My article from Jobpostings Magazine (2/08)
You have everything you need to wow them in the interview, right? A killer resume, a successful internship behind you, the compulsory dark suit – hey, you even have shiny, new shoes! You have it all together to not only get the job, but also to put yourself ahead on the track to success. Right?
Well, yes and no.
Selecting the right career accessories can take you to the next level in being branded as a credible professional. Your accessories will communicate more than just your good taste. Your appearance details are a sure sign that you care for the details in your job as well.
What’s in the Bag?
Carrying a bag to your interview is just smart. Not only do you look like you have already arrived at the golden gates of success, but you can stash a couple extra copies of your resume and a pad of paper and pen in it as well. For men, the attaché or the messenger bag you carry should be of quality materials – preferably leather – but I have seen nice ones in heavier fabrics like tweed.
Be aware that there are a lot of cheap leather substitutes out there. Buy the best quality you can afford. Your bag should be black or brown, or perhaps try matching your hair color. For women, carry a tote bag or attaché case with a small “wristlet”-style purse inside for your money and makeup. This way, you have the option of carrying everything you need to an interview but can also carry materials back and forth to work once you have the job.
The smaller “bag within a bag” concept allows you to run out for coffee or lunch without having to take your larger tote along everywhere you go. A woman’s tote should be a conservative color for the interview – black or brown. But once you have the job, depending on the industry you work in, you can always branch out into fun colours or subtle patterns to add a little spice to your work wardrobe.
Research tells us that the watch, which used to be a standard workplace accessory, may be going the way of the dinosaurs because we have so many other gadgets that tell us the time. From our computer screens to our cell phones and BlackBerries, who needs a watch these days anyway? An elegant watch speaks a subtle yet eloquent language. It not only says you are sophisticated, but it also quietly states that you value your time, and others’ time as well. Your choice in watch should be analog (leave the digital watch in 10th grade) and should have a metal band – this means gold or silver or both. If you work in a business casual office, a leather band with contrasting topstitching will also look quite sharp.
Gadgets and Gizmos
Keep the number of phones, BlackBerrys, pagers and PDAs you have on your person at any one time to an absolute minimum. We live in a world where most of us have more than one device that we can clip on ourselves. While it may make you feel important at first to be entrusted with so much technology, carrying it around quickly becomes old.
For men, if you do need to wear a piece of communication technology clipped to your belt, make sure that the case is functional and presentable, and only wear one at any time. Women should be sure to have a clip on their cell phone, which you can affix to the inside of your tote. Nothing is worse than “fishing” for your phone in the bottom of your bag when it is ringing, and missing an important call from your boss. Learning to accessorize for success will boost your level of sophistication and help you along on your career path.
Kristen Kaleal is an image consultant and professional wardrobe stylist in Cleveland, OH. Learn more about her here.