Professional Image Can Make or Break You

Professional image can make or break your career search

Make a Bigger Impact With These Easy Professional Image Tips


After active duty, you’re looking for a job, and from your time in uniform you know the importance of portraying a professional image. In the civilian world it’s a bit different, but it’s still important to take those extra steps. There are many ways to project a more professional image without straining your budget. These are simple and affordable steps you can take in person and online that will help you impress a prospective employer.


Projecting A Professional Image In Person


  1. Dress conservatively. For most industries, dressing conservatively is the safest choice. Have at least two well-tailored interview suits. Polish your shoes. Limit yourself to one or two attractive and understated accessories.
  2. Practice your handshake. Extend your hand and briefly grasp the other person’s palm without squeezing. Say your name. Smile and make eye contact. Keep your hands clean and dry. Carry powder if your palms tend to sweat.
  3. Invite contacts out for coffee. Show your network contacts you appreciate them. Ask them out for coffee to be gracious on a low budget.
  4. Send thank you letters. Remember your thank you letters. It’s okay to use email if your handwriting looks messy. Send letters promptly and mention something specific and sincere for which you are grateful.
  5. Remove body piercings. Piercings are becoming more common but err on the side of caution. Take them out for interviews.
  6. Cover up tattoos. Your new boss may have multiple tattoos of their own, but it’s wise to keep them under wraps until you get a job offer and you know they’re acceptable in your new workplace.

Projecting A Professional Image Online


  1. Google yourself. Google your name to see what comes up. Sometimes a common name may need a location, profession or other details included. If possible, ask others to delete any content that may reflect negatively on you. If that fails, post positive information to push the negatives off of the front pages.
  2. Set up Google alerts. Stay on top of your online presence by setting up a Google alert with your name. You’ll quickly see any new content.
  3. Optimize your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn may be the most important social media tool for job hunters. Get the most out of it by adding more connections and asking others to give you recommendations.
  4. Check your Facebook privacy settings. You can still have a private life. Just be vigilant about who you share personal information with.
  5. Consider creating a website or blog. High quality websites and blogs cost little or nothing now. Showcase your achievements.
  6. Use your real name for email. Make it easy for people to stay in touch by using your real name as your email. If your current email is a zany nickname, you may want to get a new one.
  7. Promote yourself with your email signature. Your email signature is like free advertising. Come up with a tagline that will make people want to know more about you.
  8. Post a professional photo. You may want to work with a professional photographer to get the best results for an important image like the one you use on your website. If you’re doing it yourself, aim for a cropped photo that shows your head and shoulders only.

You’re not in the barracks anymore… your phone needs to reflect that.

  1. Set up a professional voicemail greeting. Keep it simple. Speak clearly and give your full name.
  2. Edit your ringtones. Even if you turn your phone off during interviews, select your ringtones to convey a positive message about you. Avoid anything controversial.

Put your best foot forward with a professional image that tells employers you’ll be a valuable addition to their team. It’s easy to spruce up your presence in both the offline and digital worlds without spending a fortune.

If you’d like some help with finding some opportunities, check our Job Search Engine.