How to dress for the job you want
They say that you should not dress for the job you have, but rather for the job you want. And they say this for a reason. In a perfect world, one would be judged purely on their skill or talent; however we live far from a perfect world. In our world, people can and do judge you as a person, as well as judge your skills depending on how you dress. This applies not only to first impressions, which are of the utmost value, as once set, they cannot be changed. But also to people you see every day.
In fact, did you know that between two people who do the same amount of work and have a similar skill set, the one who dresses well and more professionally, is more likely to get recognition for their work. They are also more likely to get a promotion, as they are generally seen as being more professional, even though same work and same skillset. Similarly, in an interview, the one who is better dressed, i.e. more professionally is more likely to get a job, than someone who is more casually dressed, even if the casual one is more qualified. Hey, it isn’t fair, we hear ya, but sadly you gotta play the game. Well, you do if you want a job and want to eat.
It should be noted that the only time the more traditionally dressed person might not get a job over the more casually dressed one is if they are applying for a job in the more creatively inclined fields or in startups, where skillsets and thinking out of the box is credited more than what you are wearing. In fact, in these places, dressing traditionally might play against you as you might be seen as too traditional and straight laced. However, everywhere else, especially in companies and corporations, traditional and professional dressings reign.
So, in order to help you out, here are certain tips to how you can dress for the job you want, whether that is a job you are interviewing for, or a promotion you are vying for. And even if it is neither of these two, following these tips might just give a boost to your job performance and recognition that you’ll get. Well, in any case it can’t hurt, can it?
Suits, Slacks, or Skirts
Many businesses might look down upon wearing jeans, shorts, cargo pants, etc. The best way to impress people is to wear a suit. The ideal would be a tailored suit that is cut from the same cloth and fits well, and is paired with a matching shirt, tie, and shoes. However, this is no longer the 1920s, so one can experiment a bit. This of course depends on the company culture as well. Some companies might require one to wear proper suits to office for both men and women, though women might be allowed to wear a skirt suit.
But if the company is not that strict, then one might be able to get away with wearing trousers or slacks with a blazer, or even with just a pants and shirt with or without the tie. Similarly, women have a lot more options in business casuals. They can wear trousers, slacks, and skirts with blazers, sweaters, or cardigans. They can even get away with wearing cute tops and blouses with different types of pants and skirts, and can even pull of dresses or jumpsuits.
Still, it is best that you wear a traditional suit for an interview, unless you are applying for a job in a more creatively inclined company or a startup as previously stated. Even then, business casual would be best to make a decent first impression, unless you know for a fact that they prefer casual, laid back or eccentric clothing. Better safe than sorry.
The clothes maketh the man
Whenever in doubt as to what is appropriate and what is not, it is best to take social cues. Look at how your colleagues dress, especially the ones that tend to get the most importance by the management, i.e. the hot shots of the company. Try to emulate their clothes and dressing styles, because then the management will automatically club you with them. You do have to copy them exactly, but if wouldn’t hurt to see what they are wearing and mold it to fit you style and flair. Remember the adage, “the clothes maketh the man!”
Or even better yet, instead of dressing like your colleagues, dress like your boss instead. You know as long as it doesn’t seem out of place, or looks like you are trying to suck up to the boss. You can even make a gradual change. But remember, the main idea is to dress for the job you want, and down the line you do want your boss’s job don’t you, so might as well as start now.
Act like it
Just dressing up is not enough. You have to also internalize your dreams. Act like the job you want. Take on more responsibility if you can. Take on more of a leadership role. Take initiative. The job you want is probably of your boss, right; something of a leadership position, at least mid-management if not higher. Then you need to pay attention to the requirements of that job, and emulate them. If you act like a leader, then others will see you as a leader, and you are more likely to be moved up to a leadership position. If you don’t act like a leader, then no one will see you as one. So why would they put you in a leadership position?
Step by Step
However, there is a fine line between trying and kissing ass. While it is good to take on new things, and try to impress your leaders, you don’t want to appear to be kissing ass, which you will if you are known to wear jeans and hoodies to the office every day, but show up in a full suit the next day. People are going to call you on it, assuming that you have something planned, or have an ulterior motive, which you do; you want your boss’s job. However, that is not likely to win you any points is it?
So, the smarter idea would be to transition from one to the other. Switch out the hoodie for a jacket. Then switch out the t-shirts for some button down shirts, and later the jeans for some trousers or slacks. The next step would be transition from sneakers to some loafers or even oxfords and derbies if you feel like it. Take it at your own pace and do what feels natural. Don’t force the transformation and don’t feel like you have to do it in a day. Take your own time, after all, you are doing thing mostly for yourself.
Did you know that a recent study has proven that clothes can alter the mindset? This means wearing more professional clothing can make you feel and act more professional, which will make other people take notice and think of you as the perfect candidate for the job, or the promotion.