Business & Society

Job hunting? Make Your Appearance Count

It's that time of year again: the time when college seniors everywhere start planning for life after college.

No more ball-cap remedies for a bad hair day. No more jeans and t-shirts seven days a week. It's now time to take a professional approach to the future and the career opportunities that lie ahead.

First impressions occur within 30 seconds, during which time an interviewer makes 10 value judgments about you, according to Janine Giorgenti, president of Giorgenti, a clothing-design and wardrobe-consulting firm in New York City. In "A Polished Appearance Pays Off for Candidates," an article written for The Wall Street Journal, Giorgenti said that when you look the part and feel good about your appearance you'll want to perform well professionally.

She emphasized to men and women the importance of dressing to the highest level of their target company's dress code. Giorgenti says to pay attention to detail and make sure the outfit fits well, is contemporary, is spotless and is well pressed.

Annie Wanagel, a recent graduate of Utah State University in animal science, said that experience has shown her the importance of appearance on creating positive first impressions.

"A well-kept appearance signifies that other things are important to you, including attention to detail," Wanagel said. "You want to appear to have it all together."

In a survey conducted by John Molloy for his book "Live for Success," 100 percent of those interviewed said they think employee dress affects the general tone of the office. Seventy-eight percent said they would hold up a promotion of a person who did not dress properly.

A survey conducted by the Men's Apparel Alliance found that seven in 10 executives agreed that when employees wear a suit they project a better image.

The survey of more than 200 companies nationwide with over $500 million in annual revenue also found that executives believe a switch from casual to professional dress would boost productivity by nearly 4 percent.

Jaimie Kandler, a senior majoring in public relations at USU, suggested students always look professional regardless of what work attire is "required" by the organization.

"Looking professional will always be to your credit," Kandler said. "Individual style is great and sets you apart, but overly trendy styles of clothes and hair can work against you."

Kandler has worked at the Space Dynamics Laboratory for five years, and says she is proof that college students can put together wardrobes on a budget.

"I'm all about online shopping," Kandler said. "I check out the clearance sections and buy basic clothes that don't go out of style." She said picking a color scheme and buying basic mix-and-match items can save students a lot of money.

Are you wondering how you should appear for an upcoming interview? A website maintained by Student Services at Georgia Institute of Technology, Interview: First Impressions, outlines some tips for both men and women. The site suggests women choose a hairstyle that is stylish, but not too "girly," and choose understated jewelry to complement clothing. Trendy styles should be avoided, and dark suits or dresses are recommended. Shoes should be closed toe and heel, with the heel being one to two inches high. Neutral-color hose should be worn.

The site advises men to wear a white or light blue shirt with a dark, wool-blend, well-fitting suit. Socks should be a dark color to match the suit. Men should select a dark-color, leather dress shoe.

An online news release from Bitmore Fashion Park said woven cloth ties bring "a rich look to the suit," and that popular styles have small patterns without bold colors.

Pat McAsey, a USU junior studying business finance, said he would advise students to dress as professional as possible, and pay attention to the dress code at the business you are applying for.

"I'd make sure you get a haircut," McAsey said. "If you have a goatee or beard, make sure it's trimmed, too."

A site maintained by Kent State University advises women to pull their hair away from the face and to wear skirts that fall no more than one inch above the knee. The site advises men to avoid facial hair or long sideburns, and advises against wearing jewelry, except for a wedding or class ring.

Still concerned about your appearance? An upcoming image enhancement seminar here in Logan may be of interest to you.

"Making the Most of YOU," will be held March 15 at Bridgerland Applied Technology College. Keynote speaker Louise Young will talk about "The Perfect Woman." The presentation will focus on self confidence and how it relates to appearance.

Participants will be able to select and attend four one-hour workshops. Topics include Body Makeover - No Exercise Required; Wardrobe Basics on a Budget; Conquering the "I have nothing to wear" Syndrome; Clue in on Color; Hair Helps; About Face; Trend Training - At Any Age; and Stress-less for Success.

"I decided to hold this seminar for a couple of reasons," said Colette Pulsipher, head of the fashion merchandising department at BATC. "We often get groups asking us to make presentations on these subjects, and it will make people more aware of the fashion program at BATC."

Pulsipher said she hopes seminar participants will take a lot of knowledge home with them that they can apply to themselves immediately.

"Specifically I hope it will help them gain more confidence in themselves as they learn how to make the most of what they have," Pulsipher said. Students can contact her at for more information on the seminar.

Pulsipher advises students to do their homework as far as the companies they are applying with. She said to find out about their dress code and then dress above that.

"Pay attention to details." Pulsipher said. "First impressions are crucial, so make sure you look your best from head to toe."

By Karina Fain

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