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Dress for Success: What's Appropriate (and What's Not) for Military Veteran Job Interviews

Your fave threads might just not be the right thing to wear to that interview!

How you present yourself during an interview can impact your success as much as the information on your resume, and showing up dressed inappropriately is an easy way to get off on the wrong foot. In today’s more casual work environment, interviews for military veteran jobs don’t necessarily require a suit and tie or dress and heels. That doesn’t mean rocking up in your old jeans and tees, however, and a planned approach to your outfit can determine the kind of first impression you make.

Here are four tips for choosing the right attire to help you stay confident during your interview.

#1: Research First

This is vitally important for more than just the way you dress. Do your homework on the type of culture the company has. Search online for images of employees at the organization or people attending industry events. Consider the case of the Stanford grad who sat in the parking lot prior to going for an interview to see how employees were dressed.

#2: Match the Job Environment

Think about the position you’re applying for—who will your work colleagues be, will you be dealing with clients and if so, what business level they are likely to be at. Also keep your threads appropriate to the industry, because you won’t dress the same in a law office as you would on a construction site or in an advertising agency. Military veteran jobs such as truck-driving or maintenance might sound like they support a more casual workplace, but you’ll still do better by being well presented.

#3: Aim for Neatness

Aim for neatness over fashion and don’t try to impress. This is not the time to embrace your inner hippie or show off your hard-grown dreads. You can always do that when you have the job if it’s appropriate. For interview purposes, choose well-fitting clothes that are unrevealing. Stay away from anything denim, unless you’re 100% sure the environment calls for it.

#4: Avoid Anything Flashy

You want to be remembered for your personality, intelligence, knowledge, and experience, not for the glittery earring or red shoes you sported. Hats, no matter how trendy, should remain outside the interview room. Keep your colors neutral, wear limited jewelry and makeup, and go easy on the bright accessories. Bow ties are generally out, unless you’re applying in an industry that makes a point of wearing them.

#5: Go Well-Groomed

Success in an interview takes more than just wearing the right clothes. Make sure you’re well-groomed enough for the most fastidious interviewer by ensuring your hair and nails are clean, clothes are pressed if necessary, and avoid or minimize your use of aftershave or perfume. Many workplaces these days are scent-free environments, and unless you’re sure scent is acceptable it’s best to skip it entirely. Keep long hair tied back to avoid leaving strands on the seat or desk where you’re interviewed.

Remember this: when you’re applying for military veteran jobs your clothes don’t have to be expensive, they just need to be clean. You don’t need a suit or outfit from Macy’s to be successful. A top and bottom from Walmart will do just fine, or if money is really tight, some gear from Goodwill that can be laundered well will also work.

For more information about military veteran jobs and a regular listing of positions available, please visit our job board regularly. Follow our blog and social media profiles for helpful tips and advice on finding employment.