“In 2007, at Washington DC’s L’Enfant Metro station, a man performed six classical Bach pieces for 45 minutes on a violin. Some people stopped and listened, most scurried on to meet their busy schedules, and 27 people placed money totaling $32 in the violinist tin cup. Only one person recognized that she had been treated to a free, unpublicized concert by violin virtuoso Joshua Bell. Bell, who had played to a sold out theatre in Boston two days before (average $100 per ticket) had performed the subway concert on a 1713 Stadivarius worth 3.5 million dollars. Subway passengers perceived another talented man down on his luck hoping to make a few bucks in the subway. I wonder what would have been the outcome if the subway passengers would have known the identity of the violinist.” – www.examiner.com
I posted the above quote because I think it is a perfect example of what I wanted to communicate with this post. The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend of my mine about his career and his thoughts on the corporate world. He revealed a story about an employee he hired at his company that recently left because of a massive promotion. He put it down, partly, not to his ability but because he looked the part. He looked like someone who would fit right into the boardroom with the other high flyers. The brands he wore were the sort that those in the roles he wanted would have coveted. While my good friend put it down to him ‘playing the game’ part of what he said struck a chord with me.
We also talked of other people we knew in the white collar world who were struggling to get ahead. Again he cited their attire as the reason that particular person had been overlooked when his company were promoting.
You may or may not agree…
The thoughts he shared with me certainly made me think. After consideration I have to say I do agree with him. While doing the best at your job, this will only get you so far up the corporate ladder. You have to also consider your style and how you look. When employers are looking for someone for a promotion, especially to higher level jobs, they want someone who will represent the company well.
Perserving the image of the company is paramount, especially if you’re going to be in settings where you’re meeting current and potential clients. If you’re good at your job but you turn up everyday like you haven’t really made an effort, of course your managers are going to notice.
Take the photos of the wonderful lady below. The lady on the left is a cleaner at the office, the lady on the right is the director.
We all know the importance of image in the work place, it’s perfectly illustrated in the interview. It’s in our subconscious that we have to dress ‘well’ or dress ‘up’ to try and get the job. But often, once we have the job we want, we then rest on our backside and let off the gas a little. We end up wearing the same suit until it’s worn and a bit shabby. We forget to polish our shoes or skip a day’s shave. We don’t take time to spray cologne or brush our hair.
Laziness creeps in and that initial impression we gave was just a facade. Your managers take note and then when it’s time to promote you’re overlooked or you didn’t ‘quite’ cut it. “Don’t worry“, you tell yourself, “maybe I don’t have enough experience yet”, “maybe next year”…
I’d love to hear your thoughts and hear about any experiences you’ve had that are similar to what I discussed in this post.