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Focus on these things to succeed in College Student / Recent Graduate

How You Look Matters in Your First Job


By Lea McLeod, M.A. , Founder & CEO, Degrees of Transition

College life may have been a breeze in terms of dressing,
but your first job requires your dress for the career you’ve acquired.


Whether internship or first job, it pays to put time and attention into making a good impression AND feeling good about yourself. Dress the part, and you’ll find that first job is a “no sweat” proposition.

Look good

I know, you might think this is superfluous.  But it’s not. We’re human, and we evaluate one another based on appearance. Look great for two reasons.

First, you’ll feel great. Think about it. How differently does the day go when you look like a million (work-appropriate) bucks? Pretty good, right? Nothing makes a tough situation easier than feeling great in the clothes you are wearing.  It gives you confidence, helps you smile more easily, and fosters great poise. Now that you’re employed, invest in a wardrobe that makes you feel great wearing it.

The other reason for looking great, is that you’ll be evaluated favorably. Women should consider the use of appropriate, tactfully applied makeup.  A survey conducted a few years back suggests that 64 per cent of corporate directors believed women who wore make-up look more professional and 18 per cent of directors said that women who do not wear make-up “look like they can’t be bothered to make an effort”.

The point is, your appearance factors in to how people perceive you professionally.

Expert Note: Where to Find Fashion First Aid

Maybe the switch from jeans and hoodies is a little daunting. You’ve got the interview suit but are at a loss for anything more.

Make the investment in yourself and find a stylist or personal image consultant. Image consultants can help with colors, hair and makeup, clothing style. Many department stores offer shopping and styling assistance, often at no cost, as well,

Don’t think of it as spending money, think of it as investing in you!  You can find an image consultant in your area by visiting http://www.aici.org.


Know the code

Speaking of dressing, before you show up on Day One, make sure you know the dress code do’s and don’ts, so you feel great AND fit in. Ask the hiring manager or recruiter for any specifics the company has in place.

If business casual is all they tell you, see my earlier post on that for more specifics. When in doubt err on the side of being a bit overdressed.

A little effort and a bit of commitment will make those first days effortless for you. Being prepared and looking good let’s you put your energy into learning the work and building relationships with your new teamies. See, no sweat!

{#/pub/images/LeaMcLeod.jpg}Written by Lea McLeod, M.A., Founder & CEO, Degrees of Transition 

Lea works extensively with new grads who are tackling the job search for the first time.  She is a guest speaker, as well as facilitator of the “Find a Job Faster” Job Search Program and “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop & Webinar series, bringing over 20 years of director level experience, most recently with Hewlett-Packard, managing, leading and serving worldwide employees. She holds a degree in Marketing from St. Bonaventure University, and a Master of Arts in Organization Development from Seattle University.


Do you have a question for Lea?  Post it here in our College Student/Recent Grad Community, she will be happy to help: Ask An Expert 


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ManagingAmericans.com is a community of Business Professionals & Expert Consultants sharing knowledge, success tips and solutions to common job issues.  Our objective is to mentor and develop professionals to be better leaders, managers, team players and individual contributors. Ultimately, helping people succeed in their careers.

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