Presentation schools students about smart attire

Even though Newsweek dubbed Carnegie Mellon the “hottest [university] for getting a job,” its students need more than a diploma to land a career.

“Weak communication skills are single-handedly the biggest complaint I have heard from [job] recruiters about Carnegie Mellon students,” said Ramzi Ramsey, a junior in business administration and president of the Carnegie Mellon Business Association (CMBA). “Most people don’t realize that your dress and how you conduct yourself is simply another form of communication.”

To remedy this, CMBA presented “Dress to Impress” last Tuesday to show students the importance of physical appearance on securing a job.

Jonna Martin, founder and managing director of AdvanceMe Associates, presented the dos and don’ts of professional attire, along with the ABCs of recruiter interactions: appearance, behavior, and communication.

Jennifer Frick, an advisor for business students in the Career Center, agreed.
“Your appearance says a lot about you that you’re not necessarily saying,” she said.

In her presentation, Martin noted the importance of appearance — including attitude and body language — while communicating.

“In some cases, your attitude can override what you’re wearing,” Martin said.


“I’m called into companies every week because the manager is so concerned about the image of their employees. Women are wearing suits that are stylistic — but not appropriate,” Martin said.

For business interviews, Martin suggested sticking with what’s classically acceptable — a conservative suit with a skirt in black, navy, or gray.

Girls should always wear pantyhose, and shoes should be just as dark as or darker than the fabric, with closed-toed heels being preferred.

“Every woman should have a pair of black pumps,” Martin recommended.

For dressing business casual, Martin noted that women’s pants suits are more casual than those with a matching skirt. She also suggested wearing a sweater over a buttoned-down shirt and pants.

In the office or on an interview, silky camisoles are not appropriate under any jacket, Martin said.


For a first interview, Martin suggested dressing up, regardless of the company’s climate.

“Don’t be tricked into thinking you can dress in business casual for an interview,” she said.

According to Martin, navy blue is the “best, [and] safest” suit color for an interview. However, she noted that men can also wear either solid black, pinstripes, or a dark gray.

Martin noted that men are safest in white shirts, and the cuffs of their shirts should come one-half inch from the sleeve of their jackets.

To complete the professional look, Martin suggested wearing black shoes for any color suit and a tie with a repeating pattern.

“The tie is just meant to be an accessory. When you make a first impression, you don’t want someone staring at your neck — you want them staring at you,” said Richard Istvan, the store manager at Jos. A. Bank, a men’s clothing store downtown that provided the men’s outfits in the event’s fashion show.

Martin also noted that the tip of a man’s tie should just reach the top of his belt — not below, and “certainly not above.”

According to Frick, CMBA and the Career Center hold several similar workshops in an effort to train students for the job market. held include a dining etiquette course and interviewing techniques.