Monday, October 4, 2010

Steps to Dressing for Business

In the business world, appearance can impact success at getting interviews, expanding networks, pitching new business, and being seriously considered for a higher-level position. Most companies do care about how their employees dress, as employees are the face of their company and brand(s).

As a professional, how can your appearance help you make a great impression?

Step 1: Follow general rules of professional dress code, such as:
  • Maintain good hygiene: Clean-shaven, understated makeup, non-offensive body odor.
  • Keep clothes neat: Avoid tattered, wrinkled, or stained clothing.
  • Dress for work, not leisure: Even in casual dress environments, avoid wearing t-shirts, shorts, or revealing clothes.
Step 2: Identify dress code specific to your company, profession, and industry.
  • Review company dress code policy: Most companies publish a dress code policy, Take some time to review it—then follow it.
  • Consider the industry, profession and position: If you’re working in the financial industry, expect the emphasis to be on conservative, professional dress. A graphic designer at an ad agency may be able to wear business casual. And in industrial environments where uniform shirts/pants may be the norm, your emphasis should be on tidiness. Additionally, consider your position in the organization; for example, executive managers may have to dress professionally even though business casual is acceptable in the organization.
Step 3: Consider the business occasion for which you are dressing.
  • Interviews: You should always error on the side of caution when dressing for an interview. Stick to professional dress. For men, this means a suit or dress shirt/pants, and for women it means a suit or blouse and skirt/dress slacks (a skirt should be at or below knee level). Conservative colors, like blue and black, and minimal accessories will be well-received.
  • Business conferences: Most conferences will specify a preferred dress code and even a detailed dress code for certain events. In general, business casual is most common, but if your company is an event sponsor or presenter, you may need to dress more professionally. Think about your appearance even during non-conference hours, like relaxing in the lobby or flying home. You never know who you’ll meet, and your appearance should always make a professional impression.
  • Networking events: Networking events are opportunities to make new professional contacts. Many people find networking uncomfortable and have to really talk themselves into meeting someone new. Chances are they are going to target someone who not only looks approachable but who dresses for success. At a minimum, dress business casual for networking.

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