Do Pretty Girls Get All the Jobs?
Remember when you were in high school, and you'd run crying to your mother about the fact that the pretty girls got all the dates? One of her favorite lines at times like those was, "Don't worry about it, beauty is as beauty does." Well, now that you've graduated, things haven't gotten any better. In this tough economy, it appears that one of the things beauty does is get you a job.
There are even websites dedicated to finding work for the pretty and perky. BeautifulJobSeekers.com, which claims to match up attractive job candidates with physically discerning employers, has a tagline that reads, "More Beauty! More Business!" And SpiritedSales.com is a site that places almost exclusively former cheerleaders. They've recently expanded to work with former athletes and student government officers as well.
According to BeautifulJobSeekers, "Many researches related to the job market have concluded that beautiful people have several advantages over those who are less aesthetically pleasing. For instance, beautiful people are more likely to make a positive impression during a job interview and thus have an increased chance of actually getting hired for a job. And once an attractive person is hired, he or she tends to get a job promotion faster. Also, an attractive person (working, for instance, as a sales representative) tends to generate more business for his or her employer."
In addition the site states, "The current unemployment rate has led to an increased competition on the job market, making it even more important to those looking for employment, to stand out from the crowd. Therefore, the emphasis on beauty, attractiveness and good looks has increased even more."
Many will take comfort in knowing that this site, like many super-attractive people, seems to be more style than substance. There's a window on the homepage where you can rate photos of the job seekers (which is rather tacky), and when I last checked, they only had about 19 job openings listed, in places like Lake Oswego, Ore., and Nampa, Idaho. The majority of these jobs were in sales (eight).
Sales -- especially in pharmaceuticals -- are the main focus of SpiritedSales.com, which was started by a former cheerleader who is also the senior vice president of Varsity Brands, which deals in spirit uniforms, camps and special events. It's considerably more legitimate than BeautifulJobSeekers, claiming that their "candidates are proven leaders and bring with them a strong history of leadership and success. Training becomes a 'sale waiting to happen' when you begin with self motivated, energetic employees."
Although these sites may sound incredibly vain and vacuous, quite a bit of research backs up their claims. According to Dr. Gordon Patzer, author of 'Looks: Why The Matter More Than You Ever Imagined,' "Physical beauty comes with tremendous power, and tremendous benefits. Those who possess it are generally luckier in love, more likely to be popular, and more apt to get better grades in school... Recent studies document that people blessed with good looks earn about 10 percent more than their average-looking colleagues. They are also more likely to get hired and promoted at work."
In his book, Patzer tells of a study in Holland that showed companies with better-looking management consistently billed more hours at higher rates than companies with average-looking management. And, while good-looking executives are more expensive to a company because they have higher salaries, they're worth it, because they increase the bottom line so much.
Moreover, looks discrimination is not unique to management and sales. Anyone who has ever been interviewed has been judged by his or her looks. Research shows that 74 percent of interviewers make hiring decisions within the first four minutes of the interview, based on surface characteristics such as:
So do those of us who aren't strikingly gorgeous even stand a chance of getting ahead in the workplace, or must we resign ourselves to always being surpassed by the better-looking? Workplace commentator Penelope Trunk, author of 'Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success,' advises people to stop complaining about something you can't change, go to the gym to get in the best shape you possibly can, and get plastic surgery if you need it. Short of that, she advises you to at least dye your gray hair and fix your teeth.
While that may sound harsh, those wanting to excel in management, sales and Hollywood might do well to heed her advice. And those of us looking for jobs would be naive to believe that our chances of getting a job are based only on how well we perform. Plastic surgery might not be in order, but doing the best you can with what you've got couldn't hurt. An 'A' for effort can go a long way.
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.