Not getting that promotion? Try ironing your shirt

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You’ve worked your butt off the last few months trying to show your boss that you’re ready for a promotion, to no avail. You’ve gotten compliments from customers and you’ve surpassed your sales goals, but the promotion just isn’t happening.

You’re starting to think your boss must just hate the way you dress, or that she’s just got something against tattoos.

And you know what? You might be right.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey on promotions, certain personal attributes — namely those that might detract from your professional image — can prevent you from ascending the corporate ladder as swiftly as you may like.

“While strong job performance and leadership skills will weigh heavily on prospects for upward mobility, employers will also look at whether the employee conveys an overall professional image both internally and externally,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. 

So next time you’re running late in the morning and thinking no one will notice if you skip the iron, think again. Wrinkled clothes were one of the 11 qualities that employers said might deter them from extending a promotion to an employee. The other 10 include:

  • Piercings — 37 percent
  • Bad breath — 34 percent
  • A visible tattoo — 31 percent
  • Messy hair — 29 percent
  • Dressing too casually — 28 percent
  • Too much perfume or cologne — 26 percent
  • Too much makeup — 22 percent
  • Messy office or cubicle — 19 percent
  • Chewed fingernails — 10 percent
  • Too suntanned — 4 percent

Though it’s not entirely fair that you could be overlooked for a promotion because of your nail-biting habit or a tattoo you got when you were 18, the bottom line is that professional image is important to many employers. Looking “put-together” sends a message of competence and, well, professionalism — especially if you’re in a job that requires you to represent the company to clients or the public.

The good news is, though, that none of the qualities mentioned above are permanent or too hard to change. All can be covered up, toned down or otherwise ironed out. So, if you’re hoping for a promotion in the near future, it may be worth giving your office a quick cleaning or taking out your piercing before heading into work.

“When it comes to career advancement, you want to stack the deck in your favor,” Haefner says.

Want to make sure your work persona is professional? Check out these articles, below.

Your work wardrobe 101

Professional, not provocative, equals productive, employers say

Spring cleaning? Don’t forget your desk

4 Comments
  1. I’ve read so many articles stating that overweight (not only obese) people are often overlooked for promotions or miss other such opportunities. I didn’t find that information in this article. One could only hope that empowered decision-makers have come to their senses and realized that one’s weight does not necessarily indicate laziness.

  2. Pingback: Quiz: Is your work wardrobe summer-appropriate? | The Work Buzz

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