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This Is Why Appearance Matters In The Job Search

Kaboompics // Karolina; Pexels
Kaboompics // Karolina; Pexels

Imagine your job search was like the blind auditions of The Voice. Interviewers couldn’t judge you based on your appearance before they had a clear demonstration of your talents and believed you’re the right fit for the job. Unfortunately, interviewers do have the opportunity to judge you based on your appearance both online and the moment you walk into your interview — and they will.

In fact, of 1,600 recruiters and HR professionals in Jobvite’s 2016 Recruiter Nation Survey, 69 percent reported their company’s hiring has increased over the past year and one of their major considerations is appearance.

Furthermore, according to Jobvite’s survey, 76 percent of healthcare recruiters say their hiring has increased in the past year and 95 percent report that hiring is increasingly competitive — making every detail of the hiring process crucial.

If you’re unsure what factors of your appearance matter most to employers and want to be certain you’re portraying the best you possible in every stage of the hiring process, read on:

First impressions aren’t always made during the first meeting

Most people think their first impression is made during an interview. However, many employers have already seen — and judged — you before you walk through their doors. According to the previously mentioned Jobvite survey, 41 percent of recruiters believe seeing a picture of a candidate before meeting them influences their first impression.

Whether it’s a headshot on a job board or personal pictures on social media, each capture of you should emphasize who you are and the professional you want employers to know you are. Whatever you share on social media should tell a story that you wouldn’t mind telling your boss. If there are any you would be embarrassed for a potential employer to see — it’s time edit your photos and news feed.

While it is important to have cleaned-up social media, you don’t want to put your accounts on complete visibility lockdown. In fact, according to a 2015 CareerBuilder survey, 35 percent of employers would be less likely to hire a candidate they can’t find online.

Not too casual, not too formal, but just right

Personality and skills are crucial for an interview, but they don’t hold all the weight. Forty-six percent of recruiters surveyed by Jovite reported that appearance influences hiring decisions during the initial in-person interview, and an overwhelming 62 percent say dressing “too casually” impacts hiring decisions.

Activewear and three-piece-suits are the extreme ends of casual and formal, but it is important to think beyond these poles when considering your attire for a job interview. Look at a company’s website to get a feel for their culture. If the employees’ team profiles seem casual, try dressing just a notch up. For example, if they’re wearing jeans and a nice shirt in their profiles, maybe go for a dressier pant for the interview.

The same applies for professional headshots. Your pictures should reflect the type of jobs and companies you are applying to. Consider what you would wear if you got the position. Pick clothing and surroundings that represent your best professional and most confident self.

It’s not just about the clothes

Finding the perfect outfit isn’t the only thing you should be concerned about when making a first impression. Jobvite’s respondents claim they’ve been turned off by body odor, bad breath, and too much cologne/perfume.

It is easy for nerves to rattle your confidence and all too common for interviewees to over-compensate by wearing too much cologne/perfume. A light spritz will give you the certainty of feeling fresh, but prevent knocking the interviewer out with a pungent smell.

Just like with clothing styles, the rest of your appearance should follow suit for the type of company and position you’re applying for. While wild hair colors, facial piercings, and tattoos are becoming more acceptable in the workplace, for a first interview, it’s advisable to consider removing or covering body modifications until you get a feel for the company’s culture and policies on dress codes. If you’re unwilling to give up these forms of self-expression, you may want to consider looking for a job where they’ll definitely be accepted.

The best and most important piece of your attire during the application process is confidence. Research the company to guide you on what to wear. Then, wear it with assuredness you will showcase the talent and personality to receive an offer for the position.

What appearance tips do you have for those in the job search process? Let us know in the comments below!