Recruiting Season: Dressing for Success Means Following a Lot of Garden Variety Advice

No more articles about how to dress for interviews. We see them every year, and we read them because the case for flat-front slacks is much more interesting than the case for private company GAAP. I successfully avoided Accounting Today's recent article, "Fashion & Finance: Do's and Don'ts for New Recruits." Then I got an email from LinkedIn today that listed it as one of "the top 7 news articles for [me] this week." I took that as a sign indicating that I should take a dump on it.

The advice provided by HR and marketing professionals is pretty standard.
Dresses or skirts that are too short are always a no-no. […] Specifically related to females, it’s important for clothing to not be suggestive or provocative in any way so as not to distract from someone’s talent and abilities, and most often this directly relates to how clothing fits. While fitted (tight) and low-rise worked when in school, it doesn’t work in the office.
Don't dress like a whore. Check. Problem is, if a recruit chooses to wear a particular skirt to an interview, it's implied that she doesn't think it's too short. We're accountants, for GAAP's sake. Give us some kind of measurable standard like "the ratio of skirt length to femur length should be greater than the ratio of common sense to number of mirrors available."
 
Here's a gem:
The same suit you wore to the college fairs – we all had it – the $99 suit from Macy's that our parents bought us for the college fairs. Don't wear it! Typically they are made of cheap fabric and cut for "junior/younger" ages. […] There are so many discount stores these days you can easily find a designer suit for the same $99, made from much better materials.
Got it. Don't wear the $99 suit; instead, wear the $99 suit. And Burlington Coat Factory is clearly superior to Macy's. There's no Burlington Coat Factory Thanksgiving Parade because they're too busy getting you a fucking job.
 
Julie Becht, HR director for Freed Maxick, a Big 77 CPA firm in Buffalo, NY, says:
No wrinkles, stains, dog or cat hair.
Damn it, Julie! You just made your job harder and more boring. Let's just suppose that there's a recruiting candidate in western New York who was going to attend the Freed Maxick open house with wrinkled, stained, hair-covered clothing, BUT said candidate made a different clothing choice—not because of any common sense—but because he or she read and took Julie's advice. Now Julie may end up hiring an idiot (who should have been weeded out due to a calico-hair-matted mustard stain on the lapel of his $99 Macy's suit). AND Julie didn't get to enjoy the freak show that accompanies the stars of TLC's Hoarders when they apply for accounting internships. Granted, by providing this advice Julie may have saved herself the time, hassle, and expense of Fabreezing an office chair after Catman's failed interview.
Ladies, fluorescent lights are evil.
And cameras steal your soul.
If the cast of Jersey Shore it's [sic] wearing it – it's probably not okay.
True for everyone in all situations. And this aphorism has a corollary: Before you head to your interview, make sure you're wearing a shirt.
Nose rings are definitely a no for all, and earrings on guys don’t work in our conservative industry. […] The majority of firms across the nation likely have conservative dress codes that restrict employees from having visible tattoos.
There goes Mike Tyson's dream of working at KPMG along with the dreams of countless accounting undergrads who never thought their choice for gauged ears could possibly come back to bite them in the ass.
 
Look, you are going to spend a lot of time at your new job. Ideally you want to work at a place where you feel comfortable and accepted. If you've got both foresight and big balls, go to your recruiting functions dressed nicely but in a way that you feel comfortable. Believe it or not, there are firms that will take you with your nose ring and (button down) Affliction shirt. They're hard to find, but they're there. However, for the vast majority of us who stayed with accounting through all 150 hours, keep rocking those Dockers shirts and Haggar slacks. You'll do just fine.

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