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Dressing to impress

HR expert Donna Obstfeld gives her view on the importance of dress codes in the pharmacy workplace

Dress codes became a hotly debated issue at C+D's business Senate in October last year, when LPC secretary Andrew McCoig said "scruffy" pharmacists could project the wrong image of the profession. HR expert Donna Obstfeld explains how she thinks dressing appropriately can affect career progression in the world of pharmacy.


There is no doubt that dress codes have become more casual over the past 15 years or so, but most health employers want to maintain high standards in the workplace to project a professional image.


Regardless of your role within the company, patients and customers will make judgements about you and the company within the first 10 seconds of an encounter. There should be no doubt in their minds that you are able to do the job you are employed to do efficiently. Your customer needs to trust you: if you look sloppy, they will assume you are sloppy.


You should also be aware that how you choose to dress is noted by your manager; if it's an untidy concoction you have thrown together, this is the perception you will give to your employer. If you are looking for a promotion, then dress appropriately to be taken seriously by superiors as well as your customers. Whether you're working for an independent or a multiple, you would not expect someone to wear a tracksuit, grubby jumper or a crumpled blouse.


The required dress code should be clearly documented in the contract of employment or handbook so there is absolutely no confusion as to what is appropriate at work.


Dress code is just as important at job interviews. Think about the statement you're making.  If you have chosen a short skirt or a pair of shorts – how will this look when you sit down?  Is it still respectable? If you know you're going into an environment where suits are the norm, reflect this in your choice of clothing. Steer clear of skin-tight jeans, casual T-shirts or leggings – remember to be respectful.


There is a saying that you should dress for the job you want. By taking into account the expected dress code and what your peers and employers are wearing, you will be giving the right impression – that you want to be taken seriously in the job you are doing or applying for. 


Donna Obstfeld runs DOHR, an HR practice based in Hertfordshire that provides companies with tailor-made HR solutions. She is contactable on 01923 504100 or [email protected].

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