So, what are possible reasons for your hard-to-detect negative self-talk?
The following could fuel consistent negative beliefs about your value, your opportunities, and your expectations:
1. Shame In Losing Your Job
No need to be ashamed. It happens to everyone at least once. We cannot control what happens in the world and often we cannot control events in our lives. Nevertheless, we CAN control our reaction to what happens to us and we can DECIDE to take action.
2. Internalizing Past Failures
"Success builds character, failure reveals it." —Dave Checkett
Well, just in case: judging yourself for past failures builds a false self-image and can impact your self-confidence. Understand that failure is a part of trying and that, while owning up to your failures nurtures intellectual and emotional growth, defining yourself by your failures does not.
Understandably, if you have been out of work for a very long time, creditors are calling you, and your funds are now very limited, you can easily find yourself in a desperate-feeling place. Yet, we encourage you to adopt a new attitude.
Employers need you. So, while you are applying for jobs online, keep this in mind. Think about the value you bring as you write your resume and disruptive cover letter. You are a business-of-one. What service do you provide for an employer that makes you stand out from the competition? How will you make or save the company money?
By making this change to your mindset during your job search, you'll come off as confident, not desperate.
This is probably the number one reason we all do a little self-berating. We experience disappointment, become frustrated and angry, and sometimes need to justify what has occurred.
Make a conscious choice to be kind to yourself, coach yourself, and pay attention to what you could be saying to yourself—because negative beliefs can make their way onto the visible aspects of your job search.
Break the habit of talking negatively about yourself, and you'll be surprised by how quickly your confidence recovers.
Begin Today To Change The Direction Of Your Thoughts And Job Search
No matter what strategic job search plan or interview strategy you have in place, if you cannot convince your prospective employer to hire you, your self-marketing tools are pointless.
You cannot sell what you do not believe in and you cannot energize others to believe in you when YOU lack that type of enthusiasm in your own services/skills. Confidence is—and has always been—the key to job search success.
Plus, it feels good to recognize how amazing you really are!
So, begin to take notice. Write down all the reasons why you believe your job search is not fruitful, what your weaknesses are, and why you think you are NOT the best candidate, and then eradicate that thinking. Replace it with positive self-talk and substantiate it with achievements. Ironically, exploring your negative dialogue and reversing it can lead you to discover your UVP (unique value proposition). This is what will get you hired.
Need more help with your job search?
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.