During the summer months I live in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops – when I am at the beach or realizing on the weekend. Heck, living in Southern California that is pretty much the uniform. But sometimes the need to dress to impress trumps the casual So Cal style.
Over the past few weeks I have attended Cisco Live in San Diego and the International Avaya User’s Group show in Denver and I was shocked at the attire and overall appearance of attendees. At both shows was the attire was overly casual.
The IT world has always been one where anything goes for attire. But I think we have taken it too far. While my shorts and flips are perfect for a lazy Saturday, when you are attending a show representing your company, step it up a notch.
Make your Best First Impression
When interviewing for a new job, Carole Martin in her book, Boost Your Interview IQ, notes that in the tech field, you won’t need a suit. She says, “A collared shirt and khakis or slacks would work. Same goes for women — sweater or blouse and slacks or a skirt.” So why once you get the job would you regress into those shorts and flips?
Attending a trade show and education conference like Cisco Live or IAUG should be no different from that job interview. According to a survey by recruiting firm Adecco, 75 percent of hiring managers believe the top interview mistake millennials make is wearing the wrong interview attire. Dressing too casual can kill the interest of the interviewer.
Dress for Your Next Job
Assuming you want to continue to grow with your company, you should constantly dress for your next job. Look at what the people wear who have the job you want and emulate them.
While networking at the trade show, you may meet your next boss. Be sure that good first impression also sticks.
Celebrities Are Different
If you are Mark Zuckerberg, you can get away with wearing the same grey t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. But I doubt most IT folks could say they dress this way for the same reason he does. He told the Independent: “I really want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community. I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”
Notice though that he looks well groomed and otherwise put-together.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for some of the IT users I witnessed.
Good Grooming is Key to Dress for Success
While a clean pair of khakis and a collared shirt can do wonders for appearance, personal grooming has to be part of the equation as well.
I was shocked at the number of men I saw with scraggly beards, measly pony tails and un-kept hands. Not to be left out, there were also a number of ladies who made zero attempt before leaving the hotel room.
Now I am not suggesting you have to look like a GQ model or put on a face full of makeup and look like you are gracing the pages of Glamour, but make an effort. Get a haircut, groom any facial hair and ladies shave those legs. The hotel offers complimentary shampoo, conditioner and lotion. I would suggest guests take advantage of all three.
Our High Performing Team
At LVM, we are a pretty casual team. Many of our team work from home so they have more opportunity to let their daily personal care slide. But since we have instituted morning Skype for Business (Lync) conference calls I have noticed everyone comes dressed professionally. Usually it’s a polo or button up shirt for men and a blouse or sweater for women.
The other ends of the spectrum certainly pop up – Kurt might be hitting a noon Cross Fit class (and since he’s east coast, my 8:30 AM call is almost noon for him) or Roger is wearing a coat because he has a meeting with an investor – but these are exceptions.
Our high performing team is one where each member is challenged to do what is best for the business. Rarely have I seen that done in shorts and flip flops.