People often say that they don’t judge, but they do. The truth is we all do. You’ve heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover” and in the perfect world we wouldn’t, but we do. “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” What is your image and social media presence saying about you?
Young Professionals can be judged quickly and are often times dismissed based solely on their image and the image portrayed by their social media. Your image communicates nonverbally. Yes, we all want to be individuals and no, our performance is not based on the fact that we wear jeans and flip flops, but in today’s lax society young professionals need to dress the part. Last time you were in the airport, how many people did you notice were in their pajamas? Better yet, what did you think about these people? On surface you could automatically assume they are lazy or indifferent. Or you could assume they just want to be comfortable for travel, but would you want them on your team at the office? What are you going to do to avoid being judged negatively? How can you make a first impression work to your advantage?
First impressions do not necessarily relate totally to your looks, but they do play a significant role. What does your image say about you? Appearance leads to formation of opinions- the good, bad and the ugly. When you are representing your company, are you dressed in a professional manner? Is your hair combed and your clothes pressed? Sounds like simplistic questions, but in today’s environment you have to ask the question. Take the time to dress the part especially when you are at a work function. Always lean towards the conservative for work and leave the newest trend for the weekends. Its great to stand out, but we need to make sure we stand out for the right reasons.
When you are starting your career you won’t necessarily have the wardrobe you need and that’s okay, you will in timeand you have to start somewhere. Start with the basics and add pieces to your wardrobe each paycheck. Until then, most people won’t know that you are wearing the same black pants on Tuesday’s and Friday’s.
First impressions count for more than appearance- think of your Facebook. What does is say about you? What do your other social media accounts say about you? Are your settings set to private? Your internet activities leave a footprint wherever you go. Posting last Saturday’s keg stand might lead to you not getting the job you’re interviewing for on Wednesday. Your Facebook account isn’t as private as you think and it can certainly tell your potential new boss everything they need to know about how you are going to act on and off the clock. What are you tweeting, or even re-tweeting? Simple acts like these can have a long lasting and sometimes negative impact. Technology has blurred the line between personal time and work time. Googling someone to find out about their past and present is the new norm.
People do judge and as you are growing in your career as a young professional you need to be aware of what you do and say and who you are portrayed as online. These things will not only affect you in the short term but they will have a long term lasting affect as well. Your internet footprint will stay with you just like that tattoo you got junior year. Remember to look the part. Protect yourself and your career by thinking before you post and using privacy settings.