Could your looks get in the way of your job search? It’s a question a lot of people are asking after a Newsweek article which said essentially looks matter. According to the Newsweek survey of hiring managers, looks were the third most important factor after experience and confidence. So what’s a job seeker to do?
Focus on Experience and Confidence
Before going crazy about looks, focus first on the two things the survey showed matter most: Experience and confidence. Here are things you can to do optimize and bring out your experience:
- Show your experience in terms of successes and demonstrable results. On your resume and in interviews, don’t just say you have experience doing something, show how that experience created value for past employers and is a promise of success for future employers.
- Customize which experience to highlight for each job opening. Make your experience and successes highly relevant to the opportunity and eliminate any irrelevant experience.
- Fill experience gaps. For example, let’s say a project manager is great at scheduling and resource management but is lacking experience in budget management. That gap could be filled by volunteering to manage the budget for a local non-profit, a pre-school co-op or a neighborhood group. If you are continually running into a piece of experience you are lacking, gain that experience now while you are looking for work.
Confidence is all about preparation. Here are some ways for you to be really ready so you can shine:
- Do practice interviews with friends. Ask them to hit you with tough interview questions and work on your response.
- Go into each interview fully prepared by researching the company and the people you are interviewing with. The more you know about them, their product, their problems and their plans, the more confidently you can customize everything you say to this job opportunity.
- Silence negativity and bitterness with confidence-building affirmations including the fact that you have great value to bring to future employers and that you know how to bring that value out clearly.
Small Steps to Look Your Best
Meanwhile, go ahead and do what whatever you can to polish up your physical appearance but don’t get too fixated on it. Some easy things to do:
- Get a free make-up consultation at a department store counter. It’s free and you don’t have to buy any of their expensive products. You can almost certainly get what you need for far less at the local drugstore.
- Ask your hairdresser to update your look. If you go in each time and ask for the same cut as last time, your look may be dated. Let your hairdresser know you’re in a job search and ask for a contemporary look. Just make sure it’s something you are comfortable with and can maintain.
- Use this time to get in shape. Job seekers sometimes succumb to stress eating and may gain weight. But, in fact, it’s the perfect time to get healthy and fit. You have time to cook healthy, life-giving foods and you have time to exercise. You don’t need a costly gym membership or personal trainer. Workout in your own home, check out workout videos from the library, get out and walk or run, or seek a sliding scale membership at your local Y.
- Invest in one or two great outfits. Have interview clothing that fits right, feels comfortable, looks good and gives you confidence. A personal shopper at a department store can help guide you to the right look, one that is contemporary and flattering. Once you know what you’re looking for, find it at the right price at a local discount store. You don’t have to overpay for a great look.
- Focus on little (and inexpensive) details such as clean shoes, flattering jewelry and clean, shaped fingernails. They are within your control, add to your attractiveness and give you confidence.
Last but not least, don’t put too much stock in one study. The truth is that every day people are getting hired. Clearly the workforce is not filled solely with attractive people. No matter what your looks, focus on your qualifications and present them with confidence.