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Expert Advice on Presenting a Professional Image

Our brains are hardwired to assess others from the moment we see them (friend? foe? trustworthy? competent? sloppy? intelligent? capable?).  These first impressions- made in the first seven seconds- are heavily influenced by nonverbal cues. 

Professional image consultant Kate Leser opened Monday’s Jobs Network session with tips on how


to use the way we dress- our “visual resume”- to purposefully send a message about ourselves.  By paying attention to things like color, silhouette, fit and pattern, we can create a look that will get the right kind of results.  She showed Before and After examples of some of her clients to bring this point home.  Who knew that a frumpy professor could be transformed into a commanding, authoritative businessman with a few simple clothing changes?

For networking events, one should dress appropriately in business or business casual clothing  “Business casual” can be interpreted in many different ways but Kate gave us her guidelines; business is the first word, so you should strive to look professional more so than relaxed.  She showed us examples of many different business casual looks demonstrating how to include hints of your personality and individuality with accessories to create an overall positive, approachable vibe.


Next, communication expert Helene Bumbalo shared her advice on making our professional communication authentic, relevant and confident.


Be authentic by first figuring out those things you are skilled at AND enjoy doing and then focus your resume on those areas, NOT on the things you are not happy doing.

Be relevant by using the right words.  Just like clothing styles, certain terminology used to describe what we do can become outdated so it’s important to use language that is modern and relevant.  Up-to-date keywords for qualities/skills can be found by searching job descriptions on  Use these words on your resume and in your communication.

Be confident by being prepared.  In a job interview, be ready to answer questions such as “Why did you leave your last job?” and “Tell me about yourself.”

Like it or not, others are forming opinions about us based on the verbal and non-verbal cues we’re sending.  With a little effort, you can make sure that the messages you are sending are the right ones.

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