Looking Professional

Article excerpt

By Nancy Raiden Titus

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Pam Hilliard wants to help everyone in your company look the part of a professional.

"Business is so competitive, and image is very important. Companies spend a lot of money on PR _ especially banks and savings and loans which are service-oriented. If the customer sees one or two people who don't meet that image, it makes an instant impression."

Employees who have a professional appearance exude confidence to customers, which in turn makes them more comfortable transacting their business. Employees that don't fit that image can hurt the company.

Hilliard, through Professional Images, conducts seminars in the workplace designed to help employees increase their appearance consciousness for the benefit of the company. The seminars can be done during the day, at lunch or after hours.

"If one person is dressing in blue jeans and a gunky shirt, you can't send her home for that. Not every business needs its employees to wear suits. But the point is there is a level of professionalism at every office that needs to be addressed. This is a better way than firing off memos to cover every problem. It is a benefit for management to address it to the employee in the form of a perk versus doing it in a legalistic way."

Hilliard, who also is a Mary Kay consultant, does not charge for the seminars though she does encourage companies to buy gift certificates for employees and items to be used as door prizes.

Mary Kay products are used in makeovers done during the seminars, but other than that no mention is made of the cosmetics company during the presentation.

"Obviously I am looking to contact women on their own and give them more professional consulting. I have found that if management gets the results they want, they really don't care."

Each presentation is tailored to the needs of the particular business. Hilliard talks with someone in the personnel department prior to the seminar to find out the particular appearance problems the company is experiencing. Problems she has had described range from employees who wear too much makeup or gaudy jewelry to those who wear their clothes too tight.

"The seminar meets their criteria, so that they get something out of it. The employees get the perk of letting them do something fun on their lunch hour. I show them things they can utilize."

One of her most popular presentations is a "head to toe" seminar that covers hair, skin care, makeup, wardrobe, hand care and shoe care. The longer version includes a 45-minute slide presentation on choosing clothes that compliment the body shape.

"Women need to know that they can dress sporty, romantic or tailored and still look professional. The 45-minute slide presentation covers all that."

The extent of the makeover of audience members is determined by the amount of time allotted. Short presentations have only mini-makeovers with hand and nail care; others feature complete glamour makeovers.

Hilliard said getting makeover volunteers is generally not a problem. More often she gets more volunteers than she can handle. In some cases managers have even encouraged particular employees to volunteer. The positive reinforcement given from the others attending often encourages a behavior change.

"Management is noticing a dramatic change over 30 to 60 days."

The seminars can be helpful for everyone in the company. …