Handy makeover tips to help you land that job

Woman receiving a makeover
© knape | iStock

Even if we like to think that getting a job is just about having the right skills and experience, it all boils down to giving a good impression – and much of that impression will be conveyed by your appearance. Whether you like it or not, you’ll be sized up within the first few seconds of meeting someone, whether that be an interviewer or a first date. The last thing you want is for a bad haircut or tea-stained teeth to sabotage your chances of getting your dream job!

Studies prove that those who are deemed attractive tend to have better career outcomes and better salaries, and job seekers are feeling increasing pressure to pay attention to their appearance – even to the point of having surgical procedures or Botox to give them that extra polish and air of youthful vigour. While this may seem drastic, Australians are now spending billions of dollars each year on surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures as well as rituals such as spray tans, facials, hair removal and other beauty treatments – for professional reasons as well as personal.

Secretary of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgeons, Dr Russell Knudsen, has said that demand for cosmetic procedures is being driven by baby boomers who want to reverse the ageing process and keep up with their younger colleagues. For better or worse, in today’s competitive job market, looks matter more than ever. 

Put your best look forward when you go for that interview

While it’s not necessary to go under the knife, as a job seeker it is in your interests to put in some effort to project an attractive, professional appearance – because whether you like it or not, it will help you to get a job. Don’t let your monobrow or chipped nail polish distract your interviewer from your fabulous job spiel!

So here’s a list of easy, common sense makeover tips that won’t require an appointment with the surgeon, but that just might help you land that job:

  • One of the best things you can do to give yourself a more youthful look is to moisturise your skin. While that’s a no-brainer for most women, a surprising number of men neglect this important youth-preserving step. It’s not just your face, however – don’t forget your hands either. You don’t want your handshake to feel like sandpaper! Also don’t forget to use lip balm if you’re prone to chapped lips.
  • Nothing says ‘Pick me!’ like a great smile. That means good dental hygiene and care, and it’s worth investing in regular cleanings with the dentist. If your teeth are yellow or stained you might want to consider tooth whitening, either done by a professional or DIY.
  • They say that clothes make the man (or woman) – so having a clean, ironed and professional-looking outfit will go a long way towards creating the polished look you’re after. Choose something classic and tailored but contemporary, in a flattering colour and style (but nothing too ‘out there’), and invest in a few quality pieces. How conservative you go will depend on the job and industry you’re going for, but it’s best to err on the side of caution over something too flamboyant. And of course, avoid anything too tight, short or low-cut.
  • Your outfit extends from head to toe and includes accessories, so that means your shoes need to be clean and polished, and your briefcase or bag should be in good nick. Men should wear dark socks and women need to consider wearing neutral pantyhose or black stockings. Avoid excessive or flashy jewellery or accessories. 
  • Good grooming starts with a good haircut. Ensure that your hair is clean, in good condition (treat those split ends!) and neatly styled, out of your face and eyes. You might even consider getting it professionally styled on the morning of your interview. If your hair is dyed, try to ensure that you’re not long overdue for a touch-up – you don’t want to walk into an interview with a bad case of re-growth. 
  • A little make-up is better than no make-up, but keep it subtle, neutral and natural. A bit of blush or bronzer will help you look rosy and healthy, but avoid the Bozo the Clown look or anything too dark or excessive (eyeshadow, pencilled eyebrows, mascara, foundation). Be especially wary of overly dark fake tan and dark lipstick – these two things have been cited as the biggest turn-offs to employers! 
  • Don’t forget the details and peripherals – because people do notice. Ensure that your nails are clean and in good condition, perhaps manicured, and a bit of waxing, plucking or shaving doesn’t go astray if you’re prone to excessive or wayward hair growth. If you have multiple or unusual piercings, you might want to leave some of them out, just for the day. 
  • This one’s a no-brainer: don’t smell. That, of course, means you should wear deodorant and have freshly brushed teeth, and it might be a good idea to pop a breath mint before you enter the interview (it should go without saying that gum-chewing during an interview is not acceptable!). Don’t, however, wear strong perfume or cologne – it’s a big no-no. 
  • Your beauty preps need to start the night before with a good night’s sleep, because dark circles or bags under your eyes will undermine the energy and enthusiasm you want to convey. You also need to stay away from excessive alcohol or garlic the night before your interview, for obvious reasons.

Creating a professional, polished appearance doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – it’s mostly about taking a bit of care and making a conscious effort, though some financial investment can be necessary for those classic pieces. It’s not about being the best-looking person in the room or doing anything extreme – it’s about giving yourself your best chance by projecting the poised, professional and confident appearance that will win you the job. 

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