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Five different people are shown in professional attire

Check out our Pinterest Board covering all-things professional attire!

Your professional image is an important part of the job or internship search, especially during the interview process. Choosing conservative attire rather than a fashion statement is always best. Wherever an employer is present (such as an employer information session or an industry career day), remember to dress in business professional attire.

A polished appearance creates a positive first impression and allows the employer to focus on your qualifications without distraction. Research on interviewing suggests that approximately 80 percent of hiring decisions are determined within the first few moments of meeting a candidate.

You should invest in modest attire with industry-appropriate colors and designs that convey confidence and professionalism. Plan ahead! Don’t wait until the night before your 8:00 a.m. interview to verify that the clothing you plan to wear fits and is appropriate!

And for those jobs/industries that are less formal, wearing business professional attire to the interview demonstrates that you are a professional who takes this process seriously. If you believe a business suit may not be the right choice, call the receptionist or administrative assistant at the prospective employer’s office for tips on what constitutes appropriate employee attire.

If you are ever in doubt about what is appropriate, we encourage you to ask a professional in the field or a member of our staff.

General Tips for Creating a Great Impression

  • A suit, in black, navy or gray, is always the best (and safest) choice.
  • Clothing should fit well and be clean and pressed. Shoes should be polished and in good condition with any scuff marks removed.
  • Deodorant is a must, but it’s best to avoid cologne, perfume, or body sprays.
  • Keep interview accessories professional. Take a briefcase or a nice leather- or vinyl-bound portfolio to carry your resume, references, or other pertinent documents. Leave tattered manila folders or college logo folders at home.
  • Turn off your cell phone and place it, along with your watch, in your jacket pocket or handbag once you make it to the front door so that you’re not tempted to look at them before or during the interview.
  • Do NOT bring backpacks, gum, iPods, coffee, or soda into your interview. Avoid putting keys or coins in your pocket. This ensures they will not rattle when you walk or cause your pocket to bulge.

Neutral Options to Consider:

  • Khaki, corduroy, twill or cotton pants or skirts, neatly pressed
  • Sweaters & cardigans
  • Nice jeans (if permitted), no holes or fray
  • Cotton long-sleeved button-down shirts, pressed
  • Polo shirts or knit shirts with a collar
  • Tailored blouses in cotton, silk, or blends
  • Suit jackets, solid or patterned
  • Tie optional
  • Closed-toe loafers, boots, flats, pumps

Tips for Creating Professional Profile Photos:

A professional headshot photo is an essential part of your LinkedIn profile and can be used on your website or any blog postings you publish. A good-quality photo can be taken by a friend or classmate with the camera found on most cell phones. For best result, follow these tips:

  1. Select a location with ample lighting. Standing outside on a sunny day with a building on campus as a backdrop might be a suitable option.
  2. Avoid busy backgrounds. Neutral, light-colored background are preferred.
  3. Dress appropriate to the position or industry you are pursuing, and style your hair, attire, and makeup as you would meet an employer.
  4. Have your friend take several up-close photos, framing you at eye-level in each shot. Don’t forget to smile.
  5. Review the photos taken and select the best of the bunch to upload to LinkedIn or other social media profiles.

Profile photos should be of you only. Avoid pictures of you and your bestie, group shots, or pictures that include pets. Not sure if your profile or photo is hitting the mark? Ask for a profile critique during drop-in hours and our career coaches can give you feedback.