Together with career history, education, and relevant skills, there’s another external influence that can affect your selection for job opportunities: appearance. Whether you’re looking to secure a new position or earn a promotion, relative income can be heavily impacted by appearance.
Especially for in-person job interviews, a candidate’s appearance can yield positive or negative outcomes. Different aspects of your appearance can influence career success in unique ways, particularly concerning the factors outlined below.
Weight is one of the factors that could be affecting how a potential recruiter views a candidate. One study found that among numerous workplace biases that could affect hiring aptitude, weight plays a role in deciding a female applicant’s success in seeking new job opportunities. This same study found that 21% of hiring managers believe the heaviest applicants’ appearance indicated laziness, all without details on applicants’ experience or qualifying credentials. Another study found evidence that workplace obesity discrimination can directly affect recruitment.
Understandably, heavier job applicants may be concerned that weight will overshadow factors like career experience and relevant skills in influencing a director or hiring manager’s recruitment process. Plus-sized men and women interviewing for job openings should consider high-buttoned necklines, closed-toed shoes, and formal attire, to help present the most polished appearance for the recruitment process.
Makeup may also influence a job applicant’s aptitude for hire. With a comfortable combination of foundation, eyeliner, blush, and eyeshadow, the right job applicant can leave a strong impression. Conversely, heavy makeup applications — particularly bright lipstick or false eyelashes — could give the wrong impression and quickly turn a hiring manager off.
Age might just be a number, but it’s an important one. In fact, a study found a strong parallel link between candidate age and hiring rate during the job application process, especially when the explicit goal of the position was to increase corporate profits. In an era where age bias seems to be affecting the hiring process regardless of industry, it’s important to know how to fight back.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 represents a single but positive step toward the full removal of ageism from the recruitment process. Applicants looking to come across as younger during a job interview can enhance their youthfulness in a number of ways. Emphasizing tech skills and maintaining a vibrant voice are just a few ways to lean into a younger appearance that hiring managers might subliminally prefer.
Minimizing wrinkles can also go a long way toward emphasizing youthfulness during the recruitment process. In particular, focus on easing wrinkles around the mouth and near other focal areas on the face. Addressing neck wrinkles and taking steps to manage crow’s feet can further help you shake off signs of age.
Though it’s far from ethical — or legal — to hire based on an applicant’s race, racial discrimination in the workplace is still far from being a closed issue. No matter the context, any time a job applicant or employee at any level is treated unfairly because of race or skin color, racial discrimination laws have been violated and should be immediately reported to the EEOC.
Unlike wrinkles under the eyes, race isn’t something any applicant should consider downplaying during any stage of the job recruitment process. Rather, race is something that should be both celebrated and defended, from a candidate’s first interview through salary negotiations and hiring.
No matter the open position, job applicants should take proactive steps to ensure race never becomes a factor in a manager’s decision-making process. In particular, keeping conversations professional and objective-minded and respecting cultural differences can help both candidates and hiring managers to steer comfortably clear of any racial motivations.
Demeanor — an applicant’s external behaviors — can influence appearance, and therefore the potential for hire. Before you actively engage potential hirers during recruitment, applicants often benefit from an honest self-evaluation regarding demeanor. Questions like “Which aspects of my demeanor am I proud of?” and “Are there facets of my demeanor that need to be addressed before my interview?” can help you optimize the impression you leave on any hiring manager.
Once your demeanor is ready for display, it’s time to take steps to ensure your personality comes through in a big way once your interview starts. This means finding subtle ways to show confidence, and offering honest, unscripted answers to interview questions. The less applicants allow nerves to affect interview performance, the more that personality has a chance to shine. Taking steps to manage nervousness during job interviews can mean even more opportunities to exhibit your personality and speak to relevant experience.
An increasing number of studies point to a clear correlation between attractiveness and a candidate’s likelihood to be hired. One University of Messina study sent out more than 11,000 resumes of applicants to various job openings and saw heavily increased response rates to beautiful women and handsome men.
While general attractiveness is far from the only factor one should focus on before a job interview, it can certainly swing the interaction in the applicant’s favor. Specifically for in-person interviews, candidates should remember that small steps like adequate deodorant application, minimal jewelry and well-trimmed hair help natural beauty shine.
On the contrary, skin issues can quickly compromise a person’s appearance being at their best. The worst facial skin issues for adults don’t allow a candidate’s natural attractiveness to take center stage. Protect against potentially damaging facial skin issues with the use of the year’s best skincare products.
Wardrobe plays an absolutely critical role in overall appearance. And when it comes to a candidate’s job search, attire can help sustain a strong interview appearance, just as easily as it can derail any interactions between applicant and hiring manager.
Fortunately, a majority of job interviews request that applicants maintain business professional attire. This means at least suit jackets, dress shirts, and slacks for men, and a blouse, dress pants, or an interview-appropriate dress for women. Certain potential jobs will take place in more of a comfortable atmosphere, in which case hiring managers often emphasize the appropriateness of casual interview attire. This can mean quality jeans, blazers, plaid or button-down shirts for men, and jeans, blouses or work-appropriate dresses for female applicants.
How to Improve Your Professional Appearance
Improving your professional appearance in anticipation of your job search isn’t a difficult task. More often, it simply means a series of simple steps that help you emphasize natural attractiveness, minimize blemishes and help you put your best foot forward.
Improving your professional appearance can often mean:
- Consider high-buttoned necklines and minimal horizontal patterns to limit the effect weight has on appearance;
- Address wrinkles before they deepen;
- Avoid colorful eyeliner and distracting makeup;
- Opt for natural-looking makeup tones that highlight your facial structure;
- Create a regular skincare routine that protects and sustains skin health;
- Practice basic personal hygiene;
- Maintain a straight posture and clear voice to emphasize youthfulness;
- Celebrate race and take steps to protect yourself from workplace discrimination;
- Wear business professional attire for virtual or in-person interviews;
- Prioritize under-eye wrinkles that can create a tired or aged appearance;
These basics can help you take control of your physical appearance and ensure that the way you look helps you land the job opportunity you deserve.