Getting a job is a lot of hard work. So it’s important that your coworkers like you and see you as professional once you actually get a job!
One of the quickest ways to deteriorate your professional image at work is by looking like a slob. And unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to come off that way. Here are some ways to avoid looking like a slob at work!
Dress the Part
As you’re assembling your wardrobe, make sure you understand the dress code. In some places, a suit would make you stand out in a bad way. In other places, a suit is mandatory.
It’s almost cliche at this point that you should be dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. But it’s so true! If you want to impress your coworkers, you should look the part. And instead of just dressing how you’re expected to dress, you should take it up a notch and dress a little bit more professionally than is required.
I currently work for an organization with a relatively loose dress code. I could wear jeans and a t-shirt every day, and no one would think twice about it. Instead, I’ve assembled a pretty solid wardrobe of dress pants, pencil skirts, and flattering tops that I wear almost every day that I’m in the office. I’ll only wear jeans once or twice a month tops, or when I’m working from home.
Subconsciously, by dressing more professionally, I’m helping my coworkers see me as more of a professional. This is especially important if your desk is near the higher-ups at your company, because they’re likely going to be seeing you every day.
On top of that, make sure your clothes fit you well. It’s one thing to have professional dress pants. It’s another to have professional dress pants that are falling off of you because they’re too big. It can be hard (and expensive!) to find the perfect wardrobe for you, so if you’re not there yet, or you’re losing or gaining weight so things aren’t fitting right, prioritize which clothes you purchase, tailor, or replace first. Those pieces should be basics in neutral colors so you can wear them often. As your energy and wallet allow, upgrade other pieces to go along with them.
Keep Your Work Space Tidy
Just like you want to make yourself look professional, you should make your desk look professional, too! This is especially true if you’re in a well-trafficked area or have meetings in your office regularly. You want others to feel comfortable around you, and when your desk is a mess, it can imply that you’re a mess, too.
The easiest way I’ve found to keep my desk tidy is to have as few items as possible on it. I’ve got an inbox for papers, but it’s inside a desk drawer, so there are hardly any papers on my desktop at any given point. And I don’t have a ton of trinkets, so it doesn’t feel cluttered with stuff.
Obviously your daily tasks might not enable you to go paper-free, and you might need to have several items within easy reach. You don’t have to go full minimalist here! At the very least, be aware of the state of your desk, and try to tidy up before you leave at the end of the day.
Avoid Looking Like a Slob by Eating Your Breakfast Before You Arrive
I used to be so guilty of eating my breakfast in the office. I lived in an apartment complex with a complimentary continental breakfast on weekday mornings (man, I miss that), so I’d grab a bagel and cream cheese every morning on my way to work and eat it at my desk while I checked my email.
While it isn’t necessarily bad, per se, you’re going to look more professional if you don’t eat breakfast at your desk. Not only will you get crumbs all over your desk (see the point above about keeping your desk clean), you could get caught in an awkward situation where you’re asked a question or someone tries to shake your hand and you’ve got food in your mouth and your hands aren’t clean. Not great.
Try to eat your breakfast before you arrive as often as you can! It’s a small tweak to your schedule that could make you look a whole lot more professional to your coworkers.
Have Confidence in Yourself and Your Appearance
Most importantly, be confident in yourself! Confidence will go way farther than any of the above suggestions.
Don’t feel like you have to wear makeup or do your hair every day. You’re spending 8 or more hours at work every day, so you want to be comfortable. Some people are more comfortable with makeup on and their hair done, and others are more comfortable with no makeup and their hair in a top knot. Do what’s best for you!
Be confident in yourself, your work, and your appearance, and as long as you’re not overly smug or cocky, your coworkers will gravitate toward you!
The hard work of getting a job isn’t done once you’ve accepted the position. Make sure your coworkers, your boss, and your HR department understand your value by working hard and being professional!