Studies have shown that overweight people, and women in particular, often lack confidence when applying for jobs and might miss out as a result. Emma Pocklington looks at how to combat this and secure the job of your dreams.
When it comes to getting a job, being overweight could be having a bigger effect on your confidence than you realise, according to new research from Bowling Green State University.
Tests carried out at the University in Ohio showed that when applicants had face-to-face interviews, those with a body mass index of more than 25 were 27% less likely to secure the position than their slimmer colleagues. When the applicants were interviewed over the phone there was no difference.
Although in some cases it is thought this could be down to bias on part of the interviewers, perceiving those who are overweight as lazy or undisciplined, it is more likely to be that heavier people are lacking in self-confidence. Job seeking experts agree that confidence is key when looking for work, so here are our expert tips for selling yourself.
Know your strengths
“You are applying for and will be shortlisted for jobs you are qualified for, so make sure you can prove it. Prepare some examples of your achievements ready for your application and interview,” says Denise Taylor, career psychologist with Amazing People.
“It’s also worth practising talking about these skills at home. Tell yourself about your brilliant organisational skills or attention to detail, and how organisations will want people with those skills. This will help to build your confidence before the big day”.
Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers, advises job seekers not to fall into the trap of underestimating your own ability, something that she says women often do.
“I have spent many hours meeting and mentoring women in business and every time I come away realising that one of the major things holding them back is confidence. Women just don’t believe in themselves in the same way men do, we look for validation from others before moving forward and doubt that we are good enough to succeed. This needs to change,” she told Marketing Magazine recently.
Make a list of what you are good at. You need to be specific and provide examples – this is no time to be modest. If you are struggling to decide what you’re good at, try asking friends or colleagues, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Look and act the part
“Choose clothes that flatter,” says Denise. “Think about the job you want and make sure the clothes match the job. Overall, make sure you look well groomed.”
Even more important than personal appearance is the way you present yourself when attending an interview. Stand up straight, make eye contact, master a good handshake and smile!
Interview success is not just about what you say, it’s also about how you say it. “Deliver what you say in an interview in a firm and precise manner, but be careful not to confuse confidence with arrogance. Confidence is key,” advises businesswoman and star of BBC One’s The Apprentice, Karren Brady.
To feel more confident, Denise advises you get in the right mind set too, “say things like ‘I’m well prepared and looking forward to the interview’. Your brain will focus on what you say.”
Always be prepared
Find out everything you can about the company and the role. Assess why they are looking to take on a new employee and be the solution to their problem. Knowing as much as you can about the company will show your enthusiasm to work there and it means that you can tailor some prepared answers to questions you expect to be asked.
“You will feel much more comfortable about what’s coming up if you practice,” says Denise. “Say them out loud and put some energy into your voice.”
Doing as much preparation as you can will also enable you to think about relevant questions you want to ask on the day.
Taking a portfolio of your work to show in an interview is not only a great opportunity to really prove what you can do, but also acts as a good talking point if you’re nervous about what to say. Having the work in front of you can work as a prompt to remind you to talk about all the successful projects you’ve worked on and can really impress your interviewers.
Be sure to present your work in a neat, professional way and get it in order before you go into the interview. Attaching web links to your CV is also a great idea, as well as updating your online profiles prior to applying.
Silence your inner critic
Putting yourself down before an interview or thinking that you won’t get the job will be subconsciously reflected in the way you behave. Don’t let yourself be sucked into negative thoughts, if you believe in yourself it will be that much easier to convince someone else of your worth.
Studies have shown that spending a few minutes before an interview thinking about a time when you felt confident and were in control can boost your chances of getting the job by 81%. It might also be useful to remind yourself that employment is a two-way deal, and they need to impress you as much as you need to impress them.