Beauty and the Business: Appearance and Its Influence on Your Job Search

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…or is it? A study published in the May/June Journal of Social Psychologysuggests otherwise. Stefanie Johnson, assistant professor of management at UC Denver Business School, found beauty in business poses a significant advantage, leading to higher salaries and better performance evaluations. It also gives candidates an edge in the hiring process, according to Johnson.

So what does that mean for all of us “regular” folks? It means you best show up looking your best for that next big interview. For men, this means a suit and tie. Selecting a classic navy is your best bet for a conservative position in industries such as accounting and finance. As for the tie, career and fashion advisor Lizandra Vega advises ensuring your tie makes the right impact. “An impeccable necktie means a flawless reputation,” counsels Vega. Select a quality fabric tie (usually silk), and ensure it is well made, well pressed, and of course, clean. Tie it beautifully and ensure it is cinched all the way to the neck. Choose a traditional pattern that is not too bold or brash so as to detract from the interview.

For women, a skirt suit with low (3 inches or less) is still the safest bet. Conservative accessories such as a pearl necklace frame the face without being a distraction, according to Kat Griffin, fashion blogger to the law and finance industries. Kat’s website Corporette.com is chock full of great fashion tips for women in conservative industries.

But don’t forget, different geographic regions do have a different business attire climate. New York is going to be much more formal than, Denver, for example, while the East Coast is generally more conservative than the West. The best guide for what to wear for the interview is to speak with the HR representative, hiring manager, or recruiter with whom you are working. Asking the question, “what is the interview attire?” can get you off on the right foot before you even walk in the door. But that first impression that comes with the first appearance will not soon be forgotten. After all, how do you think Sarah Palin got such stellar reviews when they announced her candidacy? Just make sure you come prepared with the names of your dailies.

Jill Vived is the co-owner of a finance and accounting recruiting firm in Denver, CO with her husband, Craig Vived.

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