What Your Personal Style Says about your Professional Abilities

As college students, we were allowed to throw on a T-shirt, flip flops and basketball shorts to head to class, and no one gave a second glance. We were all there to learn, and no one made negative assumptions our intellect based on whether or not our Salvation Army cardigan went with our dirty sneakers. In the real world, however, people do make those kinds of assumptions. In fact, the initial impression you give to colleagues, potential clients, interviewers and social contacts can often make or break your career success. This is not because humans are simply superficial. On the contrary, people are constantly taking in millions of pieces of information and analyzing that material on a daily basis. This especially comes in to play when meeting someone new. We naturally look to define and classify new people and place them in a context. If you come across as cool and confident, then people will more quickly associate those traits to you and potentially elevate their opinion of both you and your work. Although hiring decisions are made typically based on the quality of your work, decisions are also made based on your all-around persona. Here are some ways that the way you dress can impact your career.

First, if you look sloppy, you live sloppy. How often do you meet someone who looks like a complete hobo in public but then goes back to an impeccably clean and organized home? Not often. The truth is, the way you look and dress says a lot about the way you live. If you always look like you just rushed out the door, the reality is you probably just did. People make assumptions that those who dress casually or who look unkempt are lazy or have difficulty meeting deadlines. While this is not true across the board, don’t people have enough reason to make that sort of assumption?

Second, good taste extends to style choice. People can always tell when a person has good taste by the way they put themselves together. This doesn’t mean wearing the latest trends or the most expensive clothing, it means wearing clothing with confidence and choosing pieces that are beautiful and well-made. Especially if you work in a design field, why would anyone want to work with you if it looks like your taste is questionable? Maybe you have a stellar portfolio and only want to wear sweat pants. That’s fine, and you’re sure to get a job somewhere, but why make yourself work twice as hard to be taken seriously? Extending your personal taste to your personal style is never a bad thing.

Third, are you modern? It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re “with it,” people will be immediately attracted to you as a colleague and acquaintance. There is a difference between blindly following trends and honing in on a personal style that is fresh and modern. If you could care less about your personal style, then you could come across as someone who is stuck in the past or isn’t up-to-date on current news, trends and business ideas. There is no reason to give off the impression that you live under a rock when, in fact, you are the personal your friends head to for information on what’s fresh and inspiring.

Even though the person you are on the inside is more important than how you look on the outside, the truth is, the two are actually very much connected. There is no reason to limit your potential by adapting a personal style that doesn’t allow you to show people exactly what you’re made of.

 

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes on the topics of online university. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: katherynrivas87

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