Your workplace appearance really does matter. If an employer sees you as a professional, they will treat you as one. Throughout my career, I have witnessed many workplace appearance mistakes. Here are a few tips to help you present yourself professionally.
- First impressions last. Whether it’s an interview, the first day on the job, or the first time you meet a new client, you need to look like you belong there. We are all guilty of judging a book by its cover. A businessperson dresses as a businessperson. Dressing professionally provides a boost of confidence that will help you in the interview, make the sales call or have a discussion with your boss. If you look in the mirror before leaving for work and wonder, even for a second, if your outfit is appropriate, you should change the outfit. It is better to be regarded as hardworking and professional than as the office fashionista. So let your work do the shining while you dress conservatively. Also, in the foggy world of business casual, remember that the emphasis should be on the business and not the casual.
- Always follow the company dress code. Your co-workers will notice when you dress inappropriately. Read the code and follow it. If you are unsure about what to wear to a particular meeting, ask your supervisor for guidance.
- It is called an iron – learn to use it. A messy appearance sends the message that you don’t care about your job. Budget for dry cleaning if you can’t bear to pull out the iron and use it consistently.
- Fit matters. Can you button your suit jacket? If not, it’s time for a new suit. Men, make sure your pants are hemmed correctly. Women, pay attention to fit and length when purchasing skirts and pants. Consider tailoring to ensure a correct fit. Clothes should also fit properly while sitting, so have a seat in the dressing room to assess whether they offer a professional appearance from that angle as well.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Instead of looking at your peers for dress suggestions, look to the bosses and upper management for cues on what to wear to work. They are most likely getting it right.
- No smell vs. too much of a smell. Employers can see you and they can also smell you. A recruiter once commented about a candidate he had just interviewed, “she wore the perfume my ex-wife used to wear.” That was not a favorable memory for him. Play it safe and don’t stand out at work for your cologne or perfume. Your co-workers will appreciate it.
- Men notice other men’s shoes and women notice other women’s nails. Shoes should be comfortable, conservative, clean and polished. The most conservative dress shoe for a man has laces. Ladies, either your nails need to be neat and unpolished or neatly polished.
- Put some effort into your appearance. Ladies, dry and style your hair and wear some makeup. Don’t come to work with wet hair. Men, shave and trim your facial hair. Being well groomed is a signal to employers that you take your job seriously.
- No gum. Gum is always considered unprofessional. Use breath mints instead.
- Cover your tattoos. Many companies have policies against visible tattoos. Be sure you know the company’s policy. You can purchase makeup to cover tattoos, so consider making that investment vs. covering tattoos with a Band-Aid.
Presenting yourself professionally will help an employer see you positively. That can translate into the new job or promotion.
This article appeared in the October 29, 2016 edition of the News-Leader and can be accessed online here.
Vickie Hicks is the corporate relations specialist for the College of Business at Missouri State University. Hicks has over 25 years’ experience in marketing, communications and college recruiting and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.