Should You Change Your Looks to Get a Job?

A majority of job seekers this year have changed something about their physical appearance in order to impress employers, according to an online poll.

The respondents in the Yahoo! HotJobs poll made changes in several areas:

Clothing style: 11%
Lost weight: 13%
Hair style and/or color: 12%
Face (Makeup, teeth whitening, Botox): 4%
Two or more of the above: 19%
Nothing: 41%

Some might consider these appearance-changers to be shallow or insecure, but maybe they recognize that "don't judge a book by its cover" isn't in the playbook of most hiring managers.

In fact, changing aspects of your appearance can be a very smart move. Experts say that most hiring decisions are made within 10 minutes, so the first impression is everything.

If you look too old or too young for the job — and you think it might be a distraction for your interviewer — try some inexpensive changes to your hairstyle or wardrobe so that it will be easier to focus on your achievements in the interview.

As executive image consultant Anna Soo Wildermuth says in her book "Change One Thing": "Your change doesn't have to be dramatic. It might mean sacrificing something you love, but it is guaranteed to make a difference in your life."

Some folks will always go too far, but the lines are blurry. I may think men in their 40s paying big bucks for Botox and liposuction is too extreme, but tomorrow some newly hired, newly svelte CFO might call it his wisest investment this year (as he laughs in my face).

If you've been job-hunting for months with no results, maybe changing one aspect of your appearance could help your confidence, if not your career path.

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  • Loraine Antrim

    The real message should not be to change your looks when seeking a job, but to change your message. If you can't clearly articulate who you are, what you do and the value you can bring to the employer, you need a message makeover, not a physical one.

    Loraine Antrim, Co-founding Partner
    Core Ideas Communication
    "We Create Smartmouths®"