Dress for Success: Making a Good Impression
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Dress for Success: Making a Good Impression

No matter how things change in the future, first impressions are everything. Those who make good ones will end up on top.

This month’s theme for TechShop is Workwear, and we think you’ll enjoy the feature article, but in the meantime, it brings me to another topic.

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Growing up, I was constantly instilled with the idea that you should always wear a suit to a job interview. Where you were applying didn’t matter. Dressing professionally left the immediate impression that you not only respected the company you were applying for, but it also indicated your level of interest in the job and the level of quality and dedication that would be reflected in your work.

On top ofthat, back in the pre-internet days, when I applied for a job I drove to the location, walked in (wearing a suit), introduced myself with a firm handshake and presented my resume. It was a strong representation of who I was, and I like to think it has paid off over the years.

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If you think I stuck out like a sore thumb walking through an auto repair shop, you’re right, I did; but it was all part of the ever-so-important first impression.

Over the years, I’ve held positions that required me to recruit, interview and hire technicians. I can tell you this was never my favorite thing, and a difficult skill on its own, one that I’m still trying to improve on. However, I can also tell you that being on that side of the coin, my first impression of an applicant was as important to me as it was when I was the one seeking a job.

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I tried to be relaxed about it and understood that often people may have been coming directly from work, so I wasn’t going to allow myself to judge just because someone wasn’t donning an Armani. I did, however, expect candidates to show some type of initiative.

One afternoon I had an interview scheduled with a gentleman for the position of auto technician. I know that he had a respectable resume, or he wouldn’t have made it to the interview stage, but as soon as he walked in, nothing on the resume mattered. He walked in wearing a white T-shirt with the name of a high-school football team printed in green letters on the front. What’s even worse is the T-shirt was dingy and tattered with a big yellow stain across the shoulder.

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There was nothing he could have said in the interview that would have mattered. I went through it as more of a courtesy, and I was polite, but it was over before it started. I don’t feel I had unrealistic expectations, but I’ve personally changed clothes in a car more times than I can remember, or even in a public restroom. You do what you must do to at least make a discernable effort to look presentable.

In a world that has relaxed its standards, this is a good lesson for people of all ages. No matter how things change in the future, first impressions are everything, and those who make good ones will be those who end up on top.

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In our field, we know we’re going to get dirty at work and we know we can’t wear dress clothes, but clean, presentable uniforms are just as important as a suit at an interview. When a customer walks in your door, the first impression they have is the one that will last. Dress for success and it will follow. TS

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