I write about careers so much because your career is your greatest asset. With a stellar career, you're not only happier, but you also have a huge financial advantage over those who don't have a great job.
I've recently discovered the great book . I'm still working my way through it, but so far I think most of the advice is spot on. It's practical and realistic -- totally opposite of what many career counselors would say. And for good reason -- many career "experts" are worried about how things "appear" rather than how they really are.
Penelope Trunk, author of , also has a column at Yahoo Finance. recently she wrote something very provocative, but true (in my opinion) when she discussed your . Her thoughts:
Being overweight or sloppily dressed is worse for your career than being a poor performer.
I'm not saying this is fair, I'm saying it's true. So manage your weight, and manage the image you project at work, and you'll do wonders for your career.
If you doubt that your image can inhibit your career, think about this: According to a 2005 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, good-looking people make more money than average-looking people for doing exactly the same work.
I'm not going to comment on the overweight issue other than to say 1) it's true -- I've seen very capable people passed over for promotion, not get hired, etc. time and time again because they are extremely overweight and 2) go to the gym and start eating correctly. Much of being overweight is simply a discipline issue (I know, some is a medical condition, but far less than simply eating too many Twinkies and watching six hours of TV every night) and who wants to hire someone who isn't disciplined?
As far as the dressing issue, I agree with Trunk's thoughts and in hindsight this is something I haven't paid as much attention to as I should have. It was much easier in the "old days" when everyone simply wore a blue or grey suit, but with casual work environments (which I love, BTW) the whole dress issue is now wide open. It's not a big issue where I currently work, but it has been in past places I've worked, and I've probably failed at least somewhat, preferring to dress for comfort rather than for success.
So what's my point? I don't really have any specific advice on this issue other than to point out that how you dress at work is an important issue and one you should consider and take action on if you want to make the most of your career.