Metro Atlanta career specialists say you can maximize your job fair time by planning ahead and following through.

Fashion mistakes professional women make, according to Atlanta bosses

Ninety seconds. It takes longer to boot up your computer or send a text message than it does for a hiring manager to decide if you’re the right person for the job. Basically, as soon as you walk in, they know. The rest of the interview is spent validating their decision. That’s according to an article published in Forbes magazine, but the research appears on several sites online. And some of it cites 15 seconds instead of 90. Whichever the case, job interviews are no different than life. “It’s not fair, but it happens,” said Michael Parker, a volunteer for Attire to Hire, a component of the Job Networking group at Roswell United Methodist Church (RUMC). “We know we make those judgments about people, so why wouldn’t it be done by a hiring manager in a job interview?”

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Parker, Paula Pope, Julie Mizer and Donna Litton are the volunteer staff at RUMC Attire to Hire clothing closet. They help job candidates choose outfits, accessories and shoes for job interviews. The clothing is all donated and is given to candidates at no charge, as the church works to help people make career transitions and get back on their feet.

“We used to have this unspoken rule that we wear a blue suit and closed-in shoes for an interview. That’s simply not the case anymore,” said Parker.

Now, it’s how well you blend with the corporate culture. “You may have the skills and ability,” said Pope, a former recruiter, “but in this day and job market, you have to make yourself look current.” Lapels change, the length of skirts change, even eyeglasses are different from year to year, and apparently what you want to avoid is looking dated. But that’s not all. “Your clothing has to fit,” said Pope. “Again, it’s a perception. But if you’re clothing doesn’t fit the hiring manager is going to think you don’t pay attention to detail and you’ll be a mess in the workplace.”

Pope believes you need to know how employees dress at whatever company you are interviewing with – and then you need to match it. Also, don’t wear fragrance. “Fragrances are really polarizing,” said Pope. Shoes matter. You can get yours professionally polished at Nordstrom’s for only $3. And consolidate your portfolio, keys and billfold into just one bag. When you walk in, you want to look organized, confident, and pulled together.

“I think everybody has a professional appearance rating just like everyone has an I.Q.,” said Parker. “I call it a P.A.R.” There are four P.A.R. components: clothing, grooming, body condition and body language. “It just depends on the person who is observing as to which component is most important.”

For advice on body language, Parker suggested watching this video featuring Amy Cuddy.

“When life knocks you down, this is the place to be,” said Pope. “That’s the experience we want people to have.”

The Job Networking group at RUMC meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month. For more information, click here.

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