Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be judged on inner beauty alone? According to psychological research, however, we as human beings are judged by our physical appearances. When others see us for the first time – even within the first 30 seconds – assumptions are made about our economic status, educational level, personality and character.
According to Ann Demarais, PhD, and Valerie White, PhD, the authors of First Impressions: What you don’t know about how others see you, research indicates that people weigh the initial information they learn about you more heavily than later information they may receive. “The first information people get about anything – a person, a place, an idea – influences the way they process later information. In other words, people are more likely to believe that the first things they learn are the truth”. So what does this mean for us? And how do we ensure that our image is conveying the kind of message that we intend? Following are the top six guidelines that have proven to be effective:
- Know Your Audience – Do you have an interview with an advertising agency or a financial firm? The way you dress for each of those interviews is different. While it is true that you always want to err on the side of conservative for most interviews, the advertising agency should get a glimpse of your creativity. It might be with an accessory, a hairstyle, or a color. Whether the job you are vying for is VP or receptionist, the company needs to see that you blend with the image of the organization.
- Pay Attention To Details – Scuffed up shoes do not bode well with interviewers. It won’t matter whether your suit is top-notch quality because what you are communicating is that details aren’t necessarily on your radar. Potential employers begin to doubt whether you would be able to do a job in totality.
- Grooming is Vital – Make sure your nails are well manicured or clean and cut. For men, ear and nose hair is a complete distraction and will deter potential employers and potential clients.
- Manners Make You – Unfortunately, it is no longer enough just to be polite. Competition is fierce so you have to stand out. Educate yourself about etiquette. For example, learn about the rules of introductions and about etiquette at business meals. Seek out etiquette coaching. It can make all the difference between you and a competitor.
- Body Language – If you have covered most details of your appearance, such as grooming, wardrobe, style, accessories and etiquette, but you slouch, you don’t make eye contact, and you shake hands like a cold fish, it will all have been for naught. People will wonder what it is that you’re hiding.
- Confidence carries just as much weight (if not more) than all the other details that make up your appearance. If you are not feeling particularly on top of your game, ‘fake it till you make it’. You’d be surprised how acting as if we feel great about ourselves changes our own energy and the energy of those around us.
No matter the environment you find yourself in, determine the ‘story’ you want your image to ‘tell’ and dress accordingly. There are ways to appear more trustworthy and comforting as well as ways to appear more powerful and intimidating depending on your goal and your industry. It can involve the cut, color, patterns and lines of the wardrobe. It can also involve the way you stand, what body language you use and whether you maintain eye contact. While we can conclude that character supersedes appearance in importance and worth, those who don’t yet know us cannot see our character at first glance, so we must properly ‘package’ ourselves. Much like a gift, we create the appeal so that others have the desire to open the box and see what’s inside.
For more information about Image Consulting services contact certified Image Consultant, Joddie Pelofsky at 732-616-1692 or via email at Joddie@JoddiesCloset.com. You may also visit Joddie’s website at JoddiesCloset.com.