There is a great line in the classic ’90s film Working Girl, where Melanie Griffith, trying to advance her career opportunities says, “If you want to be taken seriously, you have to wear serious clothes…” The same holds true for your hair and your hairstyle. If you want to be taken seriously at work to achieve opportunity or success, you have to wear serious hair. Now that doesn’t mean you have to wear it dull and boring, but you do have to pay attention to your style and your look. How you look, how you present yourself, and how you groom yourself in a professional situation are as important to your career success as being good at what you do. There. I’ve said it. And I’m not the only one, serious academics have put first impressions to the test and it matters more than most realize.
OK, take a good look at how you wear your hair to work every day. Are you still piling it in a sloppy bun on the top of your head the way you did for that 8 am class that you rolled out of bed for in college? Not good. Are you wearing “little girl” looks like braids and fussy hair accessories? Everyone is going to treat you like a kid. Do you remember the last time you even got a haircut or a style update? Messy hair, split ends, obvious roots, and unkempt hair can all be career killers, because it sends the visual message that if you don’t care about yourself and take yourself seriously, why should anyone else.
You Need Not Look High End Glamour Either
Now don’t get all upset. Nobody is saying that you have to look like a super model or be camera ready every day, but a few simple changes or updates to your hairstyle can go a long way to advancing your career, and it won’t require long hours at the office.
First, consider a simple update to your look. If you are still wearing your hair the same way you did in high school or college because it was flattering and easy, it’s time to consider getting, at the least, an updated version of your look. Shoulder length hair and shorter, looks more professional and sophisticated than longer hair. A shorter cut of the same style can make you look polished and more serious without making a drastic change. If your color is really bold, consider toning it down to a more muted (and here I go again…professional) tone. Unless it’s natural, super blond gives the impression that you’d rather be at the beach than at a board meeting. Add some low lights to move the focus from your hair to your work. If you are wearing fussy styles that look (and maybe do) require a lot of time and accessories to achieve, try a simple pony tail or bun with just a pin or two to hold your hair in place. You want to give the impression that you care more about your work than time given to your beauty routine.
If you need inspiration, look around your office or industry and pick a few women in positions that you would like to achieve. Do you want your boss’s job some day? Notice how she wears her hair and emulate her style. Seek out women who command attention and who have the respect of their co-workers and notice how they groom themselves. You can – and should – be yourself and let your personality shine through, but don’t let all your hard work and talent get passed over because you’re sending a message that you don’t care or care too much about your personal presentation.
Still stuck? Make an appointment with a hair stylist and discuss some simple and cost effective updates or changes to your look. The reward is that you may look so fabulous that you’ll feel better and more energetic, and have more enthusiasm for your career…and that will surely get you noticed AND promoted!