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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Columnist: Em Bartels

Personal Branding: How do you show up?

You say so much before you open your mouth!

In today's global village, Your image – your professional presence – is the outward manifestation of a strong personal brand. Whether we like it or not, research concludes that people DO judge you by how you look, act, and communicate. And it all starts with the infamous First Impression.

The way a person dresses has social significance, and clothing can send messages about a person’s personal brand in less than one minute! Ask yourself if your appearance is aligned with who you are and what you want to be known for.

Looking like a successful professional – no matter what the profession – can enhance the impression that colleagues, managers and clients have of you. It can also impact your career path, advancement opportunities, your career search and certainly increase your ability to attract clients or business.

Paying attention to how you dress is important in projecting a strong personal brand. It reflects how confident you are, how well you take care of yourself, and it can lead others to take you more seriously.

So unless you are an eccentric, a stereotypical academic or a quirky presenter or even an entertainment personality who is confident in dreadlocks and long beard, take note: Most of us rely on the tried and true “make that first impression count.”

I hear some say my unkempt nature is my brand. I say what brand promise or value does that portray? Is it a negative brand portrayal or a positive one?. As the saying goes "you may never have another chance to give a good first impression" so make that first impression count.

Research shows that people in sales who wear a beard, particularly an unkempt overgrown stubble are perceived as not trustworthy and genuine. A recent study by Remington in America also demonstrated that you could learn a lot about a person's personality and career based on their facial hair. The study eliminated beards that are worn for religious reasons, as such, my assumptions are about facial hair that is grown mainly as a fashion choice.

The study found that a vast majority of CEOs, millionaires and billionaires are clean-shaven. The more senior position you hold or aspire to, the less facial hair you should sport. There seems to be a correlation between moving higher up the corporate ladder and less facial hair. Clean-shaven faces were regarded more favourably, more attractive and more sociable. So if you are a young graduate looking for an executive job, that unkempt facial hair and overgrown hairstyle may work against you getting that dream job even though you're fully qualified.

In order not to appear biased, I would also stress for ladies who are fresh graduates looking for jobs to keep clean nicely presented hair and avoid hairstyles that are over the top and portray negativity. Showing too much "Flesh" "upstairs" and "downstairs" may connote an unfavorable image. Showing excessive cleavage and micro minis send the wrong signals to HR professionals and recruiters. Being well groomed and well presented projects more confidence to your stakeholders.

It's absolutely surprising when I'm approached by young people on social media requesting for a job or asking me to help them find a job, yet the first impression: the profile picture or headshot does not reflect what they want to portray. According to an article on vanity studios website, having a professional portrait or headshot is an investment in your personal brand and career path. It may be a little expensive, but well worth the investment. It can also give you the edge over your competition especially when applying for a job with many other applicants. The impact of a professional headshot is that it provides a professional appearance and shows that you care about your personal image and the power of visual elements.

Finally, it is worthy to note that most recruiters and HR professionals regard well groomed employees as more successful and confident. They believe that potential candidates can distinguish themselves from other candidates based on their physical appearance alone. Presenting a professional image at all times is at least important in making a good first impression. Before the day ends review your social and real life first impressions. How do you show up?

My charge is: What Have You Done For Your Brand Today? Build your Brand, Grow your Brand and Exude your Brand!

About Em Bartels

Em Bartels is the founder and Executive Director of Excell Consulting GH, Excell Branding GH, a Personal Branding Expert and Executive Coach with a track record of building incredible personal brands that help executives to Stand Out, become visible and attract a passionate tribe.

An ardent public speaker and elocution expert, Ms Bartels supports executives and professionals in the art of oral delivery and diction.

She is the founder of GPA Awards, a Professional Development Organisation that promotes Creativity, Innovation and Excellence.