11/26/2012 06:05 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2013

The Hiring Guru: Dress for Success and Get Hired!

Well, the holidays are officially here. While many have a lot to be thankful for this time of year, many who are still looking for employment find it a more stressful time than any as they try to figure out how they are going to partake in all of the holiday festivities with no income coming in. That's one of the main reasons I have been blogging "The Ten Truths of Hiring." I want each and every one of you to find that job, that career, you've been looking for.

Before I move on to Truth Five, let's reflect on Truths One through Four:

  • Truth One: Your Decision Comes First. You've got to first decide that you are the only person for the job (or at least the best), you want it and you're going to get it.
  • Truth Two: A Good Resume Gets You in the Door. A professional resume with a good, personal cover letter is a must have -- in hard copy or electronic versions.
  • Truth Three: Like a Boy Scout, Be Prepared. While I'm not campaigning that employers will be nosy and search through every candidate's online presence, if you are currently job-hunting you have to know that it is a very strong possibility that employers will check you out online.
  • Truth Four: Prep Your References, Duh! Possibly the worst thing to happen before you attend an interview, or even worse after you've interviewed and the company is interested, is having unprepared references. Let references know they are on your list and may receive a telephone call. Tell them the type of job you are soliciting and any details you'd like stressed from their viewpoint.

Now as we move on I want to remind you that each of these truths are important, and I cover these specifics areas because I know they can get overlooked.

Truth Five is "Dress For Success." Presentation is always of the utmost importance. Numerous research studies state that a prospective candidate has about 60 to 90 seconds to make an impression or to be deselected. A sharp appearance, warm smile and firm handshake are more likely than any other factors in the interviewing process to gain points with the company interviewer. The handshake can't be wimpy and project a lack of self-confidence, or be sweaty and nervous. It has to be firm and accompanied by a genuine smile. You are projecting an image of confidence and competence with your appearance and mannerisms.

It never ceases to amaze me when a candidate comes to an interview at a professional corporation wearing jeans, a loose-hanging shirt and sneakers. You wouldn't wear a suit to a mechanics interview, but the basic instruction mandates wearing a better outfit than your expected work clothes. This kind of dress grants respect for the professionals who are considering hiring you, and it gives them the opportunity to tell you "There's no need to dress in a suit daily" or words to that effect, rather than not hiring you because you dressed inappropriately for the interview.

If it's an office, wear a suit -- men and women. Women should not wear revealing dresses, short skirts or tight jeans. These kinds of dress demean you from the outset and can cause a pre-determination of your character that might not portray you accurately. If a male executive conducts the interview, he may have a momentary interest in the "eye-candy," but as a professional he'll pass on you for the position. If the interviewer is female, she'll likely be uncomfortable with the interview and refuse to consider a woman who appears to be "sexing it up."

This idea equally applies to men who think they're "God's gift to women." Leave the nightclub act at the door. Don't dress in a tight t-shirt or spike your hair like the latest movie star. Don't wear too much cologne, and do not flirt with the interviewer.

Poor personal hygiene is a deal-breaker; so arrive neat and clean, with your hair combed, nails trimmed, wearing deodorant, having fresh breath and not smelling like cigarette smoke. I'd advise not wearing heavy cologne, aftershave or perfumed hair products either.

Part of your image includes appropriate timing. If you're late for an interview, you're not likely to be called for a second consultation. If an unfortunate incident does delay you, call to reschedule; it may save the hiring opportunity. Leave for your destination early to provide plenty of time to overcome any unexpected adversity. If you've not been in this area before, try a test-run to see how long it takes to drive to the building, park in the lot and arrive on time.

In addition, do not arrive too early. Ten minutes ahead of the scheduled appointment is perfect. More than 10 minutes shows a disregard for the interviewer's busy schedule.

There you have Truth Five. Dress For Success is about your own personal confidence. I hope you feel confident and prepared for every interview you approach.