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Hiding a Job Search

Q: I work in an office that has a casual atmosphere. Next week I have a job interview at a company with a much more formal office culture, so I would be expected to wear a suit and carry a briefcase to the interview. Everyone who knows me will pick up on it, because I’m usually pretty blasé about my appearance. Annette, how can I escape detection?

A: Hiding a job search takes careful planning and constant attention to detail. I find it easier to hide a lover than a job search - a cooperative lover, anyway.

The secret to pulling something off is...pulling it off. So keep your focus on presenting yourself well at the interview. Do you want your body language to say, "I just told my boss a lie about where I was going and then changed in my car"? N-O, no.

This occasion should be the next best thing to a spa day. Find the most upscale hotel you can between your office and the interview - one with luxurious restrooms in the lobby with cloth hand towels and doting attendants. On the day of the interview, leave your suit with the concierge before work. Change in the hotel restroom on the way to the interview. Be sure to wipe your face and hands with a hot towel. Check your casual clothes. Change again on the way back to your office, and reclaim your suit at the end of the day. Tip generously, of course.

There's nothing like a job search to remind you how great it feels to wear nice clothes. If you follow these simple steps, you will send your prospective employer signals that say, "I just came from a luxury hotel, where people provided me with personal services because I know what I'm worth."