Hiring Gets Hairy

May 1, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A typical hiring manager's nightmare job candidate would be dressed in "non-traditional attire", sport pointed purple hair, and have nose rings and lip studs and a few tattoos.

That’s the picture emerging from a recent survey of hiring managers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers for its Job Outlook 2002 report.

While few applicants are likely to show up in an outfit more appropriate for MTV than Wall Street, those seeking work could run into a snag even if they only have one or two of the non-traditional appearance attributes, according to the study.

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Appearance No-No’s

An overwhelming 92% of the company officials admitted that their hiring decision can be swayed by the candidates overall appearance. Specifically, in the study:

  • 82% admitted being turned off by “non-traditional” clothing
  • 73% are turned off by “unusual” hair color. Respondents particularly mentioned that they didn’t care for purple-colored locks
  • 72% won’t put up with body piercing such as nose rings and lip studs
  • 69% object to “obvious” tattoos
  • 64% won’t give a thumbs up to candidates sporting “unusual” hairstyles” – particularly a pointed hairdo

But don’t get the idea hiring managers will only bring on those with short unpointed hair wearing traditional dark suits.

More than eight in ten of the hiring managers said they wouldn’t toss out a bearded applicant while 90% said mustaches were OK with them. 

They survey covered 457 employers who hire college students.