Does My Appearance in the Workplace Really Matter?

By Warren McCray on

What’s being conveyed to potential hiring prospects, clients or business partners during the first three seconds of your encounter? Whether you are a CAD engineer, mechanical designer, or another industry professional, some studies show that it only takes three seconds for an opinion to be formed about you. Here’s why appearance in the workplace does matter.

Verbal and Non-Verbal Impressions

Is it the words you use that drive people’s perception of you? Many people think these verbal cues are what make or break professional communication, but what they don’t know is communication is only 7% verbal. The other 93% of communication in the workplace (and everyday life) is made up of non-verbal communication, so it’s important to be aware of these components: appearance, kinesics, proxemics, paralanguage, haptics, etc.

Today, we want to touch on just one small part of communication—appearance in the workplace. The way you look says a lot about you, your values and the company you represent.


There is so much we can do to present ourselves as professionals. While these practices may seem obvious to some and unnecessary to others, they play an extremely important role in reserving a professional appearance in the workplace. Here is a guide to appearance best practices:

  • Hygiene: The first thing and most important is your hygiene. Whether you are behind a computer screen most of the day or in the field teaching SOLIDWORKS, taking regular showers and brushing and flossing your teeth is a must in today’s business world. You may think your hygiene doesn’t interfere with your work abilities, but something as simple as smelling bad can be distracting and take away from your performance.
  • Grooming: Can you remember when you last cut your hair or trimmed your beard? Today’s professionals are well-groomed, clean-cut and present a well-maintained 
    appearance to their clients. Gone are the days of sloppy-looking professionals. Some people will take grooming to a different extreme, but at the very least professionals should have appropriate hair, nails and makeup (if any).
  • Work Attire: Everyone has the right to express themselves through fashion a little differently so long as it respects the company dress code. Ask yourself if your attire represents you and your place of employment? Companies will usually state whether they have casual, business casual or professional dress codes. The challenge most people have is interpreting what each of these means. For example in sales, the general rule of thumb is to dress accordingly to prospects staff. This way you will not be overdressed nor will you be underdressed. This same rule applies to interviews or contract work. Try to find an acceptable professional look that is well respected by both your company and the company you are communicating with. Just remember that the way you present yourself reflects on your employer and its brand.

Examples of Non-professional Attire: 

Non-Professional Attire Engineer Candidate

Examples of Professional attire:

Professional Attire Engineer Candidate

Ultimately, the way you present yourself is important, especially in the workplace. Start by taking note of company dress codes, investing in your attire and presenting yourself in a more professional manner. When you look good you feel good, so will everyone around you. Appearance in the workplace is the first step of communication as a professional.

For more tips about how to communicate as a professional try reading:

Want assistance to make sure your appearance is fit for the workplace? Consider the help of TriMech services for all of your staffing and job needs. Learn more about how we can help you by reading our infographic below!