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Life skills, images and perceptions

Sunday 19th October 2014 around the Black Country (2)

I’m used to manipulating photographs to give a different artistic image and I change images using social media too. I’ve noticed advertisements on television advising young people to acquire ‘life skills’, so they can better present themselves at interviews when they are looking for a job.

Life seems to be all about image now, it’s very superficial. You have to look good and be perceived to have the right image to get on in life. Image isn’t just about having your hair cut and styled, being smartly dressed and behaving in a confident manner. These days prospective employers might check out your social media profiles too. What you post on your Facebook page might help or hinder your application. Similarly, your LinkedIn profile is part of your image too, as is your Twitter profile.

Personal appearance can be improved with the right clothes and women have a distinct advantage because they can use cosmetics to change their appearance. Fashions can be an advantage or a disadvantage. What seems cool to a teenager, might seem inappropriate to a middle aged employer or manager. Wearing you cap on backwards might be cool and give you street cred, but to someone my age you simply look stupid. Even the colour of your clothes gives an impression. Dress in all black and you might come across as aggressive, threatening or morbid. Clothing needs to be appropriate to the situation too, a smart suit will be an advantage when applying for many office jobs for example.

Your image can also affect you standing in the community. You will probably want to appear responsible and approachable. If you appear to be friendly, you are likely to be more popular in the community and make friends more easily. If you appear tough and aggressive, people might avoid you. That image can be presented in the way you behave, dress and even the things you say. That extends these days to the way your social media profiles appear and what you post on social media.

These days we can change and control the image we have. Politicians are aware of this and try to promote an image that casts them in a good light. The public does turn on them for the slightest slip of the tongue or misdeed. Most of us aren’t in the public eye like politicians, but the things we believe comes out in what we say and our misdeeds tend to be noticed and so can adversely affect our image as perceived by our friends, family and community.

It is a good idea to become more aware of the image others are promoting and more aware of our own image when we post on Facebook or send a Tweet. It’s worth considering who we want to impress, often doing something to impress your friends can have the opposite effect on your boss. Getting drunk with friends in the evening and then going into work next day with a hangover might present a good image to your friends, but a very negative image to your colleagues and you boss.

What do you think? Are you fully aware of the image you are promoting in your everyday life? Is it an image that will help you get on in life and reach your goals? Please share your thoughts in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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