Do you maintain a professional image that’s increasing your odds in the job search? It could probably be more effective. The Zen of Executive Presence will show you why and how.

Getting a haircut and picking out the perfect tie for an interview doesn’t hurt, but according to David A. McKnight, certified image consultant and business professional, image management is a more holistic process.

Last month we talked about ageism and your LinkedIn profile here. There’s research that shows more forms of stereotyping in the workplace. “Researchers found a strong positive correlation between higher incomes and higher perceived attractiveness” and “some research suggests that job interviewers make up their minds about candidates within the first four minutes.” On top of that, “physical appearance counts for 55 percent of a first impression.”

Workplace stereotyping is unfortunate but since we know it happens it’s smart to consider how our own image affects our job prospects.

To do so, The Zen of Executive Presence goes beyond the superficial.

Executive Presence: Set Your Sights on Professional Enlightenment

A great way to cultivate your professional image is to strive for executive presence.

McKnight describes executive presence as similar to enlightenment “because these Truths can’t be fully explained using language.”

He describes how one who possesses it might act: “leaders with executive presence stand out from their competitors by demonstrating knowledge, expertise, ease and genuineness…Instead of viewing sensitive topics as potential landmines, these leaders tackle these issues to build better relationships…”

If this is the type of confident and inspiring professional you would like to be, this book can guide you in the transformative process. There’s more to it than meets the eye.

Enhance Your Success with Image Management

An effective job search strategy is to think of yourself as a brand and then go out and market yourself. But don’t forget that the brand you develop needs to be carefully crafted and maintained.

“A positive brand can’t be established or enhanced overnight. But even the most carefully crafted and well-loved brand can be destroyed in an instant,” McKnight cautions.

An easier image to maintain will be one that’s in line with your authentic self. Finding this balance is called synchronization and it takes a good dose of awareness.

This book includes tons of practical advice about style, proxemics, communication techniques, and etiquette. But if you don’t start out rooted in your own internal identity, any superficial strategies you employ simply won’t stick.

McKnight compares this mistake to a makeover where “changing someone at the surface doesn’t change the underlying habits, motivations and personality traits that produced the problems.”

He emphasizes awareness at the beginning of the book and provides space for self-assessment throughout so we don’t fall into the makeover trap.

Style Advice from an Expert: Understand How Your Style Choices Affect Professional Image

McKnight’s advice about professional style sense is fascinating and user friendly. In his section on wardrobe engineering he explains how to cater your image to the occasion, environment, audience, and your role within them. The style choices you make will adjust based on these four factors.

Provided are useful charts that outline what you communicate with certain styles—such as sporty, elegant, and alluring—and how to achieve each of them.

It’s important that whatever style you choose is in line with the image that your company is trying to convey but you should also take your own reputation into account. “Your visual image is part of an ongoing branding campaign designed to advance your career, increase your income and enhance your professional status.” Your wardrobe is more of an investment than you may realize.

Don’t Forget Online Image Management

I know I say this a lot, but never forget that your online presence makes an impact. For good or for bad.

McKnight says it this way: “Without question, the Internet is a fantastic tool for building and enhancing an image…Now more than ever, it is easy to position yourself as a credible expert. But it is also easier than ever to create a reputation that positions you as incompetent, untrustworthy, unreliable and unintelligent…your carefully woven image could unravel overnight.”

The key is managing the personal information people have access to because “…information is power. The moment you let someone enter your personal domain, you are giving him leverage over you in the workplace.”

McKnight’s method for separating work and personal life is to limit Facebook contacts to friends and family. No work colleagues allowed. But if you don’t want to be that puritan you can specialize your privacy settings and create circles that can only access certain information. “Build barriers to maintain a veil of separation between work and home.”

It’s important to establish these barriers because it’s hard to maintain executive presence without them. “Sharing this [personal] information can detract from my professional presence by removing some of the mystique that surrounds my position and authority.”

In a nutshell, The Zen of Executive Presence, will help you develop a professional image that suits you and then develop and maintain it gracefully. This can only lead to more confidence and success!

This book officially launches in October.

A book launch and wine tasting event takes place Oct. 4 in New York. Check out the Eventbrite page for tickets and details at

It’s available now on amazon.

Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, is recognized as one of the nation's top authorities in Social Media Career Advancement. To learn Joshua’s secret strategies for shortening the job search and getting the right job right away, Get The Missing Manual for LinkedIn Success

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