I read an interesting article in a magazine this week. The title of the article was ‘Office Beauty Blunders and How to Avoid Them’. Its aim was to help job seekers to not jeopardise their chances at interview, and top HR managers were asked to provide their personal criteria for dismissing an interviewee. Two such responses were ‘too much fake tan’ and ‘false eyelashes’ (well it was a beauty magazine!)
The HR manager who dislikes the tan gave the reason ‘I make it a rule not to hire anyone layered in fake tan. It looks like they have too much spare time to invest in their looks … looking overtly glamorous is regarded as unprofessional’. Similarly, the HR manager who doesn’t favour false lashes said ‘When I’m sitting across from a potential employee and their eyes are framed with fluttering black fans, I just can’t connect with them’.
This article stirred me up on several levels. My first reaction was to the HR managers, and I swiftly dismissed them as ignoramuses. Once I’d calmed from this somewhat, my pragmatism overtook my idealism and I did applaud the article because, with the employment market being what it is and jobs hard to come by, employers can certainly pick and choose and have no shortage of candidates from which to select, so any advice that assists someone get a job gets my approval. Then, after further pondering, I began to consider whether the HR managers have a point. How much can be correctly ascertained from first impressions?
I take my work very seriously and have an excellent work ethic, but by the same token love to dress in (sometimes) very non-corporate attire. I know there are many fashion-conscious out there who also have a few brain cells to rattle, and I wonder if, like me, they find it frustrating to be judged to be ‘unprofessional’ simply because we take pride in our appearance and dress? The two are not always mutually exclusive, but it takes someone to look past the first impression, which is not a chance that’s always available.
My message to the HR managers is not to be so lazy – if an applicant’s CV is brilliant and their referees check out, take a moment to delve a little deeper and ask some leading questions, perhaps about how they like to spend their leisure time and what makes them want to wake up each day. This would be a much sounder way of finding out whether someone is all froth, or just a bit funky – much more reliable than the depth of their tan.