Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

“They ruined it for the rest of us,” such was the message a few short years ago (somewhere around 5) to, about millennials regarding their influence on the working world; trend analyzers  and talk shows like the John Tesh Radio Show noting business’ return to business formal wear in offices nationwide responding to millennials, gen Y whose style was so distinctive, so individual, so unique it couldn’t coexist with a dental office, a law office, receptionist positions in insurance, finance, places usually willing to go business casual, forget places where you normally see a suit and tie. From those who would wander in in flip flops, shorts mistaking their traditional workplace for a tech think tank or people trying to look the part in their bright red dress shirt and loud orange and yellow checkered tie interacting with people who believe suites come in the basic colors black, brown, tan, navy, gray, shirts should be white, black, blue or gray, little else and garnered from a standard dress shirt aisle; if you’re a woman it was worse, bosses mistaking your dress for the cocktail number you wear to a party or a bad sundress imitation: dress code business casual and you’re confused, action had to be taken. Now it’s a mixed bag of newspaper, magazine articles, blogs talking up businesses who’ve relaxed their dress codes to attract and accommodate millennials crossed with equal numbers telling millennials who want to get a job, want to move up to dress the part, saying they don’t get ahead because they don’t dress what they’re worth, if going for an interview be on the safe side and wear a suit, more defining what business casual is and isn’t through both a millennial lens and accounting for the gaping variance by industry; business casual looking very different in the corporate world than in the local not for profit, community service office, a sales manager interacting with clients, someone staring at a cubicle all day. Millennials by and large having none of it although overwhelmingly not for the reasons many employers jump to conclusions they do; these ‘entitled’ kids, teens currently becoming ‘entitled’ workers aren’t so addicted to their style they couldn’t leave it behind for the right job, a job that they love, in deference to their much needed paycheck. They’re clothing, an expression of their individuality, isn’t such a vital part of themselves overall that they can’t change; it’s that they know it doesn’t change the quality of their work, the output of their productivity, so why shouldn’t they be able to wear what they want, what they’re comfortable in, what ensures, maximizes you get the most out of them in a given day? Fuss made over how they dress smacking too much of the hassle and harassment they got in junior high and high school regarding leggings, yoga pants, tank top straps or a visible bra strap with a sleeveless summer shirt in a school with no air conditioning, ‘too short shorts,’ dress and skirt lengths; old blue haired teachers and those who might as well have been assigning negative labels to them, slut shaming them solely based on their outfit, not how they behave, carry themselves, anything they have ever done right or wrong.  Debates surrounding clothes almost always involving office politics where someone with the company for years comes in in something questionable, new dress codes come down and younger workers are asked to pick a side among office employees as to who they think is right; smacks too much of the B.S. they can sense from a mile away that has been permeating the news for nearly as long as the conversation about this set of younger workers has been going on. It smacks too much of being judged on things you have no, limited control over, walking gate, condition of teeth, whether or not you wear glasses effecting if you get the job; facts, at the height of the recession (circa 2008) people were turning minor to plastic surgery to land positions, Botox injections, advanced acne treatments and eyelid surgery, hair transplants for older workers planning to move up— we’re so done with the body shamming— Trends that haven’t abated seeing women as little as 2 years ago undergoing identical plastic surgery procedures at middle age to keep their youthful look, preserve their appearance, essentially freeze the aging process to get ahead in the corporate world. Maybe they just took it to heart when we read them all the bedtime stories, fairytales telling kids not to judge a book by its cover; why don’t we take our own advice, especially when not doing so results in situations like these? Headline making stories vis-à-vis the man who wore his Green Bay Packers tie to work after they made it into the Super Bowl only to be fired from his car dealership job, and it’s a safe bet they weren’t selling Jaguars, Porsches, Lamborghinis in the middle of Chicago. The bank employee fired for dressing too sexy, pictures of her in outfits she wore to work versus other places highlighted by CBS news; wait a pencil skirt is too sexy? Mirroring a similar employee at another bank who says she was fired for the same reason despite being well loved by customers, her ‘over-attractiveness,’ ‘inappropriate attire’ drumming up business for them; this is what millennials are talking about. Pinnacle of absurdity the girl just last year fired from JC Penny’s for her clothing she bought at JC Penny in their wear to work, career section; worse public reaction siding repeatedly with the business saying the bank teller dressed like a wh*re and what did she expect, readily believed JC Penny when they stated their policy includes no shorts when she rattled off a list of things she was told not to wear to work, shorts never being one of them. Buzz60 right on the mark when they cleverly mentioned hypocrisy since, contrary to the ‘they sell bikinis too but no one believes them appropriate to wear to work’ argument, she wasn’t wearing a bikini, clothing wasn’t differentiated by job sector suggesting the type of work they were best suited for, bikini might even make it under lifeguard attire, it was all simply placed in a career and work section. Not to mention odds are she was a sales clerk, manning a check out, possibly working in the clothing department in some capacity; what better endorsement of your product could you ask for than your employee wearing them, telling their friends they bought it there?  Proving once and for all getting a job, keeping a job is about everything but can you do the job, are you the most qualified for the job, enthusiasm for the job, communicating to your potential employer your the most likely to be reliable, show up every day and on time.

Testimonials combed from blogs written by millennials detailing their experiences, clothing issues encountered in the work arena bearing out why battles over workplace attire need to stop having reached the epitome of ridiculous. “You can tell me when to show up and you can tell me how you want something done, but please don’t try and control what I’m wearing when I show up to do it;” despite that trademark millennial ‘arrogance/entitlement’ so called ‘needy hummingbirds’ lacking commitment to work, company and company values are known for, still presented in a pretty common sense approach, where our ‘dreaded generation’ clearly understands and accepts there is a way you dress at work, doing X type of work that is different than on your own time. Remarkably, to millennial bashers, even an acceptance of a boss’ powers to tell you when and where to show up, how to do a task; but when someone tries to tell you there is a right way and a wrong way to where standard nurse, doctor, medical assistant, hospital scrub pants more than the millennial is wrong here. When someone tells you the way you wear your scrub pants during dental school is “scandalous” (slightly rolled down at the waist versus snug just under your rib cage) like a corset it might be added, someone has gone off the micromanagement deep end and needs to come back; since doubted we’re talking ‘rolled down’ enough to show your belly button, belly button ring, a tattoo on your lower back, remember the scrub top, not likely tied up in an effort to look sexy. This isn’t an episode of Locked Up, Orange is the New Black or a rap video al-a Nikki Minaj, and dressing in the grays and blacks she continues to describe buying at the mall to create her employers desired homogenous outfits simultaneously making you look as if you are going to a funeral, arguably prompting people to ask who died isn’t good for business either, yet that’s exactly the tale of one Laura Ruof who penned a summary of her experiences along with examples of business causal for women by industry for Refinery 29.  Further supporting said theory regarding the untoward,’ too risqué for the office scrub pants,’ noted in her article, though professors in dental school continually berated her for how she wore her future professions uniform, her boss’ concerns were about her perceived age; which is a problem in and of itself because it has nothing to do with the grades earned in dental school, was she or was she not a good dentist, dental assistant, hygienist, insert relevant job title here, she failed in bedside manner and relatability to her patients, staggeringly unclear if complaints about her age even stemmed from patient comments, nervousness or exclusively from management. Depending on what specifically the duties of her position were, wearing a scrub uniform makes you look like a medical professional, a sharp medical assistant using the proper sanitation, cleanliness procedures needed a medical environment, even as low level as a receptionist in a dental office putting skittish people at ease, enhancing the perception of quality in your dental practice, precisely what employers should want their employees to do. Stories such as Rouf’s and others flying in the face of another older generation presumption, the stand, out odd employee wearing whatever they want, their hoodie to work is doing so because of their upper level job tittle, years of dedication or significant contributions, instead of alluded to by Jason Parks in his Elite Daily article on what irritates millennials in the work place and how mangers can avoid pitfalls they simply won’t bother with anymore finding another company to work for or starting their own, metaphorical office “Susan” twice your senior, office gossip, less put together business appropriate  fashion wise than you are and getting away with it. Less due to her years at the company and chiefly because bosses believe her work product of better quality, whether it actually is or not; and most importantly, she’s not a millennial being judged via impossible expectations of yesteryear. Shocking taking into account the number of ‘millennial think pieces,’ the doom projected upon working with these profoundly young, outer space foreign attitudes toward life, business and work people, how accommodating she was willing to be, hoops she was willing to jump through, crap she was willing to endure having nothing to do with coursework, job duties to graduate dental school then please her bosses; still they had the continued audacity to complain. That the majority of kvetching comes from people prone to referring to the masses dressing like frumpy bed pillows, as though they are ‘working a corner’ i.e. are a hooker, apt to push for ordinances like the one banning flip flops on citizen Whitehouse tour guests, thong underwear and see through clothing worn in public, independent thong underwear is underwear worn under pants or skirt, the latter being visible to the public eye and see through garments are regularly worn over non-see through items, call for bans on wearing pajamas in public, yoga pants, jogging wear and workout ensembles often mistaken for pajamas, who will treat people in their periphery waiters, mechanics, uniform workers in janitorial, repair services as low class, somehow beneath them, independent they need their help to function in their daily lives, large swaths of their/our metropolitan life would grind to a halt without them, think Richard and Emily Gilmore from the classic Gilmore Girls, only adds to their rightful aversion to it. Thoughts from the roughly 25 to 40 general public echoed when a Florida school district debated a proposal on instituting a dress code for parents dropping off, picking up their child, attending school functions as mandatory as the parent teacher conference; commenters eagerly reminding hoity-toity school board members, officials and those who agree with them parents have jobs at ‘restaurants’ like Hooters, resort to stripping, which unlike prostitution it’s worth remembering isn’t illegal, because there is a market for it, a want for predominately women, attractive women to fill those jobs, sounding off on Florida’s climate and beach, tourist, plus combined retirement community lends the state to an extreme relaxed dress code, especially on one’s own time. It rings all too familiar to adjacent asinine work policies beyond the morals clauses trying to regulate what you do in your spare time to straight out of nonsense, bad comedy invading real life finding out the rules your expected to follow; workers fired for foiling robberies because they violated their employers’ no confrontation policy, a lifeguard fired for doing his job, assisting a person drowning because it was outside his assigned zone, a lunch lady fired for feeding a middle school kid with no money turning around and calling it a theft, less than $2 of one she was willing to pay back from her own pocket. Can’t be ignored here we are talking about a woman and if we were talking about a man the current back and forth would be dead on arrival; following is a stellar description of why it is sexist as hell, another reason it needs to go the way of the Apple 2E, the dot matrix printer and the Walkman.  “Guys have it easy: They can grab a collared shirt, trousers, any shoe that isn’t a sneaker or sandal, and throw a tie in the desk drawer in case of a meeting. For women, the business casual uniform is much more open to interpretation. You can wear a skirt (but what length is okay?), a top (but how low cut or fashion forward?), shoes (Flats? Heels? KITTEN HEELS?), pants — okay, pants are easier, go with pants. But maybe don’t add a blazer, someone might think you’re trying to wear a suit. You haven’t even gotten to jewelry yet, or what bag to use, or how much makeup you should wear. By the way, your male colleagues left for work an hour ago with wet hair, and you’re still trying to pick out a slip that doesn’t show past your skirt.” The recession created employers market phenomenon routinely called the purple squirrel, symbolizing the anything, everything and the kitchen sink employers, recruiters, hiring managers want in an employee believe they hold the power to demand, holding out only for the absolutely perfect candidate, has given way to the purple squirrel uber fashion police; it’s no longer combating outrageous millennial fashion sense it’s business causal perfection or die, not what work is ultimately supposed to be about, how well you do your job, the assets, tangible and intangible you bring to your employer.

And it isn’t hard to see the racial and disadvantaged class lines developing here either, hardly lost on world savvy young people; first the black man and his tie, next the Latino, Hispanic woman, then the white teen. Bad enough offered programs for improvised youth, trying to turn around the urban blight of the inner city and it’s horrifying statistics pertaining to how many end up on drugs, in gangs, dead in their 20’s/30’s, gobbling up welfare benefits are always in computers or business management, this one (first link below) an outlier teaching green energy instillation. Programs where the least able to afford it, the least likely to get there are forced to wear suits and ties, more formal business wear, shepherded toward Fortune 500 companies (the second video) no thought to inherent talents, skills, aptitudes; just because your poor, because you need a second chance your only options are high demand areas starving for jobs. Programs never created around other key areas of interest, non- STEM intensive job sectors also a means to gainful, living wage employment coincidentally seeking workers too; granted most job training falling into this category work with participants to overcome barriers such as appropriate clothing, transportation obstacles, women’s shelters have partnered with various entities for years to provide battered women, former drug addicts rebuilding their lives office to corporate style work clothing. Programs ultimately incredulous they have to teach inexperienced workers things probably garnered exclusively on the job; race, minority status, background, generational clothing norms just adding nasty components to a potential employment powder keg. “I have worked with these kids. I had show them virtually everything. They were nothing more than drones. When it came to the complex technical things, they simply did not have the experience or the training that the job required. Of 6 that I had dealt with, 3 didn’t last and after 3 were hired, one blew through a 60k salary plus benefits over a year and ended up being canned. Another one who was hired was planning to go into psychology basically taking space from a serious technical person. These jobs required real experience, real people skills but instead they gave them to these people who frankly had to hide behind an older worker when things got rough. I have had to clean up their messes. It’s not fun. [Sic] But if employers have relaxed their dress codes, millennials presence in the workforce has resulted in a workplace balance, compromise why are at risk, poor, disadvantaged, youth, younger workers participating in second chance programs still on the receiving end of lectures—to have a prayer you must dress like this, you must go above and beyond to compensate less for your past, the gaps in your résumé, skills you need to learn as a less experienced worker and more to compensate for your race, African American, Latino? Why do these instructors think they’ll need a suit and tie for the type of technical labor they’re slated to be doing, think it will magically overcome known bias against addresses found in ‘the ghetto’, ‘the hood’ coupled with their ‘less than’ appearance even wearing formal attire. Viewing video one closely potential problems are seen the moment it begins, surpassing what the male instructor must be telling women about business casual to business formal attire and the awkwardness some might find amusing in such topic content, dreads, braids, corn rows, one persons ‘man bun’ will probably be a turn off to homogenous, usually Caucasian hiring managers; judging by Ms. Rouf’s confrontations with her own employer, will someone think one man’s purple dress shirt and purple striped tie are ‘too bold’ ‘too unorthodox,’ ‘too black’? Opportunities meant to help actually dripping with condescension, one program is teaching corporate social culture, emphasis on networking the other is tackling basics, fundamentals of a good handshake, to get kids out of the habit of using hand signs, elaborate movements used greeting friends in the street, to teaching them which hand to shake with, how to give a strong handshake to those who’ve never had an occasion to do so—seriously? As equally important, in a current national security climate as TSA agents understanding African American hairstyles aren’t designed to hide explosives, valid points if multi-thousand dollar body scanners, that can see through your clothes, can’t ascertain you don’t have a bomb in your braids sans TSA screeners pulling you aside to manually go through your hair every time you fly, then it’s time to recalibrate your machine. Is employers understanding dreads, corn rows, twists and braids, weaves aren’t un-hygienic, bad, uncouth, hiding the fact someone hasn’t brushed or washed their hair in weeks simply because you think so. Their well-maintained fro-hawk, natural hair isn’t unsanitary mainly because it’s different, isn’t hiding lice, mites, spiders, whatever you’ve conjured up in your head based on the Nation Enquirer, urban legend, that will crawl out onto you, clients when I discuss with them product or services we sell they are interested in. The message behind the viral video of a Target employee helping a young man find a tie and teaching him how to tie it for his first job interview was supposed to be about the kindness, generosity, support, going above and beyond, showcasing an exemplary employee, community coming together to do small things so the next generation can succeed, and it was a message well given and well received.  However you shouldn’t need a suit and tie for an interview at Chick-fil-A, business casual should be suitable enough (mammas instance on the formal wear aside); why she too mandated he don a suit for it, instinctively knowing her son has no chance otherwise well aware of the stereotype surrounding African American young man even today in the 21st century. We’ve gone from putting your best foot forward exhibiting a well-polished look to using millennials as a scapegoat for tired stereotypes, tropes millennials know aren’t true thus don’t have time for; it’s exactly what Mychal Denzel Smith said calling out Chris Rock for making a living criticizing ‘bad blacks:’ “What the “bad blacks” have understood better than the mouthpieces of respectability is that under white supremacy we won’t all “make it.” Under the current system, there isn’t room for all of us at the table, no matter how high our pants are pulled up or how great our diction. In order for some of us to achieve, the “bad blacks” sacrificed themselves.” Realities all to easily added whether or not we wear a suit, how perfected our interview question answers, where we’ve pulled ourselves out of, what we’ve learned; demonstrated by a 20/20 (2002) special on linguistics discrimination of people who sound black versus white over a telephone, a man who changed his name from the Hispanic Latino José to Joe on his job application suddenly getting call backs. Millennials want better and will fight for it in something as unimportant to you as their clothing.

Laughable to millennials regardless what economic strata they grew up in, whether fortunate to come from money, luckily born to parents who were stable through the tech boom and bust, the housing boom and bust intertwined with the financial crisis or watching their parents 401k and retirement dreams evaporate before their eyes, many times their college fund too, having survived, scraped by during the recession to come out the other side, had fear and uncertainty shape their formative years, lost the house they grew up in along with their parents. Taken out huge student loan debt to afford schooling toward a job, perhaps back on their parents couch struggling to pay those loans, find work, any work, obviously just starting out is the idea they possess a reason to own a suit, never mind can afford to buy one before job hunting in their field, could afford one up to this point, planning for that eventuality. Suits costing ‘only $150’, spoken as if it’s loose change found in your couch cushions, an incidental cost of job hunting e.g. printer paper for  tangible copies of résumé and reference lists A-are too far out of their league and they know it even using life hacks like discount online clothing shops, lend and swap sites where you can rent occasion specific clothing; B- being expected to not only buy it, honestly buy several, but then ‘go the extra mile’ and get it tailored embodies how out of touch previous generation adults are with millennial, non-capitalist, non-consumption based values. Willing to trade borrow and share clothes to appease their sense of style, reuse and repurpose clothing, other items to cut down on slave labor overseas and natural resource, other waste in making them here at home, ride sharing, renting and air B&B take care of transportation, housing and hotels for them; minimalist homes attractive not exclusively because they cost staggeringly less money rather that they allow persons residing in them to live off grid, live unconventional lifestyles like travel writer still making ends meet, affording the experiences that make their life meaningful. Jarring though it may seem to older workers, millennial haters, they do have values a core set of things they care about besides themselves; interesting you would think a generation who sees the current one as hedonistic, flighty and self-absorbed would be ecstatic to see them latch on to anything that could be called a value, anything that could provide a positive, moral, solid driving force. Young people lose again because they’re not the values of older generations, they are expressed differently. Speaking of expense toward work attire how many suits were allotted to the STRIVE students in video one of the last paragraph, who’s paying for the dry cleaning required to clean those shirts ties, vests, whole suit ensembles they were expected to wear to class one would guess 5 days a week daily for 6 weeks, many were still wearing, probably required to wear through the hands on training portion?  How much money did Ms. Rouf spend at her local mall buying the dreary, boring outfits to satisfy her boss on a dental assistant type salary which is functional money but not rich, less so if she’s paying back loans from dental school?  No offense to the Target workers rooting for ‘their young man,’ the public crossing their fingers hoping he got the job, happy for him when an ABC news follow up announced he had, yet neither should the better dressed applicant be deemed a better potential employee than the person only able to afford, put together a business casual outfit applying, interviewing for a fast food, retail, even entry level clerical position merely based on that alone, which is what appears to have happened. Further advice via to not skimp on the details including personal grooming tidbits like tidy hair and clean fingernails don’t clearly have a race or sex attached, in their sights; code still easily read, while I’m shaking your hand I’ll subtly scrutinize your fingernails either because you are African American and I want to see if you pass muster to be treated like a human being or your young, a millennial and I’ve heard all the unkempt things about your generation [cough] you, oh and don’t forget, because I can. We know where this is going; soon it will be mandatory manicured nails for both men and women to prove you pass the class centered hygiene test. Contradicting the entrepreneur comment on being yourself at work, no one is showing up to interviews, work in sweatpants unless they’re working a counter at a flower shop, comic book store where no one cares; the addition of unwashed hair in the comment shows either a backhanded dig at African Americans who wash their hair no more than one a week due to lack of moisture as well as grime and dirt, more apt to moisturize regularly to keep hair healthy or is confusing millennials with homeless people who are dirty, unwashed because they have no place to wash.  First challenge then in getting a homeless person a job is getting them admitted to a shelter where they can access bathing and laundry facilities consistently, proving them toiletries like soap, deodorant, shaving cream, toothbrush and tooth paste; none of which has anything to do with millennial style in the workplace.  Most millennials are smartly dressed wherever they go, rocking their converse sneakers paired to stylish clothes matching their body type, pulling off shorts and flip flops commiserate again with their figure and the weather, usually late spring, summer, early fall, areas like Florida where temperatures more often than not scream beach weather. The problem isn’t that they are badly dressed, desperately need fashion tips, need to pull up their pants, stop wearing 80’s fashion, it’s that they are scandalously, inappropriately dressed for work even in business casual, the wanted compromise by millennials we’ve already established do understand there is a dress code for on the job. Smelling all too much to them like dress parameters garnered out of Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire canceled even from TV, literally last century social constructs keeping women down and glorifying power and corruption. Far too close to my mother’s days before anti-discrimination laws told she was too fat to work at reception, poignant commentary on weight and body shaming from people like Star Jones told she was intelligent, pretty but she was big, there should be no but; women told today by bosses no one wants a fat person at reception the ‘fat person’ routinely pregnant. Zero answers given for when best dressed, formal, formal but not too formal, isn’t what you want; example landscape manager hiring applicants dismayed when they come in a suit, good, expensive shoes ruining them as the tour grounds, examine, discuss plants. A band teacher out of New Orleans noticed he was starting to lose his students to the lure of the streets; his radical idea, trade in his suit and tie for the fancy shirts, jeans and $200 sneakers his competition, the drug dealers, were wearing, when he got his next car, he opted for a nicer model equipped with rims. His shocked students openly asking if he was selling drugs, because the only people they saw with those items, outward symbols of success, of having arrived, living a good life were those on the corner selling drugs; his reply no he’s selling education, he got a degree, holds a good job and has a little of this too. He made a difference in those student’s lives throwing out the traditional paradigm, the ‘standard’ of what a teacher is supposed to look like, prior direction to distinguish himself as ‘the teacher’ for something more relatable, more than music lessons imparted.

It couldn’t just be business causal, at least in theory, is the work acceptable clothing category with a minimum of moving parts, a minimum of things to screw up, things to buy, things to stress over? It couldn’t be as simple as business casual is what individual persons with X body type look best in, is best for them consistently 5 days a week from now until the end of their working career when they reach old age, this particular moment in time, job they hold, job they are seeking to hold. I remember the semesters leading up to my college graduation (2005-2006) my mother had been suddenly placed in a nursing home a year and a half before, I was financially struggling to hold onto the apartment we shared waiting to see if her stay would be permanent and going full steam ahead on the plan to get my own life, independence; there was no money for expensive business attire, because I’m bigger than a size 8 would have to be gotten at a plus sized clothing store at twice the cost, tailoring absolutely out of the question for want of money. Never mind putting me in a skirted pant suit is like putting a ‘wide load’ sign on my backside, actual pant suits only look flattering on petite women, my disability and walking with mobility aids  makes wearing women’s heels impossible, dress flats also out. Neither did I need to be wearing lace-up more men’s dress shoes, anything with slick bottoms so I could end up like that classic, The West Wing’s Josh Lyman in the episode where he wears the new shoes his mother bought him and promptly falls flat on his back. So I used the book buyback money went to my local mall and bought well-fitting kaki style pants, minus the baggy and extra pockets on cargo pants I loved, button up short and long sleeve men’s shirts good for all seasons, later on down the line after the post-graduation interest inventories and vocational rehabilitation’s dumping me in a 6 month clerical program a pair of all black air-walk style tennis shoes. Frankly telling job placement business causal is it for me, they aren’t hiring me to put on a fashion show but to do a job, blunt about the extra 10 minutes those outfits would cost me in the bathroom tucking in the shirt, making sure the button on my pants and the buttons on my shirt were aligned, refastening a belt versus completing my business, pulling up my pants, washing my hands and walking out were I on my own time. If they want something else they want someone else, willing to accept the ‘limited’ choices that weren’t, shouldn’t have been that limited as I was looking for entry level clerical hopefully somewhere in a newspaper, magazine, writing arena where I could use my English degree, move up later on. (2007) As for tidy hair I keep my hair very short, easily manageable using minimal product wash, condition, leave wet , apply a little moose, run fingers through, add hair spray for all-day hold and done;  this takes 2-3 minutes at its longest ( I don’t have $16 every 6 weeks to maintain the exact same look). The entrepreneur line about muted makeup made me shutter flashing back to my teens and first forays into it using the stuff in my mother’s makeup bag, eventually buying a cheap tricolor eyeshadow pallet at Wal-Mart and a couple of shades of lipstick only to be told by my mother not to put so much of it on lest I be mistaken for a hooker. Because of my darker skin tone if I was going to put it on, I was going to make sure someone saw that I had put it on, not in a gaudy way but merely visible; I already had colorful lips so it was about complementing that color with a dark maroon lipstick not—suggestive statement here—red. Still we continued to fight and I eventually left makeup behind all together owing to it taking too much time, finding it more important to catch my bus, requiring too much maintenance, reapplying after eating, keeping it off your teeth, applying lip balm beforehand to avoid that chapped plus color lip look. By the time I was applying for jobs I didn’t bother for much the same reasons; a business casual outfit took extra care to begin with and I wasn’t about to have a potential employer repeat what my mother said, the polar opposite of anything I’m remotely about. To my knowledge I was never denigrated or denied a job opportunity because of my sneaker shoes, my short hair (I often got/get complements on it and both peers and adults when I wore makeup), my refusal to dress beyond business casual or my preference to adopt the for men section of that being a woman, but I also never got hired, though I suspect poor training, extremely limited experience and a barrage of mistakes by job placement ‘professionals’ had more to do with that. Yet considering both laws like the one passed last week in Mississippi (not where I live thank god)  allowing ‘what violates someone’s religious principles’ to dictate their business’ dress code, potentially forcing women to wear makeup and the hot off the presses new rules highlighted in stories like Rouf’s, I can easily see myself and those like me wrongly mistaken for lesbian, transgender trying to imitate K.D. Lang, criticized for the metro-sexual look or worse, accused of trying to pass myself off as male for job opportunities, career advancement; crap no one needs especially those actively, honestly seeking work. Writing on this topic I can’t help but remember another iconic show Malcom in the Middle and the episode where Lois’ bosses suggests she spruce up her look a little despite working at the lucky aid, lucky mart convenience/grocery store only to come out after her shift hassled by a cop as a possible prostitute, because she added a little lipstick and mascara; in true Lois fashion marching him into her boss, telling him what the cop had insinuated and informing him she would be back tomorrow sans cosmetic improvements to do her job as she had the day before and would the day after in a tone effectively closing the conversation. Creating the damned if you do damned if you don’t mess unnecessary and unimportant to any employees work performance, attitude things truly impacting work environment.

Again drawing from my own experiences nearly every instance where I had a problem with an employee somewhere, job placement worker, it was never based solely, exclusively on their outfit, even the first thing I noticed; it was always competence that initiated an issue. That the client advocacy supervisor sitting in on a meeting to assess my advocates job performance, a routine evaluation, proceeded to throw in her 2 cents with no familiarity with my case, argue with me about factual realities when I tried to give her the 5-10 minute summation of the last literally 11 years at that point since I had graduated high school and received help (1 year in career exportation, 5 in college, 5 months in the clerical program, the rest bouncing between job placement agencies and looking for work) then proceeded to take the side of the agencies rather than the client her job description mandates she protect mattered more to me than her sleeveless silk imitation shirt and skirt needing at minimum a vest to look professional, tattoo showing, gum smacking, Brett Butler in Grace Under Fire hair, being a white, blond with straight smooth hair it would have taken less than 5 minutes to brush out and reposition barrettes, redo a pony tail. It became the whole package; starting at, she doesn’t know what she’s doing. That the local county resource organization from whom I was receiving services worker showed up to a collaborative meeting with vocational rehabilitation, job placement, client advocacy and myself looking like a real life black casual Barbie didn’t bother me, the outfit was flattering on her and wouldn’t have turned heads had she not arrived 15 minutes late, had everyone looking for her watching the parking lot, me calling her office, to come empty handed sans material on the services they offer in regards to job placement we discussed her bringing because there was some confusion, effectively stopping the meeting and furthering the impasse between them and myself when she announced they don’t do job placement, or rather I would have to leave the job placement place I was currently with that was working in a marginally functional way for a lesser involved, less capable program—needless to say I wouldn’t do.  One of the few times I did take issue with someone’s clothes once more involved job placement when I asked one of the staff if she could sit in on an interview I had just gotten moments before I called scheduled for the next day; because the program manager was out sick, on vacation, attending a work related conference, whatever she wasn’t sure she could.  Fair enough, what infuriated me was the next day I get a call on my phone saying she can come, but she’s not dressed to go into the law firm but we could prep beforehand outside; I said yes to be accommodating but that wasn’t what I really needed. The reason I wanted her to sit in was because I wanted to know was I doing something wrong, did they need to update their understanding on the parameters of available clerical jobs or were these employers in the wrong; because I’d been to interviews that stopped for me when their hours were something other than the standard 8-5 yet not listed in the ad, me unable to work them taking the bus, on she sat in on, on another occasion, she agreed wasn’t clerical more insurance underwriting, something so no wonder I was unqualified. She shows up in a bright spring floral top, white Capri pants and tennis shoes, perfect for a day at the mall, a client seeking services from a law firm not to sit second seat representing job placement on behalf of an applicant; ratcheting up my irritation several notches is I called her the day before, she knew when she dressed that morning where she needed to try to be, being abled bodied she could have changed in her car, in her workplaces bathroom for this and changed back for other jobsites, last but not least, she’s in a job that requires that kind of versatility which she was/is well aware of.  And, none of these were millennials, conveying millennial mindsets; most millennials aren’t trying to work in law offices wearing flip flips, Capri pants, avoid those work environments because they can’t.

Workplace clothing wars, management clothing attitudes right up there with the continuous and latest thoughts on résumés don’t say responsible for, instead launch into a story about how what you were responsible for did something positive for the company; their example, “responsible for completing monthly inventory audits.” Advice writer saying it could even leave employers wondering if you actually did that as opposed to it being part of a nebulous job description telling them to opt for the following: “Perhaps your audits revealed inaccuracies in the tracking systems, for which you were then able to recommend improvements. Maybe you identified some kind of fraud or recognized a problem with over-purchasing.” Belatedly acknowledging maybe they didn’t find anything because there wasn’t anything to find telling them to include it highlighting their timely completion and malicious attention to detail starting with a powerful action verb, yet no concise rewording given. The other current no, no ability to, advice writer says “This phrase suggests that you can do something but it doesn’t actually say you’ve done it. It’s a broad statement that points to a skill but offers no tangible proof.” Granted their example begs for a story to be told (“Ability to gain consensus and work well in collaborative environments.”) but it also depends on the type of work your applying for have done and, “If you can’t cite a specific instance in which you successfully used the skill, it’s not something that belongs in the bullet point statements on your resume” doesn’t always apply. Who’s heard of backdoor references, odds are not many; backdoor references being when a potential employer goes off your reference list calling past employers, coworkers to find out about you. Problems arise when the boss you never quite clicked with or the fellow employee who had/ has an ax to grind is who they hear from; advice, understand this will happen, spring clean your social networks remove people you don’t communicate with, are no longer connected to, meet with those you suspect could reflect negatively on you, if all goes well you should be ok, stoic, close to the vest, negative feedback, sever ties with them, have an answer prepared for an interview, ‘have solid real references.’ The John Tesh Radio Show gave this recent tidbit for unemployed job seekers using Linked In, don’t say seeking a job in, or looking for opportunities in this makes you sound desperate to recruiters; it’s ok to list previous job title or title you want. Anyone else tempted to say come on; you would think that considering the previous generation’s view of the current one responsible for would stand out that these people could be responsible for something. It also speaks to not all jobs are going to be exciting, exhilarating, be applicable to verbs that jump off the page, lend themselves to pizzazz, but doing a solid, consistent job even if it is dull and boring is how  integral parts of our world function, ironically usually the industries always strapped for workers and begging for applicants. When your job is answering phones, stuffing envelops, plugging folders full of things for meetings and preparing things for postage,  mopping floors, cleaning toilets exc., responsible for fits and why would someone put it on a résumé if they hadn’t done it?  Added perceptive on Mr. monthly audits, it’s one less skill I have to teach a new employee; if this is a key facet to the job, I want someone with prior expertise over someone who doesn’t have it on the résumé. Ability to can describe talents you have yet to be presented with an opportunity to demonstrate for a boss or are listed as added factors employers might find desirable, largely found on entry level résumés, persons entering into a new career field; ‘ability to’s’ from my own résumé include solid idea generator and conceptual thinker, going hand in hand with the one citing my unique perspective; since I’m a writer who specializes in social commentary, social issues refer to provided writing samples, links or brief summaries in my cover letter for examples. Another one, ability to meet deadlines; beyond I turned in 99% of my homework in on time in high school, college, with my current freelance work I set myself a deadline 1 article per week posted Monday night early Tuesday morning only exceptions illness, technological malfunction, but that doesn’t translate well on a bullet pointed résumé. Dido with my professional demeanor especially since, when I wrote said resume I was seeing clerical ads asking for same and though the goal listed is a writing job, it was a combined résumé listing all skills. As to Linked In job titles, if the assumption seeking work in, opportunities in X sector screams unemployed, which it shouldn’t, could mean want to change jobs, seeking to move up, but going on the original premise of tips for the unemployed, it may scream desperate but it also signals available for work immediately, I don’t have to wait for someone to give 2 weeks’ notice, I’m probably not looking at a candidate seeking a second job which means I have to accommodate the hours of their first one—oh. Seeking work in, looking for opportunities here signals too someone passionate about that category of job or searching for solid work, which means if hired they won’t be going anywhere another plus if only they would see it that way. Let’s get this straight you have time to go off reference list to track down former employers and talk to them about applicant X, but don’t have a few extra seconds/minutes of brain power to filter out whether or not the person has a serious, legitimate issue or is simply vengeful; worse advice to applicants to handle this manufactured problem possibly having nothing to do with them, their personally and most importantly their job performance, is to re-stir up old grievances by contacting someone who may hate you, go to them hat in hand talking about your job hunt very realistically prompting them call your perspective employer and rant about you. Can you say face palm; as much as we want millennials to stop sabotaging themselves with their styles, insistence on overly casual clothes at work, millennials, workers all to stop undermining their résumés with bland phrases, it’s equally time we demand employers stop sabotaging their search for workers based on their hair, nails, makeup, lack thereof, outfit when they’ve obviously tired for business casual, chose something they look best in. Stop sabotaging their screening for new employees by making every assumption under the sun about their résumé, cover letter, application materials except what’s provided therein. Fact, Mark Zuckerberg did do it in a hoodie just as much because the hoodie had become synonymous with him, his trademark as he had a budding product to sell to interested people; meanwhile we have a 300 jobs job gap in America slated to grow exponentially as baby boomers continue to retire and employers aren’t discussing how to get millennials to lose the flip flops as much as haggling with them over variations on business casual, get your priorities straight.