Image is everything! I know someone who thinks that fashion is trivial, that image is unimportant, and that what people think of you is their problem. But this could be a case of dangerous unreality!
We are a very image-conscious society. Whilst the Paris Hilton’s of this world take this too far and are all image and no substance, you should beware of ignoring image completely. How you appear to others could make the difference between getting a promotion or being side-lined. Your image could prevent you from getting a job in the first place.
Consider this: did Tony Blair survive ten years of being Prime Minister because of his image, or because he was brilliantly best for the job? I suspect that his ability to get the right image across on the media, may have had more to do with his staying power than his abilities as a politician!
It used to be solely companies which branded themselves, but nowadays it’s essential to create and manage your own personal brand. Whilst you can achieve this in many ways, don’t forget that your manner of dress is broadcasting all kinds of messages about you and it’s vital that they are the correct ones.
Dressed to Unimpress
If you turn up for a job interview in jeans and a sloppy T shirt, then you will probably not get the job, no matter how qualified you are. Most people wouldn’t make an obvious mistake like this, but you may occasionally go to an interview looking wrong in a more subtle sense.
You may be in a suit, but it may be the wrong suit for that particular job. A dark pinstripe may look too formal for a creative environment, but perfect for a law firm. A light grey suit, on the other hand, may lack some gravitas for a job in banking. A woman whose skirt is too short may seem well-qualified to be a waitress, but maybe not for a corporate executive’s role! Red braces might be perfect for the city, but not for a creative advertising agency.
Be Clever Not Smart
One solution does not fit all. We all know we should look smart for an interview, but everyone has a different idea of what smart means! Sartorial elegance alone is not always enough; your image has to fit. An employer decides upon your suitability for a role based upon what you say, and what is on your CV or resume; but is also very much influenced by your appearance. If your appearance fits with their expectations of how someone in that role should look, then your chances of getting that job are greatly enhanced.
The best way to find out how to dress for an interview is to do your research. One great way to do this is to sit outside the prospective place of employment in your car and watch the employees arriving and leaving. This may sound a bit stalkerish, but is a perfect way to research what type of clothing is considered appropriate in that workplace. If everyone is looking creatively casual, then you should still wear a suit to your interview, but avoid the navy pinstripe and go for a more informal grey. However if all the employee traffic are very formally dressed, then you must take you cue from that.
Talk is Cheap
Get to know people in the field or role you wish to work in and find out from them what is the acceptable dress code. Discover what image is expected of the workers as well as the bosses. Then at the cost of only a little time and effort, you will be able to position your personal image in the correct way. You could also invest some books to guide you on projecting the correct personal brand and image for you.
If you are having difficulty putting together a suitable outfit, go to a reputable department store. Ask for help from an experienced Personal Shopper and tell them whether your outfit needs to look very conservative, or smart but more fashionable. They will help you put together a complete outfit, including shirt and shoes, that is perfect for your prospective role.
Once you have the right outfit you will feel much more confident. If you arrive for your interview looking as if you already work there, then your chances of being offered employment are greatly increased. You will give the appearance of being already in tune with that company’s ethos, you will appear to be someone who will get along with the other employees, and who understands what is expected in the role on offer.
In your existing job image is also vital. If you want to rise in your organisation then you should study carefully what is worn by the grade above yourself, and emulate that style of dressing. If you dress like a manager, then your bosses will start to think of you as a manager, and when a vacancy arises, they will be more likely to think of you.
Dress to Aspire
So remember, image isn’t just important, image is everything to your career. Dress to impress, dress to fit in and dress to aspire. You will find that your career path is as smooth as the finest glass.