Thanks to Jessica Bennett and Newsweek for blowing the lid on what we’ve all long suspected about looks: looking good will get you made and paid better than looking not so good.
Newsweek conducted a nationwide survey of 202 corporate hiring managers and 964 members of the public to come up with its findings. In the private spaces of dressing rooms and my studio, where I’ve been dressing and advising men and women about their image for more than twenty years, my clients have shared their dreams, hopes, and fears. The collective conscience of all that they have shared over this time seems concurrent with the survey findings.
Of course, nothing packs a punch more than quantitative numbers:
57% of managers believe a qualified but unattractive job candidate will have a harder time getting hired
63% of managers said being attractive is beneficial to men looking for work; 72% said the same of women
59% of hiring managers advised spending as much time and money “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a resume.
66% of business managers believe some managers would hesitate before hiring a qualified job candidate who was significantly overweight.
84% of managers said they believe some bosses would hesitate before hiring a qualified job candidate who looked much older than his or her co-workers.
46% of the public favors outlawing discrimination in hiring based on looks, while 64% of hiring managers believe companies should be allowed to hire people based on looks.
The survey, the magazine, and the author of its several articles have taken a bleak peak into the conscience of our cosmetic culture. I am sure that many readers groaned through the reading as the author ground into their minds how plastic surgery like “boob jobs, tummy tucks, and outpatient procedures” are so cheap they can even be done “on your lunch break.” Surely she’s just reporting the trends, but this is nothing new or noteworthy. If she had a point at all it must have been to tell the readers that people will do anything to stay youthful and good looking.
What is clear is that the survey results begin to address the white elephant in the room. I’ve talked about this recently with NBC Bay Area’s Vicky Nguyen: people don’t see your credentials when they’re talking to you; they don’t see your resume. Not many people really want to acknowledge the truth publicly, because you’d be accused of being vain or of being an image consultant! At least one of these choices has redeeming qualities.
We put a premium on looking good and having good-looking toys and property. Our bathrooms are stocked with lotions and potions, tonics and vitamins, and colognes and perfumes. We have bought into every bottled-up fantasy we can plaster on and swallow, hoping to remain good looking and young, as if graying and aging is like death itself.
That sounds about as despairing and hopeless as the survey. That’s because the main Newsweek article only barely touches on what most of my practice is about: exuding confidence through building a strong personal brand and looking good. Hiring managers consider experience as the most important quality they look for, followed by confidence. Third is attractiveness. Given the insecurity many people feel about whether they are good looking – including youthfulness and being in shape – this clearly affects confidence.
What the survey and the article are not making perfectly clear is that confidence and attractiveness are so closely linked. It’s not enough to be attractive just to be attractive. If that were the case, the world would be full of “The Price is Right” models.
The point is to be attractive in order to be confident, secure, and authentic.
If you walk into an interview and nail it because you have the experience, confidence, are attractive, and it all shows on, through and around you, you are much more likely to get that job and earn more money.
I’ve been saying this for at least a decade, and it didn’t take a survey to prove that I was right. Now maybe more people will believe me and get the help they need and deserve to be more successful.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.