“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an old adage that encourages people to look past a person’s appearance before forming an opinion. Unfortunately, in the job world, this adage is not always followed. Hiring decisions should ultimately be based on a variety of factors, but your appearance can turn off a prospective employer before the interview even begins. Here are five appearance-related mistakes that job applicants make:
1. Not dressing up enough for the interview – It used to be that anyone who worked in an office wore a suit and tie or a dress with nylons and heels every day. So anyone interviewing for an office position knew what to wear. Nowadays many businesses – including Legion Logistics – have relaxed their dress codes to include jeans, appropriate shorts in the summer, and even tennis shoes that are clean and in good condition. While this is great for the employees, it can be very confusing for a job applicant who is trying to decide what to wear. As a general rule, dressing at least one step above the company’s dress code will keep you professional-looking without being completely overdressed. If the employees wear khakis and collared shirts, interviewees should wear a suit. If jeans and tennis shoes are regularly worn, dress slacks and a jacket or a nice blouse and skirt should suffice. If a company allows its employees to wear tank tops and flip-flops in the office, well, you might want to keep searching.
2. Wearing excessively tight or revealing clothing – Unless you are looking to be an exotic dancer or Chippendale, your interview outfit should leave everything to the imagination. Tight or short shirts and skirts look unprofessional and may give the interviewer the wrong impression. They also might make you uncomfortable, which leads us to number three.
3. Wearing an outfit that your are not comfortable in – You might think that a $900 suit will impress a prospective employer, but if it belongs to your dad and it doesn’t really fit you right, you are going to be uncomfortable, and being interviewed is hard enough without worrying about your ill-fitting outfit. A bright red tie might be a sign of power and a favorite among politicians, but it’s not a good choice if the color makes you self-conscious. If you are seeking employment, have one or two outfits that are professional, fit right, and make you feel good about yourself.
4. Applying too much of anything that smells – This not only applies to cologne and perfume, but also strongly scented body washes, lotions, and even hand-sanitizers that you might decide to use right before you enter the office. You want to be remembered for your stellar resume and impressive background, not because you reeked of lavender or your lotion made the interviewer pine for a pina colada.
5. Being unkempt – A suit that is stained or a wrinkled collared shirt is worse than being neatly underdressed. An unkempt appearance makes you look like you didn’t care enough about the interview to put in any effort. The interviewer may also think that your lackadaisical attitude toward your appearance carries through to your work ethic – a definite turn-off even if it is not true. So make sure your clothes are clean and neat, your shoes are polished and that you bring your purse that your two-year-old hasn’t decorated with fairy stickers.
Keeping these five don’ts in mind will help you find employers who do want to hire you.