by Rusty Long
It’s the most important sales meeting that you have ever been into. You start reminding yourself of all the great closes that you have accomplished and how those went right. You felt great that day, you were a great listener, you were fully prepared, you genuinely cared about this client, and you had a good relationship, but this is different. You aren’t selling a simple product, an affordable service, you are selling yourself. Sure you always had this train of thought when selling but this time; this is all you are selling.
Some people are comfortable winging it so they don’t sound scripted. Some have to be fully prepared on what they should say, but actions speak louder than words for both types. Sure you are prepared to cover your expansive resume, your successful past, speaking highly of your accomplishments, but those are in the past and you have to prove you can make it in the future. What actions do the pros tell you to make in an interview; eye contact, firm hand shake, never crossing your arms, not too stoic and not too much body language. Naturally you’ll be cleanly groomed with fresh breath, but is that it for the day’s action items? For many people it’s a lot like getting invited to a party where “the right people” are or that first date. Sure you can find something to wear, but your mind frantically runs through your wardrobe only to discover the same; you really want to impress and are not confident in what you have.
Well it is in fact a first date and you should be worried about what you wear.
What you wear is a first impression and in today’s world the importance of individuality, company culture and branding, you are being sized up to see if you will fit. Will you be viewed as a “has been” or will they like you a lot but not see you as a “good fit” in their culture?
You want to be comfortable and wonder if khakis and a dress shirt are nice enough, but deep down you know it’s better to over dress than under dress. You think about wearing that pin stripe suit you’ve had for a while but aren’t sure if that will make you look too stuffy or outdated. You could wear that better fitting solid navy suit, but what if that’s exactly what all the other candidates wear, what is going to set you apart? It is times like these that make even the most accomplished people realize that they do not have a proper wardrobe. Far too many people spend so much time in what car they drive a few hours a day as opposed to what clothes they wear everywhere they go.
It is completely acceptable to ask the company what the dress code is if you don’t know it, but there’s always a chance of a higher up being there which also means a higher standard of dressing. Even if you feel like today’s world is very casual, you should still know what the dress codes mean:
Business Dress: Men – Suit and Tie. Women – Suit
Business Casual: Men – Jacket and Wool Slacks (Tie Optional). Women – Dress, Blouse with Skirt
Casual: Men – Dress Shirt and Chinos or Slacks. Women – Blouse with Slacks or Chinos
Comfort or Athletic: Polos and Jeans to be worn only if specifically stated
It is never appropriate to wear jeans and a polo shirt unless asked to. It is possible to be overdressed in a suit in a casual environment so you should only wear one if that’s what they say, or if you know other people wear suits to work there. It is possible to be underdressed in a business casual environment if you are not wearing a jacket. If you wear a jacket and slacks then you might only be slightly overdressed but not to the point of being uncomfortable. This is perfect outfit to wear to a “Business Casual” interview and like a well fitting suit; it’s something every man should have in his wardrobe. You will look smart and you will feel confident and you will be glad you wore it.
Just as important as what you wear, is how you wear it. Fit is the most important aspect of any article of clothing. Your clothes should not be too tight or oversized as if bought on sale or sixty pounds ago. If you invest in quality pieces, you will find that you will enjoy wearing them and may even increase your chances of getting recruited in public.