So I had a long chat the other day with a teenage friend who has recently graduated from highschool and is having a heck of a time finding a job. We discussed why this might be the case. He doesn’t get called back, he has had perhaps two interviews and he’s been out of school for about six months.

He hasn’t got much work experience but has some. He was active in student government and is reasonably intelligent and well spoken. Between myself and another friend, we think we may have figured it out.

He wears jeans to drop off resumés. Jeans, an untucked golf shirt, a silly-looking tuque/baseball hat crossbreed and running shoes. It is no small wonder that he’s not getting called back.

One of the things that was stressed for me (and for the other friend as well) through highschool and by our parents was that you have to dress professionally whenever it comes to work. If you work at a pool, professional dress is a bathing suit. If you work in construction, it’s work boots, jeans and a hard hat. When you go and drop off resumés, you should wear at a minimum, the following:

  • Khakis (or similar half-way dress pants, preferably ironed if you can swing it)
  • A button-up shirt (buttons all the way, not just a golf shirt. Tuck it in. Once again, the iron is your friend)
  • Nice shoes (in good repair at very least. Clean, if you didn’t have to walk for an hour to get to the place)
  • No hat. Never a hat (why would you even wear a hat indoors?)

We had a guy come by the office the other day wearing jeans, beat up running shoes, a dirty t-shirt and a hat on sort of crooked. Even if we were hiring, we would be less likely to hire him precisely because he didn’t take any care to clean himself up for a first impression (and if that was him cleaning up, we probably don’t want him). It (and the quality of resumés we get handed to us) makes me wonder what the Grade 10 careers class actually teaches. It’s pretty pointless to ask 14-year-olds to pick their futures but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to give them some basic job-hunting skills.