April 12, 2019 • By Dennis Beaver
Today’s story will of special interest to recent high school and college graduates out looking for full-time job.
“If you know what not to do – what not to wear – what not to ask and what not to say, your chances of being hired are significantly increased,” “Spencer” who has over 30 years experience as a human resource hiring manager, told You and the Law. We must caution readers that the remarks you will see here are not politically correct and will be offensive to some people. But they are consistent with comments we have heard from others in HR.
Grooming matters – Few Laws Against Weight Discrimination
Common sense dictates that students should be told about the importance of grooming–appearance and how to dress. Spencer agrees but has found that “Students are seldom told a thing because in today’s college environment any kind of value judgment on how you dress is seen as bigotry.
“If they even know what the real world is and where it is located, professors are not preparing these kids for it, for example, by failing to point out the impact of obesity on a job interview, as well as what is appropriate and inappropriate dress.”
If you are thinking, “Obesity? That sounds like weight discrimination, and you can’t refuse to hire someone just because they are overweight, can you?”
Currently, no federal law protects employees from discrimination based on obesity or weight per se; only one state (Michigan) and a handful of local governments provide this protection.
We asked Spencer, “There are so many stories of job applicants showing up for an interview with torn jeans, shirts not tucked in, needing a haircut, a shave, even a shower, but have not been told by their teachers these are hugely important matters. Even with someone who has otherwise excellent qualifications, what’s the result of these behaviors?”
His reply? “It gets mentally marked down as the reason you are not the one they pick. Also, interviewers will never offer helpful hints on how you should dress out of fear of being sued for discrimination.
“You would be surprised at how often, when I visit a college campus, morbidly obese students, wearing loud Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, waddle over to my table, applying for a job which requires direct contact with customers.
“They have no insight into what their appearance says about themselves, thinking they can wear what they want, not conform to the needs of business and that excellent grades will impress me. But grade-inflation took care of that, where everyone gets an A or B. Teachers are afraid to tell students the truth, that they are failing and need to select a different major.”
Smoke, wear heavy cologne, tattoos, piercings – great to remain unemployed
As we learned, grooming also includes smoking and heavy cologne or perfume.
“Today’s reality among hiring managers is that anyone who shows up for an interview reeking of cigarette smoke or heavy perfume has just shot themselves in the foot.
“ Depending upon the position sought, men with ponytails and applicants with tattoos and piercings don’t usually get called in for a second interview. Wearing these things to an interview is the same as saying ‘I am not going to conform to company requirements.”
“Hair length and style should reflect the culture of the company you are applying to. For example, bankers are conservative by nature, and ponytails aren’t on their list of desired appearances. The same thing goes for tattoos and piercings,” Spencer strongly maintains, adding:
“And while we are on the subject of piercings, or tiny jewels stuck in an applicant’s nose, coming to most job interviews with these things is an automatic, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll certainly not going to call you.’
“It’s not about you – It’s about us”
Spencer does not minimize the importance of a college degree, but wants our readers to know, “Your degree is less important to the person conducting the interview, so drop the attitude. ‘I’m here! “I’ve made it! I’ve landed’ No, you haven’t, but you have just joined the ranks of the real world. It is a job and we do not care about your well-being. Our company is not going to conform to your wishes.”
Spencer concluded our interview with this critical bit of advice:
Don’t ask about vacations or company benefits at this stage. I do not care about your work-life-balance. No one cares about your self-esteem. I want to know what can you bring to our bottom line.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.