First impression thoughts and opinions are an unsightly reality of the society we live in.  I’m writing this post because I believe it’s relevant for women to remain continually aware of how much they can and cannot control.

I follow a fun blog called Corporette that’s geared to women in the corporate world and it has decent fashion ideas and advice.  Recently, there was a post called Diamond Rings and the Working Girl.  The article was about what size diamond ring is appropriate to wear in an office and what about wearing diamonds on a job interview?

I posted the article on my Facebook page with a comment, "Regarding wearing diamonds to an interview: DON’T. I don’t recommend any rings. Strand of pearls or necklace, a watch if you wear one and that’s it.”

I received well over 50 comments and most of the comments were from intelligent women who vehemently disagreed with my comment. The women were saying they wouldn’t work or interview with a company that made hiring decisions based on what type of jewelry they wore or what their marital or financial status might be.  And that companies should do a better job of educating hiring managers.

They were missing the mark.  I was not referring to unethical companies, untrained hiring managers or even jewelry – it’s deeper than that.

Perception is reality so why not make the first impression of you be your real power:  your experience, your accomplishments, what you know and how good you are! Control the focus of the interviewer so that it stays on YOU without distractions. Wear diamonds and even a wedding ring on an interview, and here’s an example of an interviewer’s possible interpretation or first impression (conducted by a human being who will have subjective thoughts and biased opinions creeping into his or her thoughts) :

  • Diamond engagement ring.  “Will probably need time off for the wedding and honeymoon.”
  • Diamond ring with wedding band.  “Wonder if there’s a maternity leave in her future or little kids at home?”
  • Gigantic diamond ring with wedding band.  “Hubby must earn a good living so she doesn’t need this job.  Probably high maintenance who will whine or quit if she can’t have her way.”

This is not about shifting company culture or its leadership, it’s not about training our leaders to make employment decisions solely based on skills and experience, it’s not about whether you work for a family-friendly company, and it’s not about hiding who you are or being disingenuous.  This is my point:

“You have the power to outsmart and control what society has created in human nature by circumventing unfair judgments that others may make about your lifestyle or character.”

Put this particular gender issue behind you by taking control. Don’t bellyache about wanting to be judged solely on your skills and abilities and then leave yourself wide open for a critique that can be 100% off base.  If your personal life (married? children?) is none of your interviewer’s business then keep it that way during the interview.

Is this fair?  Of course not. Is this real? Yes. Will you ever know about it? Nope. Get the job on your own merit, keep the focus on YOU and wear your bling after you’re hired.

I hope that you’ve realized this isn’t about jewelry or big boobs or surrendering. It’s about successfully and positively controlling how you are perceived by others.

Bring it.  I'd love your thoughts.

Views: 5404

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 31, 2011 at 3:41pm

Good points Kim.  In my opinion women more so than men are the own worst enemies.  No only in first impressions.  Yes i had a lady CPA go to an interview the day after Halloween with playboy bunnies on her fingernails.  When i mentioned to her that the fellow who interviewed her freaked about it, her comment was, "I spent so much money having my nails done for a party yesterday i didn't want to take it off, surely he knew it was the day after Halloween."  Uh yes he did know that but what if you had been working for his firm (which you won't be) and had to meet with a client the day after Halloween.

 

Women scream to the heavens in righteous wrath about being judged on their abilities but as you point out, noone can get to the abilities if you roll in there for the interview in four inch heels, a short skirt and an animal print jacket with a rock on your hand.  I don't care if the whole costume cost 5K.

 

The attitude seems to be, "By God i don't care what impression you get, you better take me seriously no matter how i present.  If anybody thinks we are being funny when we say Halloween is over about the way ladies show up for interviews just ask anybody who has interviewed more than five women.  There will be a shocker in there some way or the other.  Spanx should be banned in Boston and everyplace else.  Leggins are trendy and jewelry is clunky this year but not for iterviews.

 

I would be delighted to get down to the subtle nuances of ring or no ring. 

Comment by Margaret Ryan on March 31, 2011 at 3:57pm

Thanks Kimberly,

Placing your focus on what you can control is key to your success and happiness thereafter the rest is out of your control so why focus on that at all........

My toss on this subject is - show up, do what you want, say what you want and be at one with the consequences - though living a life free of judgment would be nice too

 

Comment by Kimberly Roden on March 31, 2011 at 4:18pm

I just need to say that ALL of you on this site rock!  You're REAL and I appreciate authenticity even when it's tough to admit.  

All of you have made so many great points and I wish I could mention them all.  I'm just glad that you get it!  

Sandra... you mirrored my points exactly.  If you want to be judged on only your skills and abilities, eliminate everything else that you can be judged on.  We're human and we're not going to send Snookie to a hiring manager, period.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 31, 2011 at 4:19pm
I always tell ladies to dress for an interview as they would if they were going to meet with their banker to get a loan.  If you look threadbare or not put together she thinks you can't pay it back.  If you look over dressed and bejeweled you obviously don't need it so what are you doing there, go sell the rock.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 1, 2011 at 1:34am
Morgan you are a dirty old man. But if you run across any Chipendales who like older women please pass on my contact information. :)
Comment by Monika Kubickova on April 1, 2011 at 5:00am
Kimberly, provoking and totally true. Despite the fact we want to have meritocracy at workplace, we cannot change those first 7 seconds in which people make the first impression. When 93% , of how you are judged within those 7 seconds, is based on non-verbal data, appearance and body language, we have not much space to correct it with our words. I would not accept it when I was younger but I learned that there are things that are impossible to change, built deeply in human characteristics, so I take them as given to have a chance to make further and deeper impact with those 7 seconds on my side.
Comment by Monika Kubickova on April 1, 2011 at 5:16am
Kimberly, thanks, I totally agree. Despite the fact that we cherish meritocracy at the workplace, we cannot overcome the human nature and those 7 seconds when the first impression is made based from 93% on non-verbal data, appearance and body language. We can only try to make it work for us and leave us the space to make further impact with those 7 seconds on our side :-)
Comment by Kimberly Roden on April 1, 2011 at 2:34pm
Gotta love this! Morgan, this is human nature to think what you commented whether you were being funny or not! I actually had a manager once come to me and tell me that he wanted me to speak with his assistant because whenever he went to her desk (which was frequently) he was distracted by her choice of blouses relative to her robust décolletage. Let's face it -- men are men and women are women. Yes, her blouses were inappropriate for this particular professional (and stuffy!) environment; however, in her mind she felt feminine and attractive while he had trouble avoiding "elevator eye" syndrome. Her attire was great for weekends or when she was rotating around the pole (just kidding!) but not for work. Most of us know this as being common sense but as I'm sure you can easily point out from your own experiences, it's NOT.

Again, my sincere thanks for your candid responses -- especially from the women who have recognized that I was not trying to hold us back. Simply addressing the issue of first impressions and human perception which applies to both genders. I enjoy learning from these comments too because when it comes to working with people, there are always new issues coming up.

I wish I could copy and paste all of your comments & put them on my blog site for some of the "haters"... lol.
Comment by LInda on April 1, 2011 at 3:20pm

Wow! This is one of the most unprofessional posts and articles that I have read for a long time.

I had been referrring your site to my students for an example of professionalism and discussions about ethics, but that seems to come to an end with your tasteless display and pictorial images.

Are you trying to equate a married or engaged woman with that?  Get real, if you posted this article in your place of work, this would be an immediate cause for employees to refer you to HR for seperation.  If you can't tell, I am offended. You need to go back to class.

Comment by Kimberly Roden on April 1, 2011 at 3:39pm

Hello Linda and thank you for your comment. I'm not sure what you teach; however, this is real life and there is nothing wrong with students understanding how perception = reality and how they may not get a job based on their choice of attire, body piercings or ink, etc.  

In fact, your post has a lot to do with this post -- making a judgment call.  Whoever said this post was about ethics?  The purpose of the image in the post is an example of REAL LIFE thinking whether you're willing to admit it or not.  

Thank you again and I wish you a wonderful and self-righteous day.

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