Contributed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine of SixFigureStart™.
Okay, that question did not come from the Glass Hammer demographic, as it came from a male audience member in a recent panel that focused on Big Career Mistakes. But now that I have your attention, I wanted to highlight a few points to ponder inspired by the above question that do relate to Glass Hammer readers:
When you have the opportunity to get feedback, ask big questions. The panel was for senior executives and featured former recruiters and executive coaches from a variety of backgrounds. This was a golden opportunity for participants to get candid insight into job search and career planning. This participant was clearly torn about whether his moustache was sabotaging his career, but I recommend focusing on the bigger picture items.
Over-emphasis on a small detail can derail your plans. This participant had an interesting background when he finally divulged it. But his first few statements were focused on the facial hair issue – what he heard from others, what his worries were, company policies he knew about… If he instead spent that time and energy on crafting a career strategy and pitch, he would have been further along in generating rapport, facial hair or not. Many jobseekers make this mistake: they fixate on something about them (a career gap, lack of a certain skill, a bad experience) and assume that it permeates the rest of the search, and in doing so, they ensure that it does permeate and derail the rest of their search!
Be willing to take a stand. Facial hair is actually a no-no in certain circles, so this participant is partially right in recognizing it as an issue. But, there are many times when a judgment call needs to be made. In personal matters (e.g., how you look), you need to state your preference and live by it. If you can make a reasonable case, the willingness to take a stand and to stick to your opinion is attractive (to employers and those around you). People who stand by their convictions appear confident. We trust that they are able to make decisions. We want them on our team.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career coach, writer, speaker, Gen Y expert and co-founder of SixFigureStart™, coaches jobseekers using a recruiter’s perspective of what employers really want and how the hiring process really works. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others. Caroline is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs and a life coach