Be You or Fit In?

Be You or Fit In Blog Image.jpg


Honestly, I’ve been avoiding this topic for a long time simply because I didn’t have an answer. Truth be told, I still don’t, but it came up AGAIN during an interview skills class I was teaching.   Since I know this is on the minds of many non-traditional looking professionals (whatever that is), I wanted to at least address it and perhaps solicit some of your feedback.  Hopefully you will begin to further shape my opinion on the matter.

The topic of personal style choice vs. fitting in to Corporate America has so many facets that I won’t even dare to address them all. But let’s focus on interview appearance and the concept of diversity.

For many years, the teachings on interview attire have been pretty simple. Wear clean, one-level-up attire. Some who are still holding on to pre-modern days are even advising ladies to wear pantyhose and navy blue or black suits (as if that outdated uniform is still available on most retail shelves). So if our clothing has caught up, why hasn’t society lovingly embraced diversity of style when it comes to hair and body art (tattoos)? 

Does the presence of bold, natural styles somehow disqualify an otherwise skilled professional? Do tattoos so blur your view of my skills that you would dismiss an extremely talented worker? Are you holding on to outdated views of what a professional looks like?

Corporations tend to boast about workplace diversity, but truth be told, the moment someone walks into an interview with purple hair and piercings their abilities are silenced by the deafening bias ringing in their ears. Then, the corporate players return to a more simplistic version of diversity (race and gender). But diversity comes in so many forms…it comes in diversity of character, thought, and creativity. And just a heads up, there are many innovation-focused brands out there who will scoop up these amazingly talented people in a heartbeat. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself in very bland company that only caters to customers who look and think like you do.

If I offend your customers by my very existence, do I really want to work for your company and could I ever be an effective ambassador for your brand? These are the questions (not answers) that I will leave you with. I welcome your comments as I’m still in search for the best answer too--do I have to tone down my unique appearance in order to land a position in today’s Corporate America?

If you need help with your interviews and you think your appearance may be a factor in job rejections, click here to schedule a consultation with me.

P.S. And no, you cannot touch my hair!

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at