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Dressing to Impress – Is it worth it?

With another Careers Fair just round the corner we look at the age old conundrum – what to wear?! It might be tempting to rock up in whatever you happened to throw on that morning but remember, people make snap decisions on first impressions. It’s a fact, if not a particularly fair or nice one, that you can be judged on what you wear.

Fair Banner
Recruiters make assumptions about you based on what they experience in the first few minutes of meeting you. This includes your clothing and general grooming (hair, nails, beard, etc.). You should be comfortable when you’re at university – no one expects you to wear a suit to all of your lectures – but this is a different environment. This is the first contact with employers who are in turn looking for their new set of hires in their company. They want to see if you fit with their ‘brand’ and one of the easiest ways for them to do this is to visualise you in their work place. It’s hard to do this if your clothes don’t match.

Casual and smart

Now, not all companies are the same. Some require smart attire in the workplace, for others it’s less important. When going to interview you would research the company in more depth and decide if formal or smart-casual was more warranted (if in doubt – always go formal) but for a careers fair you are looking at lots of different companies, so what’s the best option?

A good starting point is to dress smarter than you usually do. Unless you wear a suit every day this shouldn’t be hard, or expensive, to achieve. Start with the basics; make sure everything is clean, pressed/ironed (or at least not wrinkled), and intact. This means no ripped jeans or holes in sweaters. Steer away from the t-shirts with bright slogans or patterns and look at more muted colours. Try and think conservatively; mini-skirts and crop-tops don’t yell ‘professionalism’ even in creative industries.

 

Shoes are always important as they can say so much about a person. Whilst your flip-flops might be very comfortable, or your limited edition day-glo Nike Air Max high-tops might show you to be a dedicated sneaker aficionado, they say something very different to an employer. Stick to modest and smart shoes if you can.

Shoes Photo

So is a suit worth it? Well, if it can definitely make an impression on employers and show that you are taking the Fair seriously. But it is possible to look smart without going full ‘whistle’ and also to showcase your personality without going overboard.  Spend some time putting together your outfit; a good way to compare is to take a photo of each outfit and view them side by side, then get some opinions from family and friends. Spending a little time now can pay off on the day, so make sure you’re dressed to impress!

Fair Banner

photo credit: University of Salford , Cameron Adams, SmithGreg, Michael of Scott, do you ever feel anything?, and vanessa_hutd via photopin cc

 

JP Profile

Jerome Price is the Online and Digital Content Manager in the Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service at the University of Hertfordshire.

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