“Ugly people should be eligible for disability insurance.”
No one is going to hire you if you look raggedy. As a youth career instructor, I use this statement as a humorous attention-grabber for my students, hoping to shock them into caring more about their professional appearance.
Today’s youth generation often appears to care more about their social image than their professional image. A common challenge for young job-seekers is that they have created more employment barriers for themselves by doing extreme things to their bodies, such as excessive visible tattoos and multiple facial piercings. Just last week, the military implemented a policy that anyone with a tattoo below the elbow or about the neck is automatically disqualified.
Your professional reputation should transcend your social reputation. How can we instill this into high school and college-age youth? How can we emphasis the importance of valuing and projecting a professional image while in a business environment?
The high unemployment rate among the 16-24 age group is indicative of the need for professional development training. Your professional reputation should be protected because it could dictate the quality of your life. It is the means by which you provide for yourself and your family. It is how you eat.
Youths should remember that you are selling a product. The product is you. You must look good on paper by documenting your qualifications, experience and skills, but you must look even better in person by communicating and projecting a professional image. Why invest years earning experience, credentials, certifications or degrees and not invest an equal amount in your appearance? That’s like preparing an amazing four-course meal and delivering it on a garbage can lid. That meal is not going to be attractive to anyone.
Why do companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing and packaging their products? They understand that people will purchase products that are appealing to the eye. The product could be worthless, unhealthy, useless and of very little value, but if the packaging is attractive, it will sell.
I was recently in a grocery store, waiting to finish my purchase when I saw a bag of chips that was new or unfamiliar. I was immediately fixated at how awesome the bag looked. I thought to myself that these chips must be good because the package looked so captivating. They are definitely attempting to get the attention of people with their packaging and it definitely worked on me. I don’t even eat potato chips anymore, but I walked out of the store with those chips. And yes, I paid for it.
When you walk down the aisle at a grocery store and a product catches your eye, it is the packaging that draws your attention regardless of the quality of the product.
We live in a very superficial world. Where you will be judged on how you look and how you speak. Your appearance and your ability to communicate will play a key role in whether you will be accepted in a business environment or in a particular career.
Let’s keep it real. There are people who are in certain positions not because they have earned credentials and experience. Some are there simply because of their appearance. With that said, it is wise for today’s youth generation to make the necessary adjustments to project an appropriate professional image and improve their chances in a very challenging job market.
Deon D. Price is youth life skills coach and writer who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached at Deondprice@yahoo.com or follow him a www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.