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Perception plays a major role in career advancement. Fair or not, your appearance can shape how others think of you in a professional sense. Dressing for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have, can help to change others’ perceptions of you and allow them to see you in that position. Start dressing for success with these five tips.

Determine Your Desired Image

There is no standard rule-of-thumb for professional attire across all industries – what is acceptable for higher-up positions in one field may be out of place in another. Think about your career goals and how you want to be perceived, and then observe the style of the professionals who currently hold that role. Knowing the look you’re striving for is the first step in dressing the part.

Abide by the Dress Codes

At most organizations, there are two dress codes: formal (Human Resources policy) and informal (how employees interpret the formal dress code within the company culture). Prevent looking unprofessional by ensuring that you meet the official dress code. However, dressing in a manner that doesn’t align with the culture – such as wearing a conservative business suit when executives wear trendy, business casual outfits – can make you seem out of touch, so pay close attention and tailor your choices accordingly.

Err Towards Slightly Overdressed

Sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to research or observe how a particular organization or role tends to dress, especially for an interview. When it doubt, go for the dressier version of your options. Being a bit overdressed can work in your favor by demonstrating that you are professional and take yourself and the opportunity seriously, while being underdressed – even in a casual environment – may make people subconsciously question your qualifications.

Invest in Key Pieces

Treat your wardrobe with strategy, and allocate your available funds toward basic and versatile professional pieces that make you look and feel confident. Create a foundation that you can build upon with inexpensive additions. Concentrate on selecting items that fit well and come in neutral colors that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits.

Master the Details

What people tend to evaluate your professionalism on is often your attention to grooming, more so than your outfit itself. You could be decked out in a designer suit and still project an unprofessional image if your outfit is wrinkled, your hair is messy, or you’re wearing too much cologne. Master the basics of grooming yourself in a neat manner and practice minimalism with scents and/or makeup to prevent distracting from your professionalism.

Get more chances to dress to impress hiring managers with Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions.  We work with candidates to match them with job opportunities in the Hudson Valley area. Since 1969, we have been a trusted staffing resource for candidates and area employers alike.  Register online to start working with Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions.