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Put A Ring On It: Can An Engagement Ring Impact Your Career?

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the official day of love. And if you’re anything like me you probably have a few friends who just got engaged and you are already figuring out how you are going to make to six weddings in three months time. Plus, I recently just watched Lord of the Rings. Basically, rings have been on my mind. Specifically how rings impact women when they go on job interviews. It seems silly. Why should a little accessory impact your potential as a candidate for a job? Well, it shouldn’t but as we know an engagement rings represent a lot more than a necklace or pair of earrings.

Some people view an engagement ring as a sign of stability. Some look at it as a sign that a woman will may drop out of the work force soon to raise a family. Some people think the size of a ring says a whole lot about your lifestyle. However, there seems to be no clear answer about whether a ring can really help you or hurt you in a job interview? A recent survey done by Forbes Woman in collaboration with TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com found that around 29 percent of women said that an engagement ring would improve the woman’s chances of being hired while approximately 21 percent believed that it would be a negative influence on the interview’s results. The balance of 50 percent believed that it would not affect the final result in any manner possible.

Well, that doesn’t help us much so we decided to talk to some women about this tricky topic.

This woman chose to remain anonymous, but she strongly cautions against wearing an attention-grabbing ring in the office. Here is her story:

“In 2008, I received a five-carat diamond engagement ring. It was the talk of the office! I mean, people stopped by to see it. I did not publicize it to my co-workers, simply wore it. I worked at a PR firm that fell on hard times. I was a top executive. Due to client departures, they made a round of lay-offs. I was not on the list initially, but the morning they made the lay-offs, I was added to the list and was laid off (my direct boss told me this later that evening when she called me at home). I do know the CFO had done a Google search on my fiancé. And, during the lay-off, they told me it had nothing to do with my skills, and they knew I’d be just fine – so basically, out of all the employees, I could survive it. I know it didn’t have anything to do with my skills, because I had just gotten a major client interviewed on The Today Show!! And, I heard from numerous clients afterward that they heard I returned to become a ‘lady who lunches.’ So, instead of telling people they laid me off, this PR firm instead told everyone I scored the husband jackpot and retired!!”

Magnet Consulting Co-Founder Sandy Fiaschetti told Levo:

“I was the newly hired People VP at a company, spending time getting to know employees one-on-one. Enter smug young finance guy with apparent chip on shoulder. During our chat when I asked him what he already knew about me, among other crazy things he blurts out– ‘Well, I can see by the size of ring on your hand that your husband does well and despite that and having five kids at home you still think you should work.'”

Kat Griffin, founder of the work fashion site Corporette, told me people will absolutely make snap judgements about your life the minute you put on that ring. She wrote:

“Small ring? She must have married for love. Ginormous ring, particularly on the hand of a coworker who doesn’t seem that invested in the job? Future soccer mom. Women who wear plain bands have a certain cache about them also — I always think that they send a vibe of competence, of ‘I can’t be bothered to wear a diamond ring on a daily basis because I’m too busy Doing Important Work and Not Thinking About Sparky Things.”

HR vet and consultant Kimberly Roden wrote an article on this very subject. She told us “perceptions can absolutely impact a gal’s world.

Wear diamonds and even a wedding ring on an interview, and here’s an example of an interviewer’s possible interpretation or first impression (conducted by a human being who will have subjective thoughts and biased opinions creeping into his or her thoughts) :

  • Diamond engagement ring. “Will probably need time off for the wedding and honeymoon.”
  • Diamond ring with wedding band. “Wonder if there’s a maternity leave in her future or little kids at home?”
  • Gigantic diamond ring with wedding band. “Hubby must earn a good living so she doesn’t need this job. Probably high maintenance who will whine or quit if she can’t have her way.”

People do make snap judgements. But these are pretty horrific tales. Can a ring ever work to your advantage? Or just people knowing you are married in general? According to a recent Dutch study, women who keep their maiden name after they get married are more likely to make more money because they are considered to be more job-focused and professional. Professors at the University of Tilburg looked at the data of 2,400 married women. Three-quarters had taken their husband’s name, 7% had hyphenated last names and the rest kept their maiden names. According to their findings, women who kept their names had higher average education levels, had fewer children, they worked more, and had higher salaries.

Shelby Rice is a personal stylist. She told Levo:

“As a personal stylist for women entrepreneurs and professionals I think engagement/wedding rings, and jewelry for that matter, make women seem more competent and taken seriously. I am not married, nor engaged, but I wear a ring because I think both men AND women respond better. It elevates my status and respect. We live in a society where being in a relationship is respected and being
single is construed as something less desirable.

Considering the human mind makes an assumption about another person within 11 seconds of meeting someone or seeing them enter a room, etc, it is the subtle details that we notice too. Ninety five percent of how we operate is from our subconscious thoughts and beliefs. If you are wearing a ring it presumably means you are lovable, caring, responsible, smart, beautiful, competent, desirable, etc.”

Married Mary Lou Lomibao told Levo:

“I started out as an entrepreneur over a year ago in the wedding industry starting a website business after working as a wedding photographer. Now,
I’m in the point of my career where I meet many entrepreneurs daily including investors and ‘C-Level Executives.’ Since I’m young and a women I
feel like I do have to prove myself more, but interestingly enough I actually think my wedding ring helps me because in a weird way it shows I’m
‘not a kid.’ It also gives a common ground when talking to older men when sometimes they bring up their relationships to relate to their business. Since they see my ring, they see that I would understand which helps with conversation.

Another spin on wearing my ring is I’m so glad I’m married and have one because otherwise I feel like I’d be in a world of men that might hit on me constantly, especially at networking events. It’s sad, but true for women.”

But this attitude of viewing engaged or married women as more serious than single ones is also unfair. Single women can be just as dependable as their married counterparts. They often have less personal obligations. Of course this can also lead to more problems as some employers might just assume single people don’t have lives outside the office or just less important lives.

We wish employers or job recruiters would only concentrate on our merits and skills, but unfortunately sometimes our bling is more attention capturing. It is up to you whether you want to wear a ring or not on a job interview. Hopefully you find a place to work that is more interested in what you can bring to the company than your marital status or finger adornment.

Do you think an engagement or wedding ring impacts perception?

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Topics:

Career Advice Marriage Personal Relationships Interviewing
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Carly Heitlinger
Carly Heitlinger

Great questions to think about. I think it ultimately boils down to doing what works for YOU. At the end of the day, that's really what matters. But opening up the lines of communication and talking about these issues is something we cannot ignore.

I had no idea rings had this kind of response! I think people will judge you no matter what and if you feel more comfortable not wearing a ring, don't wear it. If you're happy with wearing it, wear it! It's a personal choice! :)

Really interesting perspective on a topic I've heard many different opinions on recently. Agree with you Jessica though - haters will be haters and judgers will judge you no matter what. At the end of the day, do what makes you feel comfortable!

This is awesome and insightful, Meredith. I had no idea how nuanced this stuff could get -- then again, I've met women who work in fashion who swore up and down that they'd lose out on business deals if their manicures weren't fresh enough. Meanwhile, I'm convinced a grammatical error would have the same consequences for me.

Great article! I actually read through all of it. It's amazing how people make snap judgments based on a ring. But that is the fact of life and at the end of the day, we have to make it work. I just think if you're being judged in a company based on your ring the it's not the right environment for you. Although I think it's also the same with "power dressing". It's all about making appearances and whether we are able to wield it to our advantage or not.

Alice Timoty
Alice Timoty
Steve Camuti
Steve Camuti

This article also has no representation of the folks who are in a relationship but chose to not display jewelry, not least of which are the folks who chose to stay together, but not marry.


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