Image NLP: Power Up to Get Ahead
Perceptions of Professional Dress: A comparison of recruiters’ and students’ perceptions of interview dress.
Attract, don’t distract. Look businesslike, yet stylish, not boring like a corporate filing cabinet. Wear a fashionable suit or dressy tailored separates that appear as a well-coordinated outfit. A tailored jacket, one that fits you well, is the essential power garment to any separates outfit, even a casual one. Warrior-ize your wardrobe. Win the time war, organize your closet so that your business clothing is separated from your social apparel. At all times, have at least three complete outfits (business casual or traditional business) pressed and ready to wear – outfits that empower you, making you feel like a million. Wear Winning Armor. Long sleeves are essential to a take-me-serious look. We’ve already discussed the power of a tailored jacket. It’s your armor. But if dealing with a more casual situation, wear long sleeves. Bare arms target you for sharks or cause you to be discounted. Sleeveless garments worn in the workplace mark a woman as a socialite, not a serious businesswoman. Short-sleeve shirts worn for business relegate a man to the second string. Get a Leg Up. Wearing socks or hosiery is non-negotiable. Naked feet (and/or bare legs) do not command respect in a business environment. Save that look for your social time. Put Your Best Foot Forward. Shoes tell your secrets; they are the strongest indicators of your socioeconomic status. For business wear, shoe styles must be closed-toe and closed-heel and they must be in mint condition. Nicked heels, scruffy toes, or unpolished footwear scream failure. Look Successful. A successful image attracts greater success. And success leaves clues in your physical image. Buy the best quality garments and accessories that you can afford. Have goals to get ahead and work them by dressing for the job you want, not the one you have. Have perfect timing. Wear a metal watch; it adds enduring strength and power to any business image – male and female. Exude Confidence. Stand tall, with your shoulders back. To be perceived as confident, women must wear tastefully applied makeup. In our society, well-applied makeup conveys high self-esteem and confidence. It says that you pay attention to details. Women who consistently wear tastefully applied makeup earn 20 to 30% higher incomes. For both men and women, be sure to finish your face with a smile. Get A-head. A stylish haircut is essential to a professional image. A great hair cut saves you time; it’s far easier to style. Hair is a readable barometer. Avoid becoming freeze dried in the past with an out-dated style. 10.Breathe powerfully. Accumulated stress shows in your body via your breathing. The more stressed you are, the more you tend to breathe shallowly. Take several time outs each day to do power breathing exercises. Let your mind go, and breathe in and out – from your lower abdomen – for three full minutes at a time. Then watch your energy be revitalized. Your skin and eyes will look refreshed. And your posture will return to a power position.
It pays. Take control. Go that extra image mile. De-stress and power up your nonverbal communication today. Maintain your image consistently and watch your ability to command respect and your income potential soar.
How to Dress for Your Interview
We’ve all heard the expression, “You have only one chance to make a good first impression.” How true that is! One of the main purposes of an interview is to present yourself to a potential employer in a manner that reflects a highly polished and professional image. It is important to keep in mind that the interview is not the time to be making a personal statement with the way you dress. Your goal should be to show that you respect the interviewer’s values, tastes, and expectations relative to dress and personal manner. Although professional dress and appropriate style may vary slightly depending on job type, work environment and geographical region, there are several key points to keep in mind:
A conservative business suit is almost always the rule. A well-tailored or fitted suit coat and trousers will go a long way in helping you present yourself professionally and confidently. For example, coat sleeve and trouser length should be such that the fit is neither too short nor too long. Appropriate size is critical not only for comfort, but also for presenting a “clean” fit. There is no room for sloppiness. Although new graduates are often working with a tight personal budget, shopping for a new suit at a discount-clothing outlet is generally not suggested. The additional expense invested in a quality suit will pay tremendous dividends in making a positive first impression and serve to enhance your confidence. Acceptable colors continue to be darker shades and hues including grays, blues (navy), and black. Pattern designs such as pin stripes and plaids are acceptable as long as they are subtle. Note: In warmer climates there is generally more leniency toward lighter shades of blues, grays, and even tan. Likewise, lightweight fabrics are more practical in the south while wool or wool blends are commonplace in northern climates. A general rule of thumb is to stay away from the browns and greens…these colors are more acceptable at a football game on a cold, gray, October afternoon, or on the golf course on a bright, sunny morning! A plain white or off-white shirt is always a winner. In most cases, either a loose or button-down collar (oxford cloth) is fine. Occasionally pastel shades (blue, pink, yellow, etc.) are acceptable, as is a pin-stripe design as long as the look is conservative and not flashy. Neckties…again the word is conservative. Patterns should be uniform and subtle, whether stripes or small dots. Paisley designs are generally acceptable. Deep reds, maroon, blues, navy, grays and black are colors that blend well with dark suits, once again keeping in mind that slight variations may occur due to region and climate. Width should generally be about the same as your coat lapels. Extremely wide lapels and ties were more acceptable when cruising in a brand new ’49 Dodge convertible with one of the big bands blaring on the radio! Dressing in your best attire for the interview also means having your shoes shined, if not new. Wearing a new suit and tie with an old, dirty pair of shoes that need resoled would be like washing and waxing your car without scrubbing the tires and hubcaps. Laced shoes are the general rule; loafers are a little too casual, and hush puppies should be reserved for Friday night barbecues. The color of your socks should complement or match the rest of your outfit. Argyle and see-through socks are not considered appropriate. Likewise, a leather belt that matches the color of your shoes and has a small buckle is a good choice. For Women
Dressing in a conservative business suit is the best way to present a professional image. As has been stated, the suit should fit well and make you feel good about yourself. Ask clothing salespersons for assistance in determining what is currently acceptable for skirt length; generally, length should not be too long nor too short. Studies in social psychology have shown that women have an advantage over men when it comes to selecting colors for professional dress. Although the grays and blues are standard, women tend to be able to get away with wearing more of a variety of colors. Oftentimes, bright colors including reds, maroon, various shades of blue and even green are acceptable. Women are also usually able to wear various fabrics without appearing unprofessional. Your blouse should complement the suit in a conservative fashion. It should not be too revealing, high around the neck, nor have too many ruffles or frills. White or off-white colors such as cream usually match well with many suit colors. See-through blouses are discouraged for the professional interview. Stockings are a must and should be flesh-toned or a color very close to it. Avoid color or patterns that would be distracting. Shoes should be sensibly selected in a way that is not intended to make a statement. High heels and open toes are choices better left for activities other than the professional interview, such as attending a Saturday evening performance of the Boston Pops Symphony. For Men and Women
Hair should be of a conservative style and not look like you have spent hours caring for it. The currently popular disheveled hairstyles may not be the best way to make points with a professional interviewer. Men who wear beards and mustaches should take extra time to make sure facial hair is neatly trimmed and not too long. Women can usually wear their hair in more styles as long as it is not too wild and brash. Fingernails should be trimmed and hands clean. Women should not go overboard with bright, flashy nail polish colors, and lipstick and eye makeup should be used moderately. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum and conservative in appearance. Gold medallions and sparkling chains are better left for downtown clubs, wedding receptions, and masquerade parties. Women should not wear giant hoop earrings or ones that are extremely flashy. Likewise, don’t wear too many rings…one or two are plenty. Cologne and perfume are fine for both men and women as long as it is not overbearing. You don’t want to knock someone over by using a half bottle of aftershave or perfume. In summary, you need to think seriously about the image that you want to portray; most importantly one that suggests you want to fit in and not stand out in a manner that might represent extreme individualism. Moderation in dress is most always the key for the professional interview. You want to appear confident, conservative, reliable, and polished. The way you dress can greatly enhance your portrayal of these qualities. Your clothing should appear as a natural extension of you, tailored to help you present a positive image and “shine” in the interview. Your considerations and efforts will pay tremendous dividends. After the interview you can get back into those comfortable jeans, T-shirts, and athletic shoes.
DRESS TO IMPRESS: A GUIDE
Use your appearance as a professional tool in an interview… and the workplace!
A significant part of a hiring decision is based on nonverbal elements in an interview–handshake, eye contact, body language, posture, listening skills, clothing, grooming and accessories. Don’t overlook the power of a good first impression. People make amazing assumptions about your professional credibility and potential performance based upon your appearance during a first meeting. It’s very difficult to overcome a poor first impression, regardless of your knowledge or expertise.
To be successful, research and practice for the interview and carefully plan the professional image you want to project. If you come to an interview dressed professionally, you will feel a sense of confidence and others will sense your self-assurance. Many employers interpret your appearance in terms of what you know about the world around you and what attention you give to detail.
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