What NOT to Do to Get a Promotion

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If you already work hard and smart, the secret to getting that promotion from your boss or acceptance from your coworkers might be as simple as looking better.

You’ve heard the workplace cliches, “Dress for success” and “A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind.” Who knew they could cost you a raise?

But sometimes cliches are cliches because they’re true; something proven by two recent workplace studies. One polled bosses and the other that polled employees, but the results were similar: Looking bad can cost you big.

The employment website CareerBuilder asked 2,878 hiring managers in all kinds of businesses, “Which personal attributes would make an employee less appealing for a promotion?”

All but two of the top 10 responses involved how employees present themselves…

  1. Piercings – 37 percent
  2. Bad breath – 34 percent
  3. Visible tattoo – 31 percent
  4. Often has wrinkled clothes – 31 percent
  5. Messy hair – 29 percent
  6. Dresses too casually – 28 percent
  7. Too much perfume or cologne – 26 percent
  8. Too much makeup – 22 percent
  9. Messy office or cubicle – 19 percent
  10. Chewed fingernails – 10 percent

While it’s not always easy to hide a tattoo (and certainly not cheap to remove it), it costs no money to take out some piercings, iron wrinkled clothes, comb your hair, apply less makeup and perfume, and stop chewing your fingernails.

As for the other two problems: If you workspace is messy, it costs only your time – paid time at that – to straighten it up. In fact, the most difficult problem to solve from this list might be bad breath. WebMD says more than 90 million people suffering from chronic bad breath, known medically as halitosis. But the helpful website offers tips on how to combat it, including off-kilter ones like eating more carbs. (They explain the science.)

We haven’t yet discussed No. 6 on the list: “Dresses too casually.” While it’s no shock that bosses want better-dressed employees, it turns out your coworkers probably agree.

A study released last week by staffing firm Adecco quizzed employees about what makes appropriate summertime work attire. “Three-fourths of Americans think it’s OK for both men and women to dress more casually at work in the summer,” MSNBC reported. But at the same time, those employees said their peers were pushing the boundaries of good taste. Other survey results

  • 80 percent of women – and 61 percent of men – thought miniskirts were inappropriate work attire.
  • More than 76 percent of women believed strapless tops were inappropriate – but only 55 percent of men.
  • While only 31 percent thought open-toed shoes were tacky, a whopping 71 percent of both sexes agreed that their peers who come to work in flip-flops are really pushing it.

While the men don’t seem to mind as much skin, it’s clear that even employees are recognizing that poor dressing is a problem.

Stacy Johnson

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