First Impressions

This outfit garnered comments like, "cute" and "trendy" when I wore it to the office.

Dress: Target

Cardigan: Target

Bracelet: Target

Tights: Target

Scarf: NY & Co.

Earrings: NY & Co.

Boots: Charlotte Russe

Belt: Forever21

Like the outfit? See more details here!

 

With the New Year, my gym has been particularly crowded with people trying to improve their appearance. And, my workplace is on a “spring cleaning and updating” mission, so I’ve got first impressions on the brain.

I’m working on another office decor project, which includes paint and furniture to improve the look of our conference rooms. We’re setting up a coffee bar in our big conference room, and we’re getting nice mugs with our logo on them. We want our guests (ie: future customers or potential investors) to feel like we’re put together, welcoming, and that we have superb attention to detail. The first impression is crucial, from the moment they walk into our office, not just when they tour the shop.

The same is true for candidate or new business meetings. It’s said that people will make a judgement about you in the first 10 seconds of meeting you, so every aspect of your appearance and demeanor need to be perfect, the moment you walk in the door. Your hair, clothes, posture, and tone of voice are all taken into consideration before the interview even starts!

The first impression is a double-edged sword though, as you can’t tell everything about a person or a place just by looking at it. Here’s a few reasons why things aren’t always as they seem:

– We’re trying to make everything top quality in the office, so that our customers and investors will think that everything we do is top quality. But, we offer significant cost-savings as our main value proposition in the marketplace. So, isn’t it somewhat counter-intuitive to spend top dollar are centerpieces and coffee mugs? Maybe we spend less on our appearance so that we can spend that money on higher quality tooling and more experienced technicians?

– There are many physical components of my job, and in my interview suit and heels, I may not look like I can bend and move in ways that allow me to lift heavy boxes or assemble a booth. But don’t be fooled! I can put on jeans and flats with the best of ’em, and I’m quite strong for my size.

– Does the “flashy” approach make people question your authenticity and competence? When you’re so stunned by the beauty of the office, or the quality of the suit material, does it make you wonder if the man behind the mask lives up to the facade? Sometimes perfection makes people look harder to find something wrong, so maybe we shouldn’t try so hard to hide “flaws” that don’t impact the quality of the work? For example, many career coaches would probably tell me to cut and straighten my hair, since this would make me appear more “professional”. Licensed decorators would tell me to buy bigger, thicker, more ornate frames for the office, instead of the simple, reasonable quality that I chose to maximize the value.

First impressions can make or break a deal, and I do think that we need to put our best foot (or table) forward. But, I think there’s a lot that goes into creating a first impression, and the reasons behind one choice or another may actually make a candidate or business more attractive. As the old cliche says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”… and I’ll add, try to take a look past the facade before making your decision! Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

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