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First impression thoughts and opinions are an unsightly reality of the society we live in.  I’m writing this post because I believe it’s relevant for women to remain continually aware of how much they can and cannot control.

I follow a fun blog called Corporette that’s geared to women in the corporate world and it has decent fashion ideas and advice.  Recently, there was a post called Diamond Rings and the Working Girl.  The article was about what size diamond ring is appropriate to wear in an office and what about wearing diamonds on a job interview?

I posted the article on my Facebook page with a comment, "Regarding wearing diamonds to an interview: DON’T. I don’t recommend any rings. Strand of pearls or necklace, a watch if you wear one and that’s it.”

I received well over 50 comments and most of the comments were from intelligent women who vehemently disagreed with my comment. The women were saying they wouldn’t work or interview with a company that made hiring decisions based on what type of jewelry they wore or what their marital or financial status might be.  And that companies should do a better job of educating hiring managers.

They were missing the mark.  I was not referring to unethical companies, untrained hiring managers or even jewelry – it’s deeper than that.

Perception is reality so why not make the first impression of you be your real power:  your experience, your accomplishments, what you know and how good you are! Control the focus of the interviewer so that it stays on YOU without distractions. Wear diamonds and even a wedding ring on an interview, and here’s an example of an interviewer’s possible interpretation or first impression (conducted by a human being who will have subjective thoughts and biased opinions creeping into his or her thoughts) :

  • Diamond engagement ring.  “Will probably need time off for the wedding and honeymoon.”
  • Diamond ring with wedding band.  “Wonder if there’s a maternity leave in her future or little kids at home?”
  • Gigantic diamond ring with wedding band.  “Hubby must earn a good living so she doesn’t need this job.  Probably high maintenance who will whine or quit if she can’t have her way.”

This is not about shifting company culture or its leadership, it’s not about training our leaders to make employment decisions solely based on skills and experience, it’s not about whether you work for a family-friendly company, and it’s not about hiding who you are or being disingenuous.  This is my point:

“You have the power to outsmart and control what society has created in human nature by circumventing unfair judgments that others may make about your lifestyle or character.”

Put this particular gender issue behind you by taking control. Don’t bellyache about wanting to be judged solely on your skills and abilities and then leave yourself wide open for a critique that can be 100% off base.  If your personal life (married? children?) is none of your interviewer’s business then keep it that way during the interview.

Is this fair?  Of course not. Is this real? Yes. Will you ever know about it? Nope. Get the job on your own merit, keep the focus on YOU and wear your bling after you’re hired.

I hope that you’ve realized this isn’t about jewelry or big boobs or surrendering. It’s about successfully and positively controlling how you are perceived by others.

Bring it.  I'd love your thoughts.

Views: 2241

Comment by Al Merrill on March 31, 2011 at 1:05am
Here's a perception you missed! people... All people... want to deal with a person that looks like a success, who can speak like a success, and who can show some success. I've been privileged to work with some extremely strong, successful sales women recruiters who would take your comments as a joke! You're asking them to change their station in life to make you more comfortable. This is silliness! Part of the self-image they sell of themselves in an interview is the picture they know they present to the marketplace. If tastefully done, they're the winner!
Comment by Kimberly Roden on March 31, 2011 at 6:08am
Thank you for taking time to comment Al. I do appreciate what you're saying and we're saying the same thing to a point. I'm not asking anyone to make ME comfortable. I'm saying that no matter how tasteful someone is, outward appearances impact the deep-rooted biases of others, like it or not. Problem is that no one will admit because it's (rightfully) inappropriate. Take tattoos... I'm cool w/them in a professional environment; however, I WOULD be hesitant to hire someone who was inked from their arms up to their neck. It's a reality that no one likes to admit.
Comment by Suresh on March 31, 2011 at 9:06am

Kimberly, I completely agree with you on "outward appearance impact the deep - rooted biases of others".  That is one of my favorite topics..

In a perfect world I would recommend to be True to Yourself, unfortunately that may not get you the job always. Maybe thats were SOCIAL RECRUITING could come in to match our True Selfs to that Perfect Job..(I am partly kidding)

 

Comment by Kimberly Roden on March 31, 2011 at 9:20am
Thanks for your comment Suresh. Yes, we're far from being in a perfect world & even worse, in a society that has such a strong focus on judging via appearances. If this were not the case, we would have all of this:

How physical appearance can affect the outcome of your job interview: http://www.helium.com/items/2086709-how-physical-appearance-can-aff...

How plastic surgery can boost your career: http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2008/05/12/why-peopl...
Comment by Tracey Cress on March 31, 2011 at 9:53am

I agree also, Kimberly.  

Your look and your body language tell a story which provides a visual and in turn, a perception.  Whether you want to admit it or not, it's human nature.  

Comment by Suresh on March 31, 2011 at 10:00am

Interesting stuff.

Talking about appearances..

Mortgage Mess (CNBC Report)- A city is Norway got caught up in the mortgage mess by investing in CDO's. I liked what the City Manager in Norway said  "she is going to careful buying anything when a good looking guy in Armani suit makes the pitch". Lesson learned.

 

 

Comment by Tom Dimmick on March 31, 2011 at 10:03am
Kimberly, this is an excellent post.  Let's take a male example:  Big diamond pinkie ring - Message? Fill in the blank.  Shoes that clearly need attention - Message?  Fingernails, Haircut, Facial Hair - The list goes on and on.  You have stated a very succinct fact: People form opinions from first impressions.  The only thing I would add to your post would be to add a bit more about what to do to give yourself the best possible outcome.  In my opinion, one of the BEST things you can do is to stand in front of a mirror and examine yourself critically!  Look for defects.  Look for over the top elements of your appearance.  If you aren't sure, look at a magazine that would be appropriate in that environment and look at the featured people (Fortune, Forbes, etc.) then copy what they look like.  Is it unfair? Yes, of course it is.  However; it is also completely true that you get only ONE chance to make a FIRST impression.  Thanks for the post.
Comment by Kimberly Roden on March 31, 2011 at 10:10am
Tracy, Suresh and Tom, many thanks for your comments. It is very easy as a recruiter to do a quick "scan" of a person before they even open their mouth and formulate an opinion.

Tom, I agree...this post can go in many different directions. What I was getting tired of was hearing women who were complaining about being chosen only for their abilities and experience, yet not even realizing they were already putting themselves out there for possible unfair judgments.

Everyone in the professional world has the ability to do just what you said: be critical with ourselves. Just because we adore a piece of heirloom jewelry or newest trend in nail color doesn't mean it works for a job interview. Beginning with the awareness if the first step, right?

Thank you again.
Comment by Ali Webster on March 31, 2011 at 11:40am
Kim, thanks for your thought-provoking post. Good read.
Comment by bill josephson on March 31, 2011 at 11:41am

As a 30 year Recruiter here's what I've seen evolve--it won't be politically correct.

20 something women today grew up in a society where for the first time they truly were advantaged.   They've gotten their way growing up as the rules were all tilted towards them with parents/educators almost acting afraid of them aggressivelt/assertively filling the power void boys left being societally taken down.  They can literally get away growing up saying or behaving any way they want absent restriction. 

 

They're the aggressors in relationships, education tilts their way, society bends their way, and they're taking over.  It's fast becoming a woman's world.  There's always been a double standard, but now it's shifted as it's politically incorrect/sexist/misogynist/insensitive for boys/men to be assertive but ok for girls to be.

 

Point being girls now women haven't had to conform to the rules.  The rules have been designed for them.   And their response is to keep pushing absent resistance/limits.  The Feminist Women's Liberation Movement began as equal pay for equal work, but quickly devolved into women's independence from men beginning financially pushing women to work outside the home and their self-indulgence.  It took 20 or so years for societal changes to settle with all the churning including skyrocketing divorce rates for gender roles to shift.  The end result being look for more and more "cougar" aggressive/assertive women expecting conformance to them, including jewelry, attire, and behavior.

 

It is what it is.  Today women rule.

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