Should You Dress for the Position You Want? Here Are Important Facts You Should Know

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Oct 3, 2018

Oct 3, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

"Dress for the position you want, not the position you have" is a saying that's been repeated over and over and over again to those in search of job promotions for years now.

But does the saying still ring true in 2018?

In a world where it seems like casual Friday has started to creep into other days, too, you might be under the impression that the way you dress for work isn't as important as it used to be.

This actually couldn't be any further from the truth. There are, unfortunately, a lot of people dressing down for work these days. But according to a study done at Yale a few years ago, those who dress up are still taken more seriously than those who don't.

Here are some of the other reasons why you should start to dress for the position you want if you're not doing it already.

You'll Stand Out From Your Competition

Back in 2015, a CareerBuilder survey revealed that there are more and more CEOs and senior managers at major companies that are choosing not to wear a suit to the office day in and day out.

In a poll of more than 500 CEOs and senior managers, only about 20 percent said that they wear business suits on a regular basis. Almost 60 percent choose to go with business casual attire instead.

That might make it seem like you don't need to dress for the position you want. But remember: CEOs and senior managers already have the top jobs, so they don't need to worry about attracting attention from higher-ups and standing out from their competition.

You, on the other hand, are likely going to blend in by wearing business casual attire every day. You can give yourself a better chance of being seen by those in power when you opt for something a lot more formal.

You'll Make a Solid First Impression on Others

Did you know that other people will often make all kinds of assumptions about you based solely on the way your shoes look when you meet them for the first time?

A Journal of Research in Personality study from 2012 found that when people meet you and look at your shoes, they immediately make assumptions about your:

  • Age
  • Personality
  • Political preferences
  • Income
  • Social status
  • And more

Now think about which shoes you wear to the office on most days. Are they sending out the right message to others?

If you have a ratty old pair of sneakers on every day, you could be making a bad impression on your clients, your coworkers, and your bosses without even knowing it. You could get passed up for promotions simply because of what your shoes are saying about you to others.

Get more information about making a good impression with your shoes and put it to good use today.

You'll Think Differently

When you dress for the position you want instead of dressing for the position you have, research has shown that you will think differently.

A study called "The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing" that was conducted in 2015 revealed that people who dress like those in powerful positions will assume a powerful outlook on the world.

As part of the study, researchers had people try on a white lab coat and told them it belonged to a doctor. They noticed that many of the people who wore the coat were instantly more attentive than they were prior to putting it on. It was an attentiveness that wasn't there when the researchers asked people to try on the same coat and told them it belonged to a painter.

The researchers performed a similar test with formal business clothing. They found, not surprisingly, that people who put the formal attire on conducted themselves a lot more professionally than those who wore less formal clothing.

If you want to feel like someone who deserves a powerful position at your place of employment, the best way to do it might be to slip into something more formal. You'll think about things differently at work and conduct yourself differently, too.

You'll Put Yourself in a Position to Make More Money

In reality, the way you look shouldn't have a whole lot to do with the amount of money you make. What you know, not what you wear, should be the most important thing in the workplace.

But time and time again, studies have been done on the correlation between beauty and career earnings. And many of those studies have shown that there is a connection between how attractive a person is and how much they stand to make.

On average, an attractive person makes about 3 to 4 percent more every year than someone who is deemed unattractive. That works out to more than $200,000 over a lifetime.

Polls have also shown that attractive people are more likely to benefit when it comes to office politics and important decisions regarding promotions.

Putting on a suit or other formal business attire might not automatically make you "attractive" in the eyes of others. But it will go a long way towards improving your outer appearance.

As much as we would all love to believe that that doesn't have anything to do with getting a raise or a promotion, it's clear that you'll be giving yourself an advantage over others when you dress for the position you want.

Why You Should Still Take "Dress for the Position You Want" Seriously

As companies allow their employees to dress more and more casually for work, you might be tempted to get on board with the trend. It's much easier to pull on a pair of sweatpants than it is to get dressed up in a suit.

But you should keep the phrase "dress for the position you want" in your mind each and every time you do. You never know when you're going to walk into work and cross paths with someone who could be in charge of deciding if you deserve a raise or promotion one day.

If that person isn't impressed with what they see from you, it could really come back to bite you in the end.

Read our blog for more tips about dressing for the position you want at work.