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Friday, April 07, 2006
It's Been Proven - Life Is Not Fair
A study published last year called “Why Beauty Matters” found that beauty or physical attractiveness in job candidates has an influencing effect on hiring managers and on the pay scale. The study found that there were three ways that physical attractiveness raised the employers’ estimate of a job candidate’s ability to do the job. First, it was found that physically attractive job candidates had more confidence in their own abilities. That confidence contributed to the two other ways beauty influences the job seeking process. The confidence of attractive people gave the employers a better impression of the person through the way they spoke and the way they answered questions. Third, physical attractiveness had an internal influence on hiring managers because they automatically believed beautiful job candidates were above average simply because of their appearance – an inherent stereotype influence.

I don’t think the fact that beautiful people win out more in the job process is that much of a surprise to anyone. Nor do I think the findings that physically attractive people are able to command more money is a big surprise. What I found surprising was the finding that beautiful people are more confident and it is the confidence that causes part of the influence.

Of course, I’ve always known that confidence in the job search has measurable influence on the results of the job search. Job seekers who are looking for new employment while still employed usually find a new job faster than job seekers who are already unemployed. I call it the desperation factor; those still employed aren’t desperate and it comes out in their demeanor in employer contact. Job seekers who also have a strong resume in which they are confident enjoy better success. Not only does a great resume do its job in marketing the candidate, it also imbues the candidate with more confidence.

The beauty factor is something that is a have or have-not type of advantage. It is important though for those who are not natural knock-outs to pay keen attention to their appearance in the interview process. Telephone interviewing is also a key skill for job seekers to have. The study showed that telephone interviews results conducted in the study were also skewed toward the more attractive candidates even though the interviewers could not see the job candidates. The reason behind this was the confidence that came through the voices of the job candidates.

There are very few job seekers who interview well by telephone. Part of the problem is most job seekers don’t look at the telephone interview as a “real” interview. It is a real interview and if it isn’t passed, a more traditional interview is never reached. Interviewing via the telephone is more common than face-to-face interviewing because it saves time and money for the employer. Knowing how to interview well over the telephone and be able to project that confidence is crucial.

The study found something else I thought was interesting. While the physically attractive people did not perform any better on the skills tests that were given to all the candidates, they rated themselves as having higher skills. They thought they could perform better than the others.

This entire study was brought to life for me yesterday while sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room at lunchtime. At midday, all the pharmaceutical representatives start making their rounds and there were four in the waiting room at once yesterday. All were what I would term “beautiful people”. One in particular caught my attention. It was a young woman approximately 25 years old; blond, very thin, very expensively dressed and she had a huge solitaire diamond pendant around her neck. She came in hurriedly with a cell phone pressed to her ear. She asked the receptionist which doctor was in and seemed perturbed that only one physician in the practice was available that day. With cell phone still pressed to her ear, she asked the receptionist “Well, can you at least give him this and have him sign it? I have to turn it in to show that I was here.” She sat down across from me and continued to have a conversation with her cell phone caller about her love life while the receptionist went to obtain the signature. All the other drug reps were quietly sitting and fiddling with their PDAs or reading, but this little gem was absorbed in describing how she just wasn’t sure if she should dump her boyfriend or not.

I was sitting there thinking “She obviously wasn’t selected for her aggressive sales abilities or her sharp mind. It must be her _____.” (you can fill in the blank) I bet if you looked at her track record, though, she had doctors eating out of her hand – and she never had to work at it.

I was happy to see this study. Now there is proof positive that life just isn’t fair.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 /


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