Science and pop culture don’t always agree on things, but one thing that’s been proven over time in both areas is the importance of first impressions. First impressions can influence how someone views you for months, and if they’re negative, you can have a particularly hard time changing someone’s mind even with your actions or words.
There are many different types of first impressions a person can give off, especially in today’s world of social media. From a career standpoint, if a potential employer checks out your Facebook before hiring you and has a negative first impression, you may end up not getting the job. Of course, it’s just as important to go for positive first impressions in person, too.
Sometimes impressions are made based upon your attitude, your body language, or the words you use. Having self-confidence is important, but so is not coming across too cocky. Being social can be a strong skill, but not when you take over the conversation. There are so many things to think about.
One of the easiest ways to make a first impression, though, is based on what you wear. Your fashion choices, along with practical hygiene choices like whiter teeth and cleanliness, will often set the tone for how someone views you before you even say a word. Think of what you wear as your personal brand. It starts with knowing your target audience, and how to dress for success for the career you want most.
The Job Interview
Before you ever step into a room for an interview, it’s important to remember that you’re likely going to leave a first impression before ever even making a connection with the company you’re applying to — and that’s through your presentation on social media. More recruiters are checking out a potential hire’s social media than ever before, and because of that, it’s imperative that you maintain a professional and respectable personal brand even through your social media posts alone.
Many times, the first impression you’ll be able to make with a potential employer will happen during a job interview. Maybe you’ve talked with them on the phone or you’ve emailed back and forth. But, meeting someone face-to-face is very different. It will give them a more accurate picture of who you really are.
It can be a good idea to do “practice questions” in the mirror before your interview so you can rehearse some possible answers. While you can’t guarantee what will and won’t be asked, some interview questions are more common than others, so having some answers already on the tip of your tongue can boost your confidence and help you to come across as more professional.
But, don’t just focus on the conversational aspect of the interview when you’re preparing. It’s equally important to focus on what you’ll wear. First, determine whether the place you’re interviewing with prefers business formal or business casual attire. You can base your outfit around that.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through the clothes you wear, while still remaining professional. This can help you to stand out among interviewees. Some fashion-forward looks that never go out of style for interviews include:
- White button-down shirts
- Dark-colored button-down shirts
- Black or navy pants and/or socks
- Solid colored ties
Adding layers like a colored jacket or a statement tie can give you a bit of an ‘edge,’ especially if the company you’re interviewing with values creativity and individuality. Just make sure not to step too far out of the box. These subdued styles are timeless for a reason.
Making an Impression at Work
Once you land the job, it doesn’t mean your first impressions are over. You’ll meet new people on the job all the time, whenever someone gets hired or when you have to be a part of a new group. Even if you end up getting a promotion and have to lead your co-workers, you’ll be making a “new” impression based on your updated title.
So, what should you wear to work in order to meet expectations and carry a professional tone?
First, make sure you always follow your company dress code, especially in a leadership position. You’re setting a standard for others. Beyond that, many of the same rules apply for the outfit you wore in your interview. Dark colors, well-tailored shirts and pants, and the occasional statement piece can go a long way in helping you look professional while still showcasing your own personality.
Don’t take the fact that you got the job as a reason to dress sloppily. Instead, it should be the jumping-off point to help you reach success. The way you dress can have a big impact on that success and how long it takes you to achieve it.
Staying Fashion Forward
Whether you’re trying to make a solid first impression for a new job or move up the ladder in your current career, one of the best things you can do is to stay on top of current professional fashion trends.
Some trends come and go while others remain timeless, but being “out of style,” even if you’re technically dressed professionally, can be just as damaging to your reputation as wearing jeans and a t-shirt to work. Simply put? That ruffled white shirt from 1987 probably isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Take pride in things like your hygiene, your confidence, and your leadership abilities. But, don’t ignore the way you dress when it comes to your career. It’s the first opportunity you have to show who you are without having to say or do anything else.