During a recent presentation, a high school student asked if she should wear her school uniform to her job interview at a fast food restaurant the following day. Here are the facts – the young lady has a half day schedule at school and the potential employer is aware that she is a student and instructed her to come right after school. My answer was that she shouldn’t wear her school uniform to her interview if she had the ability to bring a change of clothing to school with her and change into it in ten minutes or less.
Young people need to know how to truly “dress for success”. Have you explained to your youth that fabric, color, length, fit, and style matter? Just because a student is wearing a skirt or a pair of slacks doesn’t mean they’re dressed professionally. Whether interviewing for a part-time position, applying for seasonal or summer work, or attending a college fair students should dress “up” with the option of going casual later if the environment permits.
Have you explained that young people don’t have to be fashionably boring or dress like a 40 year old but certain outfits aren’t appropriate in certain environments? Stilettos, athletic gear, mini skirts, and sagging pants never make The Teen Toolbox list of appropriate attire. In addition, tattoos that can’t be covered by a professional suit don’t make the list because they have the potential to shift the focus away from a person’s skills. You want your teens to stand out in the crowd in a positive manner.
Here are five ways your youth can make a great first impression:
1. Practice good hygiene and grooming
2. Walk with confidence and use good posture
3. Speak clearly and use proper English
4. Listen carefully and make eye contact with the person they are speaking to
5. Never leave home without their professional portfolio
We also want to inspire youth to consider long-term appeal when creating a professional image. That means we must practice what we preach and set a good example. When I worked in a school building I was always annoyed when a teacher walked by and there was no way to distinguish him from his students. I also fielded plenty of angry questions from female students who thought it unfair that teachers were ignoring the student dress code by wearing low cut blouses or tight mini skirts. Did you wear your professional attire to work today?
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.