Developing Your Professional Image

Published on 09 April 2010 by Kelly Riggs in Job Search

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My brother is an executive at a large corporation. He called me a few days ago to share his recent experiences in helping others get their careers back on track. He has volunteered to speak at a local university on a couple of different occasions to provide insight to displaced workers on getting hired. His primary message is that getting hired is about positioning; at its very core, job search is about personal marketing.

Big news, right? Like you didn’t already understand that little pearl of wisdom? Sure you did, but here is the deal: on both occasions, he said the appearance of many in the audience was nothing short of embarrassing. People in sweats, unshaven, or in other ways completely inappropriate. Doesn’t that get covered somewhere during the first day of Job Search 101?

Hey, this isn’t about limiting your personal expression. If you want to look like Mr. T, your favorite biker, or a cast member from Cats, knock yourself out. But when you are in job search mode – no matter where you are going – every point of contact is a Cats pic 300x225 Developing Your Professional Imagepotential network opportunity. Doesn’t it make sense to be prepared? Shouldn’t you appear professional? Shouldn’t you have an ‘elevator speech’ prepared to describe your capabilities? Shouldn’t you have a resume on hand at all times? Let me recheck – you are trying to get hired, right?

Here is what I know about companies that are hiring – they want employees that are dependable, show initiative, and pay attention to details. They want to hire maturity and good judgment. They don’t want to hire someone who talks about those things in an interview, they want to see evidence that you are that kind of individual. This is where personal marketing becomes important – not only do you need to improve the scope of your job skills at every opportunity (see my last post), but you need to think in terms of positioning yourself effectively.

Positioning, or personal marketing, begins with the “physical” you. What do you look like? What do you sound like? How do you present yourself? Are you professional in appearance? Are you approachable? Welcoming? The answers to these questions create perceptions of your dependability, maturity, and attention to detail. Whether we like it or not, people form opinions of others based on appearance and personal interaction. Which means you could have mad skills, but still lose a great opportunity because you didn’t market yourself well.

Think about it. A hiring manager will usually make a decision on giving you a second interview based on a piece of paper (your resume) and an impression of you formed during a 30-minute conversation. It’s your choice – pursue a career as a feline impersonator, or get serious about your professional image.

2 Responses to “Developing Your Professional Image”

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    Why do job candidates shoot themselves in the foot? Image is usually the first filter for hiring managers… [link to post]

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  2. [...] know that I can afford to be that particular.” My standard reply: First, you need to improve your skills, enhance your image, and generally do everything possible to build your personal brand. If you put [...]