Gen Z rejects jobs due to work clothing costs

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Research has shown that the costs associated with starting a new job sometimes deter young people. One of the reasons to decline an offer is the purchase of new work clothing. This is not surprising, considering that life has become very expensive in a short period of time. We can’t improve the economic situation immediately, but I do have ideas on how companies and young people can deal with the costs associated with work clothing…

Gen Z rejects jobs due to work clothing costs
Photo: Christina @ – Unsplash

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Reading the British research report makes me realize that this could have been predicted. The pandemic, among other things, has left its mark. The research shows that young people between the ages of 16 and 25 are experiencing poor mental health, which in turn negatively affects their work. But unemployment doesn’t help when young people feel mentally unwell. And so they often find themselves in a vicious circle, according to the researchers.

This all doesn’t sound good, and it certainly isn’t. Fortunately, the new generation also appears to be resilient. They want to achieve their goals and need practical help.


Gen Z rejects jobs due to work clothing costs

One of the practical issues they encounter is the costs associated with starting a new job. For five percent, this is a reason not to enter the workforce. Among young people from poorer backgrounds, one in ten jobs is rejected for this reason.

When you start in the job market, it is assumed that you do your best to showcase your talents. But when money is such a big problem that you can’t buy work clothing, you start with a disadvantage. Although it sounds strange that you wouldn’t take a job because you can’t afford suitable clothing, I understand it. Especially if you have ambitions and want to be taken seriously. However casual the clothing trend is nowadays, there are still companies where formal attire such as a suit is expected.


The costs of work clothing

That being said, it begs the question of whether the costs are actually that high. When young people hear that they need to buy formal clothing, they often think it’s very expensive. That’s an assumption. You can spend a lot or a little money on casual clothing. The same goes for formal clothing. Of course, you can’t buy a quality bespoke suit for a few tens of euros, but that’s often not even necessary. You can also find a nice suit in thrift stores, and organizations like Dress for Success are a godsend. They dress people who have little money and are looking for a job free of charge. Dress for Success has branches all over the world where applicants can go.

This is also one of the reasons why it’s important for schools to talk about work clothing. In education, there is often a lot of focus on creating a CV and conducting job interviews. But when it comes to appearance, teachers often fall silent. It’s said that you should look neat, but that’s where it ends. And since looking neat is quite personal, it’s not actually a concrete answer to an important question.

While it’s not even just one question. I notice that when I talk about this. When I gave a presentation at The Hague University of Applied Sciences to young people who were applying for jobs, I noticed it right away. It’s not just about combing your hair for an interview. Young people also want to know how to find out a company’s dress code and which clothing items are and aren’t representative. And there are many more questions that schools can address.


Companies can provide assistance with covering costs

When young people are informed in advance about the potential costs of work clothing, they can take this into account and start thinking about solutions.

At some companies, employees receive a monthly budget to buy clothing. This is often included in the salary. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to offer financial compensation to applicants as well. That doesn’t mean you have to reimburse the entire outfit right away. But a travel allowance doesn’t seem like an unnecessary luxury. Especially if the applicants don’t live in the same city as where the company is located and it’s for an entry-level position.

Additionally, I believe that companies should be more transparent about the dress code. It’s often assumed that people know what the clothing style is within a company. But if a company has a casual style, it’s good to mention this in the job vacancy. And if not, you can also mention it when the candidate is invited. This prevents someone from unnecessarily worrying about what they should wear. The same goes for a formal dress code. Indicate it, and then everyone knows what to expect.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can help a starter in the job market.

Best regards,


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