In a perfect world, success would have nothing to do with image.  We all would be judged and promoted solely on the basis of performance, skills, talent, experience, creativity and willingness to work hard.  There would be a tooth fairy too.

Like it or not, the image we present greatly influences our chances for success in the workplace.  If we look and act like someone who belongs on the lowest rung of the corporate ladder, that’s just where we’re likely to stay.

If you aren’t getting ahead as quickly as your abilities, ambitions and hard work suggest you should, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you own a full-length mirror?  If not, invest in one.  Check yourself in the mirror every day before going to work.  Take a close look at your appearance.  It’s the only way to be sure that the look you’ve achieved is the one you want to project.
  2. Do your clothes reflect your personality and your commitment to doing a good job?  Are your clothes simple, tailored and attractive without being distracting?
  3. Is your hairstyle sleek, smooth and easy to maintain?  It’s hard to take a person seriously if their hair looks as if they just got out of bed.
  4. If you wear jewelry, is it understated and chic (not flashy, clanking, sparkling) or more appropriate for a date than for the workplace? How is your voice?  If you don’t know, record it for a day or two.  Then listen to yourself.   Does your voice come from your diaphragm or from your nose?  Does it have a deep, rich quality or sound high-pitched, thin and reedy?  Would you like to listen to this voice?  If the answer is no, practice controlling your voice until the answer is yes.
  5. Do you have an adequate vocabulary?  No one needs $40 words in an ordinary work situation.  But if you use words like “neat,” “great” or “interesting” frequently, there is no reason why you can’t learn three new words a week.
  6. Do you express yourself in authoritative, self-confident terms?  Do you end your sentences with a period or a question mark?  If you end most of your sentences with “Don’t you think?” or “Isn’t that so?” you may sound too timid and in need of approval to be trusted with more responsibility. 
  7. Do you take credit for what you do right?  False modesty isn’t a particularly attractive quality in any setting.  At work, it sabotages chances for recognition to success.
  8. Are you interesting to talk to when you aren’t talking about work?  Do you read a daily newspaper, watch the evening news, and somehow keep up with current events?  Do you have at least one outside-of-work interest?

Fair or not, it is important to be able to socialize comfortably with coworkers, clients and superiors if you seek advancement.  One of the keys to being an interesting conversationalist is to have lots of interests.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC.  She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at