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Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


4.29.2013

Did You Dress To Impress or To Fool Your Future Employer?

A woman wore a conservative suit to her interview but showed up for her first day of work wearing a short leather skirt, high boots, and a number of long chains around her neck. She was sent home to change.

Another new employee wore a long-sleeve shirt and pants to his interview, but on his first day at work he wore short sleeves and shorts that revealed numerous tattoos on his arms and legs. This casual clothing was acceptable for his job, but the employee manual that he had been given clearly stated that tattoos were not to be displayed. He was sent home to change.

Both bosses told me that they felt deceived.

Prospective employees often will dress up for interviews, and then dress more casually for their daily jobs. This change is anticipated by employers, assuming professional dress is not required for a position. However, when new employees significantly alter their professional images by changing their clothing choices, how they wear their clothes, or their grooming, they are being unfair to their employers.

Such behavior also may damage a new employee’s reputation. The boss could question the decision to hire that person, and doubt his or her professionalism. Clearly, that is not the way to start a new job.

Consider whether you are playing bait-and-switch.? How would you answer the following questions? Do you think your answers would make your employer feel misled?

• Were your clothes clean and pressed for the interview, but now look like they need a visit to the cleaners?

• Are you dressing provocatively? Is your skirt significantly shorter or tighter than when you interviewed? Are you revealing cleavage?

• Were you clean-shaven at the interview, but started to grow a beard as soon as you were hired? (One man told me he had done this, but he said it had set him apart from other employees, so he planned to shave.)

• Are you dressing flamboyantly? Did you interview in a nondescript shirt and tie, yet show up for work in very bright-colored shirts or ties with slogans?

You want to dress appropriately for your position. If you are unsure about what to wear, ask the hiring manager for advice, or read the dress code, if there is one. You can also look at what other employees are wearing and model your choices after theirs.

Additional information can be found in my new book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat and Tweet Your Way to Success (McGraw Hill). Reserve your copy now at Amazon.

To receive more workplace attire tips, LIKE us on www.facebook.com/pachtertraining

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous5/08/2013

    From A Reader:
    Great article, Barbara. You bring up such an important point. Part of the problem I see with the youth with whom I work is that they want to get the job, will dress the way I have shown them to get it, and then want to go back to their old ways once the job has been secured. In working with them, there has to be a balance of individuality vs. following the rules at work. And your article makes a very valid case for showing them why they can dress however they want when they aren't at work...but at work...follow the company rules in order to fit in.

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