The Big Step

Who doesn't remember their first job interview? I remember feeling important, nervous, very adult. Sure my mum insisted on following me to the interview, what with the big bad wolves lurking around every corner? I don't blame her, though. This wasn't just a big step for me, but for her too. The baby bird taking her first flying lesson.

I did my research on successful interviews- what to wear, what not to wear, how to sit, how to smell, what to ask ( who cares if the questions were meant for shareholders and not fresh graduates like me). The manager gave me a confused look when I asked whether I would get a share of profits if I joined the company. What an idiot I was then! I must have asked and answered the right things the rest of the way because I got a call a few days later offering me my first big job as Boutique Assistant in an international French luxury brand.

Welcome to the world of luxury!

My wise words for fresh graduates who are just about to apply for jobs or preparing for an interview and who might be reading this:

1) Formalities.

When applying for jobs whether it may be a part time of full time job, formalities are still a must. A "Hey Sir/Madam" in your cover letter is a big "no-no" in spite of the company being fun and fabulous. Fun companies are serious when it comes to employing the right people, too.
Make sure you know what you're applying for. Don't ask whether you can work part-time when it was already stated in the ad that the company is looking for part-timers to work as and when there are projects. It blows your chances of clinching an interview straight away.

2) Your cover letter or note must catch the eye of the interviewer.

Make it different from the rest. Don't just say "Please find attached my resume for your perusal". Well surely the interviewer must know that! Write your resume or CV well and don't just copy it right off a template found on the Internet. Double check that there are no grammatical or spelling errors. Don't use SMS language, ever!

2) Learn the background of the company.

It's important to know the history and whether the founder is still alive. It shows that you ARE interested in being part of the company. Know what your weaknesses and strenghs are. Be honest with yourself and the interviewer. Don't promise what you can't deliver.

3) Dress well & smell nice.

There are plenty of grooming seminars in the market today. Stick to the basics. Some companies may be more casual than others but dress smartly for your interview. A fitted jacket, an ironed collared blouse with a not too short skirt or pants and covered shoes for ladies is good and safe. Men have it easy with a long sleeved shirt, slacks and oxford shoes. Keep to neutral colours such as black, white and beige for the interview. You might feel that your colourful personality is being restricted but it all really depends on the culture of the company. Ad companies for example encourage their staff to look creative while accounting firms might stress looking serious to be taken seriously when crunching clients' numbers.

Take care of your hygiene. Make sure your clothes and you smell nice as tolerance towards smell is short. If an interviewer can't stand being a short distance from you, an interview might just be cut short spoiling your chances of getting the job. Looking good and smelling nice is especially important if your job requires you to make constant contact with clients.

Your concern might be the cost of looking good and smelling nice. There are affordable clothes that can be mixed and matched to make you look professional. Add a nice tie or belt to add interesting accents to your clothing. Try to avoid big dangling earrings unless you're in the creative line. You don't need to spend a bomb on expensive perfumes but try to avoid those sold at cheap prices as they tend to smell unpleasant after a few hours. Instead, go for good soap ( Cussons found at supermarkets and pharmacies tends to give a nice after shower scent that lasts). A good deodorant helps too.

4) Personality

You might have had excellent academic grades and this might have helped you get the interview but having a positive personality and "can do" spirit improves your chances of getting the job. Learn from experience and don't be afraid to ask when unsure. Some things are't taught in textbooks and lectures.

Whether you get the job of your dreams or not, keep striving. You'll get there.


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