It's a good tactic to try to be noticed at a job interview for your skills and achievements. But not your clothes or grooming habits. Casual Fridays have pushed workplace attire to its limits, with jeans, polo shirts and other weekend clothing the norm at work, but that doesn't make it a good idea for a job candidate.
"We live in a casual culture. We're all in jeans all of the time," said Mark Jeffries, a career expert and author of "What's up with your handshake?" That's not enough in applying for a job, Jeffries told me in an interview. Job candidates must ask themselves how they want to be perceived, he said.
"If you act the part you get the part," he said.
I recently talked with Jeffries and Brett Fahlgren, a GQ style consultant, about style tips for men job seekers. Both are working with Gillette to help men look their best for a job interview and prepare for the job market.
Men are being harder hit by the recession than women, with 11.4% unemployment for men 16 and older, and 8.8% unemployment for women 16 and older, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It takes more than a clean shave to look sharp for a job interview. And the good news is that grooming and your personal style is something you have control over, whereas other things in a job interview are out of your control, Fahlgren said.
Here are some style and grooming tips Fahlgren offers:
Don't be casual. Casual Fridays are fine if you're employed, but don't go in to an interview with a backpack slung over your shoulder. "It's better almost to not have your style be noticed," Fahlgren said. Instead, carry a classic item such as a briefcase.
"Business casual is something that guys thought was a God-send at first, but it has really thrown a lot of people off," Fahlgren said.
Fragrances -- be understated. A fragrance is an element of style, but instead of spraying it on your body, spray some on a finger and dab it on your neck. A little goes a long way. Body washes might also resonate well in an interview, especially ones that aren't deeply musky with a wintery mix.
Shoes. Wear black, laced up shoes with a rounded toe. Don't look trendy. And get them shined.
Watch. Get a nice one that is dark and dressy. A good one should be found for about $100. "Watches to men are like jewelry to women," Fahlgren said.
Jacket, pants. Fahlgren recommends wearing flat-front trousers, not pleated, and owning four or five sports jackets.
Sweaters. He also recommends having lightweight V-neck sweaters that look good with almost everything you wear.
The styles of the "Mad Men" TV show are making a comeback, bringing back an emphasis on dressing up, he said. And that's a good thing when you want to impress a potential boss.
"Find a look that's all your own and that you feel confident and comfortable in," he said.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be reached at www.AaronCrowe.net
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