Charity (not her real name) writes to The Platform101 career coach:
I’m two years into my employment with the same employer who offered me a job immediately after campus.I would gladly say my job remunerates me fairly well at my level and in comparison to the industry standards in Kenya, however I’m looking for new opportunities within the same industry.
At a personal level I enjoy bargain shopping as a hobby, so I have been able to score name-brand bags and accessories at well below their actual cost. I feel as though these have been investment pieces I’ll keep forever, and they suit my business casual/professional wardrobe and personal style extremely well.
Since I’m seeking new job opportunities, I have applied for several vacancies and received positive feedback being invited for interviews. As I prepare for the job interviews, I’m not certain whether I can wear designer clothes and accessorize my dressing with my name-branded items or carry them (bags/purse) to interviews thus my big question being should I opt to not wear these items or carry my name-brand bags to interviews?
The bags I currently own do not have the logos on them in repeated patterns; they’re normally just plain leather in black/brown.
Would my designer outfit and branded accessories like the purse or watch be noticed negatively by the interviewers?
I don’t want to appear like I don’t actually “need” the job because I can afford these things but I also don’t want to alienate my interviewer if that’s what they might be focusing on when they meet me.
Do you have any advice for how I should handle my name-brand items?
Smart dressing for the interview process is something I can never over emphasize. It could be the reason for you progressing with the process or stalling it all together.
Having said that, it is also important to know where to draw the line between smart,flashy smart and professional smart and where a mix of either would work to your favor rather than turning off the interviewer.
As long as you don’t have the brand logos splashed all over an item and as long as the items themselves aren’t especially flashy, you should be fine. The “not especially flashy” part being the keyword.
You don’t want to be remembered for your watch or your bag; instead you want to be remembered for how awesome you are at practically articulating your thoughts and plans in line with the job at hand.
It is also important to take note (and maybe some interviewers too may take note) that simply because something is designer isn’t in and of itself an issue. Interestingly some interviewers whom you will interact with may not even know or notice although some will.
That said, there are certain industries or sectors that absolutely care about this, in both directions.
For example, in the fashion industry and in some parts of finance, dressing the part is a big plus. In certain NGO’s and social work environments what is deemed as flashy and expensive clothes can make you look out of touch with clients.
But in most fields, it’s not likely to be an issue (and you probably know if you’re in one of the handful of fields where it would be).
All the best in your interviews.