What to Wear For You Job Interview and How to Not Sell Yourself Short [Dear DBN]

It matters who you spend your day with and the impressions you make on them… and who do you spend more time with than your coworkers.  This week, why to go for the job and how to make sure you look bangin’ when you do.

“How do you know when you’re ready for a job with lots of responsibility? I’ve been in school for a long time and am thinking of applying to a job outside my field that has a lot of responsibilities (but it sounds really exciting). I’m afraid because I don’t know if I’ll be good at it or if it’ll make me happy.”

Apply for the job. Apply for all kinds of jobs. Ask for informational interviews. Contact people on LinkedIn just to ask if they’d be willing to chat for an hour. Jobs are some gross percentage of the time that you’re awake, so it’s in your best interest to find something engaging, safe, rewarding, etc. If there’s a position out there that you would go so far as describing as “exciting,” apply! An exciting job with lots of responsibilities has the potential to be very fulfilling. But there’s a thing about jobs that seemingly everyone forgets – they’re work. And day in and day out you’re going to be confronted with angry people, situations you’ve never faced before, questions you don’t know the answer to, so on and so forth. This is going to happen at every job. Literally every job. I spend a good part of my day laughing. We have free food, a gym, showers, a piano, parties, booze, no dress code… but there are nights when I work ‘til 6 am and then sleep for two hours in a conference room before waking up to work ‘til 11 pm the next day. If I go an hour without answering email, my phone will start ringing and the witch-hunt will begin. And sometimes, I genuinely have no idea what I’m doing. But I figure it out, I get it done, and I usually wake up looking forward to seeing some people at work.

Applying for jobs is a like dating. A man that is 6’3”, grew up in Connecticut, and owns a yacht sure sounds plush, but is he sweet? Does he like riding bikes? Does he call his parents regularly? When you look at a job position, you’re just seeing an outline. You can’t feel what it’s like to work with those people side-by-side at 3 am until you do it. That’s what interviews are for. And just like relationships, you’re going to have some shitty days no matter how happy it is. So apply with fearlessness because you’re not going to be good at anything without a little practice anyway, and you’ll never know what makes you happy until you try it.

“I need a new, professional wardrobe that is cute and makes me feel like I will be respected. I am seriously on a budget. Where do I shop?!”

I’m gonna need you to stay in one Friday night and carbo load on spaghetti to get ready for the kind of marathon day that is required to build a flexible and comprehensive work wardrobe. I love being able to execute the looks I find beautiful, but I don’t have a Ralph Lauren budget. I don’t even have a Gap budget. And sorry, but one $90 sweater is not worth sacrificing the amount of sauce I usually require on any piece of food. Too frequently ketchup, coffee, and ink make appearances on my clothes because I can’t seem to live within the constraints of a functioning adult, so I operate on low-cost clothes. But if you want to buy cheap and look respectable, there’s more to it than finding deals. Here are some tips that I have found helpful when trying to create a wardrobe that’s business casual and opportunity ready:

1. Have a colour palette.  I’m not saying whip out your Sherwin-Williams tabs, but know the angle you want. I love to wear big-bam-bright colors, and those colors pair well. Are you a earthen tones kind of chick? Maybe you love the animal print look. Either way, try to keep it in the same family. It will make your pieces go further.

2. Accessories make a brand new outfit…and accessories are way cheaper than clothes. Picture a simple navy shift dress. Pair it with tan pumps, a bright green/gold bauble necklace, a cream cardigan, gold bangles, and a red lip.  Now picture the same navy shift dress with cream knit tights, brown riding boots, an army green cargo jacket and a forest green blue gold brown pashmina with a warm rose lip. Or even with a leopard print cardy and red heels. The possibilities!  Charming Charlie’s is a great place to build out your repertoire of accessories.  Look at this necklace in dark grey. Gorgeous and classy for $15?  I’ll take it!

3. One of my favorite secrets of fashion in New York City was right at Astor Place – nationally known, completely affordable, and not one of my friends shopped there: K-Mart. Places like K-Mart, Sears, and Wal-Mart are treasure troves of unexpected pieces.  Check out this dress:

It’s $17! For work, you can wear it as is, with a blazer, with a cardigan, with a chunky sweater over it, with a turtleneck under it for a little Love Actually vibe. That’s five ways to wear one dress, and that’s not including all the switch ups with shoes and accessories. This is where having a general colour palette you stick to will come in handy.

4. For respect, make sure your clothes fit properly… because you’ll get respect by being confident, and you can only be confident when you’re not constantly pulling at your hemline. Show pride in the way you dress yourself. It’s the first thing people see and it should convey the attributes that are important at your company and within your role. I’m a project manager for an ad firm, so it pays for me to look carefully curated with pep in my step and a splash of creativity… because that’s exactly how I do my job.

CollegeCandy is excited to announce that we’ve partnered up with one of our favorite Tumblrs, DateByNumbers, to bring you some of her very best dating advice. Each week she’ll tackle your questions. Life, love, sex, the real world…nothing will be off limits. To submit a question of your own, visit her “Ask” page and keep an eye on CollegeCandy every Thursday afternoon!

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