If you go

What: Men’s and Women’s UTC Suit Up

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21

Where: JCPenney at Hamilton Place

Admission: Free, but pre-registration is required at utc.edu/suitup. Bring your UTC ID to the event.

Information: Free bus transportation to and from Hamilton Place will be provided at the University Center, but you must sign up for that, too. Buses will run on a continuous loop throughout the three-hour event.

Sponsored by UTC Pre-Health Professions Advising and University Career Services


If you don’t look professional, you may not get to be a professional.

It’s a pretty well-established rule in the business world that wearing the wrong clothes to a job interview can land you on the “reject” pile, even if your resume contains one amazing fact after another.

“You’ve got a great student candidate; they’re really sharp in their field and they’ve got some experience, and they show up and their attire just doesn’t reflect the type of readiness or professionalism that the student projects,” says Robert Liddell, director of University Career Services.

Getting students to understand the importance of attire is one of the goals of Suit Up, an event set for Jan. 21 in which professional fitting experts, career counselors and style consultants will help students — both male and female — pick out business-appropriate clothes.

At the event, which takes place at JCPenney in Hamilton Place, students will receive a 40-percent off coupon to help them cover the price of the clothes. Cost can be very real issue when a student is trying to piece together a job-interview outfit.

“Maybe students don’t have money that they can devote to building a professional wardrobe,” Liddell says.

It might be possible, however, to “chip away at it, you can build it over time,” he adds.

“Maybe put aside a little of each paycheck and pick up a shirt or a belt or a nice pair of shoes,” he says. “It can be very, very overwhelming to drop a good amount of money on three or four business suits and accessories. Most students — and most folks — aren’t able to do that.”

Overall, juniors and seniors seem to have a pretty good idea of what type of clothing is appropriate for a job interview,” Liddell says, but freshmen and sophomores sometimes need a bit of help.

“We think of that as kind of an educational moment where we can say, ‘To put your best foot forward, we really encourage you to wear a shirt that’s ironed or slacks instead of jeans or closed-toe shoes as opposed to open-toed sandals.”

As a general rule, he says, go conservative when choosing your business attire.

“A very solid or subtly-patterned suit. Grays, navy, black, those are staples. And that goes to pantsuits or dresses with a jacket for women as well.

“Invest a little bit more in shoes. That’s what I’ve always believed in. If you can get a nice, comfortable pair of dress shoes in black or brown, you should spend a little bit extra there. If you’ve got a pair of ill-fitting shoes, you know how bad those can be.”

Wait until you’ve got the job and have spent a little time working with others before you start showing off your personality with purple shirts and screamingly-loud ties. And maybe you shouldn’t ever break those out.

“It’s your job as the new member of the team for the organization to kind of hone your style sense. You can show some of your personality, but it’s always important to aim for the conservative, neutral jumping-off point,” Liddell says.

It’s also important to understand what clothing is right for your chosen career field, he notes.

“For instance, if you’re going to a civil engineer, showing up for an interview in a three-piece suit might not be received the right way,” he says. “But if you’ve got a nice pair of pants that have been pressed and a nice, solid-color shirt and a blazer or something like that, that absolutely works well. Not everyone necessarily needs to dress like a banker.”

Wait until you’ve got the job and have spent a little time working with others before you start showing off your personality with purple shirts and screamingly-loud ties.

But the one piece of attire that’s absolutely necessary? A “Power C” pin, he says.

“It gets noticed; it really does,” Liddell says.



Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.