I am often asked what’s the secret to creating a professional look that also shows off personal style. Here are a few guidelines:
- When you think of your professional image as a walking business card communicating who you are as a professional, you will look at your business style in a completely different way. For optimal impact, you want to be sure you make very focused and conscious choices about the messages your image ‘business card’ is transmitting, noting especially if it is aligned with your professional aspirations.
- The secret lies in the power of becoming clear about the message you want to convey and how to meld that with your personality and sense of style.
- It is also about picking your battles: in the interview, you want to conform more than stand out. Once you get the job and you have a sense of the culture of the firm, you can flex with your style at that point.
- Not all companies require employees to wear a suit every day. Understanding the nuances of tailored professional business casual attire is key!
Common mistakes interview candidates make when dressing for an interview include:
- Underestimating the importance of their image to their success in getting a job.
- Not understanding the impact of first impressions and how indelible they are especially in a job interview context. The power of image in influencing first impressions and hiring, firing and promotions is unquestionable.
- Not knowing that their professional presence needs to be commanding, polished, pulled together and credible because people make at least 12 assumptions about us based entirely on their initial perceptions based on our image.
- Not understanding the basic wardrobe ‘do’s for business attire: For example for men, knowing that their suit should fit impeccably and that their shirt cuff should show through their jacket. For women, wearing separates in lieu of a suit in fabrics of poor quality. Or wearing inappropriate accessories such as dangly earrings or skirts that are too short. For both, understanding that the little details like scuffed shoes, poor grooming, bad manners and poor communication can all be deal breakers.
- Dressing for their current position. Always dress for a higher position than you currently occupy. Dressing for the position you are aspiring to will also boost your confidence in your ability to achieve it.
- Not looking at their TOTAL image package: Image is so much more than the clothes you wear. It is your total package including your clothing, but equally as important, how you accessorize, the way you communicate, how groomed you are, your poise and posture, non verbal cues, your ability to maintain eye contact, and so much more. Do you know how are you stacking up? Answering this question is key.
- Not having enough ‘Presence’ -that ability to project a sense of ease, poise, command or self-assurance. It is an energy and an attitude. It can be magnetic. It draws people to you. When it is purposeful, it can be one of your most effective tools in professional interactions.
Want to rock a signature style in the workplace. Here are some ideas:
- Know your personal style and personal brand. Your look must be in synch with these
- Use accessories to express your unique flair/panache. For some men it might be a tie clip, unusual ties, a killer watch. For women it could be the creative use of color and pattern in suits and blouses. Using belts, scarves, shoes, bags all as part of their signature look.
- Know the silhouette, cuts and designers that flatter and enhance your body
- Invest in quality pieces. Your clothing can be one of your more important career “investments”. Look for timeless well made designs and mix these up with more stylish accents depending on your personal style.
- Know your power colors and use them!
The Image Diva, Elan Image Management