Relax, it’s not as stuffy as you think.
The job hunt has gone mostly virtual, especially in the early stages of applying and interviewing. So does that render the old question of what to wear moot? Not entirely.
Let’s break the job hunt process into to phases and discuss the best attire for each:
Phase one – pitching
At Crash we know that you aren’t likely to win interviews by sending resumes and cover letters and standard apps. Video pitches are getting 10x better results because they show your personality.
What you wear is part of your personality!
If you’re sending a video pitch, or doing an early stage video interview, wear something that you are comfortable in and that’s the kind of thing you’d wear on the job. Don’t wear a suit if that’s not you and if employees at the company don’t wear suits. It will feel awkward and you won’t seem as real.
But don’t be a slob either! You can be casual and show personality, but if you look like you just rolled out of bed it will signal that you don’t care about the company or the role. Signaling that you look the way you look because you deliberately took the time to put yourself together is more important than what, specifically, you’re wearing.
What about pants?
OK look, in a world of video and Zoom calls you can get away without pants or shoes, since no one sees them (unless you stand up!)
But it’s worth noting that your brain takes subtle cues from your body, and even if no one sees it, if you put on the kind of clothes you’d wear to work, your brain is better at flipping into work mode.
You wear athletic clothes to play sports, and fancy clothes to attend weddings, in part because it gets you in the right frame of mind. Do the same on the job hunt!
Phase two – what to wear to when job hunting
In later interviews or in person, the rules change for what to wear when job hunting. By this point, you know they are interested in you. You’ve sold them on your personality and brand, now they want to see whether that meshes with the team.
This means being attentive to the norms of the company when it comes to dress. You should have had a chance to see some photos or maybe video interviews with other employees to get a sense for what’s acceptable. In most companies, it’s a range rather than a specific outfit.
If the most casual thing you’ve seen is a polo shirt and the most formal a tie, that’s your range. You can deviate a bit, but don’t stray too far or you’ll signal a lack of awareness of company culture.
These days, there’s not a lot of formality around dress, especially with more remote roles. But even if you can get away with a lot, what you wear sends signals that people, consciously or unconsciously, absorb. Signaling you’re unkempt or unserious or unaware won’t help you out.
Be you. But be a clean, deliberate, professional version of you.