- Personal presentation plays a massive role in acquiring jobs, which doesn’t only consist of how you dress or how you smell.
- According to Ray Dalio, founder of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, when making talent acquisitions, most companies care equally about the person they are hiring, as opposed to merely their skillset or experience.
- Even if the job is a perfect match for your skillset, if you don’t take time to practice your personal presentation, your rate of success in job acquisition efforts will reduce.
A few years ago, a professor had something quite insightful to say:
“Part of the reason why some homeless folk have a hard time finding work is because, well, employers expect their workers to be clean, and to not smell bad –to at least smell neutral, and hopefully smell good.”
This is a quite crude way of putting it, but the point here is that personal presentation plays a massive role in acquiring jobs, but doesn’t only consist of how you dress or how you smell.
What else could personal presentation refer to?
The range of what personal presentation can mean is quite wide. Anything from the placement of your hands, your posture, and even the attitude you bring to bear to an interview can all amalgamate into your personal presentation.
This article will go over some of the more subtle aspects of personal presentation.
Speech patterns and practice
Many seem to think that they sound smarter when they speak quicker. Of course, if you can maintain a high level of verbal fluency at a speed that is both fast and comprehensible, go for it.
For most, however, something else happens when we speak fast.
The renowned communication teacher Bill McGowan puts it in his book “Pitch Perfect,” the pace of our thoughts and the pace of our speech aren’t necessarily aligned. Those who speak too quickly, speak at a pace in which their thoughts are either behind or in front of their speech.
When someone’s thoughts are behind their speech, they tend to stutter their words, as well as reflect a sense that they’re searching for the next thing to say.
On the surface, you may appear to have a whimsical face. In reality, this makes you look unprepared and as if you did not practice.
When someone’s thoughts are ahead of their speech, they tend to speak well and fluently at first. But because of how fast they are speaking, they often go off on unrelated tangents, likewise making them look prepared.
McGowan’s solution to this problem is to practice slowing down your speech.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to sound like your boring high school math teacher – though it may sound like that at first.
What it will mean, however, is that you’ll neither be ahead of yourself, nor off in another world.
Slow speech is likewise practicing speaking with thoughtful intention, as opposed to flippant showboating that ultimately backfires.
If you are attempting to acquire a job you are highly qualified for, this means you should be able to speak at length about its contents.
For instance, if you’re attempting to get a job as a construction worker, be prepared to have the capability to speak at length about engineering. In this case, try your best just to speak naturally and conversationally.
If the job you’re looking to get is a bit out of your wheelhouse or are simply nervous, slowing your speech speaking can help you collect your thoughts and buffer your nervousness.
Hand placement and posture
Hand placement and posture go hand-in-hand. In fact, they are the first impression a potential employer has on how you carry yourself.
Employers are looking for dependable people who have little ego and some personality. Some hand placements and postures lend themselves more to the former than the latter, and vice versa.
McGowen suggests to “create a ninety-degree angle between your forearms and upper arms. Keep them out in front of you, with your arms and hands soft and relaxed. This allows you to easily gesture if needed. There is never a long distance for them to travel, so your gestures don’t become distracting.”
By contrast, he recommends that you avoid the following postures and hand placements:
- The “death-grip” which is when you tightly clasp your hands together
- The “finger triangle” where you all of your finger tips are touching one another forming a hand-pyramid
- Crossing your arms
- Standing with your hands behind your back, on your hips, in your pockets, or over your crotch
Posture is quite simple: straight spine, shoulders back.
This posture not only makes you look confident, but research from Harvard University shows this picture can make you feel more confident.
these things take conscious effort, but they’re important in order to make that good first impression.
Take this one with a grain of salt. When people tell us to “be ourselves,” we tend to take this piece of advice way too literally.
Being yourself doesn’t mean you can get into an interview or meeting and kick your feet up on the desk.
Rather, it means to bring some of your personality into the equation.
For instance, if there’s memorabilia on the desk of the interviewer, make small talk about it! We may think that the primary factor in hiring decisions is skill-set and experience, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It allows you to be jovial without doing so inauthentically.
According to Ray Dalio, founder of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, when making talent acquisitions, most companies care equally, if not more, about the person they are hiring, as opposed to merely their skillset or experience.
It is, in fact, quite common for employers to hire a lower skilled worker on the basis of showing a unique personality.
This isn’t to suggest for a second that you shouldn’t enumerate your experiences and skillset. Rather, be yourself in addition to highlighting your strengths.
Even if the job is a perfect match for your skillset, if you don’t take time to practice your personal presentation, your rate of success in job acquisition efforts will reduce.
It will take effort and repetition, but it may be your key to a better job.