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Appearance and preparation best traits in job hunt

Dress for success, smile and always be prepared.

Dress for success, smile and always be prepared.

May 11, 2003|by The Maryland Job Service

Washington County employers say following that advice will give you the edge over other job seekers.

The Maryland Job Service, a division of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, recently completed a survey of 346 Western Maryland employers, 142 of which were from Washington County.

When asked to give their best three pieces of advice for job seekers, 195 employers put appearance at the top of the list.

"Dress appropriately - neat, clean and clothes appropriate for the job" one employer said. Shorts, T-shirts, hats, body piercing, chewing gun and cigarettes were on the "leave at home" list.

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A good first impression, even with the receptionist, can make a difference.

An Internet job search newsletter, About Career Planning, suggests that if you're not sure about how to dress, you may want to visit the employer's parking lot at the beginning or end of a shift to see how the employees dress. When you drop off your application or go for an interview, dress a little better than the employees you observed.

A positive attitude is just as important as how you dress. Eager, enthusiastic, confident, polite, sincere, courteous and personable were common adjectives in the employer responses.

Look the prospective employer in the eye, smile and give him or her a firm handshake. Even when you are just asking for an application, it's important to be perceived as a "go-getter." You may get an interview on the spot.

Other advice included filling out applications completely and neatly, researching the company and arriving on time for your interview.

Sixty-seven percent of the employers surveyed said they screen out applications that are incomplete. Take time at home to write down your previous employment, making sure that for each job you include the beginning and ending dates of employment, job title, address, phone number and the name of your supervisor.

"Be honest" was a frequent employer comment. Many employers check references or do background checks. If there are negative things in your employment history, you can either say "Will discuss at interview" or address the issue head on.

"I was terminated for absenteeism because I had car problems but I now have very reliable transportation and can be at work on time every day" lets the employer know that you realize how important good attendance is.

Find out a little bit about the company. Talk to people who work there, visit their Web site, look them up in employer directories or ask representatives from the Job Service to fill you in on what the company does and what positions they have.

Always put a job title in the "Position Applied For" space of an application. Don't make the employer try to figure out what you can do.

Arrive 10 minutes early for appointments and interviews. If you arrive late, the employer will assume you plan to arrive late for work as well. If you aren't sure where the company is, drive there the day before so you know where it is and how long it will take to get there.

The Job Service has two free brochures that can help in job searches. The brochures, "15 Reasons Job Seekers are Not Hired" and "Effective Job Applications," were developed from employer surveys and give lots of practical advice.

For more information, contact the Job Service at 301-393-8255 or visit its Web site at www.dllr.state.md.us/wash. The Job Service is at 14 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown.

This article was written by the Maryland Job Service.

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