Dress for success

Dress for success

“Clothes don’t make a man, but clothes have got many a man a good job.” — Herbert Harold Vreeland.

Regardless of your personal style and natural proclivities, dressing up for work can be quite a minefield. The question — “What do I wear to work?” — is a very familiar refrain for most people who have ever had to get out of bed and get dressed for work. The dilemma of what to wear to work is accentuated when you work in an environment where there is no official dress code, industry standard or uniforms.

Let us face it: The way you dress oftentimes influences how you are addressed. If your destination is success, then proper planning is a critical step on your journey. Plan what to wear ahead of time. “What do I wear” is a question you should ask yourself every week and not every day. At the end each week, decide and prepare what you will wear for the next week. That way, over the weekend, you are able to sort out any laundry issues that may affect your plans.

Always begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve in life?” “How do I want to achieve it?” As abstract as these questions may appear, your ability to answer them will determine your daily actions, a critical one being the way you dress.

Always ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve today?” Asking this question helps you determine how to dress for the day. If you have an interview for example or a critical meeting or will be on the factory floor lifting heavy loads, then you want to dress appropriately.

How do I look? Clean clothes are the first point to note. What you wear sometimes does not matter as much as how it looks on you. Keep it clean and neat. This will include well-polished shoes, well-manicured nails, well-groomed hair and beards (for men), and light makeup for women.

How practical and appropriate is my outfit? A combination of functionality, style, affordability and fit is critical to dressing for success. Most blue-collar jobs do not require formal wear or business suits. So when attending an interview for a factory job position for example, a clean pair of jeans or khakis and tucked-in shirt with well-polished work boots show that you are not only ready for work but are a meticulous person who pays attention to detail. That may prove to be the key you need to get in through the door.

How do I want to be perceived by my boss or potential boss? Think not only of your comfort, but also the impression you exude when you dress. Always put your best foot forward. Determine to make a good first impression every time.

What is the company policy on dressing? Where the organization has a specific policy for dressing, it is important to keep that in mind when shopping for a work wardrobe. If you are going for an interview, it is instructive to research about the organization’s dress code. If you cannot find anything online or you do not have any contacts within the organization to ask, you can stop by the parking lot and observe how the employees are dressed or even go to the front desk and make enquiries. Remember, you do not get a second chance to make a first impression.

What is the industry standard on dressing? If you are in an industry where there is a general acceptable industry convention, then do all you can to stick with it. Such professions like law, accounting and corporate business have a formal or business-casual way of dressing. Research it.

Finally, dress with tomorrow in mind, especially when going for an interview. How do you want to be perceived by your interviewer? Potential employers judge candidates generally by appearance: how they talk and what they say. However, experts have discovered that recruiters (over 50 percent of the time) naturally gravitate toward the better dressed candidates.

“Most people don’t take clothing seriously enough, but whether we should or not, clothes do talk to us, and we make decisions based on people’s appearances.” — G. Bruce Boyer.

About Getting Ahead:

The Getting Ahead Program — or GAP as we affectionately refer to it — is the client curriculum of the Bridges out of Poverty Series that is currently being encouraged in the community by United Way to reduce poverty by 2025.

The goal of the program is to help members of the community find their way out of poverty through knowledge, resources and employment. This is achieved through classes that are held twice a week for 3 1/2 hours each session; a peer-to-peer-based program that involves discussion-based learning, not teaching; and a kitchen-table-talk-style design, not a classroom.

A new class will commence March 19. Call Olufemi Olugbemiro, the Getting Ahead Program coordinator, at 330-264-8677 or email oolugbemiro@cawm.org.

The office is at 905 Pittsburgh Ave. in Wooster.

The Employment Resource Fund at the Wayne County Community Foundation is a local, self-sustaining work and education fund. Its mission is to build a skilled workforce in Wayne County by providing grants to local nonprofits with employment programs that increase the success of their students, clients or employees. In turn the nonprofit spends small amounts of money on hard-working adults to help them get jobs or better jobs.

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