Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Are we judging you by your cover?

This weekend, the annual Antwerp book fair starts. There are few events that I enjoy so much as this one. Strolling through thousands of books, checking what is new on the market, screening some of them and in the end walking out with the pleasant outlook of autumn nights with interesting literature.

I can’t help but seeing the resemblance with finding the perfect candidate.
And it all starts with its cover.

Publishers put a lot of effort into designing the perfect cover of a book. They pay attention to the font that they are using, the picture that should give a flavour of its content and the overall look and feel.
After all, in the midst of fierce competition, the cover is what will attract the customer’s attention.

Candidates however, when hunting for a new job, put a lot less effort into designing that perfect cover.

Only last week, I received feedback from a client on an interview she had done. She elaborated on the positive points in the candidate’s experience, question marks that his responses had raised but her main remark was around the fact that he wore jeans to the interview. Did this influence her decision not to continue the process with him? I don’t think so…but it surely wasn’t a great start.

Should you be judged by your cover? By what you wear and how you appear? Perhaps not, but the reality is, of course, that you are judged.
Your attire makes a statement about yourself even before you open your mouth.

Everybody knows by now that you should ‘dress for success’. Multiple articles and blogs have been spent on the subject.
Most of them advise to adjust your appearance to the company culture. Personally I believe that it is ok to have your own personality reflected in your appearance.

Nevertheless…based on years of meeting people in all shapes and forms… here are 3 ground rules that you always need to keep in mind.
  • ·       Designing the perfect cover is more than the clothes you are wearing. It is also about the little details that can spoil or enhance the image that you are picturing. Having to rumble through piles of clutter in your bag to find a pen does not immediately give the impression of being organized.
  • ·       Reflecting your own personality in your dress code may also prove to be a mismatch with the company culture. When my candidate walked in wearing shiny red shoes, I knew that I would never present him in a more traditional environment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because finding the right job is also about finding the right company.
  • ·       Avoid that the interviewer gets to focused on what you are wearing. Focus should be on what you have to say, your appearance should support that, not vice versa. If an interviewer starts wondering how you managed to walk into a room with such high heels, chances are that he or she will be less focused on your story. And you don’t want to be remembered as the male candidate who wore a handbag (yes…real life example).

With these 3 rules, you should be able to use your appearance to give interviewers a flavour of who you are.
But if you need an objective party to assess…let me know and I’ll be happy to help.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Through a personalized and tailor-made approach, Ingenium Executive Search aspires to assist you in attracting the right talent that matches the DNA of your company

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