Dressing down

Hello, I was told that I need to dress smartly when I go to an employment exhibition or a careers fair. WTF? What does it matter what I look like? It's not like it's a job interview or anything so I'd have thought that jeans and tee shirt would be okay. What does anyone think?

Hi Darby,

It might be worth considering any meetings you have at such places as a form of preliminary job interview.

When you meet someone from a potential employer, three things can happen: you get remembered for all the right reasons; you get remembered for the wrong reasons; you get instantly forgotten.

No prizes for guessing which one is best!

Wherever you are, if you’re likely to be meeting someone from a prospective employer, dress up, not down. Many organisations need almost all of their staff to have at least some client-facing skills. If you look like the survivor from a zombie party and will scare Grannies and children, you won’t be considered, even if the assessor supports your personal dress code.

My suggestion is to choose your battles carefully in life. Dress and behave however you like in your own time because doing it with a pay slip in your back pocket is generally more fun than being argumentative and unemployed.

#justsaying :)

Good luck, interested to hear your views on what I’ve said there.

By Jon Gregory

It's that sort of comment that makes me sick. I don't want people telling me how to look and dress and yes think!!!! Cos that's wot ur doing.
By JuzyeeLoocy --


Hi JuzyeeLoocy,

No disrespect intended, but some days I have enough trouble telling myself what to think, let alone finding the spare capacity to instruct others :)

My point is that people paying wages pay it to people who they best think will help the most. This was a genuine conversation from a few years ago:

Katya asked, "Jon, do you mind if I turn up in jeans and tee shirt to the office? I think they're more relaxed."

The reply was, "Not at all, so long as you don't mind if that ultimately influences your promotion, career and pay prospects - go to it!"

Bit harsh I suppose, but Katya always did continue to dress smartly after that. As a departmental manager, and effectively an employer, I wanted people to be sharp and on the ball. If everyone looked like a slob, I'd worry it would impact negatively on the general mindset of people being focussed and professional.

Hope that helps, cheers

By Jon Gregory

Why would that help? Ur a dinosaur! Things have moved on and even cheef executives don't wear ties and jackets. If I want to turn up in a thong and nippleclamps that's down to me, not someone like you that wants to control everything.
By JuzyeeLoocy --


Sure, do exactly what you like - no worries as far as I'm concerned (although, can I have the video rights if you work in supermarket? :) ).

I'm not trying to be offensive, I just want to point out that how you look (and behave) WILL influence a) whether you get hired or not and b) whether you get kept on or not and c) whether your career progresses or it begins to smell of burning kerosene as it ploughs into the ground.

If you absolutely want to look and behave in a certain way, target your job hunting efforts on roles where you'll fit in. You'll be more successful than hoping to turn up to work in a thong and nipple-clamps if you're bent on a career in the funeral industry.

By Jon Gregory

But what about JuzyeeLoocy's comment on chief executives and ties? They appear in public like that and it doesn't do any harm does it?
By Darby Jones

Hi Darby,

They do appear in public and on TV etc. without ties and jackets and it doesn't do any harm, but you have to bear in mind the type of organisations they typically head and the fact they're trying to appear more informal and more connected with who they see in their target markets.

They definitely don't leave off the ties and jackets because they're asserting their rights to freedom of expression, so there is an argument to say that they're actually being cynically manipulative and exploitative. In support of that view, such people typically do wear ties and jackets at formal events, depending entirely upon who their audience will be.

Also, bear in mind that many chief executives wear ties and jackets where their organisations typically serve the more traditional industries.

That really is the point (talking in a work sense) - dress according to what's required by the people you'll be dealing with - match their expectations. If they need conformity to a certain pattern and you don't like it, look elsewhere.

That's a freedom of expression life-style choice so don't then complain that your rights to wear nipple-clamps (how did we ever get onto those :) ) are limiting your employment choices because it's not the nipple-clamps that are limiting them - it's your choice of what to wear, when, coupled with what may be seen as either a) a lack of respect for others or b) a lack of basic intelligence or c) the lack of an adaptable personality.

By Jon Gregory