When is a Status Symbol a Tool for Success?

People judge on appearances. It would be nice if they did not, but the reality is that they do. That’s why the way your resume looks on the page is an important factor of resume writing. You could have all the facts written accurately and still be rejected because the reader is looking for something you are blind to.

A little while ago, a blog post about the logic of stupid poor people popped up in different areas of the internet. Author Tressie M. Cottom makes some valid points about the reasons someone would spend a lot of money on an item of clothing or an accessory, and it isn’t to feel good – it is to make themselves acceptable and “gain access to a limited set of rewards granted upon group membership.” In many cases, this goal is a job that will improve their lives and the lives of their family. She says it isn’t that poor people are stupid. Rather, it is that they are blind to the nuances in wardrobe selection signalling you fit into the club. To get in, you have to be acceptable to the gatekeeper and, in the case of a job, that gatekeeper is the interviewer.

Ms. Cottom cites instances where jobs were granted based on wardrobe choices. She also has sat in on interviews where a candidate was rejected for attire deemed “unsuitable” for the position. It seems arbitrary to reject someone based on a shirt, but the well-qualified job applicant did not know what the interviewing VP’s idea of “suitable” was.  Just like a resume can have all the right stuff without the best presentation, you can be a good fit for a job and miss the chance to prove it because you didn’t research the unwritten clothing code in that particular workplace.

How do you discover this unwritten clothing code and find out which status symbol might be a good investment? Find out as much as you can about the health care organization and its management. Look at their website and the pictures of their staff. Talk to people who work there. What does management wear? Which labels? What styles? You don’t have to actually spend the money for full price (look for bargains and consignment shops), but your interview outfit should be the best in your wardrobe.

You are trying to figure out the things that will impress. Shallow, maybe, but if a silk tie with your suit or a designer bag will signal you can fit into their club and get that job, it is an investment.

About the author


Erin Kennedy

Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW, BS/HR, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of nine best-selling career books.