… the best you By Tashia Rahl

It goes without saying now that an economic upturn isn’t exactly happening overnight. Unemployment is at 9.5% and news channels predict little hope of falling significantly. Plenty of people are out there interviewing for the same job you are… you have all the criteria for the job: the degree, the experience, the notable letters of recommendation – you enter the interview and within 10 seconds, regardless of what your resume says, regardless of how talented you are, regardless of who your dad knows – the person conducting the interview will make an impression of who you are and what you’re all about. ten seconds.

The person conducting the interview has eyes that have nerves that travel immediately to the brain and give it a thumbs up, or a thumbs down without you even saying good afternoon! It’s all about what you look like and how you carry yourself. Call it unfair – call it illegal…it’s often the way it is. The interviewer first and foremost is declaring to herself whether or not you can carry the “look” of the company for which you are interviewing. Obviously, the criteria for the job is experience and certain education, but this article is about the step that must happen: the physical meeting of two people in order to place a person in a job or internship.

On a side note, know this: each and every morning that you get yourself ready, walk out the door and carry yourself around south florida, you are representing more than just you. You represent your family, your family name! Your place of worship. Your sport. Your school. your industry. Your hobbies. Your neighborhood.  (Think refrigerator repair man ?)

Think about an outsider from Toledo driving around with their realtor – they get picked up from the airport, and enter the city of boca raton, the first person they see is you. You (at that moment) represent boca raton!! Obviously, it may not be legitimate, but it’s what they see…especially, if you look out of the ordinary. Or, if a new student transfers to a university, and the first person they see in the admission office is Joe – Joe [at that moment] represents that university – (Joe might have just stopped for directions!) but the point is, he may have had a pink Mohawk, he may wear his pants below your underwear, or, he may be in a gorgeous designer suit – it simply resonates on the Toledo-person’s first impression of who attends the university. I remember going to my very first Gymboree class with my daughter 14 years ago: all the moms were in tip top shape (looking more like tri-athletes rather than “new moms”) and I instantly thought how cool it was to be in the group of “new moms” – that little group of 12 women represented “new moms” to me…of course that may not be true everywhere. But, it doesn’t matter what’s true – it’s people’s perception of what’s true. At that moment, it was true to me!

Back to the interview. You need to know that if you want to get hired, one of the most important issues is looking like you already work there. Think about it, you’re the interviewer. Do you want to select an amazing image that looks even better than the company’s existing image, or someone who downgrades the company’s image? It’s not brain surgery. This generation has spoke with me frequently on the subject of unique identity…tattoos, piercings, low cut blouses to represent open sexuality, etc.. make a mental note of this: until you have your own company, you should not focus too much attention to your individual style – it’s about the style of the company of which you will work for ~

Bottom line: [obviously, below pertains to professional occupations]

Hair – freshly washed. Styled somewhat forward and towards the conservative side to fit your face. The look is clean.Bbody – Freshly scrubbed. Deodorant. I professionally advise against any scents other than soap. If the interviewer doesn’t like it, or has allergies – you’re doomed. Besides, this isn’t a date.

Make up – minimal. Clean clean clean. No sparkle no glitter no outlandish color. Face should glow. Lips should be moisturized [boys! Dry lips are not pretty to look at] girls, no heavy color on lips – it’s distracting and can get on your teeth [ew] present clean and neat fingernails – avoid crazy colors, lengths, or sparkles. Gentleman – same: clean & neat nails.

Jewels. – minimal. No clinking …minimal sparkle. Boys. Stick with a watch. Girls – avoid dangling anything – think neat and clean. Rings should only be on one or maximum two fingers – [ring fingers only!!] wearing a watch conveys you are aware of time…?

Clothing. –Do yourself a favor: invest in one dark suit [preferably solid] in a neutral color. They come in all price points – go to the mall [begin with department stores] and invest some time in trying on a few suits from a handful of different stores….you need to force yourself to do this to find the one that’s right for you! Concentrate on something fairly conservative and NOT TOO TIGHT and certainly not too loose! Take it to a tailor with the shoes you will wear.

Ladies – Under the suit can be a simple knit tank or short sleeve knit – referred to as an underpinning – it should be a piece that you should be able to wear solo without the jacket – no spaghetti straps! Don’t even think of showing cleavage no matter how well endowed you are – it’s construed as suggestive.The color should be bright but not neon. It should flatter your skin tone and hair. Blouses are great – but unfortunately, they’re sometimes hot, bulky and not easy to keep tucked in. personally, I wouldn’t want you to have the aggravation, but if you have the time to invest to find the perfect blouse – knock yourself out. Do not choose a sheer fabric. And stay clear of distracting patterns.

Boys – a white long button front shirt that isn’t too baggy and isn’t too tight. The hem on the sleeve should hit the bone that protrudes at the base of your thumb – too long suggests that your arms are too short or you were too lazy to get them tailored properly. Too short just doesn’t look handsome. French cuffs are a little over kill for a young man interviewing for his first job – but if the firm you’re approaching is high end – go for it. Your tie represents your professional confidence. Begin with a conservative pattern in a color that flatters your face and hair. I would strongly recommend silk and not knit. Know the double Windsor.

Hose – men. Match color of sock to trouser. Women. Nude Hosiery is optional – but it makes a really great impression. It screams how much you actually care. If you get a run in your hose, discard immediately.

Shoes. Gentlemen – choose a basic lace up or monkstrap – my preference is brown instead of black b/c it’s more versatile – get a belt to match [that is for suits not for jeans!] ladies. avoid open back shoe[goes under pant hems, and too casual with skirts]. Also avoid overly open front – minimally expose toes. Pumps are usually best. Also, take it easy on the heels – definitely wear high if possible, but make damn certain you can walk effortlessly [stripper stilettos are inappropriate].

Briefcase – minimal. Sleek. Clean. Houses your resume, copies of letters of recommendation, a book you may need while in waiting room. Cell phone [which of course is off-even a vibration should be avoided] and tissues – you never know!

Ladies. The purse you carry shouldn’t dominate your outfit. Nor should it appear to be more like a tote, or evening bag. It shouldn’t have excessive hardware, logos or details./ think clean and neat. – remember it represents you. The professional side of you!

Lastly. the single most important aspect of wearing clothes: posture! Walk and sit with confidence. No leaning back – sit up straight.

Important advice. On a blank sheet of paper, in black magic marker, write out this short list. Three words – grace. Class. Integrity. Study their definitions and start your engines. Your life is about to begin – get yourself on the right track. Store this short list in the inner pocket of your briefcase. observe the list just before you enter any interview. You rock.

Tashia Rahl is our new Style Editor ~ You can contact Tashia via email – tashia (at) theHLNcompany.com or call her voicemail 561.573.9003 ..for more insight on “the process” of being well dressed, check out the company web-site – [turn up the volume!]