Whether we like it or not, people do judge us by our appearance. American theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow explains in his book Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behaviour:
“In all of our perceptions, from vision to hearing, to the understanding we build of people’s character, our unconscious mind starts from whatever objective data is available to us—usually spotty—and helps to shape and construct the more complete picture we consciously perceive. In order to offer us this more complete picture, our unconscious employs clever tricks and educated guessing to fill in the blanks.”
Employers are no different and plenty of research studies have demonstrated this. A study by Greene King found that 51% of employers admitted knowingly discriminating against a potential employee because of the way they looked. Interestingly, visible piercings were a ‘distraction’ for 28% of employers in the survey.
That aside, jewellery can add a finishing touch to any outfit so does not need to be avoided altogether – but your choice of jewellery does depend on the company and position that you’re applying for.
Understand your employer’s culture
As Director of Discovery Recruitment and Training Sarah Evans explains, it’s important to understand that you’ll be representing your employer. She notes:
“You’re being paid to reflect their values and culture, potentially in front of other businesses looking to buy their services. That’s why some companies are quite particular about personal appearance.”
You therefore need to look carefully at your choice of jewellery and decide if it fits with a company’s values and culture.
Ruth Stokes, head of recruitment at accounting firm KPMG agrees:
“First impressions count. We expect our people to look professional. We would hope applicants recognise what is appropriate and are prepared to adapt accordingly.”
Consider your target company’s staff and policies
Think about the staff that already work for your target company and how they are presented.
“If you have tattoos and/or body piercings, research the company’s attitude toward them before your interview. If a company has a published policy on covering up body art in the workplace, that suggests heavily you should do the same during the interview,” notes Kline.
If your target workplace has a simple, stylish and fuss-free dress code with very little detail, keep your jewellery to an absolute minimum. For example, you could choose a simple shorter-length pair of plain threader earrings combined with a plain bangle or smart watch.
If your target workplace has more of an edgy vibe, you probably won’t need to worry too much about hiding your piercings. If anything, they’re likely to help show you have the sort of personality they’re looking for.
It’s all about fitting in to the target company and role. Take note of what their current employees are wearing and any policies they may have concerning dress code or appearance. Both of these factors will guide you in your choice of jewellery for the big day.
Avoid religious or political pieces
It is advisable to avoid jewellery that has any sort of political or religious connotation (whether or not you wear it for that reason). Whilst in a perfect world there would be no discrimination during the recruitment process (and indeed, religion is one of several protected characteristics), we do not live in a perfect world.
Daniel B Kline, author of ‘Worst ideas ever‘ explains:
“The people doing the hiring, whether they intend to or not, bring their own prejudices to the process. This may not be blatant discrimination, but it’s a subtle problem that impacts who gets hired”.
Avoid expensive jewellery
Expensive jewellery such as a Rolex watch can potentially send a number of messages. If your prospective employer perceives the watch to be genuine, they may wonder if they can afford you. Flashy jewellery might also be perceived as snobbish, high maintenance or arrogant. You have no idea what the background of the person interviewing you will be, or how they will view your expensive accessory. Alternatively, if the watch is perceived to be fake, this sends yet more negative messages.
Further, expensive jewellery can be a distraction, rather like lipstick on your teeth. You want the interviewer to focus on what you are saying, rather than what you are wearing. Leave expensive pieces at home – wearing them won’t add value to your interview.
Wear quality jewellery
Although expensive pieces should generally be avoided, your choice of material does matter when it comes to jewellery. Fine jewellery, such as gold or Sterling Silver always looks classic, but other materials may give a poor impression. Jazmin Aguilar for Recruiter.com notes:
“Wearing plastic wristbands or a leather choker may come off as juvenile and send the wrong message to your potential employer.”