Dress for Success: The Dos and Don’ts of Office Attire

by Lauren Bertram on September 15, 2014

bowtiesLike it or not, the way you dress in the workplace can have a huge impact on your career. But it can also be tricky to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a guide that covers some basic do’s and don’ts of office attire. Let’s dive right in.

Why It’s Important

Dressing for success isn’t just about looking nice to those around you; how you dress can help — or hinder — the way people perceive you in the workplace. Presenting a polished, professional image at work gives your co-workers and clients a lasting first impression and instantly boosts your professional credibility.

These first impressions apply to your social media presence, too. It’s important that your LinkedIn profile picture sends the right message to colleagues, clients and anyone else who might see it. Try to use a professional picture and keep the photos from your weekend in Vegas for you and your friends.

Business Professional Do’s & Don’ts

Do wear …

  • Business suits
  • Skirts: the length should hit just above the knee or below
  • Slacks: neatly pressed, nothing too tight
  • Blouses: Dressy styles or button-down shirts paired with a cardigan
  • Dresses: worn alone, or with a suit jacket or blazer
  • Shoes: closed-toe, polished, scuff-free
  • Jewelry: tasteful, not overdone

Don’t wear …

  • Anything too short, too revealing, too tight or too sheer
  • Blouses that are sleeveless or low-cut
  • Casual khaki pants (neutral or khaki-colored dress slacks are OK)
  • Open-toed or overly casual shoes, or those with extremely high heels

Do wear …

  • Button-up dress shirt (always well-pressed)
  • Neck-tie of the appropriate length (tie should touch the top of your belt)
  • Tasteful suit jacket
  • Dress slacks (clean and pressed)
  • Polished dress shoes

Don’t wear …

  • Short-sleeve button-up shirts with a tie
  • Casual pants (cargos, Dockers)
  • Casual leather shoes
  • Wrinkled or soiled clothing
  • White socks

Business Casual Do’s & Don’ts

Do wear …

  • Casual pants, including cropped pants and capris that hit around mid-calf
  • Skirts and dresses in more casual styles in an appropriate length
  • Button-up shirts, blouses or sweaters
  • Open-toed shoes, including dress sandals

Don’t wear …

  • T-shirts
  • Jeans, including colored styles
  • Shorts, even longer styles that hit right at the knee
  • Beach wear or street wear shoes, like flip-flops or sneakers
  • Casual sundresses (a light cardigan or jacket over a sleeveless piece is an easy fix)

Do wear …

  • Button-up or polo-style dress shirts
  • Casual pants (clean and neatly pressed)
  • Sweaters
  • Casual (and clean) leather shoes

Don’t wear …

  • T-shirts
  • Jeans or cargo pants
  • Tennis shoes or sandals
  • Soiled or wrinkled clothes
  • Pants without a belt
  • Untucked shirts

Other Tips for Presenting the Best YOU

Remember that a dress code isn’t synonymous with style. Adding color and patterns to your wardrobe is a fun and easy way to showcase your personality while still maintaining professionalism. Also, investing in a few wardrobe staples, like a reversible black/brown belt and wrinkle-free shirts, can help simplify things. And no matter what you choose to wear at the office, your clothes should always be clean, pressed, stain-free and conservative. (It might also be a good idea to keep a stain-stick handy at your desk in case of accidental spills or stains. )

So there you have it: A fool-proof guide for dressing like a professional at the office. What other dress for success tips do you have? I’d love to hear from you!

Lauren Bertram is a recruitment manager for Burns & McDonnell. She heads up our college recruiting team and oversees our K-12 and intern programs. If you want to learn more about our educational outreach, intern program or working at Burns & McDonnell, connect with Lauren on LinkedIn. 

photo credit: geraldbrazell via photopin cc


The Hottest Trends in Engineering Jobs

by Jen Parker on August 13, 2014

trends in engineering jobsIt’s no surprise that engineers of all stripes are in strong demand in the U.S. – we’re experiencing that demand firsthand here at Burns & McDonnell. With industries like energy and oil and gas growing at a rapid pace and baby boomers nearing retirement, the need for talented engineers is greater than ever. The team at EngineeringJobs.com recently released its quarterly report that shines light on the hottest trends in engineering jobs, ranking the most popular disciplines and regions of opportunity for engineers. Here’s a look at the findings, as well as some other trends we’re seeing.

Hottest Engineering Disciplines

Electrical engineering ranked as the hottest engineering discipline, followed by systems, mechanical, computer and civil. The latest report showed job openings for 26,976 electrical engineers nationwide at the time of publication, followed by 21,794 openings for systems engineers and 18,435 for mechanical engineers. I’m not surprised by these findings. In fact, they’re right in line with the hiring trends we’re seeing as an engineering firm. Electrical and mechanical engineers make up roughly 30 percent of our workforce, and finding new talent in those fields is particularly challenging. Right now, we have almost 200 openings nationwide for electrical or mechanical engineers — a number we expect to continue growing.

Engineering Jobs Chart

Electrical engineering positions, in particular, tend to be harder to fill than other disciplines. It comes down to basic economics: lack of supply. We’re seeing fewer electrical engineering graduates from U.S.-accredited engineering schools to meet the demand. Part of the challenge? Electrical engineering is an intense, math-based area of engineering, and junior and senior high school students often lose interest early when they don’t see how it applies to different types of jobs. The same can be said of any type of engineering, and that’s one of the many reasons we’re so passionate about STEM education and sharing our excitement about the possibilities that exist within engineering.

Hottest Industries

Although the report didn’t go into specific detail about the hottest industries, you can’t ignore that energy and oil and gas are hot right now — particularly shale oil and gas, which is often considered the future of the oil and gas industry in North America. As seasoned workers retire and new energy exploration projects come online, it creates a gap in the skill and talent pool. As a recruiter, it’s a challenge, but for engineers, it’s an exciting opportunity full of potential.

Additional opportunity lies with updating our aging infrastructure — something that is much-needed and long overdue. Finding qualified civil and structural engineers with transportation experience is important to rebuild bridges, repair roads, and upgrade levees and dams. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for civil engineers will increase 20 percent by 2020, growing faster than average for all occupations.

What other trends have you noticed in engineering? How do those compare with the trends outlined in the report? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And If you’re considering a career in engineering, be sure to check out our Careers pages and follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest job opportunities and company information.

Jen Parker is a certified professional of Human Resources (PHR) with more than 14 years of generalist experience ranging from recruitment to employee relations and training. As a recruitment manager at Burns & McDonnell, she oversees a team of HR generalists responsible for recruiting and hiring engineers of all levels.

Other posts you might like:

Four Reasons to Choose a Career in Engineering

U.S News: Do Good, Be in Demand as an Engineer


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