Dress for the job you want - you might just get it
As we face into 2014 with all the challenges and resolutions that January brings, it is an opportune time to look at the link between how you present yourself in the work-place and how you are remunerated.
It is a well-known fact that first impressions are formed in about three seconds of meeting. Fickle you might think and wish that impressions were based on experience or intelligence.
Why are first impressions so important? It's human nature. First impressions are what stick with people. How you dress day to day can hugely influence how your peers and others perceive you, so it's important to pay attention to detail to ensure that you are seen as a serious player.
A few key tips to help you make a difference:
* Dress up if you want to move up. Wearing casual clothes or clothes that do not promote you as someone who is serious and intent about progressing your career will lead people to think that you are not ready for that big promotion. Although looking the part will not guarantee you a promotion, it does ensure that you are taken more seriously.
* Dress for the job you aspire to. If you want to become a manager, team leader or chief executive you need to at least look like one. Go for quality investments in your work clothes that will wear and look well.
* Do your boss proud. Your boss needs to feel comfortable and confident about putting you in front of clients/potential clients as a shining representative of your organisation. You need to dress in such a way that your boss or manager sees you as someone who will represent the company and the brand in a professional and enhancing way.
* Do your team or your employees proud. As a leader, you set the standards. Make sure your dress the part and lead by example.
* Stand out, even in uniform. Even those who are required to wear uniforms (in the hospitality environment, for instance) can stand out from their colleagues by ensuring that their clothes are always clean, pressed and well-fitting. It is the positive body language and impeccable grooming that make the difference.
* Don't overdo it. For an interview, you need to dress the part but not overdo it. Check out in advance the dress code for the organisation you are being interviewed for. Gauge the dress code and aim to look professional as well as friendly and approachable. Jeans are generally not acceptable in any situation for interviews.
* Dressing up doesn't mean selling out. Even freelancers in creative fields shouldn't discount the power of a professional image.
No matter what, you are the face of your business. You may have spent a lot of time and money developing the various aspects of your business, but if you, as the owner, do not project a professional image, you run the risk of missing out on potential opportunities.
A few months ago I worked with a company that was struggling to grow its client base. They had looked at various ways of attracting new clients. My professional advice was that all client-facing staff update and upgrade their working wardrobe.
We focused on every aspect of personal image, keeping in mind the type of client they wanted to attract. They began attracting a higher calibre of client with the healthier budgets to pay the fees they wanted.
Finally, do yourself proud. Executives who are intent on improving their career prospects frequently engage in continuous learning. Improving your personal image is a sure-fire way and quick way of improving your career prospects. Nothing will empower you more than looking and feeling positive about yourself and your capabilities. Remember, small changes for big impact.
Next week, we will be looking at how what we wear influences our psychological processes and performance.
Frances Jones, image consultant and stylist, IMAGE MATTERS www.imagematters.ie