Last week, I had a meeting with my supervisor and my manager. Because I’m fairly new, I don’t participate in the same annual review that every other employee does. Instead, I had a mini-review conducted by my supervisor and then we sat down to talk about my progress. The entire review went well, which helped calm my nerves, but then my manager talked about my confidence, and I how I could improve upon it. She said, based on how I carry myself, sometimes my professional image doesn’t match the work I produce. Meaning, I seem less confident when I really should express myself with more certainty. I was a little embarrassed to hear this, especially because I work hard, but she had a point and it made me think. I’ve always had a problem with shyness, which has turned into a lack of confidence, especially in more professional settings. I was the quiet one in class who would rather slip under the radar than raise my hand. Then, I became the quiet girl at my internships and jobs who did my work and went home. I always try to be very friendly and open with coworkers and whoever else I meet in the course of my day, but I think confidence in my abilities and work doesn’t show. My solution? Be active when it comes to my professional image. People notice. They notice what you wear, how you speak, and what you do, especially those who are directly involved with your work. I believe this also goes for people who are interviewing for a job, volunteer position, or the school of their dreams. The way you carry yourself is noticed by those around you.

I found a blog post that speaks directly to this topic browsing online last night titled “Why Professional Appearance Should Not Be Overlooked.” This post contains four valuable tips on how to dress and act professionally in the workplace. Tip number four is, in my opinion, one of the most important pieces of advice to people looking to exude confidence at work or on interviews. It’s crucial to pay attention to the way you interact with others in person and on the phone. Body language sometimes sends a stronger message than words. Make eye contact, make sure you have all the relevant information, or, if you don’t know something, know where to get the information. Take ownership of your image; in the long run, it will help you shine in your career.

Honestly, cultivating and maintaining a professional image was one of the most challenging aspects of starting my first full-time job. I’ve gotten used to being in school, where it’s important to be professional, but it’s a lot more informal than in a workplace. I’m learning new things every day and now I know it is so important to present myself in the way I’d like others to see me. I think this apples to my physical image, online image, and my social image. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: make the time and work to be the person you want to be.

Check out these related blog posts on this topic:
1. Why Professional Appearance Should Not Be Overlooked on The Magazine Blog
2. 10 Ways to Present Yourself more Professionally on Tech Republic
3. 10 Ways to Communicate Better at Work on On Careers (US News)