Almost 7 in 10 Job Applicants Feel Discriminated Against Because of Appearance

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  • New data reveals that a large number of job applicants feel they weren't hired due to their looks.
  • While it's important to show up for a job interview looking professional, your appearance should not be the deciding factor in hiring you.

The U.S. labor market is loaded with jobs these days, despite news of layoffs. And so if you've been thinking about getting a new job, now's a decent time to be looking.

A new job could do a lot of good things for you. First of all, if you're struggling with credit card debt or are having a hard time keeping up with your bills, a new job could mean a higher salary. And a boosted income could work wonders for your finances, allowing you to get ahead of your expenses and even build some savings.

But you might face certain challenges when applying for a new job. For one thing, you're probably not the only person looking, so you might have stiff competition. However, if you make a point to produce a solid resume and brush up on your interviewing skills, you might boost your chances of getting hired.

You might, however, also want to consider a makeover. Well, not really. But if you think your appearance won't play a role in your ability to get hired, you may, unfortunately, be incorrect.

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When looks factor into the hiring process

In a recent survey by Zety, 69% of respondents believe they’ve been discriminated against during the recruitment process because of their appearance. Not only is that unfortunate, but it's generally illegal.

Employers cannot discriminate against job candidates based on factors such as age, gender, and race. And appearance ties directly into these factors.

But what's to stop an employer from passing on you when you have solid skills only to give a job to someone they consider more attractive? Unfortunately, not much, since it can be very hard to prove that employers are violating the law in the hiring process.

Let's say you're overweight and an employer decides not to hire you because of that. Unless they're stupid enough to come out and say that, which they probably aren't, they can easily make an excuse for not giving you the job, such as they found someone with more appropriate skills or they felt your personality wouldn't mesh well with others on the team.

What to do if you feel you've been denied a job because of looks

You can always try to consult an employment lawyer if you feel you've been discriminated against because of your appearance during the hiring process. But you should know that proving your case may be very hard.

It's one thing to argue that an employee is being discriminated against in the workplace due to factors like age, race, or gender, because at that point, it's possible to establish and document a pattern. But when your only interaction with a potential employer is a 30-minute interview, it's harder to prove you didn't get hired because of how you look.

That said, one thing a prospective employer might hold against you is if you show up to an interview not looking professionally dressed. If you're applying to work at a corporate office and you arrive at your job interview wearing jeans, you might come across as someone who isn't taking the opportunity seriously. So your best bet is to make a point to put on an interview suit, or something comparable, so your clothing doesn't spell the difference between getting a job offer or not.

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