Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Preview: What to Wear [and Bring] to a Job Interview

Hello Readers!

As many of you know, I am back on the job market! So far, this journey of applying for jobs has been a journey of self discovery. Filling out applications, writing essays, completing aptitude tests, and spending a lot of time on LinkedIn. In many ways, searching for a job is a lot like online dating- creating a profile, answering and asking questions, and looking for the right match for your passions, interests, personality, etc., etc.

Last week, something exciting happened to me. On Thursday, I had an interview! I was so excited- so excited that I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I read and re-read the job description (I even wrote it out by hand to commit it to memory), highlighted the skills I possessed that the job seemed to demand, imagined answers to questions the interviewer might ask me, researched the organization, and even came up with a few questions of my own. I was almost ready. Almost.

What I couldn't seem to prepare was my interview outfit. As I stood in front of my wardrobe, a sea of advice filled my head :

-"don't wear anything too quirky"
-"wear something professional, but not boring"
-"don't wear any colors that will wash out your complexion"
-"don't wear anything too tight"
-"don't forget to wear hose with a skirt!"

As well as a few questions:

-"am I a winter or a spring?"
-"if I wear pink will I seem to girly?"
-"which necklace will make me look creative, hard-working, and smart?"

Selecting items of clothing for an outfit may seem like an insignificant task to complete before an interview- but it really is an important part of the preparation process. What you wear to an interview communicates a lot about who you are, or at least the self you choose to present.

First impressions matter, especially in an interview situation. A lot is on the line, for you as well as the organization interviewing you. The interview is their time to decide whether or not you- as a whole package of personality and skill- are the right fit for the job and for that particular workplace culture.

In the next few blog posts, I am going to share important information about what to wear, and even what to bring, to a job interview. The tools you need to narrate your story as a capable and confident job candidate.

Join me on this journey!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Wedding Wardrobe Malfunction: Always Bring an Extra Dress!

Me in the dress, before it became a disaster
The dress was perfect. It survived the hour-long drive into St. Louis without falling off the hanger or getting wrinkled. My toenails were freshly painted to match the midnight purple of the dress. Unzipping the dress, before stepping into it, the zipper seemed to snag on (what I now understand as) a faulty tooth, but I persisted with a tug and stepped into the dress.

The soft silk and rich hues made me feel like I was preparing to step onto the red carpet- even though the dress was purchased final sale at a cool 75 dollars. My hair was set, my makeup was even red-carpet ready- and then something terrible happened.

As I pulled the zipper up, it became stuck on the same place as before. "I'll just tug it a bit harder," I thought as I performed the task, anticipating the zipper to properly catch on the teeth... but alas- it did not. Instead of properly catching track, the entire zipper and track became even more untracked. I was stuck. And then the zipper split. And I was still stuck. With less than 45 minutes to go until I had to be at the church.

I began to sweat and fret- undoubtedly a combination that exhausted the confidence, bounce, and height of my hair. No more bouncy curls- just beachy waves. Would I have to sew myself into the dress? I didn't bring and needles or thread- could I find a tailor to fix my dilemma within my dwindling timeline?

Panicked- I called Banana Republic, and described the situation I found myself in. The agreed to pull their most formal dresses in sizes 4 and 6 off of their sales floor for me to try on between the ceremony and the reception. Even though the dress was final sale, the agreed to take back the dress.

Miraculously,  I was able to yoga-move my way out of the dress (and I found out that my shoulder is perhaps double-jointed?) and change into a dress I brought for a graduation on Sunday. A much shorter dress, that I had worn many times- but a dress without a gaping hole on its side. Much better.

With friends from grad school in the replacement dress from White House | Black Market
The ceremony was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The bride was one of my best friends from graduate school, the groom was a close friend from Bible study (I was the first to introduce them, during a visit to the church- our friend Jenny was the first to ignite the spark between the bride and groom), and the pastor was my pastor. It was a ceremony full of meaning- for everyone there! My stress I felt during dress malfunction seemed quite silly when I sat down in my seat and remembered the reason I was in the church that day.

Between the ceremony's end and the reception's beginning, I stopped at the mall (which was in between the ceremony and reception sites) to find a replacement dress. The search was unfruitful- there was nothing I could find that I liked as much as the original, or even as much as my replacement dress. But I'm glad that I brought an extra dress with me. So glad. Moral of the story: bring an extra so you won't have to sweat the small stuff (literally and figuratively).

So, I continued on my trek to the reception in my improvised outfit and enjoyed a wonderful night with my friends. We hit the dance floor, ate cake, and had a blast.

And, most importantly- the bride and the groom had a great time celebrating the start of their journey together as husband and wife.

With the beautiful bride and more friends from grad school. Thankfully, the bride's dress was flawless!