2/12/15

"Dress: Business Casual"



Costume, hair and makeup can tell you instantly, or at least give you a larger perception of who a character is. It's the first impression that you have of the character before they open their mouth, so it really does establish who they are.
Colleen Atwood
Most articles based on Gentlemanly behavior usually deal with how a gentleman treats ladies or in how a Gentleman treats himself. Today I want to talk about how a Gentleman has an “unfair” advantage in the professional world, starting by the interview process.

A friend asked me to help re-define himself as he wanted to change his professional environment. After years of jeans and work boots, he was ready to move into a slacks and oxfords position, and knowing how that is my “natural habitat” as well as having previously been a team recruiter, he asked for my help.

This article isn’t about how to work the interview process. Resume building I leave to the Technical HR people, as the first screening is actually done by computers looking for key words. This is more about how you present yourself and sell yourself. 

The next step was the obvious review of what we were working with when they looked at the man behind the resume. His social media presence and discretion… Ok, before I continue here I need you to understand the inter-connectivity of modern life. Any professional worth his title knows to Google the people they will meet. So if you think those embarrassing pictures won’t be seen and taken into account when they meet you, you are sadly mistaken. The same goes with any drunk posts, anger filled rants, or any straight white boy texting.

3 hours and about ½ a bottle of scotch later, part of it being him reminiscing his last few years and most of it being me me wondering what he was thinking when he uploaded those pictures or posted those comments, his digital presence was somewhat presentable. With that ready, he sent out his resume.

A couple of days later (thanks to a headhunter), he gets called in for an interview. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that an interview just meant he simply passed the minimum requirements and nothing more. So they send him the meeting invite, which he forwards to me. And that’s where something caught my eye, something that actually promoted this post.

Dress: Business Casual

My first reaction was to wonder what kind of person goes to an executive job interview without Business attire. And then I was suddenly reminded of every half assed professional who had no idea how to project their potential, who thought being “present” was good enough. And that’s when the shark in me smelled blood in the water, as my old aggressive business side crept out. Remember when I said I didn’t have the heart to tell him what passing the resume stage was? I did now. And more…

The reality is that people will size up a person and create an opinion about them somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes after meeting them. After that, people will gravitate to anything that justifies their preconception, to whatever proves them right. If the person thinks you’re successful, they will willingly look at what proves you’re successful. If a person thinks you’re inept, they will look to be proven right about. Your first impression sets up your subsequent beliefs about a person. So you have about a minute to create an impression and the rest of the time is to cement that impression into the interviewer.

Remember when I mentioned the importance of your social profile? You begin setting up that first impression even before they meet you. And it’s up to you to make that impression memorable after they meet you.

As for the rest of his interview training? Well I believe in discretion and trade secrets so…
Now we wait and see how he measured up against the other candidates.