Do You Have the Look? | Articles & Tips | | Buffalo




 Articles and Advice

 Do You Have the Look?

By Joe Stein

Newsweek magazine recently published a controversial article titled “The Beauty Advantage”.  This interesting report places a focus on the role of appearance (and whether it could be employment discrimination) in hiring decisions.  Newsweek’s survey found 57% of Hiring Managers felt that qualified, but physically unattractive candidates would have a more difficult time landing a job.  These Hiring Managers placed appearance 3rd, just below Experience and Confidence, but above items such as Education.


In fact, many of these Hiring Managers felt that Job Seekers should spend as much/if not more time on improving their appearance as they should on their Cover Letter and Resume.  Now before you throw the paper down in outrage, my point is to not necessarily condone this behavior, but rather to make you aware of the importance of maintaining a professional appearance.  In fact, in most situations, as long as the decision was not made due to gender, race, national origin, etc., then this type of decision making is perfectly legal (although perhaps unethical depending on the circumstances).


As a Job Seeker, you can either swear to not change anything under the belief that you should be purely hired based on your qualifications, or you can ensure that you appear professional.  Virtually all of us do not have the monetary funds to undergo drastic physical changes in our appearance, such as plastic surgery (nor should we necessarily want to), but there are things that all of us can do to appear more presentable.


Let’s examine some ideas for you to consider when contemplating your appearance. Of course, only choose those items you feel are of need and you are comfortable with:


·        Scent – Fresh is best!  Generally, the best scent is one of just fresh cleanliness.  Perfumes and colognes can be used if in moderation, but it is safest just to pass.  They certainly should not be used as a substitute for good hygiene.  Also, if you are a smoker, you will want to refrain prior to your interview in order to avoid a lingering odor on your clothing.  Don’t forget the breath, as it should smell fresh, so refrain from items such as smoking, onions, etc that may leave an unflattering aroma.


·        Weight/Fitness – This item is certainly a slippery slope for discussion.  Most likely being overweight is not protected unless it is a situation of extreme obesity that is protected under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  If you are currently in a position of unemployment, you may find yourself with the time that has previously escaped you for increasing your physical fitness.  This will have the added benefit of not just assisting your appearance, but also improving your health.  If you are seeking a position that will require manual labor, then being in physical shape may be an advantage when a Hiring Manager is comparing you with others.  If you are like most of us and have a few extra pounds, then you may want to consider clothing that is appropriate for your body. 


·        Dress for Success – Does your wardrobe appear to be something from a different era?  What works for the “World’s Largest Disco” probably is not best at your interview.  Purchase items that are standard, professional clothing styles.  You may want to avoid the latest “cutting edge” styles, and instead, choose to blend in rather than stand out.  Make sure the cut of your clothing works for you…tight is generally not best. You want to look professional and also comfortable during your interview. Generally speaking, conservative is best, so avoid wild patterns or odd colors with your dress.  Watch the little things, such as being untucked or a collar that is not lying properly. Don’t forget the shoes, as sometimes a person will look very professional and then slip on a pair of worn, scuffed shoes (or too casual for the outfit) that deteriorate the overall appearance.  If you have any questions regarding what level of professional dress you should wear to the interview, then ask the Recruiter for some guidance.


·        Accessorize with Caution – You are going for an interview and not a night out, so any jewelry should be worn with caution.  Excessive jewelry may prove to be an unwanted distraction to the Interviewer.  For female Job Seekers, make-up should also be worn in a modest, natural, and recently applied (for example, chipped fingernail polish will present a sloppy, lazy appearance) manner.


·        Tattoos and Piercings – As more and more people have tattoos and piercings, their impact on interviews are increasingly debated.  For some positions that attract a more casual audience, these can generally be visibly seen, but for more conservative roles they are probably best covered and/or removed.


·        Look the “Right Age” – This is stereotypically thought to be for those Job Seekers 50 and over and their need to look “younger”.  But, younger Job Seekers may also have this issue in reverse, the need to look “older” for the role. For more seasoned Job Seekers, this may mean considering not only updating the wardrobe, but also coloring hair (in a natural way) or changing your eyewear frames.  For the younger Job Seekers, this may mean a variety of areas to consider including wardrobe, hair, piercings, etc.


The purpose of the article is not to offend, but rather offer a realistic snapshot of searching for a position in today’s world.  The tips listed above are simple, effective, and relatively inexpensive ways to upgrade your appearance for both your professional and personal life.


As always, best of luck in your job search!