Effect of spending money on appearance in career

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notmyhand
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Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am

I just came away from a meeting in which I asked for a promotion and was told likely another six months. No there was nothing I could do extra - my clients love me, my manager loves me, I'm bringing in work, I am out performing. This is driving me crazy as every other person in my position was promoted within six months, not a year +.

At the same time, I am sitting in meetings in which comments are made about needing to bring another women into the office so clients are more eager to stop by. I am the only woman in management in the company, happily married, and spend absolutely no time in making myself look pretty. I dress professionally but I don't wear heels, I don't get my hair done, and I do minimal makeup. My theory was always that I wanted to get promoted on my merits and not my looks but now it looks like it may actually be getting in my way? I really like my personal time and considering the hours I work, I do not look forward to having to wake up an hour or two early in order to do my hair or spend hours at a salon.

However, being that I am in a male dominated industry, maybe there would be some payback in putting some effort into my appearance? What is the best bank for the buck? I can get my hair cut and colored if it means I don't have to spend extra time messing with it in the mornings. Any good links on capsule wardrobes? I only ever wear slacks and a blouse and jacket - maybe I need to look into skirts and dresses? Additionally, any good links to makeup regimes that won't take forever? My eyeliner and mascara doesn't seem to be enough.

What was worth spending money on your appearance in your career? I make 110k a year with ~15k in bonus, next level does not increase my salary or bonus structure at all but the level above that puts me at executive level making 200k+. While I am not technically in sales, I am responsible for bringing in my own work so there is a lot of sales to go with it - does that mean I go all out? Frustrated and don't know what to do. Any help or stories would be appreciated?

Shallowpockets
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Shallowpockets » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:53 am

Wow, such a touchy subject.
I would think that in sales appearance would be important. Whether or not you want to go that route is up to you. Seems like you missed a promotion they say is based on other than appearance, but that now they are thinking of bringing in someone else. You perceive that to be possibly related to appearance.
People know who you at your work now. You already have an image. That is hard to change and actually achieve the image enough for them to start thinking of you as the person who could possibly do what they alluded to in that meeting. This is changing yourself and also changing their perception of you to that end.
How do the men dress and what are the consequences of their dress?
A very touchy subject. A personal level, a business level, and maybe a legal level.

afan
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by afan » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:57 am

Impossible to have an informed opinion. It depends almost entirely on your industry and your individual work situation.

In some fields and jobs no one would notice or care. In others appearance might be hugely important. You might do better to ask some people you trust and respect who are close enough to your job and field that they could provide useful advice.

Do you think some of this, if there is anything to it, could be willingness and enthusiasm about taking clients out instead of going home to the family?
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samsoes
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by samsoes » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:58 am

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am
At the same time, I am sitting in meetings in which comments are made about needing to bring another women into the office so clients are more eager to stop by.
What?? Is this company stuck in the 1950's or 1960's? :oops:
If this their corporate culture, and it is genuinely affecting your career, it's time to move on. Seriously.
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notmyhand
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:59 am

Shallowpockets wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:53 am
Wow, such a touchy subject.
I would think that in sales appearance would be important. Whether or not you want to go that route is up to you. Seems like you missed a promotion they say is based on other than appearance, but that now they are thinking of bringing in someone else. You perceive that to be possibly related to appearance.
People know who you at your work now. You already have an image. That is hard to change and actually achieve the image enough for them to start thinking of you as the person who could possibly do what they alluded to in that meeting. This is changing yourself and also changing their perception of you to that end.
How do the men dress and what are the consequences of their dress?
A very touchy subject. A personal level, a business level, and maybe a legal level.
I agree that changing appearance midway might be difficult but I am willing to try. The men don't do much with their appearance at all and they will dress up with clients in town but it's not uncommon for scruffy beards to appear for weeks on end. There is nothing I am going to be able to do about a possible double standard, just trying to correct my mistake at this point by caring more in a frugal and time efficient manner. Trying to get insight whether people have found it worth the money to put extra effort in.

notmyhand
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:02 am

afan wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:57 am
Impossible to have an informed opinion. It depends almost entirely on your industry and your individual work situation.

In some fields and jobs no one would notice or care. In others appearance might be hugely important. You might do better to ask some people you trust and respect who are close enough to your job and field that they could provide useful advice.

Do you think some of this, if there is anything to it, could be willingness and enthusiasm about taking clients out instead of going home to the family?
Hm so tough as there are no other women in my position but I'll see who I can seek out.

And no, I take clients out more often than half the men despite being "low man on the totem pole" and I never try to appear unwilling. I'm usually first one in, last one out.

fposte
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by fposte » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:11 am

I'm in academics partly to avoid that kind of thing.

First, keep in mind that if they're finding a pretext not to promote you, lipstick isn't necessarily going to change that, so don't kill yourself trying. However, it may be good to have some different sartorial tools at your command just because more tools are good.

I would start by looking at prominent women in your industry to see how they present themselves. There's a lot of variation possible here and you don't want to put in a ton of effort to find out you hit pharmacy rep when you were aiming for CEO.

The resource that is always mentioned for this kind of thing is the blog Corporette. It skews a little more Manhattan so may be less conservative than some workplaces, but it's got really good info. It could also be worth looking at Ask a Manager and searching on "clothes" and "makeup" to see questions about those.

Hair depends on your hair. If it blows out straight in two minutes, you can probably get good value out of a sharper cut. If it only looks super-polished with salon-level beachy waves, it may not repay the time. Make sure it's getting cut on the regular, avoid anything super-dated or super-collegy in what you do with it

With makeup the thing is generally "luminance"---aka contrast. I confess I hate foundation so I'd do anything to avoid it, but you could throw in lipstick and a quick brush/bronzer blush on the cheeks without adding much time to your morning routine.

For wardrobe, I would recommend two main things: tailoring and accessories. Especially with a jacket, tailoring can be the difference between "clothed" and "looking impressive." A sharp belt, a touch of texture and shine in a necklace, the occasional scarf can do much the same thing. Also make sure the clothes are in good condition and not dated in style. If you're not opposed to dresses and skirts, sure, consider them, but I would avoid sinking money into a pile of dresses as a first move if you hate them and are uncomfortable in them. I would also say that if you don't have an eye yet, try the personal shopper service at a Nordstrom and see how you fare--they generally get really good reports, and Nordstrom is about the kind of quality level you should be looking at until you have enough experience to spot passable cheaper stuff.

Shoes. I really hate to send anybody to heels who doesn't like them. Do you feel the same way about ankle boots with some heel? Mary Janes with a lower, blockier heel? What it also might be worth your doing is to go for higher-end flats with a little more zing--Ferragamos rather than Merrells. Also make sure they're polished regularly.

I don't think it's fair that this might be necessary for you to get ahead, but that's a whole 'nother discussion. These are some steps if you want to try.

Lynette
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Lynette » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:13 am

Unfortunately it does matter especially if you want to be promoted. I retired from IT and we had women exec's in senior management. They were always impeccably dressed. They dressed conservatively but sometimes the events were streamed live and the company's image was at stake. They all wore heels - even if they were lower. I don't think it matters much for older worker bees such as me who did not want promotion. I did not wear heels as I did not want to trip and fall. Having said this, it is not the only criterion. Sometimes one has to accept that you are not on the management track in that particular organization. Maybe you should move laterally or if you are really ambitious look for another position.

dbr
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by dbr » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:21 am

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am
I just came away from a meeting in which I asked for a promotion and was told likely another six months. No there was nothing I could do extra - my clients love me, my manager loves me, I'm bringing in work, I am out performing. This is driving me crazy as every other person in my position was promoted within six months, not a year +.
My reaction to this is that if what you say is really true that there is an issue somewhere that is not about your appearance. Is this an entry position where promotion is effectively just moving up from a provisionary appointment? In some fields the condition is obtaining some certification, etc. I think you need to go back to the manager that loves you and see what explanation can be offered for why everyone but you gets promoted within six months and for how it can be that they hire people into a job where promotions even happen that fast.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by TallBoy29er » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:24 am

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am
I just came away from a meeting in which I asked for a promotion and was told likely another six months. No there was nothing I could do extra - my clients love me, my manager loves me, I'm bringing in work, I am out performing. This is driving me crazy as every other person in my position was promoted within six months, not a year +.
As shallow said above, this could be touchy. I am going to avoid that part of the discussion, b/c I think it gets fact intensive, and we don't know enough here. However, to your first paragraph, there is clearly something that is holding you back (whether it be proper or not). I am not a fan of comparison, but based on your comments ("nothing I could do extra"), you have an "in" to discuss what is holding you back versus your colleagues who are getting promoted. This could be a valuable learning opportunity to learn what they are doing that you are not. Or, it could put your supervisor in a difficult position. Either way, there is value.

livesoft
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by livesoft » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:27 am

What do you say in these meetings when it is said that the company needs more women? Do you say, "I'll be happy to hire another woman or man. Give me a budget line because I have plenty of projects for new people."

Or do you say, "This is not a friendly place for women because they are not promoted and are underpaid. I am not surprised there are no more women working here."
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notmyhand
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:31 am

livesoft wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:27 am
What do you say in these meetings when it is said that the company needs more women? Do you say, "I'll be happy to hire another woman or man. Give me a budget line because I have plenty of projects for new people."

Or do you say, "This is not a friendly place for women because they are not promoted and are underpaid. I am not surprised there are no more women working here."
I actually sit there uncomfortably and don't say anything to those remarks as I feel threatened that they would bring someone on equal to my position or my superior without an explanation. But that is a very good point livesoft, thank you for the insight.

csm
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by csm » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:32 am

This is a sensitive topic and difficult to respond to without knowing the environment, your general appearance, the industry, etc. I applaud you for taking a proactive approach for ways you can improve your chances for promotion, rather than just whining about how you've been held back when others aren't held to the same standards.

You mention getting your hair cut & colored. Is it gray? Is it messy? You should be able to get a simple cut that does not require a lot of time to fix in the morning, but is neat and stylish. Coloring is a personal thing - I turned gray quite young so have colored my hair for years and would not personally want to let it grow out gray. But I have friends and colleagues with beautiful gray hair that does not detract at all from their appearance.

You don't wear heels but that should be fine with slacks. I see no reason to go to skirts and dresses as long as your trouser outfits are professional and neat. Makeup can be quick and simple - moisturizer, foundation, blush, mascara, eye shadow, lip gloss. Done, easy in less than 5 minutes.

For wardrobe, you may try going to a department store like Saks, Lord & Taylor or similar and ask for assistance from a personal shopper. No charge and they will find items from all over the store, bring them to you in a single dressing room, and help put a wardrobe together. Tell them exactly what you are looking for and your budget. You should be able to put together multiple outfits with a few good pieces (jackets, trousers, blouses) that can mix and match.

In terms of changing your appearance, you can do this gradually, it doesn't have to be a complete makeover from one day to the next. Think of a person who loses weight - no one notices at the beginning but after some months, they realize there has been a transformation.

It's difficult to know if this is the issue that is holding back your promotion. If your appearance is currently messy and frumpy with clothes that are ill-fitting or unkempt, it could be and there is room for improvement. If you are neat and professional, but your work place is looking for something different in a female colleague (e.g. younger, short skirts and low cut tops), then it's not you, it's them, and you need a different work place!

If you aspire to an executive role, you do want to dress and carry yourself like an executive, but that does not mean you need to wear excessive make-up, skirts, high heels, etc. Dress like a professional woman and carry yourself with confidence.

Good luck!

livesoft
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by livesoft » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:33 am

You should stick up for yourself and other women and call them out on their obnoxious comments.
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notmyhand
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:36 am

fposte wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:11 am
I'm in academics partly to avoid that kind of thing.

First, keep in mind that if they're finding a pretext not to promote you, lipstick isn't necessarily going to change that, so don't kill yourself trying. However, it may be good to have some different sartorial tools at your command just because more tools are good.

I would start by looking at prominent women in your industry to see how they present themselves. There's a lot of variation possible here and you don't want to put in a ton of effort to find out you hit pharmacy rep when you were aiming for CEO.

The resource that is always mentioned for this kind of thing is the blog Corporette. It skews a little more Manhattan so may be less conservative than some workplaces, but it's got really good info. It could also be worth looking at Ask a Manager and searching on "clothes" and "makeup" to see questions about those.

Hair depends on your hair. If it blows out straight in two minutes, you can probably get good value out of a sharper cut. If it only looks super-polished with salon-level beachy waves, it may not repay the time. Make sure it's getting cut on the regular, avoid anything super-dated or super-collegy in what you do with it

With makeup the thing is generally "luminance"---aka contrast. I confess I hate foundation so I'd do anything to avoid it, but you could throw in lipstick and a quick brush/bronzer blush on the cheeks without adding much time to your morning routine.

For wardrobe, I would recommend two main things: tailoring and accessories. Especially with a jacket, tailoring can be the difference between "clothed" and "looking impressive." A sharp belt, a touch of texture and shine in a necklace, the occasional scarf can do much the same thing. Also make sure the clothes are in good condition and not dated in style. If you're not opposed to dresses and skirts, sure, consider them, but I would avoid sinking money into a pile of dresses as a first move if you hate them and are uncomfortable in them. I would also say that if you don't have an eye yet, try the personal shopper service at a Nordstrom and see how you fare--they generally get really good reports, and Nordstrom is about the kind of quality level you should be looking at until you have enough experience to spot passable cheaper stuff.

Shoes. I really hate to send anybody to heels who doesn't like them. Do you feel the same way about ankle boots with some heel? Mary Janes with a lower, blockier heel? What it also might be worth your doing is to go for higher-end flats with a little more zing--Ferragamos rather than Merrells. Also make sure they're polished regularly.

I don't think it's fair that this might be necessary for you to get ahead, but that's a whole 'nother discussion. These are some steps if you want to try.
Thank you, great suggestions. I think with spring approaching I may be able to make some changes without seeming as though I am trying too hard so it looks like I should do some shopping. I've made an appointment for help with the long thick hair. As for heels, I've never worn anything but flats so this may take some work.

fposte
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by fposte » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:43 am

Honestly, notmyhand, before I went and revamped myself I would have a heart-to-heart with my manager. "Usually people in my position are promoted after six months. Can we talk about what metrics for promotion I've fallen short on and what targets I'd have to meet for promotion?" I think at this point it's worth being polite but pretty assertive on this if it's a repeated thing (it sounds like you may have heard "maybe 6 months from now" a couple of times, and that is *not* a good sign); why make it easy for people to sideline you? Up to you whether you want to bring in the fact that the only woman seems to be getting the promotion runaround; in some situations it'll poison the room, but in others it'll be a useful wakeup call.

It wouldn't hurt to do some window-shopping for jobs rather than clothing just to get an idea of what other possibilities might exist. Whether for discriminatory reasons or not, you may have gotten mentally slotted as a non-progresser there, and your manager may love you but love you as somebody who can be reliably contributing at a lower-paid level.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by TallBoy29er » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:48 am

fposte wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:43 am
Honestly, notmyhand, before I went and revamped myself I would have a heart-to-heart with my manager. "Usually people in my position are promoted after six months. Can we talk about what metrics for promotion I've fallen short on and what targets I'd have to meet for promotion?" I think at this point it's worth being polite but pretty assertive on this if it's a repeated thing (it sounds like you may have heard "maybe 6 months from now" a couple of times, and that is *not* a good sign); why make it easy for people to sideline you? Up to you whether you want to bring in the fact that the only woman seems to be getting the promotion runaround; in some situations it'll poison the room, but in others it'll be a useful wakeup call.

It wouldn't hurt to do some window-shopping for jobs rather than clothing just to get an idea of what other possibilities might exist. Whether for discriminatory reasons or not, you may have gotten mentally slotted as a non-progresser there, and your manager may love you but love you as somebody who can be reliably contributing at a lower-paid level.
This is really well put. +1

notmyhand
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:50 am

fposte wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:43 am
Honestly, notmyhand, before I went and revamped myself I would have a heart-to-heart with my manager. "Usually people in my position are promoted after six months. Can we talk about what metrics for promotion I've fallen short on and what targets I'd have to meet for promotion?" I think at this point it's worth being polite but pretty assertive on this if it's a repeated thing (it like you may have heard "maybe 6 months from now" a couple of times, and that is *not* a good sign); why make it easy for people to sideline you? Up to you whether you want to bring in the fact that the only woman seems to be getting the promotion runaround; in some situations it'll poison the room, but in others it'll be a useful wakeup call.

It wouldn't hurt to do some window-shopping for jobs rather than clothing just to get an idea of what other possibilities might exist. Whether for discriminatory reasons or not, you may have gotten mentally slotted as a non-progresser there, and your manager may love you but love you as somebody who can be reliably contributing at a lower-paid level.
It's what I did on Friday and was told the above again. The excuse is that there's not enough work to go around to everyone so no way to promote (although I have the same amount of projects as my predecessor did when he was promoted) and yet another woman was job offered while I was told there is not enough work. I've met with my manager and the VP and am told the same thing. This company has higher potential pay than competitors but it may be time to look elsewhere as I may never reach that potential pay. However, I am willing to try changing appearance as it seems to be a common topic when discussing hiring other people.

fposte
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by fposte » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:58 am

It really sounds to me like you're getting a message: you are not going to progress there. By all means, up your presentation game if you're inclined, but I'd do it to bolster a job hunt, not in hope that they'll finally drop the carrot they're dangling.

(Did you point out you have the same number of projects as your predecessor, and what did they say?)

Clueless
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Clueless » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:07 am

Wow! I feel for you. Having a uterus is a no win situation. For the record, I am a bit of a tomboy. Makeup and hair products are magical mysteries. Fashion is a language I don't speak. This is how I solved the problem...

1. I found a look that I liked on Pinterest in the woman's fashion section. For me it was pencil skirts. For you it might be slacks. Then I went to a couple of stores and tried to find items that fit my body best. If you can find items that fit well and can avoid having items tailored, it will save you a lot of money. However, if needed, have your items tailored.

2. I tell my hairdresser that I have no desire to spend time on my hair. I only own a hairdryer, a comb, and a round brush. I need a haircut that works with that. And then I tell her to do what she wants because she is obviously more talented than I am in this area. At the end she sends me home with YouTube tutorials for the hairstyle challenged. Oh, and I wanted to keep my early gray hair. She said, "No. Not until you are fifty." I am going to trust her on this one.

3. Makeup. This is the most confusing area of all. I would ask a girly family member or friend for help. I like makeup tutorials by Pixiwoo on YouTube. If that doesn't help, go to Ulta and ask for help.

Should you have to do this? No. But if you want to do it then go for it. Just be prepared for dry cleaning bills. i wish I could tell you that clothes, makeup, and hair don't matter. Sadly, they do. Good luck!

runner540
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by runner540 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:36 am

Great tips above. You have my sympathy - I really do understand. Sent you a PM.

jayk238
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by jayk238 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:48 am

What business is this?
What is your position?
What is the reputation if the company. Is it large or boutique?
Seems awfully sexist and borderline discrimination.

runner540
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by runner540 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:52 am

jayk238 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:48 am
What business is this?
What is your position?
What is the reputation if the company. Is it large or boutique?
Seems awfully sexist and borderline discrimination.
Unfortunately it's reality for many many women in professional environments. Research has found a beauty/appearance premium AND a beauty/appearance penalty if you too good looking...seriously.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:57 am

Perhaps spending time on one's appearance in a business setting (whether male or female) will bring benefit in all areas of life, if only to add a bit of joy and extravagance . . . just for the simple fun and pleasure of it. (regardless of career).
Let the "outer" reflect the beauty of the "inner".

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Lonestarz
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Lonestarz » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:59 am

I have read attractive people (both men and women) have better shot at promotion. As do tall people.

No way to know what is going on for sure. As there are too many variables.

stan1
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by stan1 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:19 am

I'll start by writing that I'm male. Unfortunately it does end up as a factor for men and women. I'll go out on a limb and say, in general, active and healthy looking, energetic men and women over 50 have less change of "age discrimination" all other things equal than peers who are overweight or seem to be "low energy". I am a manager in a workplace with a mix of professional, technical, and industrial work. When I've been asked the question "is there a dress code" I respond by saying the official answer is "no" but you may want to look at your peers and supervisor and dress just a little bit better. The women who get ahead tend to wear conservative blouses with slacks most days. Some are overweight but they color their hair and put on makeup. If I was a woman working at my location I would do the same. It is not fair but its a choice to do the best you can with what you got or not worry about it.

notmyhand
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 am

stan1 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:19 am
I'll start by writing that I'm male. Unfortunately it does end up as a factor for men and women. I'll go out on a limb and say, in general, active and healthy looking, energetic men and women over 50 have less change of "age discrimination" all other things equal than peers who are overweight or seem to be "low energy". I am a manager in a workplace with a mix of professional, technical, and industrial work. When I've been asked the question "is there a dress code" I respond by saying the official answer is "no" but you may want to look at your peers and supervisor and dress just a little bit better. The women who get ahead tend to wear conservative blouses with slacks most days. Some are overweight but they color their hair and put on makeup. If I was a woman working at my location I would do the same. It is not fair but its a choice to do the best you can with what you got or not worry about it.
I'm in my 20s so not a ton of age discrimination! :D My managers are in their late 30s/early 40s and if anything my appearance tends to look extra young. I have gained about 20 pounds since taking my current role so that certainly can change. I think I certainly can do more to look the part, just not looking forward to it.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by KlangFool » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:35 am

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 am
stan1 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:19 am
I'll start by writing that I'm male. Unfortunately it does end up as a factor for men and women. I'll go out on a limb and say, in general, active and healthy looking, energetic men and women over 50 have less change of "age discrimination" all other things equal than peers who are overweight or seem to be "low energy". I am a manager in a workplace with a mix of professional, technical, and industrial work. When I've been asked the question "is there a dress code" I respond by saying the official answer is "no" but you may want to look at your peers and supervisor and dress just a little bit better. The women who get ahead tend to wear conservative blouses with slacks most days. Some are overweight but they color their hair and put on makeup. If I was a woman working at my location I would do the same. It is not fair but its a choice to do the best you can with what you got or not worry about it.
I'm in my 20s so not a ton of age discrimination! :D My managers are in their late 30s/early 40s and if anything my appearance tends to look extra young. I have gained about 20 pounds since taking my current role so that certainly can change. I think I certainly can do more to look the part, just not looking forward to it.
notmyhand,

<<I'm in my 20s so not a ton of age discrimination! >>

<<My managers are in their late 30s/early 40s and if anything my appearance tends to look extra young. >>

How do you know? Based on your description, you might be too young to be promoted.

Age discrimination is not necessary because you are too old. It might be that you are too young and you do not fit the management profile.

KlangFool

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by stan1 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:40 am

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 am
I think I certainly can do more to look the part, just not looking forward to it.
This is a male dominated board so answers here may skew that way. Some women will reply. I'd also recommend finding a professional female mentor in your industry or community if there isn't someone in your company. In my workplace in a male dominated industry successful professional women network with other successful professional women and women in their 40s/50s spend a lot of time mentoring women in their 20s/30s. Being male I'm not privy to those discussions but I am CERTAIN these topics come up.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:45 am

fposte wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:11 am
I'm in academics partly to avoid that kind of thing.

First, keep in mind that if they're finding a pretext not to promote you, lipstick isn't necessarily going to change that, so don't kill yourself trying. However, it may be good to have some different sartorial tools at your command just because more tools are good.

I would start by looking at prominent women in your industry to see how they present themselves. There's a lot of variation possible here and you don't want to put in a ton of effort to find out you hit pharmacy rep when you were aiming for CEO.

The resource that is always mentioned for this kind of thing is the blog Corporette. It skews a little more Manhattan so may be less conservative than some workplaces, but it's got really good info. It could also be worth looking at Ask a Manager and searching on "clothes" and "makeup" to see questions about those.

Hair depends on your hair. If it blows out straight in two minutes, you can probably get good value out of a sharper cut. If it only looks super-polished with salon-level beachy waves, it may not repay the time. Make sure it's getting cut on the regular, avoid anything super-dated or super-collegy in what you do with it

With makeup the thing is generally "luminance"---aka contrast. I confess I hate foundation so I'd do anything to avoid it, but you could throw in lipstick and a quick brush/bronzer blush on the cheeks without adding much time to your morning routine.

For wardrobe, I would recommend two main things: tailoring and accessories. Especially with a jacket, tailoring can be the difference between "clothed" and "looking impressive." A sharp belt, a touch of texture and shine in a necklace, the occasional scarf can do much the same thing. Also make sure the clothes are in good condition and not dated in style. If you're not opposed to dresses and skirts, sure, consider them, but I would avoid sinking money into a pile of dresses as a first move if you hate them and are uncomfortable in them. I would also say that if you don't have an eye yet, try the personal shopper service at a Nordstrom and see how you fare--they generally get really good reports, and Nordstrom is about the kind of quality level you should be looking at until you have enough experience to spot passable cheaper stuff.

Shoes. I really hate to send anybody to heels who doesn't like them. Do you feel the same way about ankle boots with some heel? Mary Janes with a lower, blockier heel? What it also might be worth your doing is to go for higher-end flats with a little more zing--Ferragamos rather than Merrells. Also make sure they're polished regularly.

I don't think it's fair that this might be necessary for you to get ahead, but that's a whole 'nother discussion. These are some steps if you want to try.
I think this is great advice, Women who dress well ( not fashionistas!) with a well coordinated look are those I would love to emulate.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by bertilak » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:50 am

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am
My theory was always that I wanted to get promoted on my merits and not my looks but now it looks like it may actually be getting in my way?
I am a man but I got promoted on my "looks."

I wanted a management job so went to my 2nd-line manage and was told I was not near the top of the list of management candidates.

So, I bought a few three-piece suits and wore one to work very day. Less than a year later I had a management job.

"Looks" can mean "looking the part."
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by bumblebh » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:07 pm

I read an article recently about Ariana Huffington who dresses professionally but repeats outfits. Similar to what Mark Zuckerberg does and also Steve Jobs did. It keeps things simple so you don't have to waste as much time shopping or thinking about what to wear.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/10/technol ... index.html

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Christine_NM » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:52 pm

notmyhand -

Do you belong to a gym? That would help with getting your waistline back and some muscle definition, also with working out anger at the injustice of it all.

Lots of haircuts need less care than not-done hair. This would be the most important change. Also, do your nails -- they show -- but no nail art.

As for clothing, look around for women who seem together and who you'd promote -- what are they wearing? Last example I can think of is a doctor I went to who was in shape and wearing all black (flat tie shoes, slim pants, turtleneck and light jacket). She is a surgeon, and they value time above all else. I suspect she has simple "uniforms" that she can wear without a lot of accessories and planning.
Last edited by Christine_NM on Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:04 pm

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 am
stan1 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:19 am
I'll start by writing that I'm male. Unfortunately it does end up as a factor for men and women. I'll go out on a limb and say, in general, active and healthy looking, energetic men and women over 50 have less change of "age discrimination" all other things equal than peers who are overweight or seem to be "low energy". I am a manager in a workplace with a mix of professional, technical, and industrial work. When I've been asked the question "is there a dress code" I respond by saying the official answer is "no" but you may want to look at your peers and supervisor and dress just a little bit better. The women who get ahead tend to wear conservative blouses with slacks most days. Some are overweight but they color their hair and put on makeup. If I was a woman working at my location I would do the same. It is not fair but its a choice to do the best you can with what you got or not worry about it.
I'm in my 20s so not a ton of age discrimination! :D My managers are in their late 30s/early 40s and if anything my appearance tends to look extra young. I have gained about 20 pounds since taking my current role so that certainly can change. I think I certainly can do more to look the part, just not looking forward to it.
I was in the process of writing a rather lengthy reply (wasn't sure whether to post or send as PM), and then I saw this.

Is it possible that you aren't being "promoted" because you just do not *yet* have the necessary experience (and perhaps additional training)?

While writing my reply, I had actually been assuming you were a bit further along professionally.

Note: My comment doesn't mean that there might not be things to do regarding appearance.

How long have you been at this particular job?
And what about prior employment.
("20s' can be "about to turn 30, or "about to turn 22"...)

RM
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:09 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:04 pm
notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 am
stan1 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:19 am
I'll start by writing that I'm male. Unfortunately it does end up as a factor for men and women. I'll go out on a limb and say, in general, active and healthy looking, energetic men and women over 50 have less change of "age discrimination" all other things equal than peers who are overweight or seem to be "low energy". I am a manager in a workplace with a mix of professional, technical, and industrial work. When I've been asked the question "is there a dress code" I respond by saying the official answer is "no" but you may want to look at your peers and supervisor and dress just a little bit better. The women who get ahead tend to wear conservative blouses with slacks most days. Some are overweight but they color their hair and put on makeup. If I was a woman working at my location I would do the same. It is not fair but its a choice to do the best you can with what you got or not worry about it.
I'm in my 20s so not a ton of age discrimination! :D My managers are in their late 30s/early 40s and if anything my appearance tends to look extra young. I have gained about 20 pounds since taking my current role so that certainly can change. I think I certainly can do more to look the part, just not looking forward to it.
I was in the process of writing a rather lengthy reply (wasn't sure whether to post or send as PM), and then I saw this.

Is it possible that you aren't being "promoted" because you just do not *yet* have the necessary experience (and perhaps additional training)?

While writing my reply, I had actually been assuming you were a bit further along professionally.

Note: My comment doesn't mean that there might not be things to do regarding appearance.

How long have you been at this particular job?
And what about prior employment.
("20s' can be "about to turn 30, or "about to turn 22"...)

RM
About to turn 30 and have been offered jobs further along the chain with other companies, been in my current position for almost a year, but as I mentioned, three of my predecessors took six months to move to the next level (which is same comp, just better title). This is a small company of about 50-60 employees. Two of my predecessors had less experience than I do in the industry. However, it is older male oriented so yes my young age and appearance is certainly a hindrance, hence my questions on appearance.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Lynette » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:12 pm

I did not work for GM but live in the area. This is a photo of Mary Barra, CEO of GM. This is how most of the women executives I know dress. Obviously she works in a technical industry. If she worked for an advertising organization, I am sure she would might dress differently.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Barra

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by bottlecap » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:14 pm

We all like to believe that we earn everything on merit. Yet studies show appearance counts for a lot. Unfairly more so for women, but true for everyone.

I don’t go overboard, but I keep in mind that merit is a baseline only.

JT

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by dbr » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:14 pm

bertilak wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:50 am
notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am
My theory was always that I wanted to get promoted on my merits and not my looks but now it looks like it may actually be getting in my way?
I am a man but I got promoted on my "looks."

I wanted a management job so went to my 2nd-line manage and was told I was not near the top of the list of management candidates.

So, I bought a few three-piece suits and wore one to work very day. Less than a year later I had a management job.

"Looks" can mean "looking the part."
That's ironic. The only real loser I can remember running across in my place of work was a guy who dressed in three piece suits to try to become a manager and never had a chance. He was a lousy technical guy as well.

I suspect actual merit may have had something to do with your results.

Of course these days if you want to be an executive a navy suit and no tie is the requisite uniform.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by notmyhand » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:15 pm

Lynette wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:12 pm
I did not work for GM but live in the area. This is a photo of Mary Barra, CEO of GM. This is how most of the women executives I know dress. Obviously she works in a technical industry. If she worked for an advertising organization, I am sure she would might dress differently.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Barra
And this is generally along the lines of what I wear although I don't highlight my hair. Hm...so confusing.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:19 pm

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:09 pm
ResearchMed wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:04 pm
notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 am
stan1 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:19 am
I'll start by writing that I'm male. Unfortunately it does end up as a factor for men and women. I'll go out on a limb and say, in general, active and healthy looking, energetic men and women over 50 have less change of "age discrimination" all other things equal than peers who are overweight or seem to be "low energy". I am a manager in a workplace with a mix of professional, technical, and industrial work. When I've been asked the question "is there a dress code" I respond by saying the official answer is "no" but you may want to look at your peers and supervisor and dress just a little bit better. The women who get ahead tend to wear conservative blouses with slacks most days. Some are overweight but they color their hair and put on makeup. If I was a woman working at my location I would do the same. It is not fair but its a choice to do the best you can with what you got or not worry about it.
I'm in my 20s so not a ton of age discrimination! :D My managers are in their late 30s/early 40s and if anything my appearance tends to look extra young. I have gained about 20 pounds since taking my current role so that certainly can change. I think I certainly can do more to look the part, just not looking forward to it.
I was in the process of writing a rather lengthy reply (wasn't sure whether to post or send as PM), and then I saw this.

Is it possible that you aren't being "promoted" because you just do not *yet* have the necessary experience (and perhaps additional training)?

While writing my reply, I had actually been assuming you were a bit further along professionally.

Note: My comment doesn't mean that there might not be things to do regarding appearance.

How long have you been at this particular job?
And what about prior employment.
("20s' can be "about to turn 30, or "about to turn 22"...)

RM
About to turn 30 and have been offered jobs further along the chain with other companies, been in my current position for almost a year, but as I mentioned, three of my predecessors took six months to move to the next level (which is same comp, just better title). This is a small company of about 50-60 employees. Two of my predecessors had less experience than I do in the industry. However, it is older male oriented so yes my young age and appearance is certainly a hindrance, hence my questions on appearance.
Thanks. That helps.

And yes, "looking young" while still being young can be a professional disadvantage early on.
(However, in a couple of decades, you will LOVE it :happy , although that doesn't help now.)

But perhaps it is indeed another reason why making a few changes with respect to "appearance" might make a difference.

RM
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by bertilak » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:27 pm

dbr wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:14 pm
bertilak wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:50 am
notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am
My theory was always that I wanted to get promoted on my merits and not my looks but now it looks like it may actually be getting in my way?
I am a man but I got promoted on my "looks."

I wanted a management job so went to my 2nd-line manage and was told I was not near the top of the list of management candidates.

So, I bought a few three-piece suits and wore one to work very day. Less than a year later I had a management job.

"Looks" can mean "looking the part."
That's ironic. The only real loser I can remember running across in my place of work was a guy who dressed in three piece suits to try to become a manager and never had a chance. He was a lousy technical guy as well.

I suspect actual merit may have had something to do with your results.

Of course these days if you want to be an executive a navy suit and no tie is the requisite uniform.
I flattered myself in thinking I had the competence, but it couldn't hurt to grease the skids. I modeled myself on what all the "Higher-Ups" were wearing. I knew they were the ones my management had to make the case to. Why not make their job easier?
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by dbr » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:27 pm

notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:15 pm
Lynette wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:12 pm
I did not work for GM but live in the area. This is a photo of Mary Barra, CEO of GM. This is how most of the women executives I know dress. Obviously she works in a technical industry. If she worked for an advertising organization, I am sure she would might dress differently.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Barra
And this is generally along the lines of what I wear although I don't highlight my hair. Hm...so confusing.
I am pretty sure what is going on here has nothing to do with your appearance, which is why it would be confusing. I guess the only way for anyone here to really provide feedback on appearance for you personally would be to visit you in your workplace and try to suss out what appearance issue could be going on, if there is one. Whether or not you highlight your hair cannot possibly explain the experience you are describing. What could explain it is that for whatever reasons your management has determined you are not on a promotion track and they just are unwilling or unable to be honest about where you stand. At least from what you say it sounds like something of that nature. I am really curious how long you have been employed in this firm and what history of advancement you have already had. This everyone gets a promotion in six months thing sounds really bizarre, so I don't understand what your career path is supposed to look like.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by slayed » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:55 pm

Men are judged on their appearance as well, this isn't something that just faces women. How you present yourself to the world matters.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by stoptothink » Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:58 pm

slayed wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:55 pm
Men are judged on their appearance as well, this isn't something that just faces women. How you present yourself to the world matters.
Absolutely true, but it doesn't have to cost much (or anything). There is no denying that I would not have my job unless I visually presented myself well, considering I represent the company as a public figure (a physical health figure, no less), but I spend next to nothing on clothing and grooming. I do keep myself in beyond excellent shape and my clothes (generally many years old and with "budget" labels) are always crisply ironed, in good condition (despite their age), and fit well. Same for my wife, she spends more than I do on clothing, but what she spends on grooming is a fraction of what most of her female peers do. The biggest factor is that she keeps herself in fantastic shape and her (budget) clothing fits correctly.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Isabelle77 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:10 pm

Setting aside the odd comments from your colleagues (which sound like they're waiting on a lawsuit), I would say the old mantra "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" fits here and always fits for men or women.

You don't have to wear heels or cake on the makeup but there's a happy medium of nice flats, fashionable professional clothing, and maybe classy minimal makeup. I think Sheryl Sandberg, Meg Whitman, most female politicians, have this down pretty well. I am a fan of a professional haircut, a good stylist (again men and women!) can make a big difference.

In a perfect world, we would all be judged by our accomplishments and our character, it is not a perfect world.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:50 pm

Isabelle77 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:10 pm
Setting aside the odd comments from your colleagues (which sound like they're waiting on a lawsuit), I would say the old mantra "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" fits here and always fits for men or women.
Another mantra is "do the job you want, not the job you have".
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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by simplesimon » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:52 pm

I'm curious what your company does where the execs think additional women would make clients "more eager to stop by."

What did you wear to your interview?

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Isabelle77 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:59 pm

LadyGeek wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:50 pm
Isabelle77 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:10 pm
Setting aside the odd comments from your colleagues (which sound like they're waiting on a lawsuit), I would say the old mantra "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" fits here and always fits for men or women.
Another mantra is "do the job you want, not the job you have".
Absolutely!

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Momus » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:03 pm

There are so many research good looking people get promoted or rise to leadership position more often than the ugly counterpart... I'd do it if I were you. This is a no brainer move. You need to look presentable, not just women, men too.

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Re: Effect of spending money on appearance in career

Post by Tamarind » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:37 pm

samsoes wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:58 am
notmyhand wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 am
At the same time, I am sitting in meetings in which comments are made about needing to bring another women into the office so clients are more eager to stop by.
What?? Is this company stuck in the 1950's or 1960's? :oops:
If this their corporate culture, and it is genuinely affecting your career, it's time to move on. Seriously.
I feel this way. If you believe that appearance is the issue, then changing your appearance is unlikely to help, but a different workplace can do wonders.

There is nothing that fixes a company's reluctance to give timely promotions/raises except losing a productive employee because a promotions/raise was delayed unnecessarily.

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