As women, we spend a lot of time thinking about our looks. It's only natural. One thing I miss about working outside the home is dressing up. Even though my last job had a casual dress code, I still took pride in wearing cute clothes, wearing make-up, having cute hair, you know. Now-a-days, I'm lucky (or should I say, my husband is lucky) if I look any different than how I did when I first wake up. So sad. I honestly always thought I'd be better than that.
But seriously, when most days of the week you're just at home working by your lonesome with only your cat as a companion, looking cute doesn't serve any purpose whatsoever. I may feel better about myself when I look in the mirror from time to time, but it has nothing to do with my work performance.
On the other hand, looking good while in the workplace totally serves a purpose ... all kinds of purposes. Let's start with the job interview. Would you hire someone who looked like me in the mornings? Uh, no you would not. On the job, have you thought about how your looks affect how seriously you're taken by your peers? Like the girls vs. the guys? How about your male boss? Your female boss?
Being attractive always seems to help in the workplace, whatever the situation may be. This is kind a weird topic, hard to talk about, I know. But it's worth bringing up because whether we like to admit it or not, beauty totally affects our jobs, our careers.
There's even a term for it that economists call "the beauty premium," which states that good-looking people get paid better, get more attention from bosses and teachers, move up the ladder faster, etc. What's scary is that during this economic challenge that we're in with so much more competition for jobs, looks aren't just important, they're CRITICAL. And that's according to Newsweek.
I was reading this article in there, "The Beauty Advantage," and quite honestly it made me secretly happy I was a work-at-home working girl where beauty is something I don't have to think too hard about anymore. (Although, I really should try harder ...)
So in this article, Newsweek did this little study where they spoke with hiring managers about how an interviewee's looks affected the hiring process. Get this: 61 percent of managers who happened to be mostly men said it would "be an advantage for a woman to wear clothing showing off her figure" during an interview. OK, wow. It kind of makes me bristle hearing this all officially and everything, but isn't this something we already know in our heart of hearts?
When I was interviewing for my first job out of college, I met with a dude who was one level above the role I was applying for who I technically wouldn't be reporting to, but who I'd be working vey closely with, and I have to say, I looked pretty good that day :) And this guy! He could not look me in the eyes the entire interview. He fumbled around with his questions and kept mumbling. He didn't look like the shy type, but I just think he was caught off guard when he saw me and then it was just all downhill from there. I was hired, and not that he was 100% responsible for that decision, but if this guy could not look at me and could not pay proper attention to me or ask me any coherent questions, how was he supposed to have given a positive recommendation of me to the HR person? Obvisoulsy he based his recommendation on something other than my resume, my looks maybe?
Boy, this makes me sound stuck-up. I'm not, promise. Any of you have stories like this to share?
Also, another interesting thing. A former co-worker of mine, and one of the most observant people I know, pointed this out to me over lunch one day. On our PR team, we were divided into four sub-teams, with one manager overseeing each one. I was on one of the sub-teams, my friend was on another. So one day, she's like, "Have you ever noticed how different our teams are? Like, you can tell Randy* really let our managers hire whoever they wanted to."
And then she proceeded to point out how each manager hired a very specific type of person, mostly based on looks. It was beyond odd. My manager, for example, she said was a guy who clearly liked petite women, that he was a "body guy." Hm, me and the other girl on my team were eerily the same size. Her manager, she said, was careful about hiring females who looked just like her, cute, but not cuter than her, and a little on the curvier side, but not skinnier than her, strong personalities, but not stronger than hers. I thought about their team of four, woa ... bizarrely true. The third manager she described as not attractive in any way, and look at his team. He obviously does not care for looks, but they were all nice as could be. I know, ouch. And the fourth manager, she was kind of a quirky, eclectic girl, and she hired a similarly unique, edgy team. It was soo nuts when looked at that way, but a major eye-opener, too. Looks play a huge role at work, and we may not even be aware of it!
So ladies, I know I didn't really tell you anything new today. But it's just something to think about. Is there anything we can do about it? My opinion is be your best self, inside and out. Ultimately, I think it's your personality and worth ethic that will shine through, but I do think your looks will play a key role in presenting you the opportunity to do so.
*name has been changed.