A US recruiter has attracted criticism after begging female jobseekers not to put a ring on it, claiming that wearing a large engagement ring to a job interview will make employers think a candidate is high maintenance.
In a now-viral post in Linkedin, executive recruiter Bruce Hurwitz recounted a story in which he told a job candidate to “lose the rock” in interviews to avoid being seen as high maintenance, as this was hurting her job prospects. Hurwitz said that despite a curt response from the woman in question, she phoned weeks later with the news she had taken his advice and was now employed.
The post was slammed by commenters for being “archaic” and “the single most idiotic thing I’ve read on Linkedin”, but Hurwitz insists he was just pointing out the issue.
“I get the impression I am being attacked not for the advice but because it worked,” he said in a statement to media.
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“I will leave it to sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists to explain the reaction,” Hurwitz told SmartCompany. “Employers should focus on candidates that understand the hiring process,” he says.
However, Newcastle Business School Associate Professor Rebecca Mitchell told SmartCompany that the post indicates there is still a large assumption in hiring processes that marital status is important.
“Assertiveness shown by women at work continues to lead to negative assumptions,” she says.
“But I think what’s really going on here is the idea that people assume if you have a ring you’ll have to take time off for the wedding, for personal matters, that sort of thing.”
Other recruiters on Linkedin slammed Hurwitz for the post, claiming they were not helpful to the problems faced by women attempting to enter or returning to the workforce for the first time.
“I like to think we have come a long way in how women are viewed in the work force when it comes to being engaged, married, single or mothers!!!” said one recruiter. Others were keen to highlight that they would not support this kind of advice being given to their clients.
In response, Hurwitz added another post, What Jewelry not to wear in a job interview. In it he expands the discussion to the effect of men wearing Rolex watches and other expensive items to job interviews, claiming that this could equally affect recruiters’ beliefs about a candidate’s wealth or arrogance.
“The idea that an engagement ring, or any item of clothing, would affect the way that someone would view how you’d do the job shows just how far we have still to go,” says Mitchell.
However, Hurwitz told SmartCompany that others agreed with his stance and the problem was not with himself as the messenger but with those hiring for positions in the first place.
“I have been accused of being sexist because I wrote about engagement rings. That is a mischaracterization. I clearly was only referring to LARGE engagement rings,” he said in a statement.
“My advice [for jobseekers] is always to err on the side of conservative.”