‘If you look the part you’ll get the job’: should career professionals help clients to enhance their career image?

I’ve just published a new article in the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling with Julia Yates. The article talks about the role of careers advisers in advising on “career image”.

This article presents a critical exploration of the role of career professionals in supporting people to reflect on and enhance their appearance, attractiveness and self-presentation (career image). The article is conceptual and based on a review of the broader literature on career success, appearance and attractiveness. It explores the evidence for a relationship between attractiveness and career, and the authors propose a conceptual framework in which career image is comprised of three elements (interpersonal skills, aesthetic presentation and beauty). The paper examines a possible role for career professionals in relation to this and then critically examines this role and concludes with the proposition of a research agenda in this area.

The good people at Taylor and Francis have made 50 copies of the article available for free. So if you rush you should be able to download a copy today. Otherwise you’ll either have to pay or wait for a year or so until I put it on UDORA.

Ready! Steady! Go!



  1. Tristram and Julia, this is an excellent paper. Thank you.

    I particularly enjoyed the ethical dilemma for career professionals: Remonstrating social justice on one side, yet acquiescing to the reality of gaining employment and workplace requirements on the other. A truly instructive dilemma.

    My view is that career professional should address image from an insight perspective (i.e., assisting clients to understand that certain workplaces/occupations have aesthetic standards and how he/she does/doesn’t meet those standards) and toward building a motivational momentum to act upon the insight, but the practicalities should be left to professions that are better skilled (e.g., occupational therapy). I’m no oil painting, so I should very well hope that my clients go elsewhere for advice on aesthetics.

  2. I’m afraid I missed the original article but it is a topic that interests me greatly so many thanks for the post and I’m sorry that I discovered it so late.
    Aesthetic looks are not the only way to get employers to like you – and this is really the prime objective of every job seeker. I firmly believe that the best way is to show genuine motivation for the job. “Enthusiasm makes an attractive and convincing salesman” wrote Paul Ivey in his book Successful Salesmanship (Prentice Hall, 1937) and job seekers should consider themselves as the sales rep for Themselves Pty Ltd (or in UK, plc). And, as long as the job seekers have done their research and can envisage themselves being successful in the job, they will also be confident.
    Enthusiasm and confidence effect the way the job seeker stands and walks. Enthusiastic job seekers walk briskly with head up and smiling. They have a firm handshake. This sort of body language is more likely to get the employer to like the job seeker than wearing a more fashionable suit.

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