This is the opening line made famous in the TV series, Nip Tuck, whenever a patient would enter the doctor’s office to get plastic surgery. Through the years, it has been very common to see TV shows, such as Extreme Makeover and Dr. 90210, emphasize the importance of good looks and how to change features we don’t like about ourselves.
But how important is beauty really nowadays? In how many spheres of our lives does it interfere? And the ultimate question: can beauty be a determinant factor to get a job? To take it even further, can beauty trump other factors in getting a job? Statistics show that yes, it can. The workplace is ultimately a beauty contest!
Data Doesn’t Lie
According to a Newsweek survey which included both managers and the general public, looks can affect our careers more than we’d like to think. The survey reveals some interesting truths, some of them shocking:
– Good looks are an advantage for both men and women seeking a job. Managers will definitely consider an applicant’s appearance.
– Good looks counted more than which school an applicant graduated from! Managers first value experience, then confidence, then looks, and only then education and a sense of humor!
– Almost 60% of managers encourage candidates to be as equally thorough with their looks as they are when perfecting their resume.
– Being pretty at the workplace has more advantages for women than for men. But a warning to the ladies – if being beautiful can get you ahead at the workplace, that same advantage can also backfire on you.
– Overweight or old people are at a disadvantage. Even though 75% of the American population is overweight, managers still prefer to hire elegant people. And if they’re also young, that’s even better. So even if a candidate is qualified, he can still be passed over for another candidate who is younger and slimmer, though less qualified.
– Even though some managers and the public would agree on a law making it illegal for bosses to hire based on candidates’ looks, many managers still defend that companies should be allowed to hire based on beauty standards.
…How about that?
What is disturbing is that we actually accept these standards. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and to this Newsweek survey, 13% of women and 10% of men say they would indeed consider cosmetic surgery if it would get them the job of their dreams!
In certain countries, it’s fairly common to see job ads asking for people with good presentation and to see CV’s with the candidate’s picture. Studies also show that handsome men earn on average 5% more than less attractive men, and beautiful women earn 4% more than less attractive women
Coincidences? Of course not. You may get a job based on your merit, but if another candidate has all your merit PLUS the looks, do not be fooled – that person will be chosen above you. In fact, that’s why you dress up for job interviews, right? You’re trying to beat the competition.
Let’s face it – our eyes seek beauty. Even Plato said that in Ancient Greece. We are naturally drawn to beauty and harmony; it’s a part of human nature. Even babies tend to stare longer at prettier faces, just as we, adults, stare more at prettier babies. The sooner we accept this part of our human makeup, the better we will be able to deal with the dynamics at play in the workplace.
Read about The Downside of Beauty at the Workplace
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