We all know that being really ridiculously good looking is great in the modelling world, but does it work for the rest of us working in other industries?
Human resource recruitment and selection practices are designed to find the best person for the job. Discrimination policies and restitution for breach keep us on the straight and narrow, or so we think. No matter how unbiased we proclaim to be, study after study reveals that we are all influenced by others appearance, particularly if they are good-looking. In the employment world, this can be both positive and negative for those deemed attractive…
“Beauty premium” is an important economic factor in our careers, says Catherine Hakim, author of the book, Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom. And plenty more agree with her. It seems that the more attractive you are, the quicker you will find a job and the faster you will climb the corporate ladder. You will even earn more money than your less attractive co-workers. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Research shows that individuals tend to find attractive people to be more intelligent, friendlier and competent. It appears that the easier you are on the eye, the more persuasive you are. You are deemed to be able to lure more customers and sell more, thus are more productive and able to secure the cooperation of colleagues more effectively. True that good-looks and charm work a treat in the world of sales yet what is also true is that we are more attentive to the personality traits of beautiful people. We hone in on their qualities much faster and even overemphasise the extent of those qualities. For example, Jeff who looks as though he has stepped straight off the catwalk is an organised person. However because of his good-looks, we perceive him to be more organised than he really is.
Employers make a hard and fast judgement about you based on your looks, height, dress and weight. These superficial features are used to form an opinion of you very quickly. So imagine if you enter the interview room as an average looking person, knowing that the very handsome interviewee who came immediately prior to you was already three steps ahead of you in the interviewers mind before they even spoke! Knowing the influence of good-looks on any individual, you would know that you would have to wow your potential employer pretty quickly with your personality, qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience. Again, it doesn’t seem fair!
Beauty however is not always an advantage. Some people can feel threatened by a male or female employee and deliberately overlook them for promotion. There was a case in a large organisation where almost every employee hired was male. It was found that the female HR hiring manager continuously disregarded good-looking, suitably qualified women as she felt threatened by their beauty and the attention they would steal from her. Failing to make it a priority to hire the best person for the job severely crippled the organisation’s ability to advance as quickly as it would have if it had hired the cream of the crop.
Despite a mountain of evidence demonstrating that wittingly or unwittingly our decision making is influenced by a person’s looks, those of us that are less attractive can still influence hiring decisions. We have control over our dress sense, our hygiene and our approachability and confidence levels. Being self-assured is a desirable hiring trait too. If we believe in ourselves, others will naturally believe too.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, however we all tend to conceptualise beauty in much the same way. Yet why we may be inclined to favour the spunky accountant or the gorgeous and delightful branch manager, don’t judge a book by its cover. Take the time to investigate the true qualities and traits of an individual. People will only indulge the excitement of super model looks for a short period before the really important qualities take precedence – qualifications, experience, knowledge and a personality and leadership style suitable to the corporate culture. Remember, at the end of the day your organisation has targets to meet and only the right people will get you there. So make sure you are hiring the right person for the job!