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I saw similar, quetions here, but they mostly considered clothing options...

I’m a woman in her twenties and I just started my career at a multinational outsourcing IT company. I plan to work with big data as an analyst (or, as some people call it, data scientist). Since I do not have any experience in the industry, I have some trainings to complete at the company before I could actually get to work for a client. Right now, I feel like I am good in what I’m doing and my mentors are pleased with my skills and progression.

But I had a conversation with a coworker, who suggested that if I want to work in this field, I have to change how I look, because our clients would be banks and other “serious” companies and they will probably refuse to work with someone who looks “unprofessional”. I have to add that this coworker is at the same level as me, so has no experience with such clients. I think my style couldn’t be considered too extreme, I do not belong to any subculture, do not wear heavy makeup etc., but my nose is pierced (simple nose ring), I have a very small, yet visible tattoo on my wrist and I like my hair dyed to fashionable colors like silver-gray and sometimes pale blue. There is no dress code in our company, so I dress casually for work (nothing extreme or revealing), but, naturally, I would “suit up” properly when meeting a client.

Until my coworker’s remark, I did not assume that looks would seriously affect someone’s career in this field. What is your opinion? Is it true that banks, insurance companies could/would refuse to work with me even though, based on my skills and experience, I would be perfect fit for the job? My more experienced coworkers are middle-aged men with very ordinal style, so I can’t really ask them for advice.

closed as primarily opinion-based by user45590, alroc, gnat, Masked Man, nvoigt Sep 15 '16 at 16:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I think this depends very much on the company you go to. If you want to know what is expected of you when outsourced, you should ask your manager, who should either know or ask the client in turn. – Erik Sep 15 '16 at 15:06
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    Have you spoken with your manager? They would be the only person who can tell you if clients would have a issue with your appearance and be the one to suggest you change it. – JasonJ Sep 15 '16 at 15:23
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At least until you know better, a very good default rule when on site with a client (whether as a one-off or as an ongoing engagement) is "dress like the client or a little bit smarter". If you're going into a "suited and booted" environment, then go suited and booted. If you're going into a jeans and T-shirt kind of environment, then go in smart jeans and t-shirt, or maybe slacks and a casual shirt.

Clients are very unlikely to be upset if you are significantly smarter than their employees, although it may make integrating with the employees more difficult if they feel you don't "fit in". On the other hand, being significantly less smart than the client's employees could well cause issues as they may not feel that you project the image they wish to project.

(For avoidance of doubt, I'm not saying I agree that smartly dressed people are "more professional" or anything like that. I'm just saying that's it's the reality of the world that some companies do think that, and sometimes you have to fit in).

  • I'd add: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have! – François Gautier Sep 16 '16 at 7:27
  • @FrançoisGautier but now I'm in a disciplinary hearing in my Batman costume... – Philip Kendall Sep 16 '16 at 7:30
  • The answer to their questions is: "Because I'm Batman!" – François Gautier Sep 16 '16 at 8:32
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I work as a Data Scientist in a bank. While I do not know how client relationships work, I can tell you some things I've learnt during interview process because I imagine initial meetings with the client might be like interviews.

  1. My career coach always said "If you have a tattoo, cover it up for the interview. They can see it after they've given you an offer." The idea behind this is not to be ashamed about tattoos/nose-rings etc, but that you want them to focus on your answers/skill, not be distracted with anything else.
  2. I do not see you having issues after you've joined. I see many people with non-traditional hair-color or nose rings etc so you should be fine as long as you follow the general dress-code of wherever you're working.
  3. Talent and skill is the most important. If you have the skills that the employer is looking for, no reasonable person will refuse to work with you simply because you look non-traditional. In olden days, this was called racism. Don't get me wrong, it very much exists but if someone is willing to overlook a perfectly capable candidate for such tangential reasons, you will soon be miserable working with them anyway!

All in all, keep your skills sharp and you'll be just fine.

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