August 2nd, 2014 / posted by paularath
Dressed to find the job.

Dressed to find the job.

The 2014 Career Expo in coming up soon and it reminded me of the last time I attended a job fair.

Ugh. I was appalled at what I saw.

Women with bared midriffs, too-short skirts, too much jewelry, sloppy slippers, messy hair, tank tops with bra straps showing. Men with sloppy slippers, baggy saggy jeans, board shorts, wife beater tanks, hair that looked as though it just came from the beach.

What were they thinking? Sure, the Hawaii workplace is more casual than many Mainland cities, but what exactly does it mean to dress for a job interview in the islands?

Piper Gore's shirtwaist dress works well for Honolulu work wear.

Piper Gore’s shirtwaist dress works well for Honolulu work wear.

Over the years I have interviewed quite a few people who are in a position to hire new employees. Here are some very general guidelines for no-no’s for job seekers. Some may surprise you. WOMEN

  • Chipped nail enamel
  • Heavy perfume
  • Low-cut blouses
  • Strappy sandals
  • Dangling earrings
  • Too-short skirts


  • Wrinkled shirts
  • T-shirts without collars
  • Shorts
  • Belts and shoes that don’t work well together (they don’t have to match but should not clash)
  • Puka jeans


  • Rubber slippers
  • Scuffed shoes
  • Body piercings (okay for certain types of jobs, but not for most)
  • Low, low-rise jeans
  • Sloppy backpacks that look like they date from college days

Beth Busch, who runs job fairs, said: “If you want to be taken seriously, you have to dress seriously.”

If you are planning to attend the Career Expo and have an idea of a company you want to target, take the time to visit their offices and see what their employees are wearing, especially the employees who are in the job you aspire to.

If you’re applying for a retail position, try to buy something from that store. If you can’t afford a whole outfit, or even a dress, shirt or pair of shoes, try for an accessory. Chances are, it will be noticed and appreciated. (Those people know their merchandise!)

For guys, a suit or even a dress shirt with a tie may look over-dressed in Hawaii. But a neatly pressed dress shirt without a tie can look just right for a job interview. Summer weight wool makes the very best work pants, but if you can’t afford it, khakis or a really nice pair of fashionable jeans can work.

When it comes to job interview attire, it really doesn’t matter what the label on your clothing says. What’s important is that you look like you took time to  dress appropriately while paying attention to the condition and quality of what you’re wearing.

If you know a recent grad or someone else who is planning to go to the Career Expo on Tuesday, please send them a link to this blog.

– Paula Rath

Comments are closed.