An attractive face is a valuable asset for those who make their living in front of a camera. Research at a major business school also showed that it can provide a real advantage to salespeople seeking new accounts. Cornell HR Review, published by the Ivy League university, reports on other studies revealing that looking good can make a big difference in a wide variety of careers. Could the way you look affect your ability to get hired or promoted?
Years of research provide a clear answer: Yes. Despite studies showing that more attractive candidates and employees in most professions have not proved to be more competent and effective than their less eye-catching peers, they are often considered to be better. This can have a real impact on their careers and earnings.
Research by Arizona State University found that attractive salespeople landed more new accounts than their average-looking counterparts. In their study, as sales professionals’ attractiveness rating went down, new business acquisition went down with it.
Intelligent, trusted, talented sales professionals whose looks have faded retained most, but not all, of their established business. But reps with less-attractive faces were at a marked disadvantage in obtaining new accounts.
America’s conversion to a knowledge-based economy has not lessened the power of good looks in hiring across the employment spectrum. Newsweek surveyed 202 junior and senior corporate hiring managers and reported:
Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers told Newsweek that qualified but unattractive candidates are likely to have a harder time landing a job, while more than half advised spending as much time and money on “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a résumé…Asked to rank employment attributes in order of importance, meanwhile, managers placed looks above education.
Research at major universities yields similar findings. Cornell HR Review’s “May the Best (Looking) Man Win: the Unconscious Role of Attractiveness in Employment Decisions” states:
Given the high-stakes nature of job acquisition, many researchers have asked, for example, whether attractive job candidates are more likely to be hired than their peers. Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes…This is true regardless of an applicant’s gender and whether the evaluating participants are college students or actual personnel professionals.
Performance Reviews and Promotions
In 1972 psychology research uncovered The Halo Effect. Researchers showed people photos of individuals who had previously been classified as attractive, moderately attractive or unattractive. They asked study participants to write down their impressions of each one. This and follow-up studies uncovered the same phenomenon: Based only on looking at their faces, participants rated attractive people significantly higher in intelligence, talent, competence, happiness, helpfulness, persuasiveness and trustworthiness.
“We make these judgments without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process.” – Renowned influence expert Dr. Robert Cialdini
It is no surprise, then, Cornell HR Review’s research summary found that:
Attractive employees receive more favorable job performance evaluations than their co-workers. And, in conjunction with higher evaluations, attractive employees are also more likely to be selected for management training and promoted to managerial positions.
It bears mentioning that most of the research that revealed the substantial advantages enjoyed by attractive employees was done using photographs of head shots, showing only a person’s face. However, additional studies found that women with lower body-mass indexes attain to more prestigious positions, while taller men earn more over their careers. We should also note that attractive women enjoyed an advantage unless they were competing for traditionally masculine jobs. In those situations, good-looking women were at a disadvantage.
Consider the following: over his career, a good-looking man will make some $250,000 more than his least-attractive counterpart, according to economist Daniel Hamermesh. – Newsweek
However, the real disadvantage went to those rated low in attractiveness. They were unfairly appraised as having far more undesirable traits than those whose looks were considered average.
Good looks, especially facial attractiveness, can give one a real advantage in the job market and throughout their career. Appealing salespeople consistently sell more new business. Other professionals find that they are rated more highly and gain more promotions than colleagues who perform as well –simply because of their looks. This preference for good-looking people is not a conscious bias, but an unconscious inclination that appears to be hard-wired into the human brain.
Experienced facial plastic surgeons have non-surgical as well as surgical solutions that can give their patients an attractive new look at an affordable price. Why not take advantage of the free consultation most offer and see what an expert in your area can recommend. It’s true that there will be a price tag attached to improving your looks. But if you’re concerned about your career, what might ignoring this issue cost you?
“Beauty and the sales commission: Looks can boost performance” – ASU W.P. Carey School of Business newsletter
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