By Mina Radman
Independent Florida Alligator, U. Florida
(UWIRE)—Acne isn't just a preteen worry anymore: It may be the reason someone isn't hired for a job.
People with moderate to severe acne or prominent birthmarks and scars might be discriminated against in the job market, according to a recent study conducted by Rice U. professor Mikki Hebl and U. Houston professor Juan Madera.
Experienced managers rated applicants with clear skin higher than those with scars and blemishes. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that in mock interview settings, interviewers were more likely to be distracted by a job candidate's facial birthmarks and acne and would give that candidate a lower evaluation score than one who didn't have facial blemishes.
Madera and Hebl conducted two studies: One tracked eye activity in undergraduate volunteers and the other featured experienced employers.
The first study found that the undergraduate volunteers couldn't help but keep their eyes on a person's facial blemishes instead of his or her eyes or mouth. The second study found that experienced managers rated applicants with clear skin higher than those with scars and blemishes. The undergraduate volunteers rated their blemished applicants better than the experienced managers did.
Jill Skufe, a career development coordinator at the U. Florida Career Resource Center, said the CRC hasn't had any students ask questions about how acne or facial scars could play a role in their job searches.
She said her advice to students who may be concerned would be to look as presentable as possible.
Women shouldn't go overboard with makeup, Skufe advised, but if they are worried, they should ask someone close to them.
In mock interview settings, interviewers were more likely to be distracted by a job candidate's facial birthmarks and acne.
"Just ask someone you know and trust and can be honest to you," she said.
Katherine Shearouse, a 22-year-old public relations senior at UF, agrees with the study's findings.
"If you're unkempt or have zits all over your face, I think people are put off by it," she said. "It may not be professional, but it happens all the time."
But appearance shouldn't be the only factor, she said.
"If you're completely overqualified and you have a scar, I don't think they're not going to hire you because of that," Shearouse said. "But if they have someone just as qualified as you are, they would rather hire him or her."