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SFU Co-op Student

SFU students smiling at a networking event
Dress appropriately and in clothes that fit well, it will make you more comfortable and confident, and at the same time, it will be a compliment to the person you work for or are about to meet!

Most of us understand our first impressions matter, even if it were only an informal networking event. While we can wear almost anything and everything at home or around our closest friends, it is clearly not sensible and appropriate to do so for that job interview you really wanted to nail or that dream job you wanted to have ever since you were four years old. So how do you dress to impress your prospective or current employers, in a good way, of course?

Even if you know the companies you wish to or will be working for dress casually on the job, it is better to be safe than sorry to dress up for your interview or on your first day to work, unless your interviewer or employer has specifically asked you not to. Because I have never gone to a job interview (except ones for volunteering) or worked in a professional environment before, I decided to do a little research on the net, and here are a few important things about professional attire I found to be useful…

A two-piece matched suit would be the best and safest way to go for both women and men. The suit should also be in solid colours, such as black, gray, or navy. It would also be better to avoid any weave or stripe patterns, though subtle ones may be acceptable. For women, under the suit jacket, a blouse or a good quality knit shell with a colour that coordinates well with the suit’s colour is most appropriate. For men, a long-sleeved shirt, in white or light blue (for example), and a tie that complements the colour of the suit would be necessary.

an SFU student walking on campus dressed in a suit

As for shoes, sticking to the conservative and classic styles would be the way to go. For women, it would mean black or brown (whichever “suits” your suit best) closed-toe heels in height that would be comfortable for walking and would convey a professional appearance. Similarly, for men, it should be leather, ‘lace-up’ or ‘slip-in’ business shoes, with dark colour socks.

two women walking across the street wearing black work shoes

Keep jewelry and accessories to the minimal, if you wear a watch, keep it simple and conservative. Nails should be cleaned and well-groomed, and extreme nail polish colours should be avoided. Women should also keep their makeup conservative and just enough to get a polished look. Men should also be well-groomed if facial hair is worn. Your hair should also be kept clean and neat, and lastly, use cologne and perfume sparingly or not at all because you really do not want nauseating or strong odours on you! If you do not have a reason to bring a briefcase or portfolio to an interview or networking event, then don’t, and if it is an on-campus one, leave your school bag in your locker or in the office’s waiting room.

Note that your professional attire only plays a supportive role in your job interview, at your workplace or a networking event; your skills and attitudes are the most important elements! However, that does not mean that you should not take your professional attire seriously! Dress appropriately and in clothes that fit well, it will make you more comfortable and confident, and at the same time, it will be a compliment to the person you work for or are about to meet! Remember, all it takes is a little thinking and planning, and you CAN dress to impress and you CAN dress for success!

SFU Co-op Student
Grace is a 4th year Communications major who enjoys volunteering, writing and mentoring people. She has worked at BCNET and SFU Volunteer Services prior to her fourth and fifth co-op placement with HSBC. She is currently interning at SAP and working part-time at SFU OLC as the Volunteer Recruiting & Project Coordinator. In her spare time, she loves watching drama and movies.

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