It is sad but true: sex appeal advances your career and your average looks keep you back. Well, while it is almost politically incorrect to say that beauty is an advantage at work, research shows that good looks will get you that job, promotion and salary raise.
In these feminism charged times women make it a priority to focus on their achievements and not their looks. They even never discuss the role of beauty at work. “Meritocracies are supposed to champion intelligence, qualifications, and experience. But physical and social attractiveness deliver substantial benefits in all social interaction – making a person more persuasive, able to secure the co-operation of colleagues, attract customers and sell products.” Catherine Hakim, a professor of sociology at the London School of Economics, reveals.
A Tufts University study by psychologists Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambady found a random sample of people could rate the competence, dominance, likeability, maturity and trustworthiness just by examining the facial photographs of CEOs.
A second study by Duke University researchers John Graham, Campbell Harvey and Manju Puri found CEOs are more likely than non-CEOs to be rated as competent looking. The team found that CEOs rated competent just by their appearance tended to have higher incomes.
Other research has shown that individuals tend to find attractive people more intelligent, friendly and competent than less attractive people. A University of British Columbia study found that people identify the personality traits of people who are physically attractive more accurately than others during short encounters.
What do hiring managers consider as beautiful? Of course beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder but generally someone who is tall, young, physically fit, and aesthetically symmetrical qualifies as beautiful.
So where is the problem?
We know for a fact that beauty doesn’t last forever. While men who trade on their looks become more attractive with age, women lose their appeal with age and have to worry about how the changes impact their careers.
Join in the game
We live in a visually-oriented society and there’s no question that looks matter a lot, from the bedroom to the boardroom. There’s nothing illegal about this bias and it is not intentional, experts say that the tendency to favor attractive people is subtle and subconscious. You’d be a fool if you didn’t use your looks to your advantage and make the most of what you’ve got.
Dress up and wear some make up. Having pride in how you look can inspire confidence within yourself which could directly affect your level of success. You’re more likely to conduct yourself in a positive way while feeling positive about yourself.
Keep with trends and fashions. The perfect wardrobe can do wonders for your career. It’s not vain to want to look attractive and it greatly impacts how people perceive you. Do what you can to help your career along while feeling good about your appearance whether it is changing your wardrobe, losing weight or styling your hair.
The ugly side of beauty
Many experts caution against placing too high a value on beauty. While good looks may help get you into the door, it won’t necessarily help you move up, they warn. The image you project plays a key role in how far you rise professionally. For women who are serious about climbing the corporate ladder, dressing provocatively is a definite no-no.
Dressing sexy for work is considered inappropriate for all female employees and women managers who wear sexy clothes to the office are seen as less intelligent and less competent.
So while we place a definite premium on good looks in the workplace, dressing trashy or too sexy can backfire. In fact, women in higher levels of authority should dress more conservatively in order to earn the respect of their peers and subordinates.
A woman who blatantly trades on her sex appeal is penalized because people secretly find it distasteful, and many men especially the ones in power positions are actually jealous of the “beauty power” women possess.
While good looks are certainly an asset, they can only take you so far in your career. So, when you get in the door make yourself indispensable by adding value to yourself through acquiring skills and upgrading your papers.