Whether you are interested in landing a job, maintaining a job, opening your own business, or building a better relationship with your current clients, looking professional and coming across as professional is essential to your career. Even if your speech and mannerisms are well-polished, if you look like you just got out of bed, you can easily lose the respect of your managers or clients. Appearing a professional not only makes you look better, but it gives your managers and clients the impression that you take your job or business seriously and that you respect and value them, as well.
Starting from the head down, simplify your hair-do. Great hair does not mean that you have to spend hours trying to tame it. If you find that you are spending upwards of an hour trying to get your hair in place, you may start getting lax in this department, so find an easy-to-maintain haircut that will allow you a professional look without all the fuss. Also, while it was fun to dye your hair unnatural colors like red and orange, and blue during high school and college, refrain from experimenting on your hair in terms of colors and cuts.
While tattoos and body piercings have become almost commonplace in society today, that does not necessarily mean you should be flaunting them at your place of work or business. Do your best to keep these tattoos and piercings under wraps while working. They may come across as juvenile or unprofessional to your more conservative managers or clients, which is definitely not an image you would like to portray.
Appearing a professional does not mean that you have to chunk down hundreds of dollars to revamp your entire wardrobe. Simply go through your closet and get rid of or store any clothes that are falling apart, too tight, too loose, or simply not appropriate. While you may love those 7-inch stilettos you purchased on sale last month, they have no place in your office. That shirt you love that has that small hole on the sleeve may be okay to wear on the weekends, but it may pose a problem at the workplace. If you have to, invest a few dollars in buying key articles of clothing like slacks, skirts, and solid-colored blouses or dress shirts.
Now that you have your hair, clothes, and shoes all situated, what about the rest of you? If you are a man, keep your fingernails short and clean. If you are a woman, you can either do the same or keep your nails at a reasonable length. Nails that are too long or very colorful, especially if you are doing a lot of typing, can become distracting.
For women, while make-up can help enhance the face, do not overdo it in that department. You do not want to distract your managers or clients with the amount of makeup you wear. Remember there is a time and place for everything, so use your common sense and gut instinct on these matters.