Mid-State helps students prepare for job interviews

April 16, 2012

From Wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Job seekers can receive help to present themselves professionally” – Carol Flaig is looking forward to graduating with a clinical research coordinator degree from Mid-State Technical College’s Wisconsin Rapids campus.

Flaig, 52, Rudolph, worked as a legal secretary several years ago.

“Then I stayed home with the kids and milked cows,” Flaig said. She also worked in a warehouse but was laid off about five years ago.

Job hunting involves numerous tasks — writing a resume, filling out applications and securing interviews. Faced with graduation and new opportunities, Flaig also realized the clothes in her closet didn’t meet her job searching requirements. Appropriate clothing for a job and interview is something job seekers shouldn’t overlook, experts say.

“The styles change, so now all of a sudden, I have to have this and this,” Flaig said. “Right now, I am in clinicals, and I’m in business casual.”

That meant Flaig’s jeans, boots and sweatshirts won’t work.

Dressing for success might be challenging if someone has been unemployed or doesn’t have much expendable income.

“It’s a hardship for many of our students,” said Stephany Hartman, student life and career services coordinator at the college.

For the third year, the college held a “Spring into Success” clothing fair this week. Students could get professional attire at no charge at the Thursday event, in addition to critiques on their resumes, work on their hairstyles and mock interview opportunities.

Some of the soon-to-graduate students are dislocated workers, students currently without jobs or those, like Flaig, who have been out of the mainstream workforce for several years. Sometimes, people simply don’t know what’s appropriate to wear for interviews.

Some people think if the job doesn’t require business attire, neither does the job interview.

“I hear that a lot from the auto students,” Hartman said. “My advice to the students — and this comes from a lot of the employers I talk to — dress one step above how they would dress on the job.”

Some things people overlook are appropriate shoes, ironed and clean clothes and overall appearance. Piercings and tattoo visibility should be kept to a minimum on interview day, Hartman said.

“I wouldn’t say that a person would have to go out and spend a whole bunch of money on a whole lot of clothes right away,” said Thomas Younger, state of Wisconsin workplace development manager.

The MSTC event was just one day, but professional clothing also is available at Career Closet, 1905 Washington St., in Wisconsin Rapids, a United Way of Inner Wisconsin partner program that can be reached at 715-424-7544.

“I would say that based on what we heard at (our visits), the demand is definitely the same as it has been, (primarily) people going out on interviews,” said Tari Jahns, chief executive officer for the Wisconsin Rapids United Way chapter.

“Once you get the job, you can go back and get a few more outfits, so you have a week or two weeks’ worth of clothing to get you started,” Jahns said. “It’s really giving people a resource they greatly need and don’t have the ability to invest in; it helps them to succeed.”

The Shepherds Loft, a ministry of Baker Street Community Church, 640 Baker St., Wisconsin Rapids, offers gently used clothing and shoes at no cost.

Younger suggested job seekers find out what is considered the style for a specific workplace and dress in a similar way when picking up applications.

“You want to look as if they offered you the job right now, you could sit down and start working and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at all,” Younger said. “When you go for an interview, you want to really think about dressing up a bit.”

Cleanliness also is extremely important, Hartman and Younger said.

“Looking right won’t help you as much as looking wrong is going to hurt you,” Younger said.

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