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Dress for success! The Importance of First Impressions with Melody Martin

Did you know that it only takes 4 seconds to make a first impression and 4 minutes to make a lasting impression? This is extremely important in the context of your career opportunities and finding that perfect role. Following on from our latest and very successful presentation at UCCI (University College Of The Cayman Islands) called “Dress for Success”, presented by Melody Martin and Invenio Global’s own Nikeeta Beri, the team at Invenio thought it would be useful to share some tips on the importance of first impressions when it comes to your career working in the legal field or professional services.

About Melody Martin 

Picture of Melody Martin, Cayman Islands,  HR Business Partner and co-presenter of Dress for Success at UCCI.
Melody Martin, HR Business Partner

Melody Martin is a young accomplished Human Resources professional, mentor, scholar, and most recently, mother. She is currently the youngest senior member of the Human Resources team at a leading international law firm.

Throughout the past 5 years, Melody continues to excel within her firm from starting as an HR Executive to her current role as Human Resources Business Partner.

She has extensive enthusiasm, experience, involvement, and knowledge in various areas of HR specifically in Recruitment, Retention, and Training.

The importance of first impressions

Whether you are looking to work as a lawyer, accountant, bank clerk, or for any other role within the legal field or financial services, you need to present yourself in the best possible light.  Those first impressions count, so be sure to get right.

Dress for Success. How to ensure you look and feel the best you can for an interview. Grand Cayman.
Dress for Success

What to wear to the interview

Dressing for success for women 

For a job interview or meeting in a financial services role, a classic power pantsuit or skirt suit or a work dress are always strong choices for dressing for success. It is important you wear something you feel comfortable in – if you never wear suits, don’t wear one to the job interview. If you don’t feel confident in your outfit, it will show and potentially lose you a job. It goes without saying that the skirt shouldn’t be too short and you shouldn’t show too much cleavage. It’s absolutely fine to show off your personality through what you’re wearing, as long as you’re not wearing a fluorescent pink mini skirt! Stick to a business-professional look.

Dressing for success for men

If you need to dress formally, you can’t go wrong wearing a gray, black, or navy two-piece business suit, a shirt, and a tie that matches the colours, in your suit. If the company is a bit more informal, you could wear smart dark jeans or dark trousers and a jacket. Avoid garish patterns on ties that can distract an interviewer. Always wear clean and polished shoes.

What if the company has a “smart casual dress code?” How do I dress for success here?

If the company you’re interviewing with requests that you adhere to its “smart casual” dress code, you can get away with ditching the formal suit for the interview. A jacket or blazer over a polo or collared dress shirt can work fine in some situations. Pair that with trousers made of corduroy, twill, moleskin, wool, cotton, or linen, and you’ll have a perfectly presentable look.

Women can get away with a nice skirt or a pair of trousers – avoid flashy fabrics such as satin, lace, or chiffon and avoid costume jewelry (see below on the topic of accessories!).

Help, they’ve asked me to do my interview via Zoom!

Firstly, do not panic. The same rules apply to a video interview as they do to a face-to-face meeting. Make sure you dress professionally but to look your best on camera, avoid bright colors and patterns and opt for softer colors instead. If you plan on wearing a tie, wear a solid color rather than a patterned one and if you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.

Top tip – Make sure the background for the video is appropriate. Use a background provided by the video conferencing platform (where available) or ensure that the room you are in is tidy. 

And what about…

Hair & Make-up

  • Well-groomed hair is important. 
  • Don’t use too much makeup. 
  • Before your interview, check that your hair is clean, combed, and styled neatly.
  • Subtle makeup that enhances your features is best.

Accessories

  • Keep jewelry minimal – either wear small delicate pieces or wear one larger piece, such as a statement necklace, but nothing else.
  • When it comes to shoes for women, make sure they are comfortable and that you can walk. If you’re wearing heels, the safest bet is closed-toe pumps. Make sure your shoes are polished.
  • Men’s shoes should be brown or black. Avoid mixing black shoes and a brown suit and vice versa.
  • Don’t forget a briefcase or portfolio.

Tattoos, piercings, and facial hair?

We would advise you to be cautious, particularly with tattoos. Statistics say that 40% of people aged 18 to 29 have a tattoo and one survey found that many employers still have unfavorable views of inked individuals.  However, this depends a lot on the employer’s age, the industry you’re in, and company policy. If you are unsure of the company’s policy, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  For example, for your first interview or meeting with your prospective employer, take out facial piercings and cover-up tattoos until you know the lay of the land.

When it comes to facial hair, keep it trimmed and clean. An un-kept beard screams “slacker” and no one wants to be seen as a slacker. 

Final tips

Whether it is a Zoom call, Google Meets, or meeting with a prospective employer in person, make sure you:

  • Are aware of your posture and body language – good posture and a solid handshake are important, as is making eye contact and smiling.
  • Dress for success – taking care of your appearance shows that you’re taking the opportunity seriously and that you’re eager to make a good impression. 
  • Plan accordingly – get everything ready the night before. Layout your clothes and accessories so that there is no last-minute panic about your outfit. Polish or clean your shoes. Pack your bag. Know where and how you are meeting and the correct time.
  • Look & feel good – You want to feel great when you meet your potential new employer, so keep yourself healthy.
  • Check your devices – if you have a video call, test out your audio and video and make sure you have the latest software downloaded.
  • Get a good night’s rest – get to bed early the night before.

Key takeaways to help you Dress for Success

  • Wear something that makes you feel comfortable
  • Have clean and trimmed fingernails
  • Use minimal cologne or perfume
  • Be sure to have fresh breath
  • Take care not to have body odor
  • Never interview with gum or candy in your mouth
  • Do not slurp on drinks

Now you know how to Dress for Success, it is time to make that first impression count and launch your career to new heights. If you are looking for a new job in Cayman, please get in touch with one of our recruitment consultants or otherwise check out our job board for the latest available Cayman jobs.

Invenio Global is committed to community involvement and helping the careers and aspirations of everyone. As part of our Cayman giveback, If you are a school, college, or charity and would like information on our workshops, including “Dress for Success”, please get in touch here.

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