01 Dec Cruise Career Coach: Interview with Industry Expert – Cheryl Lampard
It’s not so much about wearing the latest fashions but more about adopting a style that is approachable and confident, not to mention pulled together and not lacking any flaws, like wearing the wrong size clothing or failing to apply make-up. All of this expresses – in a more dimensional way – an applicant’s ability to be prepared and organized.
“Our mantra is that your image is your brand,” says Cheryl Lampard, owner of Style Matters International, and a self-professed style and image maven. She’s based in Naples, Fla., and has worked with companies like BP, Tiffany & Co. and Talbots as well as high-profile celebrities. Coaching people to exceed in the interview and ultimately get the job is one of her focuses. “You only get one chance to make that first impression and it really counts.”
In addition to fashion, Lampard advises about how to smile, communicate and, yes, even shake one’s hand with confidence.
Your company branding sends a powerful message: Style Matters. Why is style so important?
When you have your own style you make a good first impression. We’re talking about the way you greet somebody, the communication you’re making and how you style yourself. It’s especially important in interviews where you’re judged in the first four minutes. Fifty-five percent of that first impression is formed with a visual impact. Only seven percent is what you say. If your prospective interviewer doesn’t like what they see they’re not even listening after that point.
Some of my client interactions are by Skype. I make absolutely sure I’m presented in the same way as if I were meeting face to face. It makes me feel better and more confident in what I do.
Many job applicants believe their knowledge and experience is much more significant to a potential employer than how they “look.” What’s your take?
Over 90 percent of employers say a job seeker’s personal appearance affects their assessment of the applicant’s ability to do the job. They believe that grooming and dress is a direct reflection of a candidate’s attitude towards the company. It can affect a promotion too. If a prospective employer is interviewing a range of people with similar skill sets they want somebody who fits right in. They don’t want to work hard to get someone where they need to be.
In today’s society, are women in the workplace typically judged more harshly than men on their looks?
Statistically, blonde, blue-eyed petite women are at a bigger disadvantage than their brunette counterparts. Women as a whole tend to be judged more harshly. Perceptions are important. Research has shown that women who wear makeup earn more than those who don’t. The perception is that the woman who gets up early to put her makeup on is going to be more organized in her work day. Whether it’s right or it’s wrong, it is what it is.
In today’s competitive job market, what are the basics to focus on when expressing personal style – from both a male and female perspective?
It’s not just about the clothing. Sometimes we forget to smile when we’re intimidated. I’m going to have a better perception of that person than somebody who is really sour. Good eye contact and a good handshake are important too. (If you don’t know how to do this, there is a huge amount of information out there on how to do this well.)
You have to be aware of what your face is doing. Where are your eyes going? What are your hands doing? (Have a friend film you.) Be prepared. Have an extra copy of your résumé – and you need to be able to find it quickly in your bag. Don’t have an enormous bag where everything comes out like Mary Poppins. No backpacks. If you have to borrow someone else’s bag, please do. When it comes to bags, briefcases and portfolios, they should feel like an extension of the body. I prefer it being in your hand instead of over your shoulder, so it doesn’t pull the clothing.
Understand the culture of the company you’re visiting. Women need to avoid anything revealing, tight or showing too much skin, anything distracting or too much jewelry. Men, make sure you always have a jacket, a good-fitting shirt and a tie. You can always remove something if it gets too warm. It’s amazing how people forget this. Make sure everything is cleaned, pressed and ready. Shoes, clean, polished, re-heeled. It’s a distraction if something is not done right.
Personal style is great. I’m a great proponent of it. But your personal style may not be the right cultural fit for the company you’re interviewing with. Take it down a notch if you know your style is too extreme.
Does defining your personal style have to come with an expensive price tag?
Labels should not speak louder than you. They could almost work against you as a distraction. Your clothes must fit you. Buy the best quality you can afford and expect to have it tailored. As a potential employer, all I am going to remember is a bad fit.
What advice can you give to college students transitioning to become professionals in the workplace?
There’s an old adage that says ‘Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.’ If you’re dressed in an elevated way that says you’re ready for the next role, it’s going to help you. When we look good, it helps us feel good.