Many things can assist you in moving forward or can keep you back within a company, and how you dress can play a major role in that. Have you ever asked yourself, "Why do they dress so nicely when they work in the mailroom?" The person in question is dressing for their next position. Basically, a person should try to dress for the next position they are aiming for, not the position they currently have. Simple things can change how you are looked at by others in the organization. If the dress code in the company is casual, changing from wearing t-shirts to golf shirts can change your image. For men, having a golf shirt tucked in creates a look that is a lot more professional than if it is left untucked.
Dress each day as if you are going to be meeting with a client, even if your normal function is not client-facing. How many times have you been in the reception area when a client has arrived or was leaving, and you were introduced? These are cases where what you are wearing can impact not just you, but the company as a whole.
However, don't overdress. If you are in IT, normally only sales and high-level managers wear ties. The tie may be necessary in certain companies, but if senior management doesn't normally wear ties, you shouldn't either. If this is not your style, remember not to push it. Dressing to advance is dressing for the next level you want to achieve, not for the presidential level if that is several steps above where you currently are. It can be self-defeating to completely overdress everyone in the levels immediately above you! When you consider how to dress for advancement, remember that people in the next level do dress in various ways, so try to aim for the higher level of attire and not just the minimum.
One way to look at this issue is this: what can others see when you move around, have to pick something up off the floor, or bend to pick something up from under a desk? Can anyone see the colour of your underwear or parts of you that shouldn't be seen in an office? The image that people see is very important as it does impact how they think you can do your job. If you appear sloppy or overly casual, they may think you work in a sloppy manner, but if you are neat and tidy, they will likely assume that your work will be neat and organized as well.
Another simple thing to think about is how you walk around the office. Do you walk with your head up or are you always looking at the floor? Your posture can show your confidence level, because when you walk with your head up, you appear approachable. When you are looking at the floor, you are communicating that you don't want to be bothered. Eye contact can greatly impact how you are viewed. Are you the sort of person that will look someone in the eye when you are talking to them, or will you be looking at the floor around them instead?
When walking in the office, do you normally walk with a purpose, or do you walk like you are going for a leisurely stroll? Sometimes a leisurely stroll is acceptable in an office, but walking as if you have a purpose should be the normal way of walking around the office. In many cases, walking with a purpose shows that you have an important task and people will not stop you for idle conversation. If you are walking as if you have lots of free time, people will be more likely to stop you just to talk.
The simple rule of presenting yourself for advancement within a company are to dress professionally based on what is considered appropriate within your own company and to keep your head up while ensuring that you have a clear purpose when walking through the office. So now you know why the person in the mailroom is dressed so nicely!
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