The whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing is always a tough one as we seem to have a natural tendency to do just that. I think it’s partly human nature and partly the way we are bred. When we are children our parents tell us not to talk to strangers in case they are the bad kind of person that will hurt us. How do we determine strangers? Oh yes, based on what they look like; if we don’t recognise them, we should treat them as the enemy. It’s no wonder that we find it hard to shake that approach when we get into adulthood.
Even so, as adults most of us try and overcome our fear of the unknown and at least pretend that we aren’t judging people based on their appearance…except in the workplace. At work it seems to be totally acceptable to judge people based on their appearance. How often do people go for job interviews where the interviewer takes one look at them and decides they haven’t got the job before they’ve even had a chance to speak? We have all sorts of laws in place to protect people from this but I’m not talking about people who are disfigured or disabled in some way, I’m talking about people who just look different to what the boss expected. The girl with the green hair, the guy with the ponytail or even the guy wearing a pink shirt instead of a white shirt. These are the people who dared to be different yet are paying the price, sometimes unknowingly and it seems to be a completely acceptable part of our culture.
Does it really matter if the man who stands in front of you presenting a fantastic business case, dressed immaculately, speaking very articulately has a nose piercing? I would say not. I’d say I’d listen to him more because he looked more individual than some people. I’d also say that he immediately outshines the person who comes in with the average-to-badly-fitting suit without the nose piercing because he’s taken more pride in his appearance, put more thought into how he will be received. But the nose piercing? An extra hole in his nose…it’s getting in the way because that tiny hoop or stud is blocking a lot of people’s view of his talents.
Nowhere does the fear of the unknown seem so great than in the world of business, in this crazy corporate land where people are supposed to conform to some outdated set of ideals. We’ve ended up with 2 camps: the cool kids working for the tech start-ups and media firms who are forced to be more expressive than they feel comfortable with and the old-skool crew working in banking and suchlike who are supposed to speak with a plum in their mouth and wear ultra-shiny shoes. If you don’t fit the mould, you aren’t coming in. Your work ethic and your mindset are completely irrelevant if you don’t look the part because most employers are too scared to shake the tree. They’re too worried that their customers might run away if they employ someone who looks different.
Here’s a novel idea, how about people just employ those who can do the job well? Why don’t we give this engine a jump start, provide exemplary service and learn to deal with those who look different in work as well as outside of work. Surely anyone in their right mind would rather do business with somebody competent who looks a little different than an incompetent oaf with a side parting, black suit and white shirt!?!
This morning I came across an article in the FT which said that teenagers in the UK are aspiring to the wrong jobs. Apparently too many teenagers are aiming for glamorous jobs and too few are aiming for the drudgery of admin and care work. Well… what a shock!!!
Really??? Who decided we needed an article to tell us this? Of course too many teenagers are aspiring to have the “fun” jobs, I’m pretty sure this has always been the way and will continue to be so regardless of how many careers advisors we force them to sit in front of. Who even needs careers advisors? As I remember it, one of my so called ideal matches for a job came out as a florist. A friggin’ florist… I don’t even buy flowers for special occasions, never mind wanting to fondle the blasted things all day, every day!
Apologies for that little tangent I just went off on but realistically, will it make much difference if the careers advice is that young people should look at bog standard jobs and not get too excited about the future? I think not. For many generations, we have managed perfectly well living in our dream worlds as teenagers and then waking up when we realise the only job we can get is night-time secretary or some other such dream-shattering, life-sucking leech of a job. But then we work harder to change it and find something we like just a little bit more. This works!
If careers advice really must increase for these youngsters, stop beating around the bush and asking them what they like and what they are good at and start telling them which roles pay the most, which have flexible working, which allow you to wear jeans in the office, etc. They probably won’t listen but I’d wager the odds are higher than if you try and persuade them that their love of computer games means they’d be amazing at data entry. And that’s what I have to say about that!
Phew! Feeling much better for that rant!!! x
In 2011 an ex-colleague leapt in with both feet and started his own business; nobody knew if or how it would work and as somebody who was involved near the beginning, I certainly had my doubts about some of what he was doing. After not speaking for nearly a year – purely because I didn’t have enough time to work with him and work my full-time job, I’ve caught up with him this week and things are going really well. He’s negotiating big contracts, had an offer to buy the business, (one which I would have taken and then gone travelling for a few years with) and is generally loving what he’s doing.
Now I have just as many business ideas and just as much knowledge about how to get a business off the ground as he does but for some reason, I’m working for somebody else. I’ve just taken my career in a new direction and I’m enjoying my job but I know that I’d be more satisfied if I was doing it for myself. So why don’t I and why does he? Confidence!
The one thing this guy has absolutely oodles of is confidence, he simply can’t fail because it hasn’t even entered his head as an option. The what ifs, buts and maybes which plague me just aren’t there for him and when they do occasionally pop up, he knows exactly how to handle his own objections. He’s happy to take risks because he knows he has the ability to make everything work; I’m reluctant to take risk for fear of failure and that seems to be the key difference between those who do and those who don’t.
So how do I become a person who does? At some point, I think you just have to take the plunge and accept the fact that you might not be entirely successful but make the decision that it’s better to try. I think I’ve gotten halfway there by taking my current job, it’s the first one I’ve taken that I haven’t been 100% sure I could do but I took it because it got me closer to my end goal. Now I need to build on that and maximise every opportunity that comes my way until I reach my end goal of creating the opportunities myself.
Here goes!!! x
I have just read this post about business networking now taking place at the gym and had to share – how many people can you really see getting into this? Have these guys seen the state of most office workers – chain smoking, biscuit eating, boozy fatties most of them!
Sweatworking: Coming to a Gym Near You.
What do you all think??? x
For absolutely ages now I have dreamed of owning my own little boutique, selling unique items from local designers. I’m not going to lie and say I’m course for that yet but I have taken my first baby step. I’ve opened my own eBay shop…and I’ve applied for a business bank account too.
I am super excited and just hoping to break even with the small amount of stock I have bought so far. At the moment it’s all looking good 🙂 I’ve bought a few ex chainstore dresses and bags which are amazing bargains so hopefully lots of people beyond just my family and friends will be interested.
Here’s my store, remember that it’s in its infancy! http://stores.ebay.co.uk/dress-up-doll-shop
Once I’ve made some money then I’ll be able to be a bit more adventurous and hold more stock / venture out into the big wide world to find it. If anyone has any great sources or wants to sell via someone else’s eBay shop, do let me know.
Have also managed to secure myself a Christmas temp role so a bit of the money pressure is off for the next few weeks…phew! Here’s to the future and my dad’s advice of JFDI! Until next time…x