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Career Success: Dress the Part

Like many job seekers, you may think that looking good on paper is all it takes to get hired - especially with Internet applications becoming the norm - but the way you present yourself to potential employers when you meet them largely affects whether or not you get the job.

Yes, a firm handshake is necessary, but it's only a start. In order to ensure career success, you must dress the part of the professional you are.

Professional men shaking hands in the office

Follow these steps to dress for the interview and beyond:

1. Modesty is the key.

professional good looking woman in a suit

While it may be okay to wear a low-cut V-neck to a night out on the town, it's far from appropriate attire for the office. Practice modesty. You'll impress your potential employer and ensure that they feel comfortable interviewing you.

  • Refrain from wearing anything that is too low-cut or too tight. Your shirt should show very little to no cleavage, and your skirt should hit your knee. It's okay to wear a skirt without stockings, but it's wise to cover up.

2. When in doubt, overdress.

If your coworkers wear casual attire, that's their choice. However, it's likely holding them back from advancing further or receiving promotions. Stand out in a good way by overdressing for the job. If possible, take note of what management wears and try to style your clothing according to their formality.

happy young black businessman in a corporate suite talking on the phone

If you look assertive and professional, you'll be treated as such. If your attire is on par with that of the higher-ups in the company, they're more likely to think highly of you. In turn, you'll be in a favorable position for a promotion.

  • Of course, a professional is only part of the equation. Ensure that both the quality of your work and your appearance are excellent in order to fast-track your career.

3. Wear the right shoes.

Women are generally encouraged to wear heels to work. However, appropriate heels for work are different than ones you'd wear on a night in town.

  • Heels that are 2.5" to 3.5" are considered appropriate. If you're in a creative environment, you can likely go as high as 4". But, avoid shoes that go over the 5" mark in all office environments.

  • Solid colors are standard. Avoid patterned, glittery shoes with all of the bells and whistles. As with any other attire, conservative is best.

4. Proper grooming.

Guy shaving his beard with a razor in front of the mirror

When entering a professional workplace, you must look like a professional. Therefore, your hair should be tamed, your fingernails should be clean and well-groomed, and body odor should be under control.

  • Men: Get a haircut regularly and comb your hair every morning before work. Shave your face and ensure that your fingernails are clean.

young professional looking employee sitting in front of a laptop

  • Ladies: Make sure your hair looks presentable. And of course, where makeup is concerned, less is more.

If you want the management in your company to take you seriously, your attire must show them you're skilled enough to eventually be in their shoes. When in doubt, overdress and dress conservatively. When your dress is appropriate and your work is top-notch, you're sure to get noticed at the office for all the right reasons.


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