The focus on inner beauty and acceptance is an important social trend, but the business world does not conform to it. In the professional realm, it is often a mistake to trust in your personality and skill to carry you through. In most cases, the way you dress can have a significant impact on your career.
Employees are representatives of a company. Whether they are meeting new clients or sitting in the office, their appearances communicate volumes about the company culture and how it approaches projects. Unkempt or overly casual employees can indicate, often unfairly, that the company takes an equally casual approach to work. When a manager is looking for an employee to take the lead with a new client, the way you dress can help or hurt your chances. In many cases, a manager may be more likely to choose a person who looks professional and put together over a person who wears jeans and a t-shirt. As the conventional wisdom states, dressing for the job you want can help employers see you as a viable candidate.
First impressions are important in the business world. Whether you are going to a job interview or making contacts at a networking event, people will automatically make judgements about you based on the way you dress. If you are wearing neat, professional clothing, it is easier for the other party to focus on your personality and expertise. Wrinkled, frumpy or casual clothes, on the other hand, can work against you; instead of supporting your professional image, they act as a distraction and a detraction.
Within the workplace, the way you dress can be a non-issue or a distraction. Co-workers and supervisors may have a harder time taking an employee who wears low-cut shirts, high skirts or tight pants seriously. Unprofessional dress can affect the way your colleagues view you, which damages relationships and cuts off valuable collaboration opportunities before they begin. Even in industries that have more flexible dress codes, such as fashion or design, it is almost always advisable for both genders to avoid overexposure.
For ambitious professionals, it is almost always advisable to stick to the company dress code and avoid extremes in the way you dress. Wear clothing that fits well, and ensure that it is neat and free of stains. Don't be afraid to show off your personality with funky prints, bright colors or bold accessories as long as they do not pull focus from the quality of your work. When in doubt look to your supervisors and other respected executives as examples.
Although it can feel unfair or antiquated, the way you dress can have a considerable impact on your image within a company and an industry. Professional clothing is particularly important for younger professionals who are building their presence. By following the rules early in your career, you can keep the focus on your excellent work and advance accordingly.
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