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Developing a strong professional presence at work is a combination of several factors, including etiquette, communication style, vocabulary and appearance. Though many companies are adopting a more casual or “business casual” dress code, your personal appearance remains important because it affects how others perceive you. Your success does not depend on having supermodel looks or expensive designer clothing, but being well-groomed and appropriately dressed does announce that you are serious, capable and ready to work.

1. Observe the culture of the company where you work. Do your colleagues wear business suits every day, or is it a slightly more buttoned-down environment? Is it the norm to wear jeans, or is that frowned upon even on Casual Fridays? Make a note of the attire worn by your co-workers and superiors, and adapt accordingly. Even if your office favors informal clothing, wear a more polished version of the average uniform—a polo shirt instead of a T-shirt, flats instead of flip-flops, khaki slacks instead of shorts. 

2. Follow the old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Study people you respect at work and evaluate how they present themselves. In what ways do they stand out? How can you do the same with your style? Show through your work attire that you value your job and strive for success.

3. Stay away from extremes. Body piercings, tattoos, unusual hairstyles and bold clothes may be a form of self-expression, but they can hurt your chances of advancing in your career. In a survey ” href=”” target=”_self”> survey , 60 percent of employers responded that they would be less likely to hire a candidate with tattoos or piercings, mostly because of concerns over how their company would be represented. For most jobs, it’s advisable to cover any body art or piercings you have and opt for a more conservative, modest style on the job.

4. Use body language to your advantage. You can improve your professional presence by making a few simple adjustments to the way you carry yourself. Sit and stand up straight, smile, make eye contact and avoid chewing gum or eating while talking to others.

5. Practice impeccable hygiene. Remember the lessons Mom instilled in you when you were a child. Always go to work freshly showered, with clean clothes, brushed hair, clean fingernails this site and fresh breath.

6. Be confident. A little confidence goes a long way. If you act as if you are a responsible, competent member of the team, others will see you this way as well.


Learn more about enhancing your image at work through the Professional Presence in a Casual World” href=”” target=”_self”>Professional Presence in a Casual World course.

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