Dressing For Success
I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of corporations, firms, agencies etc. As different as they have all been in terms of what they do and the work environment itself, they all ask me to come in and help them to either establish dress codes/policies or to speak to their employees about dressing for success. I know from experience what companies find most important, especially in these poor economic times; and I wanted to share with you the importance of dressing appropriately at work, ESPECIALLY NOW. If you are looking for a job or trying to keep the one you have, you cannot afford NOT to read this newsletter.
Now I am aware that the actual term, ‘dress for success’ sounds a bit cliché and is a tad overused – but it is more important than ever to actually know what it means! I have received more e-mails than I can count in the past four months asking me for tips on how to dress at work. With the state of the economy, the job market has become unstable and more competitive. I recently read an article that was titled, “Things I Wish I Had Done Before I Lost My Job.” What struck me about the article is the idea that none of us are powerless…you might be afraid of losing your position due to corporate cut backs, but there are things that you can do right now to take control of your life and career.
One of the most productive things you can do in unstable times is to take control of your image.
A professional image not only means you care about yourself, but that you care about (respect) the company you work for. Your “brand” is the first thing people think about you when they see you and is your most visible credential – your brand sticks with you – it is what people envision even when you are not with them. You directly affect the ‘brand’ of the office you work in, and thus affect the revenue for your company and yourself. Understanding your personal style will give you a tremendous advantage in business and help to create a viable brand. In order to be consistent, you must know your personal style and have the ability to reach into your closet without thinking twice about what you are pulling out. Your clothing is an important resource that you must not ignore!
Fashion creates a competitive advantage.
Research over the years tends to show that people who are well groomed, well mannered and well spoken are assumed to be more competent. The way you dress reflects directly on the company you work for (or own!) – and the last thing you want to do is to create any doubt in your ability or the ability of the company. Your clothing is an extension of who you are – you need to make sure that your ‘fashion’ is not saying something negative about you or your abilities.
When I speak to graduating university students I stress the importance of image first – before resumes. The point of a resume is to share what you know, what you have done and your skills; if you walk in the door and do NOT look the part, the resume is a useless piece of paper. I always tell them that if they remember nothing else from my talk they need to remember the idea that PEOPLE SEE YOU BEFORE THEY HEAR YOU. This means that people have already established whether or not what you have to say is of any value to them at all – regardless of your skills and abilities.
We all know about first impressions…
People typically form them within the first 5 seconds of seeing you.
Before you’ve ever said a word or extended your hand – people have already formed these valuable impressions – but MORE IMPORTANTLY, they have decided if you are even worth listening to. Social psychologists have determined that it takes about 30 seconds for someone meeting you for the first time to form a laundry list of impressions about your character and MORE IMPORTANTLY, your ABILITIES.
This list includes:
- Educational level
- Career competence and success
- Level of sophistication
In a study done of over 150 large corporations, they ranked poor appearance as being worse than a “hostile overbearing know it all.” There was another study done that involved sending out identical resumes to more than a thousand companies – some had ‘before’ pictures attached and some had ‘after’ pictures attached, and each company was asked to determine a starting salary. The results were incredible – starting salaries ranged 8-20% higher as a result of upgrading a mediocre business appearance to one that is polished and effective.
If you would like to have a wardrobe assessment, update/improve your wardrobe, change your image, establish your personal style and solidify your brand – please contact me for a complimentary consultation.
BE PROACTIVE! Take control of your image and change your life.