Appearance expectations changing for job applicants

The first impression is everything, especially when it comes to a job interview.

In most cases, applicants will stick with traditional, professional dress and grooming techniques- wearing a suit and dress shoes, a button-up shirt, neutral make-up and a certain hairstyle as well as removing multiple piercings and hiding tattoos. Of course, this interview attire varies depending on the position you are applying for and the nature of the company seeking a new employee.

This time – honored wardrobe has been established by an older generation that perceives these things differently than the younger crowd. To younger generations, tattoos do not mean you are a low-life involved in crime, multiple piercings do not mean that you have strange hobbies and uncommon hair colors do not mean that you are trying to hide something.  These are personal expressions of self, and nothing more.

To sum it up, potential employers who question a person’s different look think it reflects negatively on their company or looks less professional. Surely, in the mind of the consumer, this means that those individuals will not be helpful or approachable.  

In fact, however, the presence of tattoos, hair color, piercings or more could make consumers feel more at ease when approaching an employee for assistance.  For example, in 2015, the Harris Poll published survey results that concluded that 29 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, and 69 percent of those have more than two.  They are especially popular among millennials, 47 percent of whom reported having at least one tattoo.

The stigma often attached with such wardrobe assets has no grounds for argument.  There is no correlation between work ethic and tattoos or piercings, and to judge an applicant so quickly is not only illogical, but a blow to your employee qualification evaluation instincts. You would not choose to deal further with this person if they did not in some way fit the bill. 

Fortunately, there is evidence that this mindset is changing. CareerBuilder conducted a survey of close to 3,000 hiring managers in 2011 and only 31 percent said that they would consider a candidate’s visible tattoo during times of promotion. The survey also found that 37 percent had similar thoughts about piercings. 

This acceptance could become even more prevalent as baby boomers continue to retire and millennials continue to take up a larger share of the job force.  

It is understandable to have some expectation of your typical employee and their appearance, especially when trying to establish a brand and brand persona within the community. However, recent findings about tolerance and prevalence suggest that employers should look past things that would have made them skip over an applicant in previous years.

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