Dress for the Life You Choose

It’s important to look your best to make a lasting and positive impression on others, but must we spend a fortune to do so?

A few years ago I worked with a young professional who was about to graduate from a very prestigious MBA program. He had just gotten married to a very stylish young lady and was still in debt from their engagement and wedding. Every day he wore a very simple uniform (Khakis and executive plaid, compliments of The GAP) and ate a small Tupperware’s worth of lunch while surfing the internet. Presuming that he was either working or studying over his lunch break, one afternoon I suggested he go out for a walk and enjoy the day. “Take a break for once.”

TimingThat’s when he shared that over his lunch break he browses for his dream wardrobe — the one he will buy as a gift to himself upon graduating, when he doesn’t have to be a student worker. “See this? This is what my friends all wear to work. I want to look like that. I’ve been saving up. If you want to look and be successful you have to dress the part.” He was just biding his time to purchase the first item on his list — a $1,000 watch. 

At first I thought he was joking, but he then went on to explain how he did this for specific status items: His wife’s favorite earrings (and matching engagement/wedding bands), their home, his dream watch, and so on.

I’d honestly never thought about it — I was preparing to become a college professor and a writer — but really, when we dress for work we’re expected to reflect certain messages. It’s essential to look confident, knowledgeable, successful, and approachable no matter what type of job you have in order to be taken seriously among your clients and peers. 

With this in mind, there are certain things to take into consideration:

cchprofessionals(1) Know the environment: A job in an executive firm, administrative office, a fitness center, an educational facility, a construction site, the ballet… each profession has a type of costume or uniform that is appropriate for that milieu. Know how to dress the part.

Five hundred replicas of the Stormtroopers characters from "Star Wars" are seen on the steps at the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China during a promotional event for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" film, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

(2) Wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you: It’s so important to let yourself shine through by picking clothes that suit you (pun intended). No matter what your friends, colleagues or mentors are wearing, don’t just become their clone. See how they dress but pick a style, size and color palate that best suits you. (Not sure how to gauge what works best for you? Contact Tavia Sharp of Styled Sharp for a consultation.)

(3) Have the essentials without spending a fortune: While my colleague was systemically paying a fortune to impress his peers, it’s best to be reasonable about building your wardrobe. Know what you need to have to make a good, positive impression versus what you want to have in order to impress.

For Women: The following are recommended (fitted, not tight)…
— A Coat/Trench (Winter/Spring)
— Tailored Jacket
— Suit (Winter/Spring)
— Pants (Winter/Spring)
— Pencil skirt(s) (watch the hemline)
— Basic Blouse (watch the neckline…)
— Silhouette Dress (watch the neck/hemline)
— “Work Jeans” (at least one nice pair for Casual Friday)
— Work Flats
— Work Heels
(Click here for additional tips.)

For Men: The following are recommended (fitted, not tight)…
— A Coat/Trench (Winter/Spring)
— Tailored Jacket/Blazer
— Suit & Suit Separates (Seasonal Vests/Pants)
— Basic Dress Shirts
— Dress Pants (watch the hemline)
— “Work Jeans” (at least one nice pair for Casual Friday)
— Work Shoes
— Dress Shoes
— Ties
(Click here for additional tips.)

Appropriate accessories include a reliable watch plus choice of belts, ties, jewelry, etc. that suit your position, personality and environment. (To make a positive impression it’s good to be original, but not over the top.)

Colors and patterns should be in keeping with the season. Standard business attire include shades of black, blue, grey, beige and white with some pops of color to suit the season and your personality.

A nice wardrobe does not make up for poor personal hygiene. “Sound body, sound mind” is a Greek expression passed to us by Thales of Miletus (ca.600BC). Your overall appearance is a reflection of your confidence but also of your mental health and aptitudes. 

(4) What makes your outfit look great? POSTURE, POSTURE, POSTURE! Even if you’re wearing a newly tailored Armani and driving a Lamborghini (or, you know, a Maserati if you’re really slumming), if your posture does not look confident no one will take you seriously. Know how to “Walk the walk.”

(5) Be ABLE to walk the walk: Related to #3 and #4 above, I’ve seen both guys and gals wear shoes and other clothing items that kill them just because they’re a name brand. Before you splurge on a temptingly high-end item just remember that you won’t impress anyone if you look like you can’t walk towards them in shoes that cause as much pain as an Iron Maiden (or constantly fidgeting with some part of your outfit).




Look Before You Leap: An HR Manager’s Take on Workplace Romance

Thinking about (or up to your eyebrows in) a workplace romance?

As you know, we are always rooting for you, dear readers, and looking out for your best interest.  This month’s focus has been about maintaining healthy professional and personal lifestyles, which led to a conversation about workplace romances. With that in mind, here are a few basic recommendations from Philo4Thought’s Mentors:


  1. Know the office policy for workplace romance. Some companies regard workplace romance as a conflict of interest and strongly disapprove of anything personal that may impair your work or affect the company image. In such cases, think carefully about your potential relationship as the only isle you might end up walking down may be at your local unemployment office.ct-office-romance-0212-biz-20160211
  2. Avoid serial daters in the workplace. While there’s a saying that says you can’t help who you fall for, it’s important to check out who it is you are falling for. If it’s the “office hottie” or the person who is always perched at the corner of everyone’s desk to flirt with everyone from the mail clerk to the CEO, it’s probably not a smart idea to put your career on the line for what will probably just end up being a short-term office fling with long-term ramifications on your dignity and professional reputation.

  3. Maintain professional decorum in the workplace. Even in cases where office romances are accepted, it’s important to maintain professional conduct at the office. Err on the side of being conservative and save romantic language and contact for after office hours. 


  4. Respect each other and keep your social media clean. Employers, colleagues and prospective clients do not need to see photos and posts about your private life (good or bad) plastered all over social media. Be sure that you and your significant other agree to keep your private life private. 


  5. Be mindful of potential complications that may affect your reputation at work. In cases where you’re dating either a supervisor or a competing colleague, be mindful that there may be significant chatter “around the water cooler” about how you got your recent project or promotion. Rumors of favoritism may run in degrees from 0 to Mach 6.8 with or without justification.8730529_f520
  6. Stay positive to allow room for personal and professional growth. Remember, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” and have a solid contingency plan in case your office romance spirals into something you feel you can’t handle. All relationships hit a few snags. Lay out clear ground rules with each other and be mindful of how to work through normal mishaps without bringing each other down, dragging colleagues into personal arguments, etc. The workplace should always be a “safe space” for all members of the organization. Leave work issues at work and personal issues at home. 

ADDITIONAL READING: You should also check out the more formal recommendations from The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)Employee Dating Policy

Happy Valentine’s Day, and remember… look before you leap!

Snow Day Truths from HR Hiring Managers: Resume Red Flags

Happy Snow Day to all you job hunters out there! 

While you’re trapped indoors, take a sec to think about revamping your professional profiles. 

Several HR Managers shared 12 red flags they’ve seen on many millennial profiles, resumes and job applications:

  1. A resume looks trendy and “expressive” but is too cluttered and hard to read through: A resume should be easy to skim through whether it’s by an HR recruiter or by an electronic system. Avoid personality summaries, vague language and resume padding. Short and simple is the best.
  2. A resume looks too general and has unrelated information: A resume should be tailored to the job to which you’re applying. Show you’re qualified for the job by having a few of the key words from the list of job requirements in your resume.
  3. An applicant lists only years and not months that you were in the positions listed: If you don’t have the years of experience needed for a job, perhaps it’s not the right job for you yet. Don’t fudge your years of experience by skipping the months in your employment listing.
  4. An applicant lists emotional concerns in the cover letter/application form: Recruiters want to see confident applicants who are ready and willing to commit to their company. They don’t want to read through a list of demands and concerns before they even have a chance to read through your resume. Keep things brief and professional.
  5. An applicant lists his/her State-Issued Drivers License as a professional certification: Professional Certifications are issued after completing special training outside of your formal college degree that was earned to excel in a specific field (e.g., First Aid, HR Management, Communications, Finance, etc.). 
  6. An applicant lists more volunteer activities than professional experience: It’s nice that you joined a ton of craft groups or were captain of the archery team, but your resume should show a focus on professional work. Philanthropic and volunteer activities listed should be limited to those related to the job for which you’re applying. 
  7. An applicant lists a non-professional reference: Listing relatives or significant others as professional references is considered a faux pas in the business world. 
  8. There are large gaps or too many transitions listed in the resume: People are hired and fired or choose to resign or transition for a number of reasons. There may also be a gap in your professional skill development over time. Make sure that you have a valid reason for any gaps in your career and that it is BRIEFLY addressed in your cover letter or in the section of your application marked “Additional Information.” (If there is a technical or “soft skill” that isn’t listed in your resume but the job requires, it’s alright to explain that while you never received formal training in a specific area it has been an inherent part of your previous job(s) ask if there is a preliminary exam you can take during the interview process. This hint of self-confidence will help move you forward.) 
  9. There are tons of errors in the grammar and punctuation: A good resume reflects the thoughtfulness of the prospective employee. If your resume is full of typos and errors it looks as though you didn’t put an effort in what should matter most to you… yourself… your brand. Why should a company hire a person who isn’t careful about the first piece of information that a Recruiter will see? 
  10. The cookie-cutter work summary: A Recruiter doesn’t want to read that you’re an energetic and motivated self-starter who works good in groups and independently. Obviously your list of professional experience should tell them that. Ditch the extra paragraph. Add more relevant information like your Technical Skills, Languages, etc.
  11. Information listed shows discrepancies and/or regression: You list in one place that you were working at a place from 2010-2016, but you list other work within that period. Were some or all of these jobs part time? How did you manage to work at so many different places at once? Employers understand that it’s difficult to make ends meet in today’s economy. If you’ve worked several part-time jobs, list “(Part-Time)” on the line where you list the job title and place of employment. Recruiters appreciate a straightforward resume. 
  12. There is a suspicious lack of an online presence: In today’s day and age it’s inevitable to open at least one social media account, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, LinkedIn, or whatever. While it’s possible you’re just not that into social media and don’t have accounts, it’s good to open a small LinkedIn account so that Google searches about you don’t reveal a suspicious absence. Again, keep it short, sweet and professional — both visual content and wording. Some people are treating LinkedIn like an extension of Match.com. Don’t fall into the pit. Your future employers are watching. 

For more information on Red Flag items, Click Here.

If you’re interested in learning more, click here and email Philo4Thought to schedule a one-on-one Resume Review.

Move ahead and get hired!