Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Five Things you Communicate with your Professional Image

An image can be defined as the opinion or concept of someone as an expert that is held by the public. Your image can be compared to your reputation and how you are perceived by others. As both a job seeker and an employee, your professional image is critical to success.

Studies have shown that 93% of how we communicate with the world is non-verbal. Only 7% of our interaction with people comes from the words out of our mouths! When you meet someone for the first time, you get 7 to 10 seconds to make a first impression. In those first few seconds, you don’t get to say much, so most of this first impression is based on a combination of professional image and non-verbal communication. Here are five things you can convey with your image.

Self-esteem. Right or wrong, people perceive that how you take care of yourself on the outside is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. In an interview, confidence is equal to competence in the interviewers’ eyes. Therefore, you must project an aura of confidence and self-assuredness with your image.

Organizational Skills / Attention to Detail. Remember you are managing the impression you make through the details of your image. If you have paid no attention to the details or organization of your grooming and clothing (mismatched socks, unpolished shoes, dirty fingernails, or chipped nail polish, etc.), then it appears you will not pay attention to details or may be unorganized in your work habits. If you look sloppy, it is assumed that you will do sloppy work.

Sound Judgment. If you wear clothes that are too tight, too informal or formal, too provocative, or just plain unprofessional, you demonstrate a lack of judgment. The employer correlates this lack of professionalism in your image into your inability to fit into their environment. Show you can make good decisions by erring on the side of conservative professionalism in your clothing and grooming habits.

Creativity. If you are in a field where creativity and innovation are an important part of your job, then it is important to demonstrate this with your professional image. However, don’t go overboard. Try a simple statement of your uniqueness with a small splash of color on your tie, a scarf, or a unique piece of small jewelry such as a pin or ring.

Reliability. Fair or not, right or wrong, you must keep in mind that people will view your image every day to determine your intelligence, level of education, social class, and yes even your reliability. From the big picture to the small details, your image should convey that you are solid and that people can count on you.

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