I went in for a job interview yesterday and I’ve never been so disappointed in my whole life. I was casually looking through JobStreet to look for a job to keep me preoccupied until med school starts. I just kept submitting my resumes to different companies near home because I didn’t want to get stressed out with the commute, nevermind that the pay might not be up to par as to how much a fresh graduate should be paid — I just wanted to do something to keep me away from boredom. As a psychology graduate, we were taught in our industrial psychology class that of course, everything in our resume must be true and that includes our picture. Of course I had mine taken at a studio and I told them not to remove my birthmark (but just take out the pimple that decided to show up that day 😀 ), and that is the picture I pasted on ALL of my resumes and on all my legal papers.
I learned how to live with my birthmark. I used to be very conscious about it but as I grew up I just stopped minding other people’s stares because I was thinking, so what if I have this on my face? I have such good friends and a boyfriend who didn’t mind (NOT ONE BIT). I’m not trying to make it as a model anyway so why should I care, right? So I went in for that interview armed with a copy of my resume and my transcript of records along with the confidence that I can nail the questions in my best business attire. I didn’t wear any make-up. I just did my eyebrows and swiped on my new found holy grail lip tint and decided to swipe some on my cheeks too for extra color because I was sick that day. No face powder, no BB cream, no foundation, and no concealer because I get cranky when something is caked on my face other than my moisturizer.
I was there sitting in the waiting area with other applicants and it seemed like I was the youngest. I didn’t expect much because I figured they’d much rather hire someone who already has an experience or someone who is a registered psychometrician (I didn’t take the test). I accepted that kind of fate, but I had a ready answer as to why they should hire a fresh graduate like me than someone who has experience. But I didn’t get that question. They didn’t even ask what my strengths are or what I do to cope with stress or what separates me from other applicants or what I learned from my internships. Not a single question about my degree or about how I can see myself as an HR practitioner except for “why did you take psychology?” to which I gave an honest answer to (that I was fascinated with human behavior and what it means).
Then she asked me if the scar on my face was a birthmark. I smiled and said yes. And then the bomb dropped. She asked if I wear make up, and I said no. I said I just use lip tints and do my eyebrows. Using her stance as the HR practitioner partnered with the sentence “I know I’m not pretty“, she said she’s “not trying to say anything” but that she’s just “giving you a tip” — she told me that I should put a concealer on my birthmark so that I would “look formal” because we’re the first people that the applicants see. It’s as if I woke up and decided to go to that interview looking informal. I don’t usually take offense in comments about my birthmark but to use the word formal to soften the blow of her suggestion just feels insulting because these are the definitions of formal (according to Merriam-Webster):
FORMAL (adj.) – belonging to or constituting the form or essence of a thing; relating to or involving the outward form, structure, relationships, or arrangement of elements rather than content; following or according with established form, custom, or rule; done in due or lawful form; characterized by punctilious respect for form; rigidly ceremonious; and having the appearance without the substance.
The ones underlined are the reason why I found her use of the word formal so insulting. Like, you want me to cover up my birthmark so I can follow the norm of the society that no birthmark should be found on one’s face? DO YOU THINK I HAVE A CHOICE??? I. bad wordING. DON’T. I appreciate you trying to say it nicely but no word can ever feel nice when you’re telling someone that the way they look does not conform to your standards.
People NEED jobs. No amount of birthmark or scars or any facial flaw can (and should) hinder them from applying to a company. But thank you for showing me that no GPA can ever be high enough for people to not include your face in the evaluation. I am sorry that my face is not up to par with your standard of “formal”. Should I someday be your physician, I hope my face would be “formal” enough for you by then.