Watch What You Wear: It Could Get You a Promotion
Hoodies and T-shirts may be wardrobe staples in some IT departments, but chief information officers say moving up the career ladder often requires a little more polish.
More than three in four (76 percent) CIOs said the way someone dresses at least somewhat influences his or her ability to move up within the organization's IT department, and only 22 percent said what someone wears doesn't influence promotion potential, according to a recent survey by Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.
The survey is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.
CIOs were asked, "To what extent does how well someone dresses influence his or her ability to be promoted within your organization's IT department?" Three percent said “significantly,” 73 percent responded “somewhat” while 22 percent said not at all.
Refuting the myth that IT departments are overly casual, 66 percent of CIOs polled described the dress code among tech professionals in their department as "somewhat formal," meaning most people wear dress slacks or a skirt and a button-down shirt. In addition, when asked whether the work culture is more formal or casual than the rest of the organization, 85 percent of CIOs said the work culture in their IT department is the same.
CIOs also were asked, "How would you describe the dress code in your IT department?" Three percent said “very formal” (a suit and tie); 66 percent said “somewhat formal” (dress slacks or a skirt and a button-down shirt); 25 percent said “somewhat casual” (khakis and a polo shirt or sweater); and 5 percent responded “very casual” (jeans and a t-shirt).
In addition, CIOs were asked, "How formal or casual is the work culture in your IT department compared to the work culture of the rest of your organization?" Only 4 percent said “more formal,” 85 percent said “the same;” and 10 percent said “more casual.”
"Increasingly, IT team members and managers must interact with executives across the company, the board, customers and strategic partners," said Robert Half Technology senior executive director John Reed. "Image does matter, and you're not likely to be taken as seriously in these interactions if you're wearing unprofessional attire."
Robert Half Technology recommends asking these questions to help ensure you dress for success at the office:
• Would managers in the IT department at my company wear this? If the answer is no, you probably shouldn't wear it either.
• Is it distracting or potentially offensive? Unless you work for a political action committee or advocacy group, shirts or accessories with political, religious or controversial messages are best left at home.
• Is it clean and in good condition? Even in casual technology departments, clothes that are torn, wrinkled or stained should be left at home. Sloppy attire may prompt your manager to wonder how serious you are about your job.
• Is it comfortable? Relaxed clothing is important for IT professionals, especially those spending long hours writing code, or who are in more active roles such as repairing hardware. Dress for your position, but make sure you can move comfortably.
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