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Career Counselor
Dressing for Success


January 2007 Congratulations. You've passed the interview and landed your first accounting job! While getting your foot in the door is a major step, what kind of shoe that foot is wearing is another matter. Since people tend to form immediate impressions of each other, dressing professionally provides instant credibility and signals to colleagues and clients they're working with someone who takes the new position seriously.



The devil may wear Prada in the office, but dressing professionally doesn't necessarily mean wearing a designer suit or shoes to work every day. Although some companies do have a corporate dress policy -- often meaning more formal attire is required -- many allow a business casual environment. While it may be tempting to focus on the "casual" aspect of business casual, remember that the operative word is "business" and that what you wear has an impact on how you're perceived at work and will continue to play a role in your career advancement.

Instead of trying to interpret the policy on your own, it's best to pay close attention to how your coworkers dress, taking into account the attire of managers and senior executives as well. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. If you later feel you're overdressed, you can always remove your suit jacket or tie. And if you know your company's policy extends to "casual Fridays," which in some cases may be more relaxed than everyday business casual attire, it's still a good idea to inquire about specifics. Ask your colleagues or someone in the human resources department for a clearer definition of casual. For instance, are jeans acceptable?

Because what you are wearing often contributes to people's first impression of you, it is important that your clothes represent not just who you are, but where you want to go in your career. Employees should dress in a way that ensures their ideas -- not their fashion choices -- stand out.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2007 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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