Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Suiting Up for the Job Hunt

When I was in undergrad, I used to loathe the months of September and October because that meant it was job hunting season: in between classes, students would be running to networking nights, office tours and wine and cheeses in an effort to land their next job placement. It made me anxious, and it was tough because I had to put on a good face even when I wasn't feeling the best. I haven't been exposed to that in a long time, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.

About two weeks ago, I attended the Annual Sprott Fashion Show held at Carleton University. It's an event that Sprott puts on for students to educate them on how to dress once they enter the workforce (either upon graduation or during a co-op term). It also coincides with Sprott Frosh Week (i..e "Sprosh Week"), so the majority of attendants were young. Having graduated from Sprott myself, it was definitely a lot of fun to be back on campus and seeing fresh faces; the only downside was it reminded me that I'm no longer "young".

The first half of the Show was a runway segment, where models donned business casual wear so students could get a better idea of what was considered appropriate. This was - undoubtedly - HIGHLY entertaining because the models strutting down the runway were current Carleton students who had volunteered, so there was a great deal of cheering and catcalling from spectators. I was amazed that most of these Carleton models were able to keep a straight face while on the catwalk.

The second half was more about what to look for when shopping for work clothes, and I was asked to present some tips, tricks and best practices for the male audience. Guys and shopping don't always mix well together, so here are some of the points I went over during the Show:

Think long term.

Most students shop because they need something right now. But, what they don't think about is what they may need in the future. For students, they're mostly thinking that they'll need a suit to wear at networking nights and job interviews, but there are several other 'life events' that will require a suit, such as graduation, day-to-day work clothes, parties (i.e. corporate functions, Christmas/New Year's parties, other) and attending weddings.

All of these life events could be within the next three, six or 12 months. Therefore, it's a good idea to think long term; what kind of suit would fit all these occasions? A suit that could fulfill your present and future needs will not only be good for your closet, but your wallet too.

Consider the G.N.C.

When you're young, you probably don't have many workplace outfits in your closet. This is especially true for students who have little to no work experience. Therefore, it's a good idea to start building a wardrobe that is versatile and can stand the test of time. Starting off with a Grey, Navy and/or Charcoal suit is a great way to construct your wardrobe; these three complement most colours and accessories, and have also stood the test of time.

A student asked me why I hadn't recommended Black. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with black; it's just not as versatile as G.N.C. Black is considered more formal and can only really go with black shoes and belt, whereas G.N.C. can accommodate various colours. Every man will ultimately wear a black suit at some point, so it's not a bad one to have, but G.N.C. would be a better starting point.

Avoid aggressive looks.

Not everyone likes the sock game.

This was a hot topic because everyone has varying opinions on what is considered 'aggressive'. In essence, it's important to remember that the individual(s) who will be interviewing, assessing, and offering you a job are probably older; therefore, their style preferences will be different. For example, while you and your friends may like to play the sock game, it probably doesn't resonate well with an older crowd. It's best to leave aggressive looks outside the workplace.

All in all, it was a great event and I was happy to have been a part of it. Happy job hunting to you all you hardworking students out there. Best of luck, and see you soon in the workplace.