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.


2 thoughts on “Dressing to Impress

  1. Another tip from ISACA I came across while reviewing for my CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) exam says that auditors SHOULD look different in appearance to maintain their INDEPENDENCE from the firm they are auditing. However, this doesn't mean we can't get to know our clients and be a part of their culture as well.

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