Remember the good old days of high school? How the clothing you wore really defined your image? Surprise! The working world isn’t much different. The only thing that has changed is that, for the most part, no one is going to say anything directly to you about what you wear… they simply won’t hire or promote you if the image you project doesn’t fit within the company culture. Unfortunately, your appearance impacts your career - from the first few seconds in an interview to what you choose from your closet on a daily basis. Sound trivial? It is - but as the employer sees it, it isn’t. How you represent yourself also is how your company represents themselves to their customers, both internally and externally. Way back in my first job (I won’t say how long ago this was!), I was pulled aside and sent home to change my clothing, on the very first day. Flabbergasted and completely humiliated, I asked why. She smiled, and in a very kind, sympathetic voice, told me to look around the corporate environment and see what others are wearing. Suddenly, my eyes were opened and I saw people wearing suits and other formal business attire. Then, I looked down at myself… I was a college student (and at the time, leggings and big shirts were "in" ), and immediately realized what she was saying. Ironically, in the college environment, what I was wearing was generally considered somewhat "dressy" compared to the usual fare of sweatshirts and sweatpants common on campus. In fact, some of my friends had even commented how nice I looked, and I had proudly replied I was going to my first day on the job. Oooh… was that first day ever a learning experience! I thought I WAS dressed up, but I didn’t understand the culture shift. Then my boss gave me the wake-up call that I needed. And I just about died from embarrassment! The rule of thumb is you if you don’t take your personal image seriously, how can anyone else? Someone once told me you should always dress one level ABOVE your current position. Obviously, you don’t want to overdo it, and in many companies, particularly on the West Coast, office attire has been slipping into "business casual" which is a far cry from the stuffy three-piece suit days. But you are what you wear, and if you demonstrate care and cultivation of your personal image, others will pick up on this and this perception will shape their view of you. Clothing has an often ridiculously high price tag, and a lot of times, people who aren’t working don’t have the budget to walk in and buy clothes off the rack at their favorite store. There are alternatives. You can either catch a great sale at a quality department store, go to name-brand discount stores like Nordstrom Rack, or you can even find high-quality items in consignment stores or places like Goodwill if you are willing to spend the time searching. Be strategic about what you buy; don’t always go for the cheapest price because sometimes, the poor tailoring can become readily apparent after wearing the outfit even once. Be willing to make an investment into finer materials that aren’t too trendy so you can extend the clothing’s lifetime. The point is: investing in your wardrobe is really investing in yourself. And cultivating your personal brand appearance can have positive, far-reaching impacts on your career and future advancement. Now you know how your appearance impacts your career!
Everyone has heard of New Year's resolutions. You know, those promises we make to ourselves about things we'll do better in the year ahead. Sometimes these resolutions work, while other times we end up with gym memberships we never use! But have you ever heard of a career resolution? It's actually the same thing as a New Year's resolution, only career-focused.
However, with something as important as a career, you don't want to break these resolutions. That's why it's important to keep these goals manageable.
Here are four simple career resolutions that are easy to stick to and achieve.
Be Self-Aware Of Where You Stand In Your CareerBigstock
Being honest and self-aware of where you are in your career is the most important step in making strong career resolutions. If your career is going nowhere and you're unhappy, then it may be time to consider a career change, which will take you down a different path entirely.
But if you're happy and in good standing with your career, it's a lot easier to set goals for the year and build out a long-term career plan.
Find A Way To Grow Your CareerBigstock
Career growth is a very broad spectrum that means something different to everyone. It could be something as simple as improving on a weakness or building on a strength. It could also be learning a new skill or taking on additional responsibilities at work.
On a larger level, it could be seeking a promotion or moving into a leadership role.
Whatever the goal is, make sure it includes growing professionally. The worst thing you can do is stay the same! If you're not growing your career, you're dying—and becoming a lot less valuable to your employer. There are always ways to upskill!
Better Serve Your Professional Network
With current colleagues, former colleagues, and other professional acquaintances, you've probably built a solid professional network through the years. A strong professional network can come in handy if you lose your job or are looking to make a career change. However, you shouldn't just rely on your network when you're in need!
It's important to find ways to offer value to your network. This could include checking in with members of your network from time to time. Exchange messages on LinkedIn to see how they're doing or share relevant content of interest. If you can help someone in your network going through a career challenge, you should!
Maintaining a strong professional network is like an investment. If you want it to pay off, you have to put some time into it and be consistent.
Take Care Of Yourself
Working on your career is hard work! It's okay to be selfish sometimes. Whether you're working to grow your career or looking for a new job, it's important to find balance.
Your family and health always come first, so make sure your career goals don't interfere with that. If you want to set aside time during the week to work on your career that's fine, but don't miss important family events or milestones.
Don't let your career goals get in the way of your health goals. Go to the gym, take a walk, or go for a jog. Balance is key to maintaining healthy career and life goals. Sometimes you just need to adjust that balance as you go.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.