9 in 10 HR directors in Hong Kong say dressing appropriately can boost career prospects

29 May 2013

Hong Kong, 30 May, 2013 – As Hong Kong enters the summer months, many employees would be looking to adopt a more casual dress attire. However, some individuals may take the casual theme a little too far and this could affect his or her career advancement. According to a new survey by specialist recruitment firm Robert Half, nearly 9 in 10 (88%) HR Directors say the way someone dresses influences his or her ability to move up within the organisation. Only 12% said what someone wears does not influence promotion potential at all.

To what extent does someone's style of dress at work influence his or her chances of being promoted?  

Significantly 25%
Significantly 63%
Not at all 12%


The HR Directors also were asked, “How often do employees wear unusual or inappropriate clothing to work?” 66% of respondents said it occurs “somewhat often”, while 21% said it happens “very often”.


Very often 21%
Somewhat often 66%
Never 13%


Pallavi Anand, Director, Robert Half Hong Kong said: “While impeccable style won't necessarily land you a promotion, it is crucial that people dress professionally at work, particularly in certain sectors such as legal, banking and finance. Sloppy attire may prompt your manager to wonder how serious you are about your job, and it may result in you being passed up for an important promotion or growth opportunities.”

"Employers can work with their HR department to send an email to all staff rather than single out individuals who break the office dress code. If it does not work, you should sit down with the person and address it. More often than not, the employee will appreciate a discreet reminder.” 

In addition, Ms. Anand suggests the following tips on dressing professionally at work:

Make a good first impression
A polished appearance establishes instant credibility. If you dress unprofessionally, it can be difficult for clients, colleagues and your manager to take you seriously, and you may not receive the respect your achievements deserve.

Business casual doesn’t mean looking sloppy
Save the gym clothes, shorts, slippers, and torn denim for weekends. Reliable dress options for business casual days include shirts with collars, short- or long-sleeved blouses, long trousers, and covered shoes.

Pay attention to the little details
Check for hanging threads, crease, pet hair and loose buttons before leaving for work. Look for clinging crumbs and food stains after a meal.

Be conservative
If you have just started a new job, it is important to dress more conservatively than you usually do – at least until you have figured out the office dress code. The same holds true for job interviews – dress the way you imagine an executive at the company would. Candidates sometimes make the mistake of dressing too casually for interviews, especially if the company has a reputation for its informal workplace.

It is always a good idea to invest in a number of suits, or several jackets and pairs of trousers or skirts that can be worn in a variety of combinations.

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