How Our Thoughts About Professionalism Have Shifted Over Time

Photo by Redd on Unsplash

Hiring in the U.S. is changing, and some companies can’t keep up with the times.

Despite the Great Resignation, many organizations haven’t changed their hiring practices in years and years. They expect to use the same application and ask the same interview questions they asked 10, 20, or 30 years ago, without regard to the shifts our culture has made in considering acceptable behavior or appearance for an employee.

  • For example, take a look at this Buzzfeed article that describes one young lady’s experience with a recruiter who felt her personal voicemail message was less-than-professional. He even had the gall to tell her so in a voicemail. Keep in mind that this was for a position in a grocery store, where a warm, bright, upbeat personality is usually considered a plus.
  • This Colorado State University College News article tells us that research indicates applicants with visible tattoos find it harder to find a job and receive lower pay offers and fewer promotion opportunities due to their body art.
  • As you can see from this Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article, companies are all over the board when determining what type of dress is acceptable for employees returning to the office post-pandemic.
  • Black hairstyles are another subject of discrimination, discussed in this Bloomberg Law article. Some employers are rejecting candidates because their hairstyle is not professional in their opinion.

Attitudes towards professionalism in the workplace have evolved. Generational differences in these attitudes make applying a one-size-fits-all approach to the subject more challenging. But with employers scrambling to find employees, especially in service industries, perhaps it’s time to revise our view of professionalism and hire qualified candidates who can do the job without judging them on their appearance.