What's Holding You Back? Got the LOOK?

Photo by Show me one

#6 in the What’s Holding You Back series — designed to help you think about why you are not moving forward in your job search, career, or life.

Through the years, one of the most popular professional goals that I heard from my clients is: “I’d like to go into pharmaceutical sales.” I’ve worked with many people throughout their careers who have been successful pharma sales people. I’ve created my own little quiz to see if a client meets some of the basic qualifications:

  1. Do you have a Bachelor’s Degree? — If yes, you move forward on the list. Pharmaceutical companies favor applicants with a bachelors in something. If that bachelors is in biology or the health care field so much the better.
  2. Do you have sales skills? while not a deal breaker, because some pharmaceutical firms prefer to train sales people in their own methods, most person someone with some sales experience and if possible a winning sales record.
  3. Then the — Do you have the LOOK? If you have ever spent any time in a doctor’s office, you’ve probably seen the pharma reps waiting to meet with someone. The look, professional, well-dressed, usually quite attractive, perhaps a power suit, often dressed in black or gray. Typecast, perhaps. (I also have a quiz for why you might not want to go into pharmaceutical sales.)

Becky Guenthner

Have you Got the LOOK?

Every professional doesn’t need the LOOK in those terms but every one who is serious about getting a new career in this tough economy needs to think through how they look and what factors could be holding them back.

I started using the services of Kasha Salon in 2007. Becky (right) and Nikia both have contributed to my LOOK. Initially, I knew I wanted a headshot to use on my blog, website, social media, etc. but I was not ready to get photographed until I had a new professional hair style. Once I had a new LOOK, I could feel confident in asking Scott Savage to take my photo. Since then, I have used that shot and the newer one multiple times — with confidence.

Job seekers need to think about their LOOK. Are they very young and seeking a position that is usually awarded to someone older? See a stylist and have them suggest a style that makes you look more mature.

For males, sometimes that can be as simple as a haircut. Wearing your high school or even college haircut to a job interview may typecast you as too young and immature. Depending on the occupation, males have the advantage of having a beard to make them look older. For some occupations, who want a clean cut look, this would not be a good option. But if you know that the field would support a beard, then make sure it is well-trimmed for the interview.

On the other hand, some people age more quickly than others and want to look younger. Again, take a look at the hair style. If you are female, are you still wearing the style you wore in your 20’s and you are now 50+? Go and seek out a professional who can help you.

Females also have the advantage of make-up. If you have been adverse to make-up, maybe it is time to give it some thought. Again, a professional can easily advise you. Neutralizing your skin tone can make sun spots and even some wrinkles disappear. The right lip color and a touch of eye shadow can brighten a face and make you look years younger.

When I work with my clients to create their career marketing strategy, some of them bring up issues like age or appearance. They are concerned that they may be left out of the running for a job because of the way they LOOK. Hopefully, this post gives you some ideas of ways to work around appearance issues. Being confident that your appearance is professional goes a long way in helping you feel confident overall in an interview.

Do you have other suggestions that might help a job seeker look the part?


  1. Kim Woodbridge on April 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    You are so right about the LOOK. Sales reps always look professional or put together. Besides not having the personality for it, I could never do it – I can’t get dressed up and frequently have mad scientist hair 😉

    Great article – it’s important for people to realize that they might not be suited for certain endeavors.
    .-= Kim Woodbridge´s last blog ..15 Best Facebook Tutorials (from this site) =-.

  2. Julie Walraven on April 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for visiting, Kim. You are perfect in your profession. Many of us know what roles we don’t fit in but as some people try to move even within their own field, they have to prepare for the interview.

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