Do you want to be taken seriously in your career as an up-and-coming professional? Maybe you’ve just graduated college or are entering the workforce after being home with the kiddos for several years. Perhaps other circumstances have landed you here at this point in your life, but regardless of why you’re here, you may be or should be asking, “How do I make the best impression?” First impressions are huge, especially in an interview or at your first meeting for a management position. Here are a few tips from a Human Resources professional that may answer your questions.
1. Dress appropriately! Leggings are not pants, crocs and flip flops are not professional footwear, short skirts/dresses need to be reserved for date night, and low-cut blouses are not sexy in an office. They’re a distraction. Also, if wearing a light colored blouse, wearing a darker color camisole underneath adds a nice color contrast. Dress/skirt length should not be shorter than one inch above the knee. Come on, ladies, let’s get noticed for our smarts and abilities!
You don’t need to always wear high heels, but professional (and comfortable) shoes can really make an outfit. Scarves, jewelry, and a nice bag certainly pull your look together! Wearing hose may be optional, but I am personally more comfortable wearing them because I am very pale and every little freckle, scratch, and shaving nick shines like a neon light on my very white legs. If you do wear hose, please avoid white ones. More on business attire here.
2. Go easy on the perfume and scented lotion. This has become a big topic in the Human Resources world over the past few years. Scents are often the cause of allergy and asthma flares, so if you choose to wear perfume (I would recommend skipping it all together), please don’t bathe in it! Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean anyone else can, either.
3. Be simple. When looking for a job or working to advance in your company, having a very non-conventional hair color or style may not work to your advantage. There are exceptions, of course, such as coffee shops, tech companies, fashion and music industries, etc. But, if you work in an insurance company, a medical office, or some other traditional office environment, you may want to go more middle-of-the-road with your style. And, never, ever come to work with your hair wet!
4. Less is more! To wear makeup or not to wear makeup, that is the question! Listen, I don’t like the fact that women are expected to wear makeup as part of a more put-together look. But, it’s a fact of life, at least in the American work culture. Again, because of my fair skin tone, I choose to wear make-up every day at the office. Lip color and all. I have a co-worker who has flawless skin (ugh!), so she doesn’t wear any foundation. Me? I wear a primer, foundation, and mineral finishing powder. Sometimes I even use a finishing spray. It’s kind of a pain, but the truth is, I feel more confident and less self-conscious when wearing make-up. Need some help here? Check this post on makeup from another writer!
5. What about tattoos and piercings? My best advice would be to tread carefully here. At some workplaces, these are no big deal. At other places, however, you may be asked to cover the tattoos and remove piercings, with the exception of earrings. Consider the clientele or customers you are or would be serving. Would tattoos and piercings be off-putting to them? Is your company more conservative than not? If you are already employed and are considering body décor, it would be wise to either check your employee handbook or an HR professional at your office for the best guidance.
6. Speak-up! When you have something to say, look people in the eye and speak clearly. If you are being interviewed, exude confidence by smiling, nodding, and avoiding mumbling, fidgeting, or not looking at the interviewer. I know you may be nervous, so maybe you can rehearse some answers to basic interview questions or even practice speaking aloud ahead of time. What are some basic interview questions? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few common ones:
- Tell me why you would be a great fit for this company.
- Tell me about a time when you felt as though you accomplished something worthwhile or made a contribution at a previous job.
- Was there a time when you didn’t handle a work situation well? What did you learn from that?
- What experience have you had that would prepare you for the role you are interviewing for?
- How do you prioritize deadlines and multiple tasks?
7. Carefully consider your social media posts. It’s a big debate now about whether or not supervisors should view their current or future employees social media, but even if your current or future supervisor chooses not to “friend” you or follow you through other outlets, word can easily get back to him or her about something that was posted that may be less than desirable for your professional career path.
No one is perfect, but if we are employed, we do represent the company for which we work. Of course you want to have a great time after hours or on the weekends or whenever your days off may be, but maintaining a healthy respect for your company and co-workers by carefully considering what you post can only work to your advantage.
8. Determination. Lastly, you need to know where you’re going and set a course for how to get there. Take the time to learn about the profession you desire through research or, even better, meeting with someone who has the type of job you want. Find out how they got there. Your path may be somewhat different from theirs, but there will be nuggets of advice that you can take and apply to your own situation. Be a student. Always practice servant leadership and second-mile service wherever you are employed.
It’s a competitive world out there! You’ll need to apply both grit and grace to your career endeavors. Many people are willing to work hard to “climb the corporate ladder,” and that’s great. Just make sure you’re not pushing others down on your way up. Work with people, not for them. Don’t expect any job to be ideal, and always seek to make the situation better than when you first arrived. Be a writer. Regardless of where you are working or wish to be employed, that company needs strong, confident, capable women on their team. With careful consideration and preparation, you can be just that lady!
Looking for more career-related posts? Check out 5 Tips For a Great Job Interview, 10 Ways to Soften a Tough Coworker, Freedom from the Glass Ceiling and the Glass Slipper, and Got a Problem? Go Direct!