By Gerry Mattingly, Evolve
No matter your personal convictions about war, the government or the politics driving it all, I think most of us would agree that we owe a debt to the men and women of United States Armed Forces who ensure that we safely and freely live our lives.
During our Trolley Hop last Friday, the Frankfort Avenue Business Association hosted 50 soldiers recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan.
According to the organizers, the response from local businesses along the Hop route was overwhelming.
Personally I don’t know when I’ve been prouder to be a part of something – not only because of the huge amount of respect I have for these men and women – but because the event also gave traction to Chapter Two of Evolve, Wear It Forward.
Wear It Forward will be a non-profit offshoot organization dedicated to connecting veterans in transition to civilian employment, providing them with appropriate interview clothing and a starter closet.
Wear it Forward will also give them the resources to navigate the unwritten rules of the road when it comes to dressing and presenting themselves appropriately in a business situation.
Many of these guys went from high school jeans and t-shirt wardrobes to military uniforms. So when they are discharged, they don’t have the tools needed to put them on a level playing field with more experienced civilian job seekers.
How you stack up visually can be the most unknown of the quantities because like it or not – legal or not – if you don’t present well, you can recite the Dead Sea Scrolls by heart and you still aren’t going to get the job.
People don’t generally hire people who aren’t like them, no matter what law or published “hiring practices” applicants think they might have on their side.
That is the fundamental truth, legal or not.
The job interview is not the place to express your individuality or assert you’re inalienable right to be you.
It’s the place you verbally present your skills and visually show them you will fit in at the water cooler. Agreed, the latter might carry much more weight than it should, but it’s just the way it is out there.
Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines don’t have to break the bank to put themselves in what will probably be better threads than their interviewer is wearing.
I know you know where I’m going with this and here goes….
Military people will be able to benefit from resale/consignment shops, annd not only because of the value.
As I’ve said in previous posts, the people working there are local business owners who have handpicked inventory with their customers’ needs in mind and are anxious to help them look their best at an affordable price.
Not to mention the fact that most of the local business owners have been on the other side of desk as hiring managers and can help military people navigate the unwritten rules of the road.
Even in a business-casual environment, former military people have to wear a suit to the big interview.
Even if they tell candidates they don’t have wear a suit, going formal demonstrates vets have chosen to take the high road and that this job means that much.
Even if they’re vying for a blue collar position, it’s important to be well dressed – at a minimum a pressed pair of khaki slacks and long sleeve shirt.
In either case, take as much care with shoes as with clothing. Wear a current style polished shoe that’s outfit appropriate.
No matter which direction vets are coming at it from, what they wear will be the first impression – and possibly the deciding vote as to whether they are hired.
So they don’t hide all that experience, knowledge and enthusiasm under an unkempt, outdated shell that quite possibly will take them out of the candidate pool before the ever had a shot.
About Gerry Mattingly: Gerry Mattingly is a former certified public accountant who left the profession two years ago to open Evolve, a high-end menswear consignment store in the Crescent Hill neighborhood.