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Dressing for Success:
Does Appearance Matter?
By Debbie Christofferson, CISSP, CISM

Most impressions are formed in less than 10 seconds. What impression are you creating?

“People make judgments about whether you fit with a company or culture at first glance.”
- Carol Bory: BizAZ, May/June 2007, “Mind Your Manners, It Could Seal the Deal”

Communication creates success and results

“Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) who learn to speak the language of the executive can look forward to lifetime careers, but those who know only ‘geek speak’ will find themselves left behind.”
“How ‘Geek Speak” Can Hinder a CISO’s Effectiveness”, IT Manager’s Journal,3/24/05

Your appearance can say more in a split second, than any single word you utter.

Technical Skills Trump Business Attire-or Do They?

The CISO for a defense contracting company was speaking at a quarterly technology forum. “Steve” appeared on the podium in blue jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers. If you saw this picture without meeting Steve, you would guess him to be the technical installer, or a member of the maintenance staff.

For most audience members, Steve’s dress does not matter. His expertise, title and company matter most within this group of technical associates. But no one else is dressed so casual.

“… Appropriate dress is one aspect of etiquette that is often overlooked in an increasingly casual society.”
Stuart Banks, President of the Arizona Association of Industry, in BizAZ, May/June 2007, “Mind Your Manners, It Could Seal the Deal”

Your T-Shirt and Jeans May Not Be Getting You Where You Want to Go

When speaking at a regional conference on the evolving role of security and the CISO (Corporate Information Security Officer), to a higher level of the organization, appearance was one of my points-that it matters.

One audience member stood up, said this was BS, and proceeded to prove it, by taking off his jacket and showing us his black jeans and black t-shirt. He further proved his point by telling us how many people had commented on how nice he looked-and all he had to do was put a jacket over top of the black …anything. He said this proved that my statement was bull, because people obviously were shallow and didn’t know the difference.

This gentleman works at a major university, and views technical competence as the key criteria. Is it?

”Projecting a professional presence provides instant credibility and plays a vital role in marketing, sales and promotion.”
- Making Professional Presence your Brandable Difference", Robin Craig, of Package You, at the 2007 Women Entrepreneurs' Boot Camp in Phoenix

Will You or Won’t You?

Get the job, that is. Steve Jobs can dress any way he wants, can you? He wore a black turtleneck and jeans in his famous Stanford commencement address. If you’re seeking a job today or planning a future change, you may want to think differently:

“At the senior management and executive level, attire … can be a knockout. You can lose business and job offers by making a poor impression with appearance, …”,
- Linda Baugh, President of American Career Executives in Phoenix.

“Knowing etiquette can be valuable career skill”, The Arizona Republic, 5/13/07, by Patricia Bathurst

Technology folks often tend to dress more casual. Does it matter?

It Takes More Than Knowledge and Experience to Excel

“Sure, image isn’t everything. But … projecting the right image helps get the job done.”
“Show Time for Security”, Sara D. Scalet, CSO Magazine, 12/1/04

Paying attention to your appearance can increase your credibility and your bottom line in any technology position.

Are you creating power, presence and results when you open your mouth? Join us! “Creating a More Powerful Voice: Master Your Voice to Grow Your Business, Career & Life”, Wed, 5/23/07, 1-2 PM AZ Mountain Time (4-5 Eastern). No charge. Limited Seats! Telephone seminar call-in details provided upon registration. Register NOW. Send your name, email and phone, to me at DebbieChristofferson@earthlink.net, or phone 480-988-4194, or fax 877-574-0122.

Coming next: What technical writing opportunities exist, what does it take to land them, and where are the best opportunities? Join us and find out.

Best Regards, Debbie Christofferson. CISSP,CISM

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