Career+Success

Superficiality vs. Professionalism

This is a topic that crosses my mind every now and then. In fact, I would say that this topic is rather close to my heart.. and I know that sounds really cheesy.

Today, after I accepted my job offer over the phone, I had to make a trip to take care of on-boarding paperwork with my recruiter. I asked her over the phone if it mattered what I wore to the staffing agency where she works, since I had to dress professionally the first time I went there. She said I could dress as comfortably as I want, which was really nice to hear after having to wear uncomfortable pencil skirts to all my recent interviews.

I definitely did not dress like a slob, since I generally do what I can to take care of my appearance when I go out, but I would say my outfit was very casual – jeans, shirt, cardigan, flats, glasses, hair down. I decided to shower last minute so I did not have enough time to blow-dry and style my hair the way I like, so needless to say my hair was a little bit untamed.

I also put on makeup at the speed of light because time was really running out (should not have waited so long to get ready), so my face was not as finished-looking as it could’ve been.

When I got to the recruiting agency I finally got to meet my recruiter in person for the first time (I had met a different recruiter during my previous visit to the office), and maybe I’m just weird and self-conscious, but I felt not so presentable when I saw her in her business-casual (more business than casual) attire with perfect makeup and hair. So for sure, my first impression of her was a very good one, but I do wonder what kind of impression I made with my casual outfit and not so perfect hair and makeup.

Nevertheless I did really enjoy my conversation with her, and had a good experience there overall. But seeing the put-together-ness of the recruiters there got me thinking about what my perspective/view is on the way people present themselves.

In the past I had some inner struggle with how much time and effort I actually needed to spend on getting ready for the day, because I did not want to give others the impression that I was superficial. I also had some inner conflict because of my spiritual background, which at times caused me to believe that wearing makeup, jewelry, and nice clothing was not so representative of a “good” Christian. But I now talk about these inner conflicts in the past tense because I would say that these “struggles” are, for the most part, no longer my experiences today.

In recent years I think I’ve come to find a good happy medium in the way I take care of my self-presentation, and I’ve realized that actually in today’s society, it seems that wearing makeup (for women) and being well-dressed is essential and even necessary to be taken seriously in the professional world.

Take Hillary Clinton, for example. It would look really strange if we did not see her with makeup on in the public political setting. It would also be weird if news anchor women did not wear makeup and had messy, oily hair. All these little things are a part of being professional, of being taken seriously by the world.

I personally have never gone to a job interview bare-faced, and whenever I leave the house I generally do my best to look clean and put together. The reason for this is twofold. First of all, taking the time to get myself ready properly (but not excessively) is a good boost to my self-esteem and self confidence, and actually saves me from my self-consciousness, because I know that there isn’t some piece of hair sticking out that I have to constantly worry about.

So interestingly, the more I take the time to groom myself, the easier my life is for the rest of the day, because I am reassured knowing that I actually look okay and that there’s nothing to worry about. Therefore I can go about my day doing whatever I need to do without the burden of self-consciousness.

The second aspect of the twofold reason is that presenting yourself well makes others take you more seriously. Maybe we live in a superficial society, but it really is true that your appearance matters more to others than you think.

I remember there was a guy I went to school with who never styled his hair in any way, so many people remembered him as the guy with the perpetual bedhead. Not exactly the kind of impression that renders the utmost respect of others.

Okay, as a counterargument I want to make it clear that I’m not saying that everyone must double or triple their time getting ready in the morning. I’m just encouraging that we all present ourselves in a fashion that is worthy of respect. Even if it’s just jeans and a shirt, the outfit should still have some class and have an overall properly styled look.

Maybe I am too picky and my standards are too high, and maybe all of this is just my personal biased opinion, but I’m writing all of this because of what I’ve observed over the years.

All that being said, I will end this post with some cheesiness: at the end of the day, what really matters is what’s on the inside. Yup. Because we all know of certain people who look put together on the outside but have unpleasant personalities. Not cool.

I think you get the idea. Dress to impress. Dress in a way that makes others respect you, and that makes you respect yourself. It’s a very important thing that you take yourself seriously.

That’s all for now. Good night from Los Angeles. 🙂

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