Pro­fes­sional im­age re­flects who you are

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS - COLLEEN COATES

WITH the flood of new grads en­ter­ing the work­force this spring, it seems a suit­able time to dis­cuss dress­ing for success. For the rest of us (ahem), a re­fresher course prob­a­bly wouldn’t hurt, ei­ther.

Whether you’re go­ing for a job in­ter­view, go­ing out on a date or go­ing to the bank for a loan, it’s im­por­tant to look the part. Like it or not, ap­pear­ances def­i­nitely mat­ter and peo­ple will make in­stant as­sump­tions about you based on how you dress. While you can’t judge a book en­tirely by its cover, you can’t dis­miss the power of first im­pres­sions.

Sue Kath­ler, vice-pres­i­dent of HR con­sult­ing for Peo­ple First, coaches men and women on how to dress for success.

“I al­ways ad­vise us­ing sound judg­ment and try to find out in ad­vance what’s ac­cept­able at the place where you are in­ter­view­ing,” Kath­ler says. “If you are un­sure, it is best to dress pro­fes­sion­ally, erring on the side of con­ser­va­tive in terms of colour and style. It is bet­ter to ar­rive over­dressed than un­der­dressed.”

Among the key point­ers Kath­ler gives, she sug­gests that shoes be clean and in good shape, and jew­elry, like makeup, should be kept to a min­i­mum. Per­sonal hy­giene and groom­ing is a must, in­clud­ing clean teeth, fresh breath, man­i­cured nails and combed hair.

“It’s im­por­tant to take the time for proper groom­ing and dress­ing. While this may sound ob­vi­ous, you would be sur­prised by the amount of men and women who fail to pay at­ten­tion to the small­est de­tails, which are usu­ally the sim­plest to fix.”

Kath­ler also stresses how im­por­tant it is for peo­ple to scope out their prospec­tive work­place — un­der­stand­ing the work­place norms and show­ing up ap­pro­pri­ately at­tired can have a sub­stan­tial im­pact on the success of the in­ter­view and the can­di­date’s feel­ing of con­fi­dence. Not ev­ery­one projects con­fi­dence nat­u­rally, and there are other ways to nat­u­rally boost your con­fi­dence — not only when walk­ing into a job in­ter­view, but in all ar­eas of your life:

Put ef­fort into your ap­pear­ance. Take the time for a ba­sic groom­ing rou­tine and al­ways dress ap­pro­pri­ately. A good rule of thumb is to wear clothes that wouldn’t make you em­bar­rassed to run into some­one you want to im­press — par­tic­u­larly when you are in job-search mode — you never know where or when you may run into a po­ten­tial em­ployer.

Get ac­tive. No need to buy a gym mem­ber­ship to ex­er­cise; just get into a 15-minute daily rou­tine that gets your blood pump­ing. In no time, you’ll start to feel good and the en­dor­phins re­leased will boost your con­fi­dence.

Set goals — and meet them! By start­ing to make and ac­com­plish small goals, you’ll be able to in­crease your con­fi­dence and move on to big­ger ones. Sleep in too much? Make a goal of wak­ing up ear­lier. Days too un­or­ga­nized? Cre­ate a check list of things to do and stick with it.

Dis­cover some­thing new. We are con­stant learn­ers by na­ture, so by pick­ing up a new skill, tak­ing a class or learn­ing some­thing from a book or on­line video, we’re feed­ing that in­trin­sic need to keep chal­leng­ing your­self and grow­ing men­tally.

Take stock of your suc­cesses. Think back to life mo­ments when you were suc­cess­ful. Write them down in a jour­nal to re­visit them when you need a boost. Re­al­iz­ing you can suc­ceed will cre­ate a pos­i­tive, “yes-I-can” type of self-as­sur­ance.

They say that 55 per cent of an­other per­son’s per­cep­tion of you is based on how you look. The good news is that it is quite pos­si­ble to look your best for a job in­ter­view with­out hav­ing to drop a bun­dle on new at­tire. If you are in job search mode now, here are a few tips on what to wear when you’re ex­pect­ing (the job): Solid coloured, con­ser­va­tive suit. White, long-sleeved shirt (for men), or a co-or­di­nated blouse (for women).

Pro­fes­sional, polished shoes (no tow­er­ing heels). Lim­ited jew­elry. Avoid any per­fume or af­ter­shave. Port­fo­lio or briefcase with a copy of your re­sumé. A smile. Long af­ter the in­ter­view process is over, what you wear to work con­tin­ues to mat­ter. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Peo­ple First Com­pen­sa­tion Sur­vey for Man­i­toba Em­ploy­ers, 20 per cent of or­ga­ni­za­tions al­low em­ploy­ees to dress ca­su­ally ev­ery day of the week, down from 33 per cent in 2008. Half of the or­ga­ni­za­tions sur­veyed say they con­tinue to have ca­sual Fri­days, down from 75 per cent in 2008. As you can see, the trend is mov­ing back to more for­mal busi­ness dress at work. This is good to keep in mind when plan­ning your ca­reer wardrobe as much as for your fu­ture success. Like the old say­ing goes, al­ways dress for the job you want, not the job you have.



Dress­ing suit­ably for the work­place pays off.

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