Women: Continue your regular visits to your hairdresser. Consider cutting your hair and wearing it in a short, softly waved, natural style. Don't wait to get a permanent or begin doing your own hair as a money-saving measure unless you are good at it. You need to look your very best. If you haven't been going to a hairdresser regularly, invest in hair care to improve your overall image, Job counselors, employment agency personnel and executive recruiters disagree on whether to color grey hair or not. It may be a matter of personal preference. But many job-hunters feel that anything which might give them an appearance edge in locating a job should be considered. If you decide in favor of coloring, be careful. If you had black or dark brown hair, don't dye your hair back to its original dark color. It always looks artificial and gives a harsh, unflattering edge you don't need. Instead, go for a lighter, softer brown than your natural color, or have your hair "highlighted" (slightly lighter streaks of color). Since you will already be coloring, at least go for the most flattering effect. The distinction between male and female hairdressing has blurred, so the place to have your hair color treated would be at a first-rate salon with a colorist. Above all, don't attempt to color your hair yourself. The results will not be the effect you desire, and may even prove to be a de-selector.
If you do decide to color, pay special attention to the roots and get touch-ups every two or three weeks.
A decade ago, hair coloring would have been out of place for male managers, although acceptable for women. However, today's executives are more adaptable-and hair-coloring is a way to present a slightly more youthful appearance. Another hair question which must be dealt with is what to do if your hairline is decidedly receding (or, let's face it, if you're bald). Again, the general impression is better if you just accept the bald spot instead of doing a fancy trick of combing eight-inch long side hair over the gleaming top, in the vain hope that the shine won't show. It always shows, and this hairstyle is rarely flattering. Sometimes the part is so low that almost no short hair is left above the ears. The question of wearing a toupee or wig is in the same area of taste. If you have a very good hand-tied toupee or wig of real hair which fits exceptionally well-and is the same color as the hair over your ears and at the nape of your neck, then wear it. But take a critical, honest look at the image you present in the mirror. Is it obvious that you are wearing a "rug?" It's your decision if you want to continue wearing it, or whether you want to go to the expense of getting a really good hairpiece-which costs several hundred dollars.
General grooming: A couple of other appearance notes. Spend more time on general grooming. Take extra care during your bath or shower. Keep your nails trimmed and buffed, or have a regular manicure. Business women can now wear polish (muted colors, please, but it doesn't have to be an insipid pale pink). Keep your shoes polished and have new heel lifts put on as soon as the heels begin to wear. Have your suits cleaned and pressed more frequently. And take the necessary time to exercise and keep yourself trim. It's awfully easy just to give in to gravity and let everything sag.
Body image and body language: Posture projects self-image. Even if you don't feel like it, put on your best posture whenever you leave your house. Gather your body together: lift your chest, relax your shoulders, tuck under your derriere and straighten your spine. See, you already look better! Finish the good impression by keeping your head up, ready to look the world in the eye. Stride when you walk-project energy, but the energy of a strong body, not nerves.
So what if that isn't the way you feel? Fake it. Act. You are doing a very important selling job-selling yourself into a job. And that has to begin by selling yourself on you. After you force yourself to present a lively appearance, you will find that the reality will soon come to approximate the projection, and you'll feel better for it. Practice walking, sitting and standing with energy. Then check the way you look doing this in a full-length mirror. (That full-length mirror has to function as your toughest critic.) As you walk down the street, observe yourself in store windows as you pass by. Make constant adjustments to keep up your posture and your positive appearance.