• Five Common Professional Image Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

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    As an entry level professional or even a top executive, your image matters. In today's business environment, judgments are made in the blink of an eye. Regardless of where you are in your career, follow these five tips to avoid common professional image mistakes and ensure your effectiveness.


    Clothing that Makes You Appear Invisible

    Julia, before…
    Julia Before

    You may want to be a dynamic professional. However, if you find that your career isn't progressing the way you had planned, one question to ask is: Are you wearing your personal power colors that help you command attention? Color is a powerful business tool that you do not want to overlook as you develop your professional image. The fashion colors this season may or may not be your friends. Get your colors professionally done to ensure every bright, neutral or pastel color you put on is sending the message you want it to send. You will find that when you wear the colors that are best for you, you will get more attention, be taken more seriously and perhaps best of all, you will feel more confident.



    Forgetting to Dress Office Appropriate

    Whether you interact with the public or not, what you wear affects the way you think, which in turn affects the way you act and ultimately affects how others respond and relate to you.


    The personal assets you highlight when socializing with friends or dating, are best kept undercover while at work. What message is being sent if clothing is too tight, low cut or too short? Even if it is the trend, it is not appropriate in an office environment and some people will not take you seriously. No matter how proud you are that your workouts are paying off, showing too much skin will work against you in a coed work environment.


    Even in warmer climates open-toed shoes that expose more than the tips of you first two toes should be saved for the weekend, and opt for slacks if you really cannot stand wearing nylons. Bare legs and arms send a casual message that may not serve your career goals.


    Even on Casual Friday do not get too casual – skip the T-shirt and worn out jeans. Wearing a jacket, a sweater or (for the ladies) even a colored shawl will help you communicate authority and you will be remembered. The third piece is your "power piece". It completes your look and is an important part of your wardrobe.


    Falling Head First into the Fashion Trends

    Do you find that you gravitate to the 'have-to-haves' of the season? This may be a challenge as time goes on because you will continually have to update your wardrobe. By choosing timeless pieces, you can bring in a new piece to mix-and-match with your current wardrobe without breaking the bank every season.


    If you really want to be fashion forward from 9-5, consider wearing only one trend piece at a time. This way you will still look current and hip without looking like you care more about fashion than looking professional.


    Ladies, Overdoing Accessories…or No Accessories at All

    At work, your accessories should complete and complement your outfit, not be attention grabbers themselves. Still, do not be afraid to wear one statement jewelry piece or bold accessory – just not several at the same time. A great handbag or briefcase can polish your outfit to perfection. However, four necklaces, six bracelets and a big buckle belt will be a bit much for any outfit, and will send the wrong message at the office.


    This also applies to your makeup – wear makeup, but don't overdo it. Your makeup is also an accessory – it should be fresh and should polish your look. Keep the adventurous accessories and dramatic makeup for your personal evening activities.


    A Dated Hairdo

    …Julia, after!
    diana asks what have you done with your brand lately?

    Nothing says, "I am not on the cutting edge of my profession" quicker than an out-dated hair style. Keep your cut and color current. If you are sporting a look from another era, it is probably time to update that look. Consult your hairstylist to find out the best possible looks for your face shape, hair texture and skin tone. Try flipping through different magazines and find a style that you like. An updated hairdo can give you a whole new level of confidence.


    Select one or two of the tips above to focus on over the next few weeks and make the necessary adjustments to your professional image. You will see results and garner the respect and attention you deserve, while having more confidence in the way you present yourself professionally.

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    Diana Jennings
    Diana Jennings is the founder of Brand You Image – a personal branding and image management company based in Southern California. A specialist in non-verbal communication, she brings a sophisticated understanding of people and a passion for growth to those working to reach their personal and professional goals. Typical engagements involve the development of high potential individuals and senior level management in personal brand discovery, image management, social and business behavior, and body language for better communication and interaction with others.

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