Candidate A was excited to learn that CPIBN offers other classes, covering a wide array of topics and issues, outside of the bootcamp style modules, and she quickly registered to participate in the What Should I Wear? Dress for Success class. She felt she had a good understanding of what it means to dress professionally or business casually, but she was surprised to learn that what she felt was appropriate for professional settings is not necessarily true in all settings.
While Candidate A grew up being told not to judge a book by its cover, the reality is that in the professional world, and especially during interviews, first impressions are critical and follow the mantra perception is reality. While each company, industry, and job will have a particular style and image, each will still want that image to be perceived positively. Candidate A realized that while an overly conservative suit outfit for a traditional corporate interview may be appropriate, the same can not be said for an up and coming online fashion store. Researching a company for an interview means researching the company to get a feel for the culture and environment as well, and Candidate A quickly understood that what she learns about a company needs to be transferred to how she presents herself in a potential interview. The rule still remains, however, to err more on the side of being overdressed rather than being too casual.
Candidate A hasn’t had a need to wear a suit since she interviewed for her last job, and she knows that, even then, it was a bit outdated. While a suit should be considered an investment piece, it is also important that it fit you well, and the last thing Candidate A wants to happen is assume her old suit still has the tailored appearance and find out that it does not on the morning of an interview.
When searching for a new suit, or interview outfit, remember that color is just as important, as fit. It is safest to choose a dark blue color, inspiring success, calmness, and security. Dark gray is also a good choice, suggesting confidence and sophistication without being overpowering. While black is acceptable and can give the idea of authority, it is unimaginative and could suggest drama. Bright bold colors are not generally well accepted interview colors, because they can be overpowering and distracting; however, they can be accepted and used as accents in the right industry setting as explained above.
Candidate A already understood that for her interview she should wear minimal make-up and jewelry and have well groomed hair. She decided, however, that because she is hoping to make a career move to marketing and the companies she is interested in exude brightness and modernity, she would add a pop of color in the form of an accessory if she gets an opportunity to interview for a position.
What Candidate A found the most helpful from the class was learning the difference between dress codes. She has always been confused by the difference between business casual and business attire.
- Business Traditional – conservative business suit and tie for men; conservative skirted suit for women
- Business Modern – fashionable business suit and tie for men; stylish pantsuit or skirted suit for women
- Business Casual – dressing professionally, looking relaxed, yet neat and pulled together
- Dressy Casual/Creative Casual – similar to business wear, yet with a bit more informality
- Casual Friday – high quality dark denim jeans with shirt, blouse, or sweater
Participating in the dress for success class at CPIBN reminded Candidate A to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. By understanding what is expected by interviewers and having her options ready ahead of time, it will be one less thing she needs to worry about come interview day!
Career transition and job searching is about accepting change, and Candidate A is using it as a chance to re-invent and re-discover herself and what she wants from her future career. Creating a new image for herself through how she presents herself in interviews is simply a small part of the entire process.
Candidate A was starting to feel anxious and frustrated that she was either not hearing back from applications she submitted or receiving stock rejection notices. CPIBN taught her not to take those rejections personally, as hard as it is not to, and to understand that those set-backs are only temporary. She decided that because the job search is a job, she still needs to maintain the same work-life balance as she did before, even if it is a bit modified.
This balance will be different for each individual, family communication, leisure activities, diet, physical activity, etc. Candidate A, at times, felt guilty for taking time to do different activities, but her transition counselor at CPIBN reassured her that she is allowed to take time for herself, and is actually encouraged. It is important to take breaks during your job search, just as in any job. It is not beneficial to continue working on a cover letter or researching in circles if you become overly frustrated. Taking a step back and clearing your mind will allow you to re-approach the task more successfully.
Arthur Ashe said, “[o]ne important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” #CPIBNgoesto great lengths to make sure that candidates, such as Candidate A, are prepared for each aspect of the career transition, from emotions to clothes.