Post Academic

Transfer Your Skills: What to Wear in the Office World

Posted in Process Stories,Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on March 20, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionTo follow up on what to wear to grad school: Academia seems like a safe haven for those who don’t want to wear suits all day. But, if you leave grad school or the academy, don’t assume that your fashion choices are limited to ties for guys and pantyhose for women. These tips can help you figure out what to wear as you take tentative steps into the hamster world:

Consider the type of job you want. If you are shifting into finance or anything near the law profession, you will probably need to invest in some good suits. But, thanks to the rise of the dot-com world, office wear has become more casual. I’ve seen Hawaiian shirts. I’ve seen dudes wear the same shirt two days in a row (yes, I noticed). I’ve seen Birkenstocks. That said, the West Coast is more formal than the East Coast or the South.

Scope out the job first. Penelope Trunk, a sharp career blogger, once advised that people should stake out where they will interview. You don’t need to make like a private detective, but take a walk past the place. Aim to visit either in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening so you can see people coming and going.

Always dress your best for an interview. Even if it is the most laid-back job for a Web site called, wear a suit or at least your nicest outfit. You can always dress down later, but it is harder to convince an employer that you are willing to dress better later on.

Focus on the footwear. People don’t think about the footwear as much before an interview. Make sure your shoes are broken in ahead of time. Walking around trying to find the office might leave a blister on your foot, and you don’t want any distractions whatsoever when you’re being grilled about your resume. For the women, invest time and money into finding a pair of comfortable shoes. There’s not a huge difference between heels or flats, but closed-toe shoes tend to get the nod at interview time. Just go with low heels so you don’t trip over yourself.

Don’t forget: There’s always freelancing or blogging. It pays, and sometimes you don’t even need to get out of your jammies.

Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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