The Consultant’s Dress Code . . . Sort Of

As a Healthcare IT recruiter, I’ve noticed a significant trend in our industry of late and that is we have more first-time consultants entering the market than ever before. Most newbie consultants that I’ve interacted with are coming directly from hospital-based employment and some directly from school, usually a Master’s degree program. I absolutely love speaking with candidates of this nature given their enthusiasm for taking their next career step and they ask some great questions. One question that I hear often is, “What is the dress code?” Given this common question, here are a few things to think about before embarking on your first client engagement.

One Step Above – I once heard it said that consultants should dress so that if one walked into a large meeting, one would know who the consultants were immediately. Using this rule, I would suggest dressing one level above your customer.  For instance, if your customers wear suits, but no ties, a consultant should wear a suit with a tie. If your client is a business casual environment, wear a jacket and this goes for both men and ladies. Your client is most likely paying a premium rate for your knowledge and expertise and appearing like the expert is essential.

Geography – Consider geography when picking out your clothing for the week. The west and east coasts of the country are different in many ways and dress code is certainly one of them. If you are at a client in downtown New York, then a suit is your obvious choice. The east coast is very formal and if you don’t wear a suit, your client may lose trust after a lack luster first impression. The opposite stands if you have a contract in Portland, OR. If you arrived in a suit in Portland, I imagine you would hear adverse whispers of, “Who is the suit?!” The west coast has a very relaxed atmosphere and this should be considered when picking out your wardrobe.

Hotel Services – Take advantage of hotel services, too. Most hotels will send consultants’ clothing out for cleaning and then hold items for you over the weekend when you can pick them up at your next stay. Most hotels will shine your shoes as well. Check your expense policies because sometimes laundry costs are included in eligible reimbursements. You’ll also have less to haul around as you travel back and forth to your customer sites, too.

If you veteran consultants have any success tips, please leave them in the comments section below! Good luck out there new consultants and stay looking sharp!

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Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.

2 Comments

  • Great points Cassie!

    I would like to add to the one about leveraging hotel services. When I know I will be traveling the same place for a while, I try to make friends with as many of the hotel staff as possible and I usually valet check a bag at the hotel with my suits, my workout shoes, my work shoes and belt, my dopp kit, several ties and other stuff that I don’t need to trek home and back.

  • Hi Joe,

    Another tip that of course I thought of after I wrote this would be to carry an extra pair of underwear, toothbrush, and toothpaste in your carry on bag. Winter is coming and so you never know when you’ll get stuck in a travel delay through Chicago or Denver! You’ll be glad you had that toothbrush.

    Thanks Joe!

    Cassie

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