It hurts to be beautiful, according to the age-old cliché. Yeah, right. We live in a culture consumed by image. The plastic surgery industry promotes superficial notions of beauty; reality TV exhorts average people to undergo extreme makeovers; and even the gorgeous A-listers who grace magazine covers have been airbrushed into impossible proportions. Employers are not immune, according to a Newsweek poll, ‘How Much Is Beauty Worth at Work?’ Job seekers have always been advised to dress up for interviews, but the survey suggests that managers look beyond attire and evaluate applicants according to how attractive they are.
The bottom line? It pays to be good-looking. According to the poll, paying attention to your looks isn’t just about vanity, it’s about economic survival. Ugly people are less likely to get hired and promoted and they earn less, even in occupations where appearance has nothing to do with the job. Here are some of the most interesting revelations:
Looks do matter at work
When it comes to getting hired in the first place, 57% of managers believe an unattractive (but qualified) job candidate will have a harder time getting hired. Once hired, looks will continue to affect the way managers rate job performance. 59% of managers advised spending as much time and money “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a CV.
It’s worse for women
Women are faced with a double bind: they are expected to be sexy but can be punished for being too attractive. 61% of the hiring managers surveyed said they believe a woman would benefit from wearing clothing that shows off her figure at work. Meanwhile, 47% of those same managers said they believe some women are penalised for being too good-looking in the office.
Fat people don’t score
Although obesity is a global problem, employers discriminate against fat people. Two thirds of respondents said they believe managers would hesitate before hiring a qualified job candidate who was significantly overweight.
Too old for the job
84% of managers said bosses would hesitate before hiring a qualified job candidate who was older than co-workers.
What to do?
Your best bet is to join ‘em if you can’t beat ‘em and make a concerted and expensive effort to improve your personal appearance. Botox anyone?