Dress for Success


Hello, I’m Saleem Clark from the Pennsylvania State University career services. Today I’d like to share with you what our campus is doing to meet our goals around diversity and inclusion and how that is working for us. Specifically, with respect to diversity best practices, when discussing with students how to dress for success. Now in a perfect world, we all like to believe that nobody judges the book by its cover. But well, we live in an imperfect world. We all know that first impressions mean everything especially when it comes to a job interview, career fair, or networking. Employers, recruiters, and hiring managers judge people every day based on first impression, but some students might ask. “What do I wear?” “Do you think I should straighten my hair?” “Will they hire me after they see my piercings?” “What is considered acceptable in the professional workspace?” And “How do you know?” I work with diverse student populations, and they ask me these questions. I try to empower them by turning some questions back on that. For instance, Would I want to work for an employer who doesn’t have an inclusive trust policy? Am I willing to conform to this company the exclusive dress policy just so I can land the job? Will the work space be safe for me if I don’t conform? One key to being supportive of students from diverse backgrounds is to create a positive relationship and learning environment that is building awareness. For instance, If I’m unaware that traditional professional dress policies are not all-inclusive and could possibly be harmful to students from specific populations then why would I change? Therefore, increasing my awareness can help eliminate some assumptions that I might make about a student. I believe it’s important to empower students by asking questions to create an open dialogue that allows students to let me into their world. So I’m getting first-hand knowledge about some of the concerns related to professionalism in the workplace. It’s also important to understand that inclusive practices can exist despite one’s own personal views about traditional professional trust policies. Career professionals can empower students to be their true selves regardless of their personal beliefs. I also like to encourage students to conduct research on companies of interest and try to gauge on whether or not that company would suit their professional needs. Info sessions provide great opportunities for students to engage with and ask questions about dress code expectations and company culture. Using platforms like LinkedIn to reach out to alums who work at different companies to ask them about company culture is another great way to get this information. I appreciate the time to share some of our diversity best practices related to dressing for success

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