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Business Management senior Sarah Tjepkema began the search for her dream job in September of her senior year.

She started by sending out five initial resumes—but she didn’t stop there.

During her winter break and through the winter quarter, Tjepkema built her profiles on sites such as Monster, Career Builder and Mustang Jobs, attended Cal Poly’s Career Fair, and attended networking sessions and on-campus interviews.

By the beginning of March, Tjepkema had applied to 71 different jobs and had a total of 31 interviews with 25 different companies.

Three weeks later, she was in the final round of interviews for six different companies.

She was traveling to Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Santa Maria and was interviewing with vice presidents and human resources directors from across the nation.

Of those six companies came four job offers. Of those four offers, Tjepkema landed her dream job with Pepsi in San Diego.

Tjepkema found success. She went into the corporate world and conquered.

One of her secrets?

She dressed to impress.

[In the interview process] I knew I needed to command the room with my knowledge and communicate who I am,” Tjepkema said. “And I needed to command the room with how I dressed.

An interview is a time to personally showcase oneself and impress the company. Right there, at that moment and within the first 30 seconds.

Research has shown that within the first thirty seconds of meeting, the interviewer has already decided whether or not they will hire the applicant.

“Its totally not fair, but that’s the nature of the process,” Tjepkema said.

And that means, it’s all about the first impression.

“The way you dress does matter,” Tjepkema said. “A lot of people don’t think that it matters, but it really does.”

Lakin Hamilton, sales associate at H&G boutique says an interview is the time to be taken seriously.

You want to be thought of as a serious investment for the company,” Hamilton said.

The professionalism of companies and businesses do vary, but both Tjepkema and Hamilton agree to always keep it professional.

“I used to think ‘ok, if these companies are laid back, then I can be laid back too,’” Tjepkema said. “But that is actually not true.”

 The Casual — Business Casual

Business Casual: Blazer and high-waisted skirt

For an interview where wearing a full suit may be a little over-the-top, Hamilton recommends two essential pieces: Slacks and a blazer.

“Slacks give off a more casual look,” Hamilton said. “But they most importantly give off the visual that you are sophisticated.”

On the same note, blazers give off a polished and professional appearance.

Skirts are not off limits, but need to follow guidelines.

“A classic pencil is very femine,” Tjepkema said. “But it needs to hit your knee, or very close to it.”

Business Attire

For the corporate or more professional interview, Tjepkema says it’s always good to have a classic interview suit.

I first had a suit that was cotton and from Target and it looked very nice and worked well for interviews on campus,” Tjepkema said. “But when I was flying out to companies and they were dropping thousands of dollars to send me, I needed to look the part.

Tjepkema says stores like Gap and Banana Republic (where she found her lucky suit) are good places to look because they will help pick out the suit that is the most flattering.

Apart from the suit or blazer, choosing the right blouse is important.

Both Hamilton and Tjepkema agree that silk tops are the best.

“Silk is conservative, but still a little feminine,” Tjepkema said.

However, cotton isn’t out of the picture, but if chosen should button up in the front and have a collar.

Need ideas? Tjepkema recommends this blog.

Don’t be afraid to show personality

Dressing in business attire doesn’t mean one has to loose their personality.

Hamilton says one can show personality through texture, color and style. Although it is advised be neutral, color in moderation is the best way to show personality.

If you were a unique color, the interviewer will know you are happy and have a great personality,” Hamilton said. ‘If you wear darker colors, then they will know you are more serious and more sophistricated in that realm.

Tjepkema says her most memorable interviews where when she wore color.

“I wore a blue blouse once and everybody kept complementing me on my eyes,”Tjepkema said. “It releases the tension because you get to talk about something personal.”