The Wrong Watch and Other Random Reasons You're Not Getting a Job

discriminationIt's not right to discriminate against you on any of the big things, like race, religion and gender. But we all know discrimination exists, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. Unfortunately, discrimination doesn't stop with the most common biggies (race, sex, age, etc.). Here are some minor, weird things that also might also hurt you during a job interview:

Your watch.

The rules of "watch-wearing" all depend on the location, the industry and the company. Wear an expensive watch to an interview for a minimum-wage job and you may be perceived as over-qualified. Wear a cheap watch to an interview for an executive job, and well ... (Note: This also applies to shoes). You may even fall victim to watch discrimination if you don't wear any watch at all. A watch on your wrist shouts "punctuality" to a lot of HR professionals; not wearing one suggests the opposite. (Sorry, electronic devices just don't pull the same weight.)

Your handshake.

Try doing the "dead fish handshake" and see how far you get. Limp is "out" in the handshaking world. And shaking too hard is just ridiculous. (Find out what your handshake says about you.)

Your voice.

Too soft-spoken? Better learn how to speak clearly so you can be heard the first time. Otherwise it may appear as though you are ashamed or have something to hide. (Learn what your voice says about you.)

Your eye contact.

If you don't look at your interviewers, they might assume you are hiding something. Have good eye contact -- or instead of listening to you, they'll be wondering what crime you recently committed. (Do you know what your body language says about you?)

Your past salary.

Make too much? Too little? Any way you roll it, you lose, because they're going to wonder why you weren't making more, or why on earth someone would pay you that much.

Your length of time unemployed.

This is a tough one. Unfortunately, if you have been unemployed for "too long," they'll wonder what is wrong with you, and how come you couldn't land a gig sooner. (Read an open letter to recruiters)

Your hair.

Go in with that big, wild hairdo and that may be all the interviewer remembers. Don't let your extreme hairstyle outweigh your positive characteristics. This also goes for tattoos, piercings, etc. (Don't miss how your hair plays a part in your career.)

Because you smoke.

Walk into the interview room, and the interviewer who's a non-smoker will smell it right away (plus, bad breath isn't going to win anyone over). There's also the "joke" that if you want more breaks you should start smoking -- since smokers take their breaks whenever they want. (Read about the hospital that declared they would only hire non-smokers starting February 2010.)

Because you have bad credit.

Yeah, HR sometimes finds out your credit history. A bad one will have them thinking, "If you can't take care of your own finances, how can you take care of the responsibilities we give you?" (Learn how to get a job with bad credit.)

Can you fight back?

There may be ways to get around job discrimination, although you won't completely avoid it. For example, you can easily find attorneys online who specialize in discrimination lawsuits. But as a job seeker you have some distinct problems (like, how to pay for an attorney). And you'll likely need to have documentation or some kind of compelling evidence that there was in fact discrimination. Typically, job seekers just don't have time to pursue this in court.

You can tell your friends and other job seekers about your experience, which might lead to a small boycott; but you might find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit (for libel or slander). And a small boycott will likely not change anything.

You can try and get some buzz going on Twitter and other such sites, but there is no guarantee you'll make a difference.

The most important thing to do about discrimination is to know how to react when you discover it. If you are asked an illegal question in an interview, how do you respond -- with a joke, or with assertiveness? Advice on the proper response is across the board, but I'll leave you with one thought: Encountering discrimination early on in the interview process, and realizing you probably don't want to work at this company, is invaluable compared to working for someone who has discrimination issues.

What advice do you have for those who face discrimination in the job search?

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I'm glad some of you think so highly of yourselves. I was out of work because I left a job for a new "supposedly" more promising job. After I got there, I realized how disorganized they were. The job was newly created and I worked for 2 executives. Within 3 months both executives were promoted but no one took their old jobs. The new jobs the executives went to already had someone in my position already there. I got laid off. I tried for almost 1-1/2 years to get a job. I sent over 300 resumes out. I am college-educated and have a lot of experience but did stay home for 5 years with my 4 children. I resent those hiring managers who look down upon those who have been out of work for more than 6 months. I applied to many jobs that I was more than qualified for but I was beginning to believe I was being discriminated against because of my age. Many people my age in their 40's were having similar problems. I am not bad looking, look younger than my age, dress professionally ... did everything the article says and then some. "Judge not lest you be judged." I just hope some of you replying don't have to deal with constant company downsizing like many of us have had to deal with for 20 years!

June 22 2010 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You know I read an article like this and I wonder just how much more the average American is going to take. We've lost our jobs due to corporate greed and lost our homes to the same thing. We've watched the perpetrators of this get rewarded with million dollar bonusus and walk away free. We've watched our own credit be destroyed because of the loss of jobs and then been told we cant get hired cause our credit is bad. We are so overtaxed we can't breathe and still they want to pile more on top of us and then as the cherry on the sundae of all this we read an article like this. We are told some incompetant boob is holding our life in the balance and evaluating us on b.s. and not skills. No wonder blondie with the blue eyes gets the job. The only good thing I can say about that is that finally these companies will get what they deserve. How much more I wonder will we take before we decide enough and its time to start throwing some tea in the harbor again, or even better read the next article that says you are not getting hired because you are wearing the wrong watch. Had enough yet folks? I'm just about there too. Mr. and Ms. Average American are just about at the breaking point I'd say.

June 16 2010 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is this stupid article day on Aol? Or perhaps just stupid H.R. day? The problem is these are the people that are hiring. They don't care what your skills are, they don't care what your experience is, they care what shoes you have on and what kind of watch you are wearing. Wonderful! What a great way to evaluate someone's skills. No wonder blondie boy gets the job. This article is wrong on so many levels but most of all its very depressing to think that these are the people who hold other peoples lives in their hands. People who are so stupid and shallow that this is how they evaluate people. No wonder its hopeless.

June 16 2010 at 9:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Emily Harris

I wear the watch I wear because it is the only one I have. It works and it's attractive so what is the problem? It is neither cheap or expensive. I wear what I wear to interviews because that is the best I can do. It is impossible to find affordable business clothes in plus sizes for women. I make some of my own clothes and they are just as well made if not better than most manufatured clothes. My brain works just as well as a skinny person's brain does and that skinny person is not necessarily healthier than I am. I am very healthy, having in my whole life (55) only taken less than 2 weeks total of sick days, between college, grad school and jobs. I'm honest, highly educated and give all I have to a job, I'm not there to be ogled. Let's all learn to look at the Real Person, not the clothes, watch, hair, makeup, address, etc. Work is work and entertainment is entertainment, social occasions are social occasions, let's all learn the differences. I've been turned down on jobs because of my car, clothes, age, where I lived, for having kids, all kinds of stupid things.

March 27 2010 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On one job interview I was asked what kind of animal I would be if I were an animal. I said I would have to be an animal that could read--perhaps a human? I got the job.

March 12 2010 at 4:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Am I reading the same article as the rest of you?

I'm not seeing that the small details are more important than the qualifications. I'm seeing that these details can make or break you in regards to competing against otherwise equally qualified applicants.

I seriously doubt that someone looks at a person's watch and thinks, "No, not him." But, I do believe that someone might look at a person's watch and think, "I have that same kind of watch. He and I like the same things. I like him."

This is a really bad time to be unemployed. There is so much competition, literally anything can be the deciding factor. There are so many people out of work right now that there is, not "is likely" but IS someone out there more qualified than you.

Employers can, therefore, afford to be "picky." They can decide that the 25-year old fresh out of college is going to accept a lower pay rate because the 40-year old has a better grasp on how much his contribution to the company is worth. They can decide that the lady with the long hair is flighty and might look for other work before needing to be downsized. They can take a chance that the married man with the simple suit who didn't ask any questions about the company doesn't know that a merger is planned for next year and therefore will choose not to move with the company across country.

These are good points in the article. And, they are worth thinking about. I don't think that they are worth hinging your hopes and dreams on. But, they do merit mention.


March 04 2010 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds like you couldn't care less if hard working people who got screwed were living in the street, skankified bitch!

February 18 2010 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thats BS just don't wear a watch -

February 17 2010 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Avoid 'Head Hunters' if possible, especially the ones that practice age discrimination. Somewhere in the interview they will ask: 'what year did you graduate high school' or college. It's time to walk out or hang up when that occurs because the job requirement is obviously based, not on ones qualifications, but on age. Employers give instructions to the 'head hunter' about the required age range who then 'shops' for that person. At this point qualifications don't matter, so why waste time. Terminate the interview. You'll be glad you did.

February 17 2010 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been out of work for about a yeer now and havent had to much luck finding a job. no body wants to pay me waht im worth. minimum wage doesnt cut it and i cant live on less than 20 and hour. if obama want to get this country back on track he needs to make more jobs so we all can work and survive. to many people out of work and not able to live.

February 17 2010 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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