What are the day-to-day questions that come up in the life of a consultant? Sometimes (nay, most times) our recent hires say it better than we recruiters ever could. When that happens, I figure it’s best to act as a conduit for the wisdom that was imparted, to post a quick blog here and let the brilliance wash over you.
In one such case, we had a recent question about dress code from a student who will be joining Protiviti this summer. In consulting, “dress code” can mean different things – depending on the client you are working on, depending on the season or the day of the week, and depending on what you managed to pack into your carry-on when you overslept your alarm. With his initiation into Corporate America swiftly approaching, our student asked the following question:
“Where should the line be drawn between dressing professionally to maintain a good image and overdressing where it can be seen as disrespecting another company’s culture?”
Joe, a consultant in Protiviti’s San Francisco office, provided this answer, based largely on the wisdom gained from his previous transition into the workplace:
“A rule of thumb that I’ve heard when it comes to dress is to try to match the client’s culture. For example, if you’re working for a financial services firm in New York, you would likely wear a suit and tie to work as the client probably dresses that way. In the case of a startup client that I recently worked with, it was obviously a bit different.
It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. I think when we show up to a client in business casual, it shows a sense of responsibility and expertise. Clients hire us for our expertise and our professionalism and I feel like this is a subtle way of re-assuring them of their decision to hire Protiviti. Business casual is a “neutral” type of attire. It doesn’t stand out because it’s overdone, and it doesn’t seem lacking.”
So there you have it, rookies. When in doubt, go business cas.