Can Improving Your Image Help Your Career?
Ideally, we would all advance our careers based solely on our professional merits. But in reality, your aesthetic and public image both play a role in how your career develops. Just how important is your “image” and what steps can you take to improve it?
Two Different “Images”
First, let’s clarify that “image” can mean two different things here.
To start, image could refer to your literal image – the way you objectively look at other people. How you dress, how you hold yourself, how you smile, and how you generally interact with others can contribute to your overall image. When people picture you, what do they see?
Image could also refer to your reputational image – the way people think of you. Your literal image can play a role here, influencing how people think and feel about you. But this image is also influenced by your actions, your habits, and your behaviors.
You’ll need to consider both of these if you want to be successful.
How can improving your image affect your career?
One of the best benefits of improving your image is boosting your confidence. If you consciously work on improving your image, you’ll naturally feel better about yourself. For example, if you don’t feel good about your smile, you may hold back in your personal interactions or feel self-conscious. But you can choose to get dental implants or other dental improvements to build back a much fuller smile and feel more confident when flashing it to others. If you act more confidently and feel better about yourself, you’ll naturally excel in many professional environments. You’ll be able to negotiate harder, introduce your ideas and persuade others easier, and even have an easier time making new connections. Even if your image doesn’t impact your career directly, it’s worth improving your image simply to feel more confident.
Your image also affects your first impressions. When you’re meeting people for the first time, whether they’re prospective employees, clients, partners, or valuable colleagues, it’s important to begin these interactions with a powerful impression. The better you look, and the better you act, the more likely the people you meet will hold you in high esteem. While it’s possible to change a first impression through repeated interactions, you might not get a shot at those repeated interactions if you fail to make an impression upon initial introduction.
Referrals and overall reputation.
If people see you in a positive light, they’ll be much more likely to refer you to other people and speak highly of you in other conversations. This has a cascading effect, helping you line up more clients, helping you earn promotions, and generally boosting your value in the workplace. There’s no doubt that a better reputation can lead you to much greater career success.
Trust and estimation.
People are more likely to trust you and associate you with positive qualities if you have an attractive image. If people see you as attractive, they’ll see you as more likable, more trustworthy, harder working, and a variety of other impressive traits. That’s no excuse not to work hard, but you’ll definitely have some advantages if you look put together.
What steps can you take to improve your image?
There are certain features of yourself that are totally immutable – and that’s okay. Nobody needs to get plastic surgery or make other drastic changes to make an impact on their career. Instead, focus on what you can change.
Set goals and aspirations for yourself.
How do you want to look in the eyes of other people? Think about not only your physical image but your reputation as a person. What look do you want to achieve and how are you going to achieve it?
Focus on your weaknesses.
Take an assessment of your current image and see if you can identify any weaknesses. Are there specific areas in which you feel weak? Is there something you’re insecure about? Working on these can be a tremendous help.
We all know it’s important to dress professionally, but sometimes, simply following the dress code isn’t enough to help you develop the image you want. Make sure your clothes are tailored for a perfect fit and try to stand out a bit.
Eating healthy and exercising helps you look better and feel better. You’ll have much more confidence if you’re physically fit.
Improve your posture and body language.
Work on making your posture and body language as open and confident as possible.
Don’t neglect the value of your image!
There are countless ways you can improve your professional image, but you’ll definitely need some combination of these strategies if you want to make a bigger impact at work or advance your career in some other meaningful way. Don’t neglect the value of improving your image.