Anyone who has read David’s and my posts knows I am a psychologist and a musician. These two avocations, alone or in combination, tend to create an open minded acceptance of other people, including those often described as “weird.” This being said, although I am more tolerant of weird people than almost anyone I know, I have never liked people who are weird just because they think being weird is cool, de rigueur, avant guard, etc. All too often, however, people with an interest in psychology are weird looking, weird acting, and in general, way too weird for me. When it comes to applying for a job, many candidates appear to believe being perceived as weird will make them stand out from other candidates. I agree with this premise, because they certainly do stand out, but perhaps in ways they did not anticipate. We have had countless people come to job interviews with excellent credentials, but who have, nevertheless, not been hired because they are just too weird! Dressing weirdly, acting weirdly, and asking weird questions will not get someone hired; instead, it will ensure the interview is as short as possible. Take it from me: if you look weird, people will think you’re weird. If that is the impression you are trying to convey, then you have done a fine job! But if you want to work for my company, then check your weird conduct at the door, please!
Given that I worked as a photographer for several years, I’ve seen some creative people who like to express themselves for art’s sake. And, when it is for art’s sake, perhaps that is fine. My photography clients were, however, mostly corporate clients and while I had longer than average hair then (and more of it than today), I knew how to dress the part. This meant wearing a suit to some events, a tuxedo to others (including weddings), all as a way to blend into the scenery. I have observed photographers who want to look different to be noticed, but that never resonated with me. Thus, it is not surprising that my philosophy in the business world is similar. Yet we have had to explain this to a number of prospective employees that “if you do a good job we’ll notice it, but not based on you looking weird.” Showing up for an interview in all black (fingernails and all) may be stylishly goth in some circles, but not many. Showing up in flip flops with a skirt and blouse for an interview – no that doesn’t work either, even if it was a hot day (that was the excuse). And, lastly putting in a white stripe down the middle of your black hair such that you look like a large skunk is not a good look for a budding trial consultant. All of this self expression can create doubt in the client’s mind about one’s ability to get the results that he or she needs. Needlessly creating distractions seems pointless and potentially harmful. Thus, if one wants to be outside the norm, look for the right environment and don’t be surprised that your look isn’t acceptable everywhere.