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Presenting a Professional Image in the Workplace

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  • 0:03 Importance of…
  • 0:48 How to Dress from Head to Toe
  • 2:14 Tattoos, Piercings,…
  • 3:18 Technology No-Nos
  • 4:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Colette Rominger

Colette has taught many business and management courses and has a Masters in Adult Education and Training as well as an MBA

In this lesson, we're going to look at things we can do to exhibit a professional image in the workplace. We'll discuss what professionalism means, why it is important, what to do, and what not to do from head to toe and all points in between.

Importance of Professional Appearance

Whether we prepare for a job interview or land a job, we want to ensure we exhibit professionalism in our appearance, behaviors, and daily interactions with our superiors and coworkers. Professionalism is the display of characteristics associated with an individual who possesses the skills necessary to do a job well or is a professional, not an amateur, or an unskilled person. Many times, we do not realize that the way we present ourselves may be seen by others as a direct reflection of the job we do. For example, wearing skirts that are too short or clothes that are always wrinkled may result in a manager viewing us as employees who he wouldn't want meeting with potential clients or deserving a promotion.

How to Dress From Head to Toe

We will begin this lesson at the top with the hair and face. Men should be clean shaven. If you have facial hair, then trim and groom it well. Do not come to work looking like you should be in an episode of Duck Dynasty or in the band ZZ Top. Though industries exist where such an appearance is acceptable, and possibly even the norm, it is best to confirm this in advance. Women's hair should be clean and worn in a modest style; again, this may depend on the industry. Hair stylists have more leeway in this area than a paralegal in a prestigious law firm. Makeup should be conservative and perfume use minimal.

It is important to always portray professionalism, and the way we dress speaks volumes. Most companies have a dress code that is usually covered in writing in the employee handbook as well as orally by your supervisor during your new hire orientation. A dress code details what employees should wear. Many businesses require a suit and tie for men and a dress, a skirt with a blouse, or a pant suit for women. Others may require business casual, or a less formal style of dress for the office. Business casual may mean dress slacks and a button-up shirt for men and slacks and a nice sweater or blouse for women.

Ensure your shoes are clean, polished, and free of scuffs, and women should not be wobbling down the hall in heels that are too high. Some companies also observe casual Fridays. Warning! Casual does not mean just rolled out of bed.

Tattoos, Piercings, and Accessories

When in doubt, cover or remove tattoos, piercings, and accessories. These are topics that may depend upon the industry in which you work and your company's office culture. Office culture is the values, traditions, and attitudes unique to a company and will influence its policies. In the restaurant or hospitality industries, office cultures may be less conservative in this area than those in the financial industry. Usually, there is a written policy regarding tattoos and piercings but until you know the policy, cover any tattoos you have and remove any piercings.

Keep rings and earrings to a modest amount and size. Wear bracelets that do not clink, clank, or jingle as they can distract others or are too large as they can interfere with typing or writing. Fingernails should be clean and of a length that will not inhibit typing, writing, or any other requirements for your specific job. Belts are for holding up your pants and should not in any way resemble the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt or a buckle of the Professional Bull Riders.

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