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The Way You Look Counts!

This may sound incredibly shallow but in the professional world – in ANY professional world, the way you look counts! Physical presentation speaks volumes and plays a major role in the level of success you’re able to achieve.

Now, let’s get one thing clear – when I talk about “physical presentation” I’m not talking about being a size 2. I’m not a size 2. I’ve never been a size 2 so to push that as a requirement would be hypocritical and just plain wrong.

While the standards for proper physical presentation vary a bit depending on your line of business, there are some things that easily translate from one field to another. There is a certain standard that’s set and deviating from that standard will cast a negative light on you as a career seeker, business owner, etc.

Below, you’ll find 4 key standards that apply to everyone regardless of professional background or career level. These are the tips that will carry you from interview to promotion. These tips aren’t bound by industry or profession so regardless of your unique vocation, these definitely apply!

  1. Do something with your hair …and your nails (I’m talking to the men too!)

You do not show up for an interview, business meeting, etc. with unkempt hair and nails.

This screams “Do not hire me!”

Both should always be neat and clean. Ladies, if you have very long hair, consider a neat low set ponytail or timeless chignon. Choose a nail polish that is a neutral or soft pink shade. Men will want to consider a haircut and a shave. You don’t want your overgrown mustache, eyebrows or beard to be a distraction.

If you’re a hairstylist, a bit more creativity is allowed and to a certain degree, expected. Potential clients want to see that you have talent in that area. The same goes for nail technicians. For those of us who aren’t hair stylists and nail techs, keep it simple.

2. Hygiene is everything!

Always take stock of your personal hygiene before a meeting. I cannot stress this point enough. The last thing you want is to turn off your interviewer, potential client, business partner, etc. because of bad breath, sweat stains, dandruff, B.O., etc.

If any of these have been an issue, think about ways to tackle these before going in to that meeting. Maybe you shouldn’t schedule your interviews right after work. Give yourself time to go home and freshen up first or schedule them on your day off. If it’s a lunch meeting, don’t order anything with lots of onions or garlic. Keep a lint brush and breath mints in the car. These small touches will go a long way in helping you to have more successful meetings.

3. Remember that with fragrance and make-up, less is more.

A nice perfume or cologne can be a great final touch to any outfit unless you overdo it. Remember that interviews typically take place in offices with little to no ventilation. If your fragrance is overpowering, it will be a turn off. Also, consider that the person you’re meeting with may have an allergy.

The same goes for lotions or anything with a scent. Take care not to overdo it.

Make-up is a nice touch and helps complete the look for many women, but there has to be a limit. Imagine: There you are in your meeting discussing a brilliant strategy or business idea and the only thing the person in front of you notices is your bright blue eye shadow. Not good. Less is more when it comes to this stuff. Save the glam for the weekend.

4. Dress appropriately

Whether dressing for an interview or business meeting with a potential client (sidebar: an interview IS a business meeting – keep that in mind), it’s critical that you look the part.

You might think this would only apply to a new grad or millennial but – Surprise! Surprise! I see this mostly with experienced managers. They’ve gotten comfortable and believe that they no longer have to wear a suit or a tie to be considered viable. WRONG! Having multiple degrees and a million years of experience doesn’t mean you’re exempt from having to look the part.

Wear a suit. Not only will it change how you’re perceived, it changes the way you present yourself. When you’re wearing a suit, you’re more prone to sitting up properly, giving a better handshake, making eye contact and carrying yourself as the confident professional you are.

If you do not own a suit, consider pairing a white dress shirt with a black skirt or black pants. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished and keep the accessories to a minimum.

You can do this!



Thank you for reading my post. My name is Pamela Shand and I want the best for you in your career. It is my hope that you find everything you read here helpful in advancing your career. If you did, feel free to follow my blog for future articles. I regularly write on resume building, interview success and various ways to unravel common and not-so-common career snags.

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