May 30, 2008
What not to wear (to work)
Career handbook after career handbook tells us that there's truth in the old adage about dressing for success. Come to your starched-shirt corporate cubicle job a disheveled mess and you won't be getting a raise any time soon. Wear sweats on casual Friday and you're likely to be shown the door.
Image consultant Lesley Everett's recent book, Drop Dead Brilliant: Dazzle in the Workplace with Confidence and Panache, even goes so far as to insist that in the boardroom, make-up is a must, for women and men.
But what if you want the financial rewards of working for corporate America but can't be bothered dressing to the nines? What if your morale's highest in a T-shirt and your favorite pair of well-worn jeans? How can you find out if a company you're considering getting into bed with won't cramp your style and cost you a fortune in dry cleaning?
My favorite ways to sniff out a company's corporate culture (office attire included) before the interview:
1. Visit their website. An employer that knows its workers revel in the lack of corporate dress code won't keep quiet about it. Chances are you'll find it broadcast on their website's Jobs or Careers page. Witness Google's corporate philosophy page, which includes the mantra "You can be serious without a suit."
2. Play detective online. Don't stop at the company's website. See what the media has to say about your would-be employer too. Has the company you covet made any of those Fortune, Working Mother, or local "best places to work" lists? Are any bloggers dishing on the company culture?
3. Ask everyone you know. Someone's bound to know someone who's worked at the company at some point in the past decade. It's your job to track them down and set up a time to pick their brain for a few minutes about What It's Really Like to Work There.
4. Camp out in the employee parking lot. Check out what the majority of employees headed into the office at 8 or 9 a.m. (or headed home at 5 or 6 p.m.) are wearing. Flip-flops and shorts are a good sign. Ties and pantyhose are not.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
- career profile (155)
- cool jobs (51)
- education and training (57)
- entry level (66)
- etiquette (95)
- events (70)
- featured (323)
- finding your passion (89)
- health care (70)
- interviewing (76)
- job fairs (54)
- management (72)
- market trends (89)
- networking (261)
- resumes (93)
- salary (80)
- social media (79)
- technology (103)
- unemployment (53)
- work/life balance (85)