Experiencing roadblocks in your career transition or job? Does it seem that doing good work is not good enough? Do you have a lot to offer, but no chance to show it?
As a provider of outplacement and leadership consulting services, we hear these complaints frequently. It may surprise you that one of the most powerful self-branding and career transition management tools is right at your fingertips everyday: your image. Now, before you run from the room screaming, “Aaah, another fashionista bombarding me with shopping tips,” let me clarify — image is much broader than shopping for clothing. Your image is one part wardrobe, one part grooming, and one part body language and behavior, and it speaks volumes.
Your image sends out clues every day. Be aware. Make those clues work for you and not against you. Here are three simple ways you can manage your image NOW to open some doors, get some respect, and boost your credibility:
1. Pay attention to your appearance.
Collared jackets are loaded with visual authority. A crisp, pressed shirt, and tailored trousers or skirt, paired with polished shoes, convey “I’ve got my act together. You can count on me.” Allow at least one inch of “ease” in slacks or skirts to keep the focus on your capabilities, not your figure! Maintain visual attention up near your face – the center of communication – with simple jewelry, scarf or a neck tie.
Yes, your appearance really does matter. Mike Seifert, president of a successful software development company, believes so strongly in image that he has taken his new engineers shopping for business attire. Says Seifert, “This guy was so talented, and I really wanted to take him with me on client visits. But based on how he looked every day in the office, I wasn’t going to do that. So I took him out at lunch and bought him a suit, two shirts and a pair of shoes!”
2. Do what you say you’re going to do.
Have you ever noticed that successful people do what they say they’re going to do? This behavior is a power-packed non-verbal image tool. If you tell a co-worker you’ll get back to them with your thoughts on their ideas, and then do just that, you’re communicating that you’re trustworthy. If you tell your child you’ll pick them up at 7:00, and then you do, it says you’re dependable. If you listen to a colleague talk about an issue they’re facing, and then you send them a copy of a related article the following day, you’re conveying that you’re resourceful.
Pulled-together or sloppy, prompt or vague – your image speaks. People listen.
3. Do a twice-daily “vibes check.”
Many interactions deteriorate before they begin because of “bad juju.” What vibes are you sending? Here are some questions to transform unconscious attitudes into conscious insight and behavior:
- What are my first thoughts when I wake up each morning?
- What is my self-talk before I approach a challenging task?
- What percentage of my daily conversations are helpful or encouraging; what percentage are “venting” or complaining?
- Am I tuning in when others are speaking to me, or am I distracted?
- During interactions with my boss or co-workers, am I concentrating on the positive qualities in that individual or the frustrating qualities?
Make your image a walking advertisement for your competence.
I’d love to hear what works for you!