Appearance vs. Performance: How Your Personal Image Can Influence Your Career

Appearance vs. Performance

If you still think appearance doesn’t matter in the workplace, you’re in for a rude awakening. Certainly, in a perfect world, you’d be evaluated strictly based on your professional skills and abilities. However, even though we’re well into the 21st century, we can still see these kinds of double standards in nearly all workplaces.

Appearance Matters

According to recent studies, a third of all women fear their appearance sometimes holds them back in their professional careers. Furthermore, one in ten women has called in sick to work at least once, because of bad hair or skin days. Now think of all the men who might have done the same. There are no studies for that, but we can safely assume the numbers are insignificant, or nonexistent.

There’s no denying it: how you feel has a direct influence on how you look and so, it influences the way you’re perceived by others.

In recent years there has been quite an increase in cosmetic surgery, with many of these operations based on one’s own insecurities. If you don’t want to go under the knife (it can be very stressful and expensive), keep in mind you can still control your appearance, when it comes to style choices.

Still, it can be a difficult task to discover how to pitch yourself in regards to a new job or your ongoing career. It’s important to keep in mind that first impressions really matter. From the CV you hopefully submit to a potential employer, to your choice of clothing for the interview, people will make assumptions about your competence based on your looks.

While it is illegal to refuse to hire someone due to their physical qualities, a recent study shows that people evaluate competence and commitment in under ONE second. Plus, interviewers claim they know if they want to hire a person within the first 90 seconds. Much of that decision consists of apparel appraisal. Talk about pressure!

Whether you’re preparing for an important interview, you’ve just started a new job or you want to amp up your professional style for a better chance at that coveted promotion, take a look at these tips to see how your personal image can positively influence your career.

Personal Image and Your Career

  • Get a head start in your new career with a carefully crafted CV. Keep it clearly laid out and neatly formatted. Don’t be afraid to express your personality and emphasize what makes you stand out from other candidates. Include a high quality, recent portrait of yourself, with your best smile. For more ideas on a foolproof CV, secure the help of professional CV builders.
  • Get a good grip on do’s and don’ts in your particular career. For example, some companies can be very casual and allow you to wear shorts in the summer. Others may wish to keep it professional at all times or they have a dress code. Be informed when making your style decision and maintain yourself appropriate within your professional circle.

  • If you’re interviewing for a management position, you can never go wrong with a black or navy power suit. If you’re interested in a more creative position, try going with grey or blue tones.
  • Once you’re on a clear track, don’t try to be too sexy. Wear clothes that fit – not one size too small or one size too large. You’ll end up either revealing too much or looking frumpy.
  • This may go without saying, but grooming is very important. Enough said.
  • Don’t wear too much make-up, too much jewelry, too much red – basically avoid too much of anything. Keep it moderate but stylish.
  • Assert yourself in rich colors. For instance, if you have to give a presentation, you’ll give off a better vibe if you dress in solid colors – they convey authority and know-how. Patterns or bright colors can become distracting.
  • You should probably avoid brown Recent research shows brown is mostly linked to subdued, passive personalities.
  • On a daily basis, keep in mind to balance light and dark colors. But if you’re going in to get that promotion, go with dark – it makes you look polished and authoritative. Whites, pastels and light colors promote a more friendly and approachable demeanour.

Of course, your physical appearance should most definitely not influence your interviews or career prospects in any way. It should be all about competence, knowledge and hard work – but dressing the part has its benefits in the long run.

Remember Your Audience

Even more stressful can be the prospect of looking for employment abroad. Imagine having to assimilate new cultural attitudes, customs and dress codes. It can be a real challenge but luckily, you can find a lot of help online, everything from CV and cover letter tips, to adjusting to a new career abroad. At the same time job portals like Jozoo and Jobware offer a wide variety of English speaking jobs for those seeking employment internationally.



How Interviewers Know When to Hire You in 90 Seconds

Main Image by Fazingo Photos

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.