Remember that opportunity to help Gen Y’ers I spoke of in Part Two of Why I Changed My Twitter Handle ? Well, here it is. I recently met Joshua Porter through a #blogchat hashchat, and we realized that we are both working towards helping our fellow generation of young people better themselves and their branding initiatives in the pursuit of a career. The following is a joint blog post on appearance, following trends, and maintaining professionalism in the corporate environment. Please support OBJourney by visiting their website. You can follow Joshua Porter on Twitter at @JoshuaEPorter.
Joshua: There are many unwritten rules in the professional world that interns and young professionals are not exposed to voluntarily, costing them their professional standing. To grow into an exceptional professional, trial and error is necessary; however, with the job market becoming more challenging it is always good to understand the unwritten rules early. One of the missions of this entrepreneurial reality journey is to expose the unwritten rules, and ultimately, create a tool that helps to clarify them; preparing young people for challenges that arise in corporate, political, travel, and social media related environments. As mentioned Wednesday I had the wondrous opportunity of meeting Chanelle Schneider, and we have partnered to bring you one of the unwritten rules. It is, quite possibly, one of the hardest to grasp, and it regards your professional appearance! How will your appearance save your business?
Chanelle: Understanding the rules early incentivizes upper-level management to see you in an increasingly professional manner. Yes. Your clothes matter. Your shoes matter. Just about everything relating to your outward appearance matters because it is a representation of you; and, by being in the company’s employ, you are representing them. Don’t let your jeans be too tight and your color’s too bright. Do show your style, though. Don’t wait until you’re established in your career to dress the part. Dress for success is not just a tired, overused and under-applied cliche. Well…actually it is. It may be a cliche, but it is true. Millennials are wont to apply the theory that advises against judging someone superficially, but fail to realize that stereotypes exist for a reason.
Joshua: Many young professionals may feel as though they will lose their identity when entering the corporate environment. While you may sacrifice jeans and T-shirts, your identity will be far from lost. At the end of it all, your style is yours and no one can take it from you. This assumption is not 100% the fault of young professionals. It is partially due to the fact that we’re not taught this in some schools. For example, we’re taught to wear black and blue suits, but that is only the beginning. We’re not taught things like why it is important to be cautious of the colors we wear, or why it is never beneficial to wear anything that represents your party life. Leave it outside of the office! With those stipulations picking at our brains, I believe young professionals should inject their style into a professional wardrobe appropriately. For those who assume you cannot be professionally trendy…the clothes don’t make the man/woman, likewise, they don’t make the trend…YOU DO! That being said, how you present yourself is the ultimate key!
Chanelle: Dressing professionally is not solely about wearing a solid color, earth tone suit. Your look should reflect a measure of your personal taste and style. Not only is it possible to remain trendy at work, it is necessary. While there are certain trends that are inappropriate, some can be incorporated into a professional wardrobe. Low-waisted jeans even on casual Friday are inappropriate, ladies. However, dark-wash, straight-leg trouser jeans with a clean, three-inch, closed-toe heel are fashionable and professional. Men, wearing the pants from your suit low on your hips is not a good look, either. Just because your shirt is tucked in does not mean it is professional. These details will add a distinguished quality to your wardrobe.
Joshua: Sitting a few inches from your face, and at the top left corner of your suit rests one of the best conversation starters. The other day, at a networking event, someone noticed my lapel, inquired about it, and a relationship has been built. It was this minor detail regarding my appearance that made all the difference. Keeping your shoes shined, hair trimmed, and tie in line with your belt buckle are all examples of details people speak about and also use to determine why you’re a better selection for an internship or permanent job.
Chanelle: As a young professional it can be difficult to dress in a manner that suggests professionalism because professional clothes are expensive. If you are covering the costs of your wardrobe, you may be tempted to find a $5 shirt and a $20 pair of hip-hugging trousers to match your $10 ballet flats. Don’t do it. These clothes, while they may seem to be a good buy, will fall apart after repeated washings, causing your more money in the end. Invest in your wardrobe, and it will return the investment.
Joshua: President Obama dressed for the occasion (the election), the event (town halls and acceptance speech), and most importantly the POSITION (the Presidency). Young and emerging professionals and interns must enter the corporate environment with the same mentality. From the initial interview and throughout your career, there will be numerous hand shakes and networking opportunities where a first impression is essential and, quite possibly, the determining factor for the next opportunity (“How will your 1st impression lead to your second?”). When you’re surrounded by and supporting executives, in most instances, you can’t help but emulate them. In your reflection, dressing is important! Executives take it as a sign of determination, passion and preparation. They see a person who is preparing for their future! Dressing for the position is important not only for others to notice you but for you to pay attention to yourself. When you have the opportunity to visualize your goals and end state on a daily basis, make the most of it.
Chanelle: You may think, being judged based on your appearance is superficial, but it is a practice that will not disappear, nor should it in certain cases. Recognize the difference between an office party, a conference and an interview. Each occasion calls for different styles of dress.
Joshua: Never underestimate the importance of consistency. If you’re going to wear a tie, wear one all the time. This is the same for suits and most professional dresses. When people look at you, they should associate you with something about your appearance!
Joshua: Chanelle is officially an unwritten ruler! Unwritten Ruler, n. – someone who defines, exposes and shares unwritten rules with their peers.