The Appearance of Procurement

How much should the way we dress affect our careers? Back in the good old days when the procurement function was still broadly labelled as purchasing, it was fine to turn up in a suit and tie for an interview; as long as your tie was neat and your shoes were clean nothing more would be said.

Today the boundaries have changed. There is a notable emphasis on dressing to reflect corporate culture and values across every sector in the market and Procurement Professionals are expected to have absorbed these intricacies before attending any kind of formal interview, adjusting their attire to match that of the team they will potentially be working with.

Just recently Procurement Heads represented an experienced Procurement Leader for a senior management role within a well-known, national organisation. Following the first interview we spoke to him to get some feedback and he revealed that he hadn’t worn a suit to the meeting. Our initial response was shock, closely followed by disappointment; why had such a bright and competent person failed to realise the importance of dressing for the occasion?

It turns out that our first assumptions were misplaced. Our candidate had more than done his homework and having closely researched the organisations’ company culture he had ascertained that a suit would in fact be inappropriate. Everyone from senior management to shop floor level adopted a casual attire and as a result his informal appearance was well received.

The fact is, we are predisposed to relate personal appearance to emotional intelligence. If someone comes to a meeting inappropriately dressed we assume they either don’t know or don’t care about how they will be perceived. Either way, getting it wrong usually means you won’t be offered another opportunity – clueless and careless are not covetable character traits for potential employees.

So just how can you negotiate the minefield of dressing for success? Doing your research is fundamental. Not only will it help you with what you should wear it will enable you to speak knowledgeably about the nature of the business and corporate culture, highlighting where your skills and personality can add value to the role and proving you have invested time into preparing for the opportunity. After all, pro-active, thorough and insightful people are the ones who win opportunities in top performing procurement functions.

About the Author

Helen Harling

Office and Marketing Manager for both Procurement Heads and sister brand HR Heads. Graduating with a marketing degree, Helen has continued her passion by leading our marketing function forward. You will see her blogging, tweeting, posting, videoing about Procurement Heads. You can see this on our LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram page.

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