How Millennials Can Put Their Best-Dressed Foot Forward
This is a guest post from Sonal Moraes, senior account coordinator at Cision and former president of a PRSSA chapter. This is part of a continuing series offering advice to younger generations in the PR and marketing workforce.
Employers expect us millennials to be tech savvy and connected. But some don’t necessarily think of us as the most professionally dressed in the workplace. Companies may assume that we are much more carefree and lax in a professional environment, especially with attire. Even the more contemporary workplaces that wish to project a “fun” or “hip” image may think this. So how do we prove them wrong?
Elissa Freeman from PR Daily provides a fantastic, comprehensive guide outlining what to wear to work (or not to wear). As someone who recently experienced the anxiety of finding a job after graduation, it’s important to understand what attire is appropriate for specific networking settings. It can be embarrassing for you and the professional in your presence if your clothes don’t send the right message, so here are some helpful hints on how to dress for different environments:
Networking Panels/Round Robins – This is the time to bust out your blazers, dress pants and pencil skirts. You’re here to make yourself shine to the professionals at hand—not to prove your knowledge of the latest fashion trends. If you’d like to tweet event updates from your phone—an increasingly important fashion accessory—make sure this is an acceptable and encouraged practice for the event you’re attending. If the speaker or organizer has set up a hashtag for the event, you know you’re in the clear.
Networking Socials – These are great opportunities to speak one-on-one with someone in the industry who could potentially help you in the future. You’re allowed to relax a bit when it comes to business attire. Think about where you will be. Is it a restaurant or bar? What companies will be at this event? If it’s a social networking event after work, you may want to dress like the people at that company. If the event is at a bar, dressing too casual may send the message that you’re just there for the drinks. At the same time, it can be a little overwhelming or seem aggressive to show up to a bar in a full-blown suit when you’re there for conversational networking.
Guest Speaker Events in Class/Student Organizations – You don’t want to wear your business-best here, but don’t forget that you still want to make an impression and don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. If you typically wear sweats to class (we’ve all been there), wear something presentable on the days when you have a guest lecturer. Your suit isn’t necessary when you’re in a sea of students, so don’t stress.
Internships – Yes, you’re networking here as well. If your internship has casual dress every day, don’t give in entirely! You’ll want to fit in, but bump up your wardrobe to the next level. Have you heard the saying, “Dress for the job you want”? Don’t get lazy with what you wear to your internship just because you can. It pays to show you care about how you look at work and gives the impression that you’ll put in that extra effort in the office as well.
If you want to wear a favorite piece of jewelry or fashion accessory for luck or confidence, wear it all in good taste. If you know your shoes will be uncomfortable, wear a different pair that fits the occasion but doesn’t distract you from the end goal of making connections and landing a job. Remember, it comes down to taking the extra effort to adapt to where you want to be in the end.
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