Workplace dynamics aren't what they used to be. Turns out, crafting a stellar resume and nailing all the interview questions won't guarantee you get the job. A study conducted by Duke University researchers revealed a steep positive correlation between appearance and compensation. Although the subjects used in the study were male, women can easily be evaluated by the same set of criteria during the journey to the top.
Your image speaks volumes and creates a first impression. The hiring manager visualizes you in the position among coworkers based on your appearance. It can pay, both in your salary and career advancement, to play by the rules. Here are some tips for creating your best image, making that job yours, and moving up.
Wear clothes that complement your body type and avoid anything too revealing. Since the 1950s, professional dress has become more casual and less conservative. Most employees don't wear business suits and dresses with heels to the office anymore. Research the culture of your company and aim to dress slightly more professional than what current employees wear every day. Make a statement, look the part, and (appropriately) show off your personality. Most importantly, dress for confidence.
Your face is the first point of contact during office interactions. If your eyeglasses are part of your signature look, form-fitting and professional frames without a glare are essential. Donning a pair of specs can also make you appear smarter, as long as the style of your frames isn't too eccentric or distracting. Warby Parker offers minimalist-style frames for a classic look.
You don't have to break the bank to accessorize with an eye-catching upscale bag crafted with high-quality materials and a touch of luxury. A clean and professional-looking designer handbag conveys an aura of confidence and self-management. Coach makes impeccable leather shoulder bags in neutral hues ideal for professional settings.
The office is not the place for worn-down flip-flops or flashy four-inch heels. Dressy shoes with a kitten heel or ballerina flats accented with subtle embellishments look professional without going over the top. Leather material should be polished; remove any scuffs or stains.
Hair & Makeup
Demonstrate that you are prepared for the next big step in your career. Dress for the job, not for the club. Remember, less is more and simplicity is key. Minimize your makeup to look natural and make sure your hair showcases your face. You may even want to pull pieces back with bobby pins to keep from nervously playing with flyaways. Check out PopSugar for more appropriate beauty tips on lipstick, eye shadow, mascara, and blush.
Eye contact exudes confidence and demonstrates your ability to listen, communicate, and execute. Attentiveness and the ability to promptly analyze and process ideas is paramount. As you climb the corporate ladder, you're expected to delegate duties, spearhead projects, and manage others — which solid eye contact can indicate during the interviewing stage.
Sitting upright, as opposed to slumped over or slouched down, sends the signal that you're involved and alert. It shows fervor and eagerness. Slightly leaning in can also signify you're listening intently and interested. (Leaning back can show disinterest, boredom, and smugness.) Don't be afraid to express other non-verbal cues like emotion — smile and laugh to build rapport or furrow your brow while sharing a story about overcoming a challenge. Avoid any facial expressions that would denote negativity or having a poor attitude.
Paul Reyes-Fournier has served as the chief financial officer for social service organizations, churches and schools. He created his own marketing firm, RF Media. Paul holds a BS in physics and an MBA.
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