Nearly everyone understands by the time they’re adolescents that appearances matter. You see beauty and sexuality emphasized consistently in ads, movies, television shows, and social media. Dating services portray people on their sites as attractive and eager to meet you. Anti-aging products are hocked to women by twenty-something-year-old models with no spots or wrinkles. Viagra ads suggest to men if they take the pill they’ll be able to bed a gorgeous woman, just like the one in the commercial. We’re barraged with messages that reinforce the notion looks trump substance.
The pressure to be attractive extends to your professional life as well. But, landing a job you’re qualified for or getting the promotion you’ve earned shouldn’t depend on the size of your waistline or the prominence of your nose. After all, you don’t comb your hair with a fork or require a formal introduction to dental floss! However, growing evidence supports the theory that looks play a significant role in your career development and income. Therefore, it’s imperative to learn why a physical attractiveness stereotype crushes opportunities for most people.
Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?
Let’s say you’re in the market for a new job. You get your resume reviewed and edited by a professional and eagerly apply for several positions. This, along with a snazzy cover letter ought to secure you a few interviews. Beauty isn’t a consideration at this point, right? Alas, most companies have been using ‘social screening’ for years to evaluate applicants. It’s a process where hiring managers use your social media accounts to determine if you’re a viable candidate. And unless you have picture-free profiles, your appearance is part of the package. According to a recent poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder, sixty percent of employers surveyed used social networking platforms for hiring purposes. Maybe this is old news to you. No biggie.
Well, there is an abundance of research that emphasize the advantages of being good looking. In a field experiment conducted by the University of Buenos Aires, researchers found that resumes submitted with photos of attractive applicants were 36 percent more likely to be given a callback. If that’s not discouraging enough, studies by economist Daniel S. Hamermesh found that beautiful people are often offered higher salaries. In fact, Hamermesh wrote a fascinating, yet disturbing book on the topic, Beauty Pays. In it, he explains how companies can justify and afford to pay a premium for attractive employees.
Eyes Without A Face
Obviously, hiring based on a person’s looks is wrong. The practice squanders human resources and reinforces stereotypes. We can only wonder how often brilliant applicants are passed over for eye-catching mediocrity. You also have to wonder how it affects office morale. How can we reduce this type of discrimination?
Both businesses and governments have shown increasing interest in implementing blind or anonymous processes to review applicants. This means more companies are attempting to reduce cues for conscious or unconscious bias in hopes of hiring more women and minorities. It stands to reason this approach will also benefit older and less attractive prospects as well. Current trends and strategies used include:
Omitting name, gender, and photos from resumes
Offering online questionnaires
Conducting telephone interviews
Positioning a candidate behind a screen during an interview
Eliminating social screening from the hiring process