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Thread: one factor in hiring?

  1. #1
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    one factor in hiring?

    hello all.

    my name is jasmine, by the way, and no, i am not an urban planner--yet. at the moment, i am mostly an enthusiast and an observer, and i amhighly fascinated with urban development. i am a designer (industrial/graphic/architectural) by trade and work in advertising and marketing and commercial art fields.

    anyway, here's my question. as much as the big bosses in all the places that i've worked for don't want to admit it, they do take into consideration the "image" factor. and i am not exaggerating that almost every single one of my co-workers in the advertising and marketing field, as quoted by a friend, looks like they "stepped out of a benetton ad". and it's perfectly understandable, because advertising and marketing is image and brand driven. it's unfair, but hey, it happens. but i've also noticed this in the architecture firms i have collaborated with, the city, and etc...and i'm not the only one who notices this of course. now, i was wondering if this "looks" bias is taken into consideration in the fields of urban planning as well. i'm assuming it does.

    just a curiosity. have a nice day!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    My initial thoughts.

    Welcome to Cyburbia, you have been assimulated into the "Throbbing Brain".

    I think it is taken into consideration, but not to an extent greater than most fields. It's not about image per se, but how does the individual present themselves. Looking "sharp" does not make you "sharp" and in the planning field (especially if face time with the public, appointed and elected officials is part of the job) you have to be mentally sharp and play well with others. Personal appearance is important from the standpoint that first impressions are important, but you can not be successful on look appearance alone. If you are not intelligent and can play well with others, you will quickly be identified as having limited potential in the planning field. Not that there isn't a niche out there somewhere, but you opportunities are limited.

    There's only a handful of glamour boys and girls who visit cyburbia and if you've seen the regulars (me included), we're not made up folks.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I think that being too good looking can actually hurt you, in some cases. My sister is a career bureaucrat. She does not have the face of a supermodel but had a killer bod when she was younger. We were raised by a mom who trained as a tailor, so clothes were always important to us, and my sister always dressed well when she went to work. But in her twenties, she actively made an attempt to downplay "glamour" or "beauty" and dressed in suits that she called her "armour".

    She was so successful at Looking Serious that people almost always mistook her as older than she really was. She is 6 1/2 years older than me and was being mistaken as my "mother" in her twenties, when I was in my mid to late teens -- once by a guy who was flirting with her and generously said "Oh, no, you don't need to sign your daughter in." We were both utterly stunned -- I think it was the first time it happened and she must have been between 20 and 22 years old. Actually, she might have been 19....

    She had a jam up career, and still does -- in spite of taking 5 years off to stay home when she had a child. Yes, she worked long hours and did not hesitate to put in overtime when she was childless and young and had boundless energy. And, yes, she is really smart and really good at her job. But I think her carefully managed image did not hurt her either.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The biggest issue to me is how a person comes across. It isn't looks, but do they present a good image? Neat or sloppy? Articulate or stumbling over their words? Confident or nervous and hesitant? Other appearance issues that might hurt are multiple peircings, tattoes, off hair colors, and other body modifications that may not signal the kind of message that the organization wants to project.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    I would echo Cardinal's comments. I think if you present yourself well, you will have a chance at a job. If you come in looking like you don't care about appearance, employees will probably have second thoughts about hiring you. I don't think that planning is a field where being a Victoria's secret model or a GQ guy will get you the job. I think the exception may be in consulting, where an attractive person may be considered an asset when they try to go out and get work, since you are essentially a salesperson for that firm. With that being said, I think that is the exception, not the rule.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    I think it helps a great deal to "present" well but come on how many total slobs do we know that we work with? Planners by in large are not sharp dressers at least not the ones Ive met.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Nah, I don't think image is an issue, most planners I know kind of look like me.


  8. #8
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    When I hire someone, I do a matrix of skills from the application and resumes before interviewing. That's how I cut from the number of applicants to the number of interviewees. My first items on the matrix relate to the basics, education, number of years' experience, did they jump from job to job (unless entry level), and what kind of experience vs the experience needed for the job. Next is whether they read the job announcement and identified how they do or do not meet the skills required. Finally is "extras." What else to they have that is interesting. So I am pretty well narrowed down to finalists without any judgement on appearance. That being said, a person who does not dress appropriately will usually be placed below a person who does, particularly if the job has commission and community presentation duties. If a person doesn't know how to dress for an interview, they probably won't dress appropriately for a public meeting.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerGirl
    Planners by in large are not sharp dressers at least not the ones Ive met.
    But I just love khaki. It matches everything. Thus, making one a sharp dresser.

    I know an engineer who looks at how clean a person's finger nails are to determine if they are a good canidate and sometimes worth speaking to.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    My observation about one's appearance in the planning profession is it is not really that important (at least in the West), so long as you look professional and more or less normal. You are in the public eye at least part of the time and you don't want to stick out as "different". Don't look like you are a steady customer at the local tattoo and body piercing shop, wear your funky duds on the weekends, and you will be fine.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Trail Nazi

    I know an engineer who looks at how clean a person's finger nails are to determine if they are a good canidate and sometimes worth speaking to.
    I remember hearing that fingernails are one of the first things people judge others by, like within the 1st minute or something.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Trail Nazi
    I know an engineer who looks at how clean a person's finger nails are to determine if they are a good canidate and sometimes worth speaking to.
    Is it the one who just went home to snag a virgin bride?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    The fingernail thing: an officer in the army once told me that the "obsession" with having clean fingernails is one of the test questions to see if you are a good candidate to be an officer.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL
    I remember hearing that fingernails are one of the first things people judge others by, like within the 1st minute or something.

    i have always been told it is shoes. if it is finger nails I'm in trouble as mine are chewed pretty good and the cuticles are bad.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    so are you sort of implying that "prettiness" may hurt someone's chances of being accepted?

    for the most part, it's very refreshing to know that looks aren't that big of a factor in urban planning. at the places i've worked (and currently work in), most people are skinny and dress the latest styles. it's very amusing.

    thanks all for answering my question!

    Quote Originally posted by Repo Man
    I would echo Cardinal's comments. I think if you present yourself well, you will have a chance at a job. If you come in looking like you don't care about appearance, employees will probably have second thoughts about hiring you. I don't think that planning is a field where being a Victoria's secret model or a GQ guy will get you the job. I think the exception may be in consulting, where an attractive person may be considered an asset when they try to go out and get work, since you are essentially a salesperson for that firm. With that being said, I think that is the exception, not the rule.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    i have always been told it is shoes. if it is finger nails I'm in trouble as mine are chewed pretty good and the cuticles are bad.
    Well if you are comfortable with your "metrosexuality" you could always get a manicure... Incidentally, I am going to have my first ever manicure tonight. I have always kept my nails trimmed short and I thought I'd treat myself after getting a bonus last week. I'll let you know what it's like

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    i have always been told it is shoes. if it is finger nails I'm in trouble as mine are chewed pretty good and the cuticles are bad.
    [just kidding] Ah, now we know the Real Reason your job search took so long. [/just kidding]

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jasmine
    so are you sort of implying that "prettiness" may hurt someone's chances of being accepted?
    I think it depends on what you mean by "prettiness" and on how 'pretty' is done. It makes me think of a story I read that a guy had a problem situation with his secretary dressing too provocatively. It was a maketing firm and he called her into his office one day and asked "how much?" (as in "how much for a roll in the hay?") She was all offended and told him it wasn't for sale. He replied "Then stop advertising."

    But, overall, I think that "pretty" is always advantageous. People treat you better when you look pulled together. But there is a difference between that and "sexpot" or "glamourpuss" or GQ. Dressing well doesn't mean dressing to look like a hollywood starlet. I think marketing people and certain other subcultures would do more of the "starlet" thing but career bureaucrats are generally pretty conservative. I mean, the stuff folks wear on the cover of glamourous magazines aren't realistic. You would get arrested for soliciting if you walked down the street in some of it -- and some of those outfits are literally taped on or held together with a zillion safety pins. It is Art and it has little to do with how most people really dress. Only cultures that are neurotically Image-driven would so distort themselves to achieve a Look at any expense....

    Never mind. I forgot how the incinerators at crematoriums are being clogged up by silicone implants. Sigh. America really is that Neurotic. Gag.

    Maybe that is why I hang out in Cyburbia -- folks here aren't half as crazy as "normal".

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    The fingernail thing: an officer in the army once told me that the "obsession" with having clean fingernails is one of the test questions to see if you are a good candidate to be an officer.
    You're joking, right? You wouldn't really believe this?

    (former Army officer, here)


    Quote Originally posted by Repo Man
    I don't think that planning is a field where being a Victoria's secret model or a GQ guy will get you the job. I think the exception may be in consulting, where an attractive person may be considered an asset when they try to go out and get work
    But then how do you explain Chet?

    (or maybe there is a reason I'm not a consultant?)
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    Is it the one who just went home to snag a virgin bride?
    No, this person I had to deal with at my job before the County.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    You're joking, right? You wouldn't really believe this?

    (former Army officer, here)
    He had a couple of degrees in psychology. He sounded pretty credible to me at the time.

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    actually, this message board is quite refreshing compared to the advertising & marketing and MBA boards i usually post in...i might hang out here for quite a while. people seem more "down to earth" and in touch with "reality" (if you want to call it that).

    all the urban planners i've met have some piece of clothing that's made out of hemp (ie: safari hat, wallet, slacks...)...i think it's cute! and you're right...not a lot of seemingly vain folks...unlike my peers who have to have signature clothing and purses and whatnot. quite silly, i think. though as a designer, i do like to dress up. and i have to to keep up with trends, or to create a trend. as much as it is fun, it gets tiring at times. ah well.

    you won't believe how many women at work have boob jobs...and i'm not even in california!

    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    I think it depends on what you mean by "prettiness" and on how 'pretty' is done. It makes me think of a story I read that a guy had a problem situation with his secretary dressing too provocatively. It was a maketing firm and he called her into his office one day and asked "how much?" (as in "how much for a roll in the hay?") She was all offended and told him it wasn't for sale. He replied "Then stop advertising."

    But, overall, I think that "pretty" is always advantageous. People treat you better when you look pulled together. But there is a difference between that and "sexpot" or "glamourpuss" or GQ. Dressing well doesn't mean dressing to look like a hollywood starlet. I think marketing people and certain other subcultures would do more of the "starlet" thing but career bureaucrats are generally pretty conservative. I mean, the stuff folks wear on the cover of glamourous magazines aren't realistic. You would get arrested for soliciting if you walked down the street in some of it -- and some of those outfits are literally taped on or held together with a zillion safety pins. It is Art and it has little to do with how most people really dress. Only cultures that are neurotically Image-driven would so distort themselves to achieve a Look at any expense....

    Never mind. I forgot how the incinerators at crematoriums are being clogged up by silicone implants. Sigh. America really is that Neurotic. Gag.

    Maybe that is why I hang out in Cyburbia -- folks here aren't half as crazy as "normal".

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jasmine
    actually, this message board is quite refreshing compared to the advertising & marketing and MBA boards i usually post in...i might hang out here for quite a while. people seem more "down to earth" and in touch with "reality" (if you want to call it that).

    all the urban planners i've met have some piece of clothing that's made out of hemp (ie: safari hat, wallet, slacks...)...i think it's cute! and you're right...not a lot of seemingly vain folks...unlike my peers who have to have signature clothing and purses and whatnot. quite silly, i think. though as a designer, i do like to dress up. and i have to to keep up with trends, or to create a trend. as much as it is fun, it gets tiring at times. ah well.

    you won't believe how many women at work have boob jobs...and i'm not even in california!
    The mind reflects what goes into it. Planners look at maps and such all day and deal with the public. I have found, much to my delight and shock, that people here actually have SOCIAL SKILLS. *cough, cough* And weird things like that.

    I homeschool and my oldest son is quite a puzzle (ie "mess"). So I have spent a fair amount of time studying how the mind works in practical terms. And I rarely watch TV, etc, these days. Planners talk to actual humans beings -- ordinary people -- and look at maps and the like, not slick magazine covers. Their brains are fed different stuff than "normal". A healthy mental diet makes for a healthy mentality.

    EDIT: Planners have to be in touch with reality. They deal with The Real World. If you are a fruitcake with pie-in-the-sky ideas and no practical streak, the building falls down when you build it, or similar. If you are total nut, it will Show, big time, in public meetings, etc. You either Get A Clue or get out if Reality is too much for you. Or so I think. It takes many very practical skills to build cities -- to do that work that makes it possible to build cities. It is a large-scale undertaking with serious consequences. You can be some drugged up fruitcake and be an Artiste (in movies, music, whatever). You cannot do that and make The Built Environment work. You cannot be so outrageous and get the majority of a community to keep going along with your ideas. Community building requires community backing, of some minimal amount.

    Entrepreneurs are also usually very practical people. You can be impractical and keep drawing a paycheck, up to a point. You cannot be out of touch with reality and keep making money in your own business. If you do not start out as a Realist in business, you learn to become one -- or you fail horribly.
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 30 Mar 2004 at 3:01 AM.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Not to knock the field you're currently in, but I would imagine marketing would both attract image-oriented people and pound into the others the idea that image is extremely important. I think planners are by in large the opposite - trying to be neutral and down to earth to win the trust of various intrest groups.

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