Experts say dress the part if you want the job

The importance of presenting yourself properly in a job interview can't be overstated. Yes, it's about clothes, but think of yourself as a complete package - someone who not only looks professional, but conducts themselves in a professional way. Someone, who, in short, exudes competence and confidence.

First the basics: Experts say dress for a job one level above the one you're interviewing for. Better to be too dressed up than too casual. So that means a women should wear hose, even if you normally don't. Keep jewelry, makeup, fingernails, perfume, and cologne conservative. (Men: take out your earrings.)

Kenny Colbert, president of the Employers Association, a human resources consulting firm, suggests some up-front research. He told McClatchy Newspapers that job-seekers should call the human resources department, ask current employees, or schedule a visit to the office before the interview to check out what others are wearing.

"I dare say, if you haven't prepared for the dress code," he says, "you have not prepared for other things."

A huge no-no is smelling like smoke. Don't light up on your way to the interview. In fact, take a nonsmoker's car if you can. "For anyone who doesn't smoke, you can smell that smoke a mile away," says Meg Montford, a Kansas City executive career coach.

"When you go to an interview, your appearance makes the first impression. But I'd say that's only good for 10 seconds until you open your mouth," Montford told the Kansas City Star. "Then, it's all about attitude. Appearance gets you through the door, but the attitude determines how long you sit in the chair."

Melanie Bowman, student employment services coordinator for Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley, reminds students that attitude means everything: body language, the way you walk, whether you sit up straight, the tone of your voice. The key is to show interest. The company, not your fears, should be at the top of your mind.

And last but not least, be nice to the receptionist, she told the Star. "I tell students, 'Who do you think that the interviewer is going to have lunch with today?' That can kill the whole deal right there."

And if you do land that coveted job, don't slack off in the dress-for-success department. A new poll commissioned by CareerBuilder.com revealed that 41 percent of respondents said that people who dress more professionally are more likely to be promoted than others in the organization.

"If there's anything to take away from this it's just recognizing that the way you dress at work can affect how others perceive you," said Allison Nawoj, a career adviser for CareerBuilder.com.

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