How’s Your Brand?

How’s Your Brand?

For all the time we spend crafting our personal brands—whether that’s mastering the art of presentations through Toastmasters or building our reputations for accomplishment, insight, and being au courant on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter—the attention many of us direct toward how we present our physical selves in the workplace may be less than impressive. And simply put, those who make the effort climb the ladder faster.

“People aren’t hired in the first 30 seconds of an interview, but many of them eliminate themselves based on something they say or the way they appear,” says Tim McLafferty, president of Minneapolis-based Focus Executive Search.

According to a 2008 study, 41 percent of employers say that employees who dress more professionally are more likely to be promoted. That number jumps to 51 percent if you’re in sales. Other polls report as many as 93 percent of managers factor in how a person dresses when considering their advancement potential.

Julie Haltom remembers finding what seemed on paper to be the perfect vice president candidate for a previous employer. That is, until she brought him in for an interview. Now a team member at Wayzata-based recruitment firm Andcor Companies, Haltom has 15 years’ experience in human resources leadership at companies including Honeywell, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Zurich Financial.

“He was meeting with the senior leadership team of an extremely successful company and he wore corduroys, a button-down shirt, and a sport coat,” Haltom recalls. “Nothing matched, the clothing looked a little bit worn. He was shabby.” The leadership team took the candidate’s casual appearance as a sign of disrespect, and he didn’t go any further in the interview process.

It’s not just a concern for those seeking to gain a firmer hold on the career ladder. Those who’ve already climbed numerous rungs to the top executive level need to make sure that when they’re making that crucial presentation to the board or to our colleagues, they’re also presenting themselves as strongly as they’re selling their ideas. Style is an essential part of the preparation process. Looking good helps you exude confidence, which in turn gives your audience confidence in you.

Part of the challenge of style, of course, is that it changes from season to season—particularly in a place like Minnesota, where seasonal differences are particularly pronounced. Each quarter, TCB will provide a guide to professional style designed to help you build your brand wherever you are in your career.

Click the links below to learn more about why style matters.