Once your resume and cover letter are written, your LinkedIn profile is optimized, and your networking strategy is mapped out, there’s one more critical factor to a successful job search. Have you taken the time to assess your image? When we look good, we feel good. Recognizing the value in speaking with a professional image consultant, I reached out to Canadian Michelle Gallant from http://looksimage.com/. She took time out of her busy schedule to share her expertise about how image affects the job seeker. I’ll share my questions and her answers here so you can ensure the image you are projecting is the right one.
Q: Image can mean different things to different people. To some, clean clothes and combed hair might be the most they worry about. Michelle, what makes up our professional image?
A: Image is all encompassing. You have to consider the following when building YOUR wardrobe:
– Shape and silhouettes of each clothing item
– Layering pieces and their proportions
– Hair color
– Jewelry and accessories
– Clothing personality
Q: What are some common details job seekers often overlook when they are assembling networking and interview outfits?
A: Most commonly, people tend to forget that you must create a balance between getting the RIGHT kind of attention from your image with each “audience “ that you seek.
For example, certain genres of business (marketing, advertising, graphic design, sales) will judge you negatively if you’re not fashion forward, trendy and creative with your wardrobe. More traditional businesses and firms will react negatively if your wardrobe calls too much attention to itself and looks too funky.
It’s critical to research the organization you’re meeting with every single time to appropriately gauge what kind of image you want to project.
Q: Does the right look always mean the most expensive?
A: How much you spend on your clothes doesn’t really matter. It’s always best to budget your wardrobe within your means. I always advise my clients to budget more on their CORE WARDROBE pieces like a well cut suit jacket and pants in their best neutral color and ideal shape and build in cheaper trendy pieces every season to keep their image fresh and updated.
Q: There may be an assumption that women may be more likely to seek out an image consultant than men. What factors do men need to consider when creating the right image?
A: Men and women have to consider exactly the same things!!! We’re no different.
Q: Are there any myths that job seekers need busted such as always wear navy blue to a banking interview?
A: You should ALWAYS wear your WOW colors and/or YOUR neutrals to make the best impression. It’s rare in the corporate world to hear of an attitude that strict about color.
Q: Any tips for people who have to travel to out-of-town interviews?
A: Plan your interviewing attire in advance. I take pictures and email them to my clients so they have a reference to what outfits and accessories go together. I’ve shared some of them with this blog.
Q: Should job seekers stick with wearing whatever colors are currently in trend?
A: Never! Only wear a trendy color if it’s in your palette. That said, if you really love a trendy color and feel you’ve “just got to have it”, buy accessories like a bag, costume jewelry or shoes.
Q: If we find the perfect outfit and it is just a little long or needs some other minor tweaking, can we ignore it and hope others might not notice?
A: It’s not perfect if it doesn’t fit you properly. It’s rare that you can find a wardrobe that needs no alternations. Budget that into your total wardrobe cost. It is completely worth it!
Q: How does one adapt to different dress codes such as “dress down days”, “business casual”, or “formal” and still keep their image on brand?
A: Develop a signature look that can be casual or dressy by using accessories like scarves, pocket squares or great belts. I even had a client who looked great in newsboy hats and he wore them in every social situation.
Michelle suggests you take the time to educate yourself about ideal wardrobe capsules or get a closet makeover! To facilitate this, do some online research about color palettes and how skin undertones work or have your colors professionally done. This also will dictate appropriate hair and accessory colors. Michelle adds that “Body Shape Calculators” are available online or get a formal “Body Analysis” by an Image Consultant. You will learn all your ideal silhouettes in all clothing categories and coordinating layering pieces.
An Image Consultant can help you decide how to get the perfect Clothing Personality! Are you dramatic? Creative? Romantic? Carefully consider that with each clothing item, others will evaluate your look before you decide if it truly reflects who you are. Once you have this education you’ll look put-together and professional every day. You need every competitive edge when seeking your next opportunity. With this professional insight from Michelle, you can plan your wardrobe, colors and accessories so you can feel your very best when you interview.
Best of luck!