Messages that Miss the Mark

by Guest Blogger:  Jessica Newcomb

Last week, I saw someone driving a car that was almost completely covered with bumper stickers like the one in the picture.

Let’s address the obvious first. A timeless piece of advice is to clean your vehicle inside and out before going to an interview. What would you think if you saw the owner of this car drive up for an interview at your company? After all, everything you wear or bring to an interview is an accessory that conveys your personal brand.

Selecting a few key, professional accessories polishes a look and sends a message of confidence and attention to detail. On the other hand, looking messy or being too flashy creates unnecessary distractions. You don’t want a potential employer talking about your car, suit, or any other accessory instead of your skills, abilities, or experience. With all of those bumper stickers, this person might be trying to convey that he is a free spirit who is spontaneous and unrestrained. In reality, the message is that he is messy and unfocused.

Now, let’s address the not so obvious. Because the messages were so overwhelming and conflicting, I couldn’t identify which was the most important message to the car owner. When your image is confusing and unfocused, others are likely to dismiss your good qualities with the bad because it’s too difficult and time consuming to separate them. Consequently, they are likely to dismiss you as a serious and viable candidate.

Each interaction you have with an employer gives him/her more information about you with which to make a final judgment. So, every interaction, whether written, on the phone, or in person needs to be flawless and focused.

What do you want an employer to know about you?

Can you identify anything about your image that detracts from that message?

Be aware of how each piece of your image works or doesn’t work together to create a consistent and focused message. Don’t be the guy in the car with too many bumper stickers to count.

~~ by Jessica Newcomb, Assistant Director, Masters Career Education and Advising, Graduate Business Career Services, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University



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