I conducted a social experiment at a two-day career fair.
Why? I like to test behavioral responses and new ideas. It’s something like a hobby.
On the first day of the career fair, I wore a bright red suit.
The suit was fabulous, fiery, loud, and proud (but still professional).
It gave me some serious career fair swag ;).
On the second day, I wore an ultra-conservative business casual ensemble.
It was a not-so-special outfit that’d pass most office dress codes.
On the first day, I landed no additional interviews.
So, was it me or the suit? I had to find out.
That was quickly answered by day two.
There was a huge shift in how I was treated by recruiters and peers.
I had the same resume and pitch, just different clothing.
Day two’s plain outfit landed me multiple interviews.
Also, lots and lots of business cards from professionals at the event.
Phew! I felt relieved but conflicted.
It turns out the red suit was a major turn off for several of the engineering, consulting, and finance companies I spoke to, even though I had the skills and experience they required.
Are skilled candidates immediately dismissed because, on the surface, they don’t appear to fit the company’s culture?
Diversity > monoculture.
I’ll be keeping my red suit.