Ten Professional Image Tips Every Working Woman Should Know

How is your image in the workplace? Do you feel heard and seen for your professional contributions? Is your visibility at its peak? We’ve all heard about people who got passed up for promotions when it seemed they had all the necessary qualifications. Don’t let this be you! Stand out, get noticed, and get acknowledged when you dress smart for the workplace.  Here are my top ten tips for professional presence.

  1. Choose quality fabrics. Cashmere, tropical weight wool, silk, and Pima cotton will hold up through a hectic business day.
  2. Look for structured garments. Blazers rather than cardigans. Pencil skirts rather than flowing skirts.
  3. Find a good tailor. Perfect fit is essential for looking professional. Clothes should skim the body.
  4. Remember the jacket. Whether it’s over a sheath dress or pants and a top, a jacket always makes you look more authoritative.
  5. Check your colors. Dark colors are more professional than lighter colors. Like bright colors? Use them as your accent colors, not for the whole outfit.
  6. Solid colors are more professional than prints. If you like prints, stick to small, traditional ones—checks, small florals, paisley, plaid.
  7. Moderate heeled pumps. Flip flops are for the beach and strappy sandals for the dance floor. But a little bit of color can be fun.
  8. Show your personality with your jewelry.  Make it classic. And avoid pieces that jingle and jangle like multiple bangle bracelets.
  9. Moderate makeup. But keep the bright red lipstick for night. Women who wear moderate makeup are perceived to have higher interpersonal skills.
  10. Well-cared for hair. Wash and wear styles can be easy. But make sure you get regular trims so it doesn’t look unkempt.
Pat Gray

Pat Gray

Pat Gray, Ph.D., AICI FLC, Pat Gray in Color Image Consulting. Certified Image Consultant
Certified Universal Style Consultant.
Co-author of “Inspired Style.”
VP Communications AICI SFBA

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Use of Credit Reports in Employee Hiring

Employee privacy is a recurring issue for California employers.  Many companies use credit reports when screening job candidates.  Under federal and California law, a job candidate must give permission for the employer to obtain the credit report.  Also, before taking any adverse action based on the report, liking turning down the job candidate, the employer must provide the candidate with a copy of the report and a disclosure of rights the candidate has.

California law also says that an employer shall not use a credit report for employment purposes unless the report is for hiring certain types of employees.  In specific, credit reports can be used only to hire managers, state Department of Justice employees, law enforcement personnel, a person for which the information in a report is required by law to be disclosed or obtained, a person with regular access to information that could be used for identity theft, a person with spending or contracting authority, a person that involves access to trade secrets, or a person with regular access to more than $10,000 in cash each day.  These laws do not apply to financial institutions.

California law also says that if an employer is going to use a credit report in hiring, it must provide the candidate with a notice that identifies the reason for obtaining a credit report.  The employer must also offer a copy of the credit report to the candidate and provide a copy upon request.

As a practical matter, the bases for using credit reports under California law correspond to the kinds of jobs for which employers are currently obtaining credit reports.  The positions described in the law are for positions that require trustworthy personnel, and the categories are fairly broad.  Accordingly, California law may not, in reality, significantly narrow the range of jobs for which credit reports are typically obtained.  It would, however, prevent employers from routinely using credit reports in a blanket fashion for hiring.  In any case, employers should check their employment policies and checklists to make sure they are not overusing credit reports when they hire new employees.

Stephen S. Wu

Stephen S Wu


Attorney Stephen Wu is a partner in the law firm of Cooke Kobrick & Wu LLP in downtown Los Altos.  He can be reached at (650) 917-8045 or at swu@ckwlaw.com.

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