Why Your Personal Appearance Can Power Up Your Career

Your appearance has more of an impact on your career than you might think. While your success in any role will depend heavily on your performance and skills, the wrong appearance can make it harder to access growth opportunities.

How you present yourself, with your choice of clothing and grooming routine, still influences how others see you. Depending on your appearance, people can view you as professional, trustworthy, authoritative, or lazy and messy.

Quite a range of options, I know!

Today, we will explore the relationship between personal appearance and career success.

Personal Appearance and the Power of First Impressions

One of the biggest ways your personal appearance influences your career is by shaping some of the initial impressions you make on colleagues, employers and clients. Research shows it takes around 33-100 milliseconds for someone to form judgements about your character.

Since that short space doesn’t give people a lot of opportunities to speak to a person and learn about their background, most first impressions are highly visual.

Scientific data suggests around 55% of first impressions are based on what we see. We use a person’s body language and appearance to understand the kind of person we’re dealing with.

If a person is well-groomed and well-dressed, we’re more likely to perceive them as trustworthy, credible and professional. Even the brands you wear can make a difference.

Don’t shoot the messenger, and one study found that people wearing name-brand clothing are considered more authoritative.

Unfortunately, while first impressions are formed quickly, they’re difficult to rectify, even over time. Once you’ve made a poor first impression, altering how others think about you takes a lot of work. That’s why making the right impression with your appearance during meetings, interviews and hiring conversations is important.

How Personal Appearance Demonstrates Innate Characteristics

Your appearance can often provide insights into your innate characteristics.

We’re more likely to consider a person trustworthy, credible, and professional if it seems they’ve put time and effort into their appearance.

One Princeton study found just how significantly appearance influences perceptions of credibility by asking university students to rate the trustworthiness and likability of a person based on photos. While many judgments were formed about factors a person couldn’t easily change, such as the structure of their face, their appearance made a difference too.

Adjusting your appearance, with the right clothing, and a good grooming technique, can make people feel more inclined to trust you.

Another study found what we wear, or how we dress, is one of the main ways we send social signals to others about our authority, influence and intelligence.

Your appearance can even tell others how competent you are in your sector. If you’re well-groomed, wear a professional outfit and take a pride in your appearance, this is likely to indicate to others that you take pride in your work.

An attractive appearance can also be seen as a mark of fitness. The better a person looks, the more we assume they’ll be able to cope physically and mentally with challenges, even in positions of responsibility.

Dressing for Success: Dress Codes and Professional Environments

Cultivating the right professional appearance isn’t just important to make the right impression on your peers; it’s also crucial to ensure you adhere to the rules and guidelines of your company; many organisations have dress codes for a reason.

They can create a sense of unity in a business environment, making everyone feel like part of the same team. They also ensure employees make the right impression on clients, customers, and partners the business serves.

People have certain expectations when they interact with others in a professional environment. One study looking at the value of professional dress codes found clothes systematically influenced the psychological processes of the wearer and the people they interacted with.

Adhering to industry norms shows respect for your profession and role, authority and a commitment to making the right impression on everyone you meet.

Building Confidence and Self-Presentation

As mentioned above, your appearance doesn’t just impact how other people see you but how you see yourself. Confidence is important in any role. Higher self-esteem and self-worth influence your creativity and performance as a professional.

Increasingly, people are becoming more concerned about how they look in the workplace. One study found around 30% of professionals are worried about their appearance, particularly since video calls and conferences started becoming more common.

Dressing professionally and caring for yourself with the right grooming routine is crucial to self-empowerment. It helps you to thrive and feel more comfortable in the workplace. Plus, dressing in a way that expresses your personality can help boost your creativity levels.

One study even found that people wearing more formal clothing were more likely to be inclined to be good at abstract processing and innovative thinking.

Practical Tips for Enhancing Personal Appearance

Your personal appearance is clearly crucial to your success in almost any role. However, investing in the right appearance doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming process. It’s simply a matter of looking after yourself and thinking through your choices.

Start by investing in your personal grooming routine. Think about optimising your skincare strategy, regularly washing and styling your hair before work and maintaining good oral hygiene.

Once you’ve got to grips with the right personal grooming strategy, the next step is thinking about your clothing. Dress appropriately for every occasion, whether it’s a day at the office, a job interview, or a video meeting.

Suppose you’re concerned you don’t know how to dress correctly for your role. In that case, take advice from your peers and your recruitment consultant, who will be able to help you align with the culture of the company you are interviewing with.

Be Professional with Your Appearance

Investing in a good personal appearance isn’t just a superficial endeavour for people in very visual sectors. It’s a strategic choice designed to present the right image to the people around you, harness your confidence and develop your self-esteem.

Paying attention to the power of your appearance can improve your chances of being invited for job interviews, receiving job offers, and even accessing promotions.

Neil Scarborough

Managing Director

At The Recruiting Office, we have been helping firms with their talent acquisition, and a wide range of job seekers find their ideal roles for almost a decade and have successfully placed hundreds of top tier candidates.

If you want to find out how we can help you – call us on 01603 964816 or email neil@therecruitingoffice.co.uk

Further reading:

Using Morning Routines to Set Yourself Up for Career Success

How the right body language can ensure interview success