Why you should make your professional image part of your career strategy

by May 10, 2013

Power dressing

Power dressing and professional image

The appearance and professional image of a woman is ranked of higher importance in the recruitment process than their male counterparts. Fair? No.. but it highlights for women the significance of professional image for career advancement and why image, rightly or wrongly matters.

Earlier this year I was invited to present at the European Parliament to celebrate International Woman’s Day. At the event, the President of the Council shared recent research carried out in the 27 EU Member States that focused on women and gender inequalities. Among the subjects addressed, was the difference in recruitment criteria when recruiting men and women.

The research flagged up a shocking statistic about women and their appearance.

The research discovered that three most frequently mentioned criteria in the case of the recruitment of a woman are:

1)    whether she has children (49%)

2)    flexibility in terms of working hours (35%)

3)    her appearance (33%).

In the recruitment process for a man, his appearance came 8th on the list in comparison lower than the top three criteria are:

1) professional experience (40%)

2) the level of his qualifications (38%) and

3) the ability to be mobile (31%)

It’s clear that women are judged in a way that men are not. Their appearance is ranked 3rd on the list compared to 8th position for men.

My aim as an image consultant is to help women have more control over the impact they want to make and to raise awareness of the need to understand the language of clothes. It’s all about knowing how to be perceived as somebody worth listening to.

It’s a lot easier for men as most of the time, they wear a classic suit and before they’ve said a word, their outfit speaks volumes about authority, credibility and professionalism. Their suit is designed through history to be packed with these kind of messages.  If you are competing for a job, you need to understand the language of clothes and carrry the same amount of authority according to your role and the impact you want to make.   This is more challenging for women and takes more thought than putting on a suit than their male colleagues.

We need to know how to maintain your individuality to not only look the part,  but feel good too. When we get it right our confidence will radiate and be a competitive advantage. Over do it though and we appear to ve trying too hard. Dress too casually with the risk  of sabotaging our chances.

Dress to impress

In  the1980’s woman wore bold “go getta” shoulder padded power suits, which only dramatic women could carry off with style. Today, a contemporary businesswoman can afford to be more subtle. The subliminal messages in the language of clothes are discreet and if you know them,  you can use them to maximise your look to make the impact you want. My role as an image consultant is to teach women how to do that.  I truly believe that maximising your image should be integral part of your business plan and career strategy.  Once you have done this, your self-confidence will rocket and the positive effect of getting it right will impact everyone around you and raise your earning potential.

Join my webinar Build your Professional Image  9pm (CEST) on Sunday evening, 26th May.  Learn about the language of clothes and how to carry the appropriate amount of authority so YOU are perceived as somebody worth listening to. If you lack confidence about your appearance  -this is for you.

It’s an hour long  webinar training followed a personal 1:1 coaching session by arrangement!  See you there! Check out the special price for 3Plus Members. For more information check here!


csoper Subscriber
Claire Soper is an Image Consultant trained by the British Investor in People award winning UK image consultancy Public I & House of Colour Ltd. Owner of CMS Professional Image Consulting, she is based in Brussels and has more than 10 years experience working with individual clients and corporations running regular training workshops. She has presented at the annual Jump Forum Brussels, the British Chamber of Commerce and is often featured in Elle Magazine Belgium. Her corporate clients include AIG insurance, DDP London, Swedish House, Chartis, Procter & Gamble, FMC Corporation, Wella Studios, Johnson & Johnson, Continental Airlines. Claire is running the 3Plus International’s Build your Professional Image and is available for personal image coaching and consulting.

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