A growing body of research confirms what you may have suspected: Looks matter, especially when it comes to making a first impression on others. Surprisingly, though, it’s also the way people draw conclusions about our ability to do a job.
Dianna Booher, author of Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think and Act Like a Leader, points out that the more time we spend on the computer, the less aware we may be of our personal presence.
Every decision we make, when it comes to personal appearance, is sending a message. Those decisions combined may be sending the wrong message about your on-the-job merit.
For example, a missing button may send the message that you lack an attention to detail or lack focus.
You needn’t be a J.Lo. Follow Booher’s tips for packaging yourself, so people notice your potential, not your flaws.
• Aim high. Research shows that taller people can earn $789 more a year per inch. A good tailor can tuck your clothing in a way that makes your legs appear longer.
• Pay attention to wardrobe details. After 20 years of hearing executives talk about their employees, Booher can point to the most frequent complaints: employees’ sloppy dressing, poor choice of shoes and messy hair.
• Ban bad body language that implies you’re defensive. Crossing your arms or rolling your eyes are a couple of the more obvious ones.
• Speak with confidence. Choose the right words, opting for shorter ones rather than longer ones. And be sure you’re pronouncing words correctly. For example, some people incorrectly say “nu-cyu-lar” instead of “nu-clee-ar.”
• Plan talking points ahead. Always go into a chat ready to present your key points in a concise way. Otherwise, you run the risk of babbling.
• Have diplomatic phrases ready, such as, “Have you considered this alternative?” or “Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment.”
— Adapted from “Why a Missing Button Could Keep you From Getting Ahead,” Anita Bruzzese, “On the Job” blog.