So you’ve got the education, the experience and now the job. What’s next? Your wardrobe. Think appearance doesn’t matter? Think again. Employers report that unkempt job seekers need not apply.
Advancing in a career is a result of having the whole package, and dressing professionally is a big part of that package.
“Perception is reality,” explains Department of Economic Security (DES) Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services (DERS) Workforce Supervisor, Kenda Robinson. “Dressing professionally tells the world that employees not only have respect for themselves, but also for the job.”
Clean, tailored clothing tells colleagues and clients alike that you are a professional who should be taken seriously. Robinson says clothing can affect a person’s attitude on-the-job, and points out that a professional wardrobe can actually convey the kind of confidence managers notice.
Robinsons believes the famous quote “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” to be true, and says it is not uncommon to see well-dressed employees succeed and get promoted.
She believes in the importance of dressing professionally so much, that the DES Kingman office where she works proudly displays a mirror that reads, “Would you hire this person?” for colleagues and clients to ponder when they visit.
It’s an important question to consider not only before a job interview, but also each day before going into work. If you have any doubts about your outfit, are concerned the look may not be appropriate for work, or you just don’t feel confident with what you’re wearing - change. If your #OOTD (outfit of the day) is not quite right, it will show in your attitude and others will sense it.
So what does it mean to dress professionally? Robinson makes several recommendations for both men and women:
- Clothing should be neatly pressed.
- Clothing should be clean and without holes.
- Women should not show cleavage and should avoid short skirts and dresses.
- Super high heels are not appropriate for the workplace, even if they are in style.
She advises men and women against being flashy. Instead, aim for a more conservative look. Robinson points out many times job seekers nail the professional look during their interview, but let it go once they land the gig.
“You have to keep it up,” says Robinson.
She adds “casual days” at the office do not give employees permission to show up to work in sweatpants or flip-flops. It’s acceptable for employees to arrive with more of a relaxed look on those days, but being work appropriate is still necessary.
You don’t have to go broke stocking your closet with professional clothing. DES partners with places like Goodwill which sells affordable professional clothing at low cost. Once a week, all inventory is 50% off, and it’s not uncommon for sale-savvy shoppers to leave with a complete outfit for less than $10.
DES workforce specialists also know about additional free or discounted clothing options for clients specific to their area. In Mohave County, clients are often referred to Mohave County Community Services which will provide them with a free professional outfit. Maricopa County job seekers can get free work attire at St. Joseph the Worker, and women in the Phoenix area can also obtain complimentary options at Dress for Success. In Pima County, individuals can receive free professional wear at the New Life Resource Center and Gospel Rescue Mission Community Ministries Center.
Robinson says the resources are out there, and adds that a lot of thrift stores will give highly discounted or even free clothing to job seekers. “All they have to do is ask.”
Please visit our Employment Services page for more information about the free DES workforce services.
By Jillian Seamans