Dressing to Impress and How That Can Have a Huge Impact on Your Professional Career

Guest Blogger: Joe Whyte

Taking the time to look your absolute best for your job can create short term and long term benefits for your life. People who dress professionally and maintain their appearance project confidence, leadership, intelligence and a healthy degree of attractiveness in the eyes of any beholder. Not only are these theories supported by anecdotal evidence but by studies. Dressing to impress doesn’t have to be difficult.

Dressing to Impress

Dr. Frank Bernieri, an associate professor of psychology at Oregon State University, recently conducted just such a study in which he probed employers about the traits they deem most favorable of prospective applicants. Conservative, polished dress and a well groomed appearance was at the top of the list. Dr. Bernieri also found most employers make a decision in an interview about an applicant’s rightness for the job within 10-30 seconds of a first meeting.

This means you have literally the amount of time it takes your future boss to blink once or twice to impress them. And even after you get the job, ensuring your message of gravitas, integrity and efficiency remains strong is tantamount to staying crisp, coiffed, cuffed, clean—impeccably turned out at all times when on on the job.

At the the University of Illinois Extension, an entire mini-course and series of online tutorials have been devoted to teaching job seekers the importance of appearance, style, and how dressing well impacts one’s career and professional life. Your overall look and your actions determine what people think of you, so says the opening on the ‘Introduction’ page. The unknown authors go on to comment that manifesting positive results begins with emitting positivity, namely in the form clean clothing.

Considering that many people have jobs entailing the use of uniforms, the same ‘laws’ of cleanliness and professionalism also apply. Stained and wrinkled uniforms or scrub uniforms send the wrong message about who you are. It’s quite alright if you fancy yourself relaxed and down-to-earth, but unwashed, smelly, soiled uniforms are not the way to project these qualities. Keep your uniforms laundered and fresh at all times, and allow your calm, laid-back, in-control personality to speak for itself.

Imagine you get pulled over by a cop. He approaches your vehicle wearing mud-splattered boots and dirty trousers bursting at the seams. Said cop has grease and dirt under his nails and ring around the collar. Who would take such a cop seriously? Who wouldn’t turn right around and report said nasty cop to his superiors? And wouldn’t such a cop get written up?

There’s a reason law enforcement and military personnel are held to the highest standards of cleanliness and appearance. Part of why all the rest of us respect them is because they are always – always – immaculate.

It’s not just the picture-perfect quality associated with soldiers and cops that turns our heads and gets our reverence. Tailored finery and polished hardware convey authority, strength, know-how, power and a go-get-’em quality. This is exactly what unblemished, well-fitting, brilliant uniforms or suits/outfits can do for any civilian.

There is another belief that dressing well is beneficial to those whose looks are not magazine cover worthy. Clean, elegant, comfortable but formal clothing can literally augment okay physical traits. Combined with an outgoing and gracious personality, dressing to impress can turn the average looking person into a very likable boy/girl next door.

The other side of this theory concerns the fact we live in a looks oriented culture, a culture that subtracts popularity points from everyday looking people but also enables these same people to win some points back through smart, dashing clothing/uniforms and a winning attitude.

It’s said clothes speak volumes to not only who you are but, more importantly, who you think you are and would like to be. This is the Official Version of yourself impressive dress can help you send out to the world. It’s the first and last, most crucial detail people notice about you: A detail that clinches jobs and promotions for you… or not.


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