Beautiful and vivacious, she is known for her curvaceous body and her beautiful voice. I recently watched the icon on The Tonight Show. As she sat talking with Jay Leno, I was surprised—as I am sure other viewers were—to hear that she was 62 years old. Wow! She looked great!
That is, until she stood up to sing. With a skirt that was four to five inches above her knee, she aged 10 years by merely standing up and revealing an unflattering feature. I found myself changing my assessment to “she looks great for a 62-year-old woman.”
Why the change in my opinion? When you dress like a younger woman, you position yourself to be compared to younger women. She had great legs for a 62-year-old woman, but carries the telltale signs of age—knobby knees!
There are many fabulous books on dressing well at any age. I will not attempt to replicate their advice, but I have listed a couple of ideas for over-50 job seekers. When in doubt, seek the advice of a professional.
Your packaging helps define the message you send to others. Companies spend millions of dollars packaging their products to ensure that their message is apparent. (It shouldn’t cost you nearly that much!) Look around the house at products you have purchased, paying attention to the packaging. Ivory Soap and Campbell’s have distinctive packaging. Like most products, you should be distinctively packaged, too. But, what does your packaging tell consumers about the product? Are you a trusted, familiar, reliable stand-by, or a fresh, innovative breath of fresh air? Are you a classic or unpredictable? Do you project confidence and competence or uncertainty and indifference?
What does your packaging look like?
Some think of image as something shallow or relating only to surface features, but as with commercial brands, personal branding includes the proper selection and construction of your personal brand packaging.
First impressions matter. You must take control of your appearance. People form opinions of you—right or wrong—within moments of meeting you. That means you can’t afford to leave someone’s impression of you up to chance.
Studies show that in the first 30 seconds of meeting you, people base their impression of you on this:
55% What they see
38% How you speak
7% What you say
We all know snap judgments can be wrong and unfair. Still, you can’t ignore the reality: people form opinions based on the most minor details. More than half of what goes into forming someone’s first impression of you happens even before you open your mouth. That’s right: 55% of someone’s initial response to you is based on visual cues. That could easily be a whole workbook in itself (check out Spin Me: Creating the Image That Gets the Job; An Image Guide for Recent Grads and Job Hunters), but for the basics, here’s a primer on what to consider, especially when going to an interview.
Clothing—People do judge books by their covers, every day. Make sure that your cover conveys the message you want people to remember. Here’s a sample of messages that your clothing might be saying about you (whether you like it or not):