By Gillian Armour, Certified Image Professional

Part 3 in our series explores the importance of modern and appropriate grooming + beauty

Grooming is simply what we do to take care of our appearance. You may be naturally neat and tidy. For you it’s easy to keep up with a daily routine and neat and tidy feels like the natural order of things. Or neat and tidy may be a stretch for you, something you manage to pull off only occasionally. For you keeping up with a daily routine isn’t a high priority.

The interesting thing about grooming is that almost no one will tell you if you aren’t getting it right. Grooming is so personal there is a taboo about bringing it up. Even the people who are closest to you hesitate to tell you when your breath is bad. Just because people aren’t lining up to tell you, however, doesn’t mean it’s going unnoticed. 

This makes it critical that you take it upon yourself to do the very best job you can of keeping up a daily grooming routine.

No interviewer will be inclined to seriously consider you for a position if they find fault with your grooming. Interviewers are accountable for their decisions and you can be sure no one wants to run the risk of being the person who hired ‘Ed the unshowered.’

The National Association of Colleges and Employers report that 94% of respondents to their Job Outlook Survey 2006 said an applicant’s grooming would have an influence on hiring decisions.

The areas of grooming that need constant attention include: (click links for more info)

§  Nails and cuticles

§  Body odor and fragrance

§  Hair

§  Oral hygiene

§  Makeup

§  Facial hair

Manicures are not just for women! There was a time and place when men could get away with rough cuticles and uneven nails. It was a consequence of living a life that depended upon manual labor. But today, when most work happens if an office, there is no excuse. Every time you shake hands, every time you use your hands to reinforce a point with a gesture, your nails and cuticles are on display. You definitely don’t want to trigger an interviewer’s ick response by having unsightly nails or cuticles.

Manicure no-nos you should avoid include:

§  Nails that are too long

§  Nails that are uneven or rough

§  Nails that are too short, especially nails that are bitten

§  Dark, or non-traditional nail color

§  Rough, dry cuticles

§  Dirty nails or cuticles

Odor and fragrance are especially tricky. We are each somewhat immune to our own personal body odor. It’s not that you can’t smell yourselves, it’s just that you’ll usually be the last one to notice if your body odor starts to get out of hand.

When it comes to fragrance, whether perfume, cologne or aftershave, what smells wonderful to you may be highly unpleasant to the next person, for example, to the interviewer. 

The best approach is to follow the rule of non-invasion. Your personal scent, whether body odor or fragrance, should never invade the personal space of the interviewer. This is a safe and respectful approach to take both for the interview and in the workplace more generally. If you’re ever unsure about whether you’re scent is violating this rule, get a second opinion. Here‘s where having a friend around can come in handy!

Keep body odor in check by bathing or showering daily, using a good deodorant or antiperspirant, and wearing natural fiber clothing next to you body.

Your hair is another one of those areas that requires daily attention. Hair blunders to avoid on the day of your interview include:

§  Greasy or oily hair

§  Dandruff

§  Non-traditional hair color

§  Non-traditional or extreme hair style

§  Hair that is uncombed

§  Hair that is wild and unruly

§  Hair that covers the face, especially the eyes

§  Hair that needs trimming

§  Hair with visible color ‘grow out’ at the roots 

Not only will ‘bad hair’ negatively influence the interviewer, it will also negatively impact your self confidence and your chances of performing at your best.

How you choose to style your hair communicates information about you. A future employer will be looking for someone who can be a good match for their corporate culture. No employer wants to hire a round peg employee for a square whole position. If you’re interviewing in a conservative business sector, your hairstyle will need to acknowledge that reality.

One last thought about hair, the day of your interview is not the right time to try a new cut, new style or new color. You want your stress level to stay as low as possible on the day of your interview. Introducing an element of the new and unknown runs the risk of increasing your stress.

Good oral hygiene is a must. Without a confident smile you will be seriously handicapped. So give yourself every chance at maintaining a healthy smile by practicing good daily oral hygiene. You should:

§  Brush at least twice a day, three times is even better

§  Use mouthwash

§  Floss

§  Have your teeth cleaned regularly

§  Visit a dentist regularly and immediately address any issues

§  Use a teeth whitening system if your teeth are discolored.

You’ll never regret taking good care of your smile. With care and a little luck your teeth can last as good long as you need them.

For women, wearing some makeup will increase your professional presence. Even a small amount of makeup can make a woman look more polished. Makeup works its magic by eliminating distractions that can interfere with successful communication and by focusing attention on the center of communication. Blending uneven skin tones, concealing blemishes and eliminating shine all help to eliminate unnecessary distractions. Using makeup to draw attention to the eyes, define the lips and create a strong brow line focuses attention at the source of communication.

While artfully applied makeup can do great things, poor makeup can hurt your chances of landing the job. Makeup should always be:

§  Appropriate to the workplace

§  Appropriate to your skin type

§  Appropriate to you personal coloring

§  Appropriate to your personality

§  Appropriate to your age

  Anything extreme will generally hurt your chances of getting the job. For example, it’s almost always best to avoid the temptation to wear no makeup. Even if you are young and have gorgeous skin, a small amount of makeup will enhance your appearance. Certainly avoid wearing too much makeup. Also, avoid wearing outdated makeup. Your makeup, like your wardrobe and your hair style, should be current. If you’re doing the same things and using the same products you used five years ago, it’s definitely time for a tune up! Leaf through a fashion magazine or visit your local cosmetic counter for a little inspiration.

Attitudes around facial hair for men have softened in recent years. But if you wear facial hair you should be aware that for some employers it’s still perceived as a negative. According to the National Association of Employers and Colleges, 22% of employers respond negatively to a job applicant with facial hair. If you make the choice to keep your facial hair, do keep it neat and well trimmed.

While you’re looking in the mirror, notice what your eyebrows are doing. Eyebrows should frame the eyes. You have two eyes. Each eye requires its own frame. If, on the other hand, you have eyebrows that grow together or almost together, it’s time to get out the tweezers or wax. No unibrows allowed! If your brows have long or curly hairs that stick up, stick out or hang down, use a pair of small scissors to tame them. 

So now we get to the really personal and embarrassing stuff, all that hair that grows in unexpected places, especially as you get a little older. Men (and women too), all hair that grows in or on your ears or nose has to go! No exceptions. Women, if you have hair on your upper lip or chip, get rid of it! If this is a major issue for you, the new laser hair removal procedures might be a solution worth considering.