Career Tips: Dress for the Job You Want

Today’s fashion tends to be a bit more casual than it used to, but that doesn’t mean what you wear is not important. The old adage that says you should dress for the job you want instead of the job you have still holds true no matter what fashion dictates. This is especially significant during job interviews because studies show that a person forms an opinion of you in less than 20 seconds, and over half of that opinion is based on your physical appearance. With this in mind, you can see how your sense of style and wardrobe choices might play a huge role in landing the job of your dreams.

It’s never too early to start dressing the part

Whether you just finished your online liberal arts associates degree or are still in your third year of law school, it’s never too early to learn what to wear. What you may not realize while you’re walking the halls of college is that your professors could be assessing your hireability. Networking in college is one of the primary ways students are able to land internships or jobs after graduation. This is because it’s common for local companies to contact colleges looking for fresh hires. That means if you’re showing up looking like you’re ready for the workforce instead of like you just rolled out of bed, you’ll be the one who stands out among the crowd.

What you wear affects your performance

Not only does dressing well make you stand out to employers, it’s also proven to enhance your performance. “Enclothed cognition” is a term coined in scientific studies to identify the impact clothing can have on the person wearing it. For example, wearing a lab coat would increase a person’s awareness and attention to a medical task given to them.

Enclothed cognition only works for someone in the profession they’re dressing for because the effects are based on the symbolic and psychological meanings of the clothes. But the point is that how you dress can make you feel more confident and worthy of the job you want by increasing your performance and attention levels. 

The evolution of business attire for women

Even as recently as a couple of decades ago, women were expected to wear skirts to job interviews and corporate meetings. But business dress for women has evolved into something with a lot more style. Power suits and blazers are still on trend, but the look today is more tailored and fashionable. Women’s pant suits were introduced some time in the early thirties when the husbands went off to war and their wives were left at home to work.

Today, many women are at the top of the same corporate ladders as men. So, that means women are no longer subjected to what men deem appropriate attire. The corporate look is whatever a woman chooses to make it. She can keep her femininity in her clothing and still maintain the style of dignity and power.

All of this knowledge does you little good if you still don’t know what to wear. The best advice is obviously to model your wardrobe after the people in the job you’d like to have. But in reality, that may be a little out of your league at the moment. If you’re not sure you can match the appearance of the higher-ups, just do the best you can. In other words, wear the highest-quality clothing you can afford. You can’t go wrong with a classic black suit. It’s versatile and easy to accessorize. Also, keep your accessories simple and classy, your scents light, and your makeup basic. With hard work, perseverance, and a professional outfit, you’ll be well on your way to landing the job of your dreams.

Image credit: Office formals via Neda Sadreddin/Shutterstock

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