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#4 - You may need a makeover. There, I said it.

This is the fourth of a six-part series that will highlight 6 things you can do, right now, to make your job search much, much more effective. If you've been struggling with a marginal-at-best job search for a while, it's time. If you're just setting off on your job search path? It's time. (Below there are more. Here's #4.)

When you are a job seeker, your appearance matters...plenty.

Specifically, your appearance matters when you walk into the lobby of a company to interview, or through the hiring manager's office door.

Do not shoot the messenger.

And don't believe those who insist they don't make decisions based on appearance. Because they probably do, even if they don't realize it.

You write paragraphs about yourself before you even open your mouth.

So consider... what are your first paragraphs?

If you've been landing interviews but, time and again, are not the selected candidate? It could be that your first paragraphs need work. And this work could involve your physical appearance.

Annoying? Sure. Unfair? Totally.

Real? Yes.

You have a choice. You can either be mad at the reality, or you can digest it, accept it and strategize accordingly.

Hint: the latter will likely land you a new job faster

We are socialized to make split-second decisions about people based on initial perceptions.

We value youth and vitality in our culture.

When you look vibrant and healthy? People think you are vibrant and healthy. Capable. Current. Smart.

Whether that's true is neither here nor there. It's what they think.

When you look outdated, worn down, tired?

People think that you're outdated, worn down, tired.

And they worry about how/if you'll be able to perform in the job.

You know you can do the job, don't you?


Of course you can. And you'll maximize your chance of demonstrating this if you invest in your appearance.

Update your hair. Update your wardrobe. If you're a woman, get some makeup tips. If you're a dude, manage the facial hair (good grief, especially if it's coming out your nose or ears...)

If you need help, ask your most stylish friend to guide you along.

You want to win this game? Play it accordingly.

You ready to go full-on and land the job you truly want and deserve? Then stop flailing, and start planning. I can help you. On April 4, I will launch a new ebook, To Whom it May Concern: Or, How to Stop Sucking at Your Job Search. Consider it your job search BFF, all rolled into one tidy and affordable ebook. It'll walk you step-by-step through the process of calming down, crafting a game plan, and then executing a job search strategy that will actually work in today's crapola economy. If you're interested, be sure and sign up for the To Whom it May Concern mailing list.   I'll be offering all of my subscriber peeps a hearty discount on the goods during a pre-launch, which will go down in just a couple of weeks. See you over there!

« #5 - Jack LaLanne got it. Do you? | Main | #3 - Why you must stop relying on job boards and blind mailboxes »

Reader Comments (4)

I can't wait to read #5! Keep 'em coming!

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave Peckens

You bet, DP! Maybe I'll stretch this thing out to like 15 posts! ;) Thanks for following along. Cheers.

February 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterJenny

So let me get this straight... you're telling me that I should just ACCEPT that people are going to hire me based on my LOOK, and not my resume and/or ability to actually DO the job? This is a sad commentary about the stat we are in... I now need to spend more money to make myself "fit in" to some "box" so that I can get the job?! SO... after they hire me, (and they realize that I'm not the person that they interviewed with) what then? Will they have buyer's remorse?

And secondly, why would I WANT to change myself to fit into that box? Why can't I just be myself? I understand that if I'm working in fashion, or in the film industry... but seriously... why should I change myself to compensate for some interviewer's inability to look through their screwed up, preconceived notion of what a perfect candidate LOOKS like?!

This just goes to show how shallow we've become in this country... my word.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTitus

Hey Titus... thanks for jumping in. I figured this point of view would be coming.

I am suggesting that, yes, job seekers should strategize around the assumption that interviewers are making very rapid (often completely unconscious) decisions about you before you've even opened your mouth.

It's the very topic that Malcolm Gladwell explores in the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. (Which, btw, is a fascinating read.)

It's also the basis of plenty of scientific study. Humans respond to other humans' appearances -- the symmetry of their faces, the way they look, the way they smell, etc. Add to that we are a culture that values youth and vitality.

So, while you certainly should not enter the interview sporting a look that is 100% not YOU (No way. You'll be uncomfortable, and the interview may go poorly as a result) You really should consider taking steps to ensure you walk through that door looking as fresh, vibrant and put together as you possibly can.

And not just if you're in an appearance-dependent industry like acting, modeling or fashion.

I've been a recruiter for several years. My corporate clients (those doing the hiring) share their candid views. Some of these views involve what the candidate looked like or smelled like when he or she walked through the door.

You're going to be remembered for something after you leave the interview. Do you want to be "That really smart guy with the hairs coming out of his nose" or "That really smart guy that had the excellent silver tie?"

See what I mean?

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Foss

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