March 28, 2001
Reston, Virginia
Complicated Decisions About Casual Business Attire Can 
Open or Close Doors, Says CareerBuilder Survey

Most Workers Fail to Research Appropriate Dress for Job Interviews

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. workers say that clothing or personal appearances influence attitudes about professionalism, according to a national Casual Dress in the Workplace Survey from CareerBuilder Inc. Yet, when first impressions are most on the line -- during job interviews -- more than 80 percent fail to research what is appropriate attire and what is not.

"In today's cautious economy, workers must maximize their chances of success," said Diane Strahan, a career expert with CareerBuilder. "Your resume needs to be sharp and polished and so do you. Researching and selecting the appropriate type of attire for a job interview is a requirement in today's perplexing casual work environment. What's tricky is that casual means different things to different people."

Casual assumptions

While 78 percent of workers describe their typical work attire as casual, definitions of casual vary. Over half describe their typical work attire as "business casual" (khaki slacks, polo or golf shirt, optional jacket, for example), but more than a fourth describe their attire as "extreme casual" (jeans, T-shirts, shorts). And while business casual is the norm, nearly a third of the workers polled say that casual dress is only allowed on designated dress down days.

"Making assumptions about proper business dress can be disastrous, especially for job seekers who are trying to fit into a new corporate culture," Strahan said. "The first impression is critical. Even the most glowing qualifications can't erase a bad first impression."

Business suits, halter-tops or khakis?

Poor grooming, halter-tops, tube tops, sweatshirts, sweatpants and piercings are generally considered as unprofessional by survey respondents. Business suits, khaki pants, polo shirts and golf shirts received the high marks for professional attire. Visible cleavage, according to the survey, received mixed marks along gender lines.

"If you have to ask whether something is appropriate or not, it's probably not," Strahan said. "Remember that what you wear to work reflects your professional style."

Conducted by SurveySite on behalf of CareerBuilder, the survey also explores the 2001 work attire mix, what's in and what's out and casual dress perceptions within different departments and across job titles. The survey also looks at workplace attire and challenges related to job interviews and other business dealings.

About CareerBuilder

CareerBuilder Inc., the most powerful career network on the Web, is the leading provider of targeted Web recruiting. Through the CareerBuilder Network, employers can post jobs to pinpoint exactly the right candidates by location, industry or diversity. Job seekers can instantly search more than 75 of the Internet's best career sites, in just a couple of clicks.

Visit CareerBuilder at .

Press Contacts:

Barry Lawrence, CareerBuilder, 703-259-5793,

About SurveySite

SurveySite ( ) is a leading online market research firm specializing in Web-based surveys, online focus groups and Website evaluation. SurveySite has conducted online research for a number of Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, Dell Computer Corporation, IBM, Compaq Computer and Eli Lilly. The corporate offices of SurveySite are located in Toronto, Canada.

The online survey (+/- 2.1 percent accuracy) conducted by SurveySite drew 2,100 respondents during a five-day period earlier this month.

SOURCE CareerBuilder Inc.

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