Dress yourself- and your mind- for the job

By guest blogger Stephanie Stewart-Hill


In the movie Picture Perfect starring Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Aniston plays a character named Kate who misses a job promotion that she feels she rightfully deserves. She has been working for the company for a while, yet her less experienced coworker is promoted and gets a spot on a project she wants. When Kate has a meeting with her boss and the team, he states that one of the reasons he did not chose her is because she never dressed for the job. Though upon hearing this it may seem sexist or inappropriate, it must be noted that she came to a professional workplace in outfits like pigtails and a spaghetti strap dress. Since she presented herself in this way, her boss and coworkers had a difficult time picturing her in a higher position. It simply comes down to personal branding. Kate needed to sell herself to her employer as someone capable of a higher position. Despite knowing her skills, he could not picture her in the position. Her boss could not see her as a committed employee who was responsible and reliable enough to trust with the future of the company even though there was nothing that directly disqualified her. There was a rift between her personal aspirations and what her coworkers perceived as her natural fit. Her professional maturity was not visible by looking at her. Kate hardly dressed for the job she was in, let alone the job she wanted. Her mindset was in the present, but she needed to be looking forward in order to prove that she was capable of performing at the next level.

When you are looking to be in a more advanced position, you must have the appropriate appearance for your current position while aiming higher according to your future goals. If you cannot prove your competencies at a lower level, people will not expect that you will suddenly become more adept at a higher level. Creating an outwardly professional appearance will allow you to reflect inwardly as well. When you dress yourself above your current position it encourages you to visualize yourself in that position too. Dressing for the future will help to adjust your approach and attitude toward your career goals. Most importantly, it will help you to dress your mind. This means having a mindset suitable for the job you desire by presenting yourself above your current level. You will show rather than tell that you are ready for moving up. From my personal experience, I can attest that dressing for your dreams works. First semester of freshman year of college I often dressed quite casually and even wore sweatpants to class but after watching a TedTalk about how appearances can shape your future I began to dress nicer. A few weeks after my wardrobe adjustment, I was asked to be a research assistant for a lab run by my professor. The following semester I kept up the routine and earned three more professional positions at the university. I realized that it was not only my outfits that had adjusted, but my attitude as well. I never knew who I would run into, and by always being presentable I gave myself a platform to be confident and easily keep my goals in mind. It changed not only others perspectives of my maturity, but my perspective of the person in the mirror. When the opportunity comes along to move forward, by dressing for the job your coworkers will already be able to visualize you competing at that level.


Posted June 27, 2018. Copyright Conor Mc Guckin