By Patricia L. Fitzgerald, Editor 2016-11-17 11:16:55
Professional Flair Means Much More Than Good Hair I’VE HAD BASICALLY THE SAME HAIRCUT SINCE I WAS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Long, straight (unless I sleep in sponge curlers) and baby fine. It grows unbelievably slowly, so I’ve long been resistant to new styles, when I like this one just fine, thank you. With too many things I don’t like about my appearance, I don’t want to push the boundaries of this particular comfort zone. In 1986, when I moved to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area after college graduation, I signed up with an employment agency. Connie, my placement counselor, all but insisted that I get a haircut before I go on my first interview. “No one will see you as a professional with that hairstyle,” she warned. As the daughter of a “stubborn mother” and a “pigheaded father,” I politely but firmly refused. I was hired by the first company where I interviewed. The connections I made at that organization eventually led me to SNA. I was hired here in 1994 and have been promoted three times. And I still have the same hair. I often long to travel in a time machine to tell Connie the Counselor that she was dead wrong about my prospects. I wish she’d stayed focused on my skills, and instead of undermining my confidence by questioning my hair, had allowed herself to be satisfied with the more meaningful attributes of my professional presence. My clean and pressed suit and attention to proper hygiene. My respectful manner. My on-time arrival. My engaged enthusiasm. I got that first job because I impressed the hiring supervisor as a young professional. I got my second, third and fourth jobs (and multiple promotions) because I built a strong resume and reputation—but also because I have continued to present myself well when others are looking and judging. First impressions do count; there’s no question about that. But such impressions are usually based on a wide range of assessments, rather than just one category. Those assessments can shift in the eye of the beholder, though, which is why it’s important to realize that maintaining standards of professionalism requires ongoing self-improvement. Today you’re judged by how well you deal with conflict management; tomorrow it could be how you present yourself in emailed communications to parents. Where can you improve? This month, we hope to help you be perceived as the strong, capable, expert, engaged school nutrition professional that you are, whether your hair is gray, purple, pony-tailed, gone—or in a hairnet.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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