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Dress for Success

Posted By APSO, Wednesday, 12 February 2014
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Finding a "job" is a job [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted By APSO, Monday, 03 February 2014
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Finding a job is a job. 10 steps to success

Posted By Natalie Singer, Thursday, 06 June 2013


You’ve completed your schooling but aren’t able to enter tertiary education, either due to lack of suitable qualification or financial challenges. What do you do now?


For many South Africans who leave high school, the only option open to them is to go out and find a job. But, considering the very high unemployment statistics and the current recession, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Like most things in life, finding a job needs to be something that you take seriously, that you prepare for and work on diligently until you succeed.


Life doesn’t always work out perfectly but preparing yourself for the process of finding a job will definitely improve your chances of succeeding. Follow these 10 steps to success.


Step 1: Have the right attitude

Your attitude will play a big part in your quest to find a job. Remember that you need to stay focused and be positive. It’s said that positivity is the first step to success. You need to believe in yourself and ensure that you come across as motivated, positive and realistic when dealing with potential employers. We all have dreams and whilst we might all want to become the next Tokyo Sexwale, we need to remember that we have to start at the bottom and work our way up. We need to be realistic about our current abilities, skills and experience.


Don’t turn down a job because you don’t think it meets your ambitions. Some of the most successful people in the world started their careers in entry-level jobs. Richard Branson worked in a record store because he never finished his schooling but he never believed them when they said that "he’d never amount to anything”.


Don’t discount the value of volunteer work. Whilst you might not be earning any money, you will be earning experience and this will definitely assist you in securing a paying job later. I studied to be a journalist and because I didn’t go to a technikon, I was at a disadvantage when it came to working experience. I decided to approach Independent Newspapers for a job. They told me that they weren’t hiring but when I explained that I just wanted to work there and didn’t expect to be paid, they took me on straight away – which business wouldn’t want an extra pair of hands, especially if it doesn’t cost them anything? Within a few months I was able to apply for a position as a sub-editor at a magazine and I only got this paying job because of my experience at the newspaper.


Step 2: Prepare your CV


Your CV is your marketing tool and is often the only thing a potential employer will see before considering you for a job. It is very important that your CV is an accurate reflection of your qualification and experience and that it is free from errors. Your CV should include all important information about you including Personal Details, Qualification, Experience and a Reference. If you don’t have a work reference available, ask your Headmaster, Pastor or someone else of importance within your community. Remember that they need to be able to give a character reference and so need to know you well.


Your CV should always be typed. You may need to ask someone for assistance – visit your local Internet café or even your library where you will be able to make use of a computer. Things to consider when creating your CV:

  • Make sure that you’ve done a spell check and that there are no spelling mistakes
  • Make sure that the CV is neatly laid out and that all information is included in the correct place
  • Make sure that your contact numbers are very clear on the CV so that a potential employer can quickly get hold of you if they’re interested in calling you in for an interview
  • Try and keep the CV as short and sweet as possible – 2 pages maximum
  • Make sure that your CV is up-to-date. Correct info including contact details and add any work experience as you get it.
  • Because many companies require you to email your CV to them, as opposed to faxing it, you should set up an email address. There are many free email addresses to choose from – hotmail, Gmail and others.

Step 3: Get your CV in as many places as possible


Looking for a job is hard work and will require that you spend time researching vacancies and opportunities. I suggest that you get your CV on the many job portals that exist because this means that your CV will be accessible to many hundreds of recruitment companies and potential employers. These websites are free and you can simply upload your CV onto the sites – most of them have simple templates where you capture your information. Visit your local Internet café, Department of Labour Centre or library with Internet access. Go to any of the following job sites:

You should also keep an eye out for the job sections of your local newspaper where jobs will be advertised by recruitment agencies or potential employers. Remember that whilst you are trying to get your CV in as many places as possible, you should only apply for jobs for which you are suitably qualified or experienced.


Visit your local Department of Labour Centre where you can register as a work seeker. They will be able to keep you informed of any job opportunities, temporary or permanent, in your area. Some of the Labour Centre’s also offer job counseling and career guidance so make sure you register for these workshops if they’re available in your area.


Step 4: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have (or don’t have)


It is very important that you behave appropriately throughout your job search process. This means that you need to ensure that not only during interviews, but all the time, you act the way you would if you were around your potential boss. This doesn’t just mean the clothes that you wear but also how you engage with people on the phone.


Remember that when you’re looking for a job you should ensure that you always answer your phone professionally and not how you’d speak to your friends or family. Also make sure that you have voicemail facilities set up on your phone and that the message is professional. The message should clearly identify your name and surname so that a potential employer can be sure they’re dealing with you and can leave a message for you to contact them back. Remove any ringtones, voicemails or other cell functions that could be offensive or put off a potential employer from contacting you again.


First impressions last so be sure to give a good one at all times! If you are invited to attend an interview, make sure that you’re dressed appropriately. You must ensure that your clothes are suitable for the job you’re applying for. Rather opt for conservative clothing – trousers and a collared shirt for men and trousers/skirt and a nice blouse for women. Don’t wear anything that could be seen to be too revealing or in poor condition. You and your clothes should be clean and neat. Make sure that you fix any hems, buttons or other problems if there are any.


Shower, wash your hair, brush your teeth and put on deodorant before going to the interview. You need to look your best to impress. Looking good also helps you to feel more confident and this is always a plus when you go into an interview.


Step 5: Manage your time and always be punctual


Potential employers will be looking at everything about you during the recruitment process. They will specifically look to see if you’re reliable and able to manage your time efficiently. This means that you must ensure that you arrive for the interview on time. If you’re not sure where you’re going or how to get there rather be very early than late. If you arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment time, rather go and get a cold drink, take a walk or wait somewhere else. Being too early can be just as bad as being late.


If the potential employer asks you to send them extra information or call them after the interview, be sure to do this before the agreed time. The potential employer will be checking to see if you’re trustworthy and able to follow instructions and meet deadlines.
Step 6: Preparing for the interview


You should always prepare for a job interview. It’s normal to feel nervous about the interview but you need to try and manage your nerves. You can feel more confident, and therefore less nervous, if you are prepared and know what to expect during the interview. Ask the potential employer or recruiter what format the interview will take, whether there will be any skills assessments and who you will be meeting.


If possible, try and find out more about the potential employer before the interview by looking out for articles about them in the newspaper, visiting their website or asking friends or family if they know about them.


Remember that you will be asked questions about your qualifications and experience. Always be truthful – you will be caught out if you lie and this will seriously jeopardise your chances of finding employment. Understand how you’d answer questions like:

  • What kind of job would you like to be doing?
  • Do you have any plans in terms of where you’d like your career to be in 3 or 5 years time?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?

Think about how you could use examples from your school life, sporting achievements and other aspects of your life to show that you’d make a good employee. Have you held leadership roles at school, in Church or on the sports field? Do you display discipline through your sports practice regimes?


Step 7: Interview "rules of engagement”


There is a definite set of rules that apply during a job interview. You should always behave professionally and with respect. Refer to people you engage with during the interview as "Mr” or "Mrs” so-and-so. Remember to be polite and always use "please” and "thank you”.


Don’t be afraid to ask an interviewer to repeat the question if you’re unsure what they’re asking. Never be afraid to admit that you don’t know the answer – tell them that you’re not sure but attempt to provide an answer as you understand the question. You should show interest in the job you’re applying for and ask questions of the interviewer. These questions could involve asking about career development opportunities, training opportunities etc but should never be about money, holiday and sick leave or other aspects that seem to show that you’re only interested in the job for "what’s in it for me”.


Step 8: Watch your body language


80% of communication is non-verbal and this means that the way that you’re dressed, your facial expressions and your body language all provide feedback to your interviewer. Be sure to consciously manage these non-verbal forms of communication during your interview. Whilst there are differences culturally when it comes to body language, you need to pay careful attention to the following during an interview:

  • Sit up straight in the chair – no slouching
  • Don’t fidget. If you’re nervous, fold your hands in your lap rather
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer – if you don’t look at them they’ll either think you’re too shy or trying to hide something
  • Shake hands firmly with the interviewer
  • Don’t cross your arms – this comes across as being a defensive gesture
  • Talk slowing and clearly


Step 9: Remember to smile


Smiling releases endorphins, the body’s natural antidote to stress, and these help to fight the nerves brought on by stress. Stand up straight, think positive thoughts and smile – you will feel and look much more confident! Remember to smile when you talk on the phone too, the person on the other side will be able to "hear” that you’re smiling and will immediately feel more positively about you.


Step 10: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again

It’s highly unlikely that you will get the first job you apply for. Remember that every time you attend an interview you are gaining experience that will hopefully assist you in better managing your nerves and improving your chances of getting the next job.
It’s easy to become despondent during the job search process but remember that potential employers are more likely to consider a candidate who is positive, upbeat and confident. Rather than get yourself down on what you’d consider "failed interviews” focus on the positive lessons you can learn from the experience.

Practice your interview skills and improve your presentation and you’ll be one step closer to getting your first job.

Tags:  attitude  body language  CV  dress code  honesty  interview  job portal  job search  practice  punctuality  recruiter  skills  volunteering 

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Jobseeking 101 Infographic

Posted By APSO, Thursday, 06 June 2013
Updated: Thursday, 06 June 2013
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Dress for the job you want, not the one you have

Posted By Natalie Singer, Thursday, 06 June 2013
Updated: Thursday, 06 June 2013

"Always be well-dressed…even when begging” Hindu Proverb

Professional dress can be a bridge or a barrier to clients, customers and interviewers. If they don’t like the messenger, they’re not going to get the message. Communicating professionalism through dress is important, particularly when being interviewed for a senior or skilled role. 

Who makes the rules about business dress code? 

Most people agree that what you wear to an interview matters, but how do you decide what is appropriate? Most of today’s job seekers, particularly Generation Y, believe that it shouldn’t matter what you wear, so long as you can deliver the goods, but considering they’re likely to be interviewed by a Baby Boomer who still believes strongly in corporate dress codes, this is not the case.

Your choice of dress should be guided by the kind of job you’re interviewing for, and the corporate culture of the organisation. Generally, a more corporate office will have a higher expectation for professional dress and certain professions, like legal and finance, tend to be suit and tie environments. An artistic role, like graphic designer, PR consultant or advertising executive would expect an element of creativity and boldness. Wearing a dull suit with no personality will likely cost you the job if this is the environment you’re interviewing for. 

Wearing what an organisation expects you to wear, including to the interview, shows them that you’ve made a conscious decision to be part of the team. If the interviewer can look at you and "see” you sitting behind the desk for the role they’re recruiting, you’re halfway there.

What about personality? 

For many individuals, the thought of wearing a uniform to work, whether official or unofficial, is off-putting. I mean, who wants to look just like everyone else, and how boring to wear the same thing day in and day out.  Just because there is an expectation for a certain look, doesn’t mean that you can’t allow your choice of outfit to reflect your personality.

A successful dresser finds a distinctive way of dressing that is appropriate for what they do and is a true reflection of their personality. A feminine woman could add a touch of the romantic by choosing a ruffled blouse in a soft pale pink fabric to wear under a traditional dark business suit, or an outgoing man might opt for a bright red tie to show off his bold personality.

The Power of Colour

Using colour does not only help your personality shine through; colour psychology can give you the edge when attending an interview or an important business meeting. Whether we are conscious about it or not, the colours we choose for our business attire sends a strong message. The image you project with a beige suit is very different from the way you’d look in a navy suit, for example.

 There are a few simple "golden rules” to consider when choosing a business outfit, based on colour:

  • The darker the colour, the more powerful the "look”
  • Monochromatic colours, like different shades of grey or brown, look sophisticated.
  • Bright colours are less formal. You’re likely to be taken more seriously if you avoid colours such as yellow or orange in the business environment

True Blue

Studies show that navy blue is the best colour to wear to a job interview, because it inspires confidence. Have you ever noticed how many companies use blue in their logo? Blue inspires confidence, trust and security and it’s no wonder that banks and insurance firms tend to opt for this colour in their corporate branding.

Yeah, Grey

Grey is associated with neutrality, respectability and reliability. It works well across all tones but should be paired with a small injection of another colour to make it more interesting. Grey is less authoritarian than black and is especially good for negotiation including during job interviews. 

Beware Red

Red is a powerful colour that demands attention. It works well if you’re giving a speech but not as well if you’re aiming to be seen as a team player. Depending on the perception of an individual, red can be seen positively – as a sign of confidence – or negatively, as aggressive or overbearing. It is not a good choice for an interview, except if used sparingly as an accent colour, because you cannot be sure how it will be perceived by the interviewer.

Green for Girls

Although green is proven to be the easiest colour for the eyes to process, when we think of green we think of nature, tranquility and relaxation. Green indicates informality, predictability and even laziness. Green should be used sparingly in the business space and usually only by women. The deeper greens, when used in a well-cut garment, are acceptable for business wear for women but should be avoided by men unless they’re dressing down. 

Boring Brown

Brown implies dependability, conservativeness and dislike for pretension. As a neutral colour, brown is a good alternative to black, navy and grey but should be accompanied by lighter, more eye-catching colours to lift it. Rich, warm browns are unthreatening and will help people to feel comfortable around you but beware of using them at functions or events where you’re likely to literally disappear into the woodwork.

10 rules for successful dressing

Think about these ten things when dressing for an interview, or important meeting.

Rule 1: Colour

Choose a maximum of 3 colours only and ensure that one of them is neutral.

Rule 2: Line and Shape

Select clothes that have clean, uncluttered lines and simple shapes for a strong, professional impact.

Rule 3: Detail

Use detail as a focal point. If you choose a pair of bold earrings or bright tie, ensure that the rest of your outfit is understated. Don’t risk garnering the interviewer’s attention for all the wrong reasons!

Rule 4: Pattern

Avoid mixing matters in a single outfit. Choose a single pattered garment and pair it with block colour.

Rule 5: Texture

Consciously combining textures helps to create interest. Pair shiny satin with a dull matt finish of wool, for example.

Rule 6: Balance

Know your body and balance any "out of proportion” area by adding visual detail where necessary. Balance wide hips with a top with shoulder interest, or use a solid dark colour on the bottom and a bright, interesting necklace to draw the eye up.

Rule 7: Proportion

Remember that unequal proportions are visually more dynamic. Think about the size and placement of bold patterns, large jewelry or hair accessories to get this right.

Rule 8: Harmony

Select individual garments for an outfit that connect with each other by picking up a common element of colour, line, shape or texture. 

Rule 9: Contrast

High contrast colours, like red and black project authority. Medium contrast cool blends, like blue grey suggest sophistication and low contrast warm tones like rust with cinnamon suggest approachability.

Rule 10: Emphasis

Use accessories to emphasize your ‘style and personality’ either to add a twist to classic business dress or emphasize attractive features, for example bold framed glasses to highlight eyes.

Don’t blow it by forgetting instant image breakers

It doesn’t matter if you’ve chosen an outfit that "fits” all the rules, if you forget to avoid these instant image breakers. Image breakers can be grouped into dress style, clothes maintenance, and personal habits and grooming. The most common turn-offs reported by interviewers include overpowering fragrance, careless shave, unpolished shoes, bad breath, laddered stockings, strange body odour, chipped nail polish, dandruff on collar, shoe heels in need of repair and scruffy hairstyles.

Personal hygiene and grooming are non-negotiable in any business setting but more so in an interview situation where all eyes, and attention, is focused on you. 

Plan your interview outfit and get it ready at least the day before you are scheduled to attend the interview. The last thing you want to have happen a few minutes before you need to leave the house is to realize that your trousers don’t fit anymore, a button’s missing off your shirt or your forgot about the coffee stain dribbled down your front.

Get a second opinion.  Ask someone you trust to give you honest feedback about your planned interview outfit. Let them give you frank, but constructive, advice on what the outfit says about you. Does it portray the image that you intend?

Remember that above all, you need to feel professional and confident in the outfit if you wish to make a good impression.

Tags:  accessories  clothing  colour  confidence  dress code  employer  interview  job search  personality  planning  recruiter  style 

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