You – Your Appearance – Your Profession – and Your Selection or Rejection

You…Your Appearance…Your Profession…and Your Selection or Rejection


It might look strange but it is a fact that your looks or appearance does affect your career or profession…it does (To an extent) affects the selection or rejection of your candidature. You might argue that it’s the knowledge and experience of the candidate that is important and I agree with you. It is knowledge and experience that is important and that’s the way it should be.

You might have read that in last election Tony Blair spent close to 5 million pounds on his beauty parlor…no his looks and appearance. Similar was the issue raised in USA during the last election when Hillary Clinton’s opponent talked about her cosmetic surgery. It is a well known fact the people who look good get a mileage and they do really well in their career … compare to those who are not that good looking. Yes, exceptions are there.

What does it mean?

When we talk about looks and appearance, what does it mean? It has nothing to do with your skin color, or color of your hairs and eyes. It means how present able you are…your appeal. Nobody is concerned about your height, weight or waist-line but you should look healthy. You should look clean.

The definition or parameters of looks and appearance differs from profession to profession and industry to industry. Like for a sports person, looks or physical features hardly make any difference but for a model, for a front office executive, it is important. In other professions it is an added advantage but it affects. For example in sales it is important to get revenue…to complete the target but good looking people get an advantage of getting an early appointment with the client than not so good looking people.

Then, what about knowledge and experience? It might sound sarcastic but it is true and logical that to know your experience I must get your profile. To know your knowledge, I must interact with you…I must speak to you. But, to look at you…to look at your appearance…I don’t need your permission or I don’t need to interact with you. Who don’t want good looking people in his team? Who don’t love to interact with good looking people? So friends, to an extent we get bias, even before taking an interview, just by looking at the candidate. Good looking people get more opportunities to prove his or her worth than not so good looking person.

A Proof

According to a Survey done by Virgin Management Consultancy in Asia, European Countries, Australia and USA,

1. Attractive people earn more than unattractive people;

2. Looks affect men as much as they do women;

3. Tall men, but not tall women, earn substantially more than their colleagues;

4. Unattractive people, earn substantially less than their colleagues.

The penalty for unattractiveness is around -15% for men and -11% for women. That means, if average male earnings are 60,000 USD Per Annum then an otherwise identical male who is unattractive will earn just 51,000 USD Per Annum, a penalty of 9,000.

Tall people earn more than short people.

This pay gap is 10% for men and 5% for women. Only men benefit from being tall. They earn around 5% more than others.

Women who are obese are penalized earning 5% less, but obese men are not.

The effects are widespread but their importance varies between jobs and type of industry.

The benefits of being tall or the costs of being unattractive are only seen in ‘white-collar’ jobs. For women the penalty for unattractiveness is greatest in clerical/secretarial occupations (-15% penalty).

These results indicate that prejudice may be greater in some jobs than others. Consumer prejudice may be important here making the effects of appearance greater in jobs involving face-to-face contact, especially those that involve selling. Here some aspects of appearance are especially important.

Attractive or tall men in sales jobs earn more than other people (+13% and +25% respectively). For women, being tall is also an asset (+15%).

So, where is your experience, your knowledge and your ability to do your work efficiently?

Your ability to do the job is only one aspect of what’s being assessed during the interview. People are happier and more productive if they like the people they work with. Most of us will spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our friends and loved ones.

So you weren’t offered the job. Take a long, critical look at yourself in the mirror? That’s what the interviewer saw. Did they see untidy hair, dull looking skin, tired eyes. Smile. What do you see? We can’t all have perfect teeth but we can all practice good hygiene. Remember that outfit you wore, was it a good choice? Perhaps the last heavy-handed application of cologne didn’t quite disguise the smell of that cigarette you had just before going in.

Interviewers are as likely to reject you based on what their instincts and senses tell them about you, as on your lack of skills. When you first meet with an employer you must give out the right signals in terms of how you look, behave, speak, and even smell. Having the right skills to do the job is merely the basis for further negotiation. Having the qualities that will impress clients and make you the person that other employees will want to work and socialize with, closes the deal. Prepare for the interview as you would for a new date.

Think Logically

Let me give you one example, how many of us like to get associated with not so good looking person? Will you go for a date, if your partner is not so good looking, probably not and you will look for an excuse to say no? Recently we also had discussion, “If males and females can be good friends or not”… people said that they can be good friends if they are not attracted to each other.

Now, let’s touch on a sensitive subject and try to think a bit logical and practical. Our senses supply us with a constant stream of data about other people. We form a first impression and do so instinctively.

Our ability to assess people quickly and make a judgment means that we can decide whether a stranger is potentially friend or foe. Think about it.

Sure you have the credentials to nab that new job, but do you have the right look to knock them dead at the interview? Too often when looking for a job, we concentrate on getting the resume just right and worrying how we look on paper – when we should be just as concerned with how we look in person. Bearing that in mind, people will judge you on the way you look and carry yourself. The time old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” has never been as out of place as it is within work. People and perspective employer especially will be doing just that. More often than not, your appearance will play a huge part in the way you are perceived and treated.

At interview, it’s only natural that those making decisions about whether or not to employ you should be concerned about whether or not they like you. That will include how you look and how you present yourself.

Concluding Remarks

If you can find out in advance how people within the organization typically dress, you can put together the right look. Try on your interview outfit and think about how accessories, your hair and general physical grooming will contribute to the effect. Work on this as carefully as you worked on your CV.

They also shared their views

Allen Woods Shared his Experience

“A very clever reply. And so true methinks. A tale, during my military service, I did a spell as a recruiter in Manchester in the UK. The job was very prestigious; we went through some two months of training on personnel selection, interviewing techniques and other related skills.

We were told, regularly, not to use “gut feeling” when selecting people. The tests we had were applied without fear or favor to potential recruits. In addition, during interviews, we would apply our own assessment of someone’s capabilities and advise them about the jobs they would be best suited to, some would want to do things that they weren’t capable of given the evidence we had, some would be surprised at the range of jobs available because the evidence we had indicated that they were more capable than they thought they were.

There was no point in applying for the Guards if you turned up looking scruffy; there was not point in applying for REME or the RE if you weren’t bright enough. However, if you were bright enough and you chose both, then your physical appearance mattered because the nature of the work varied enormously. Royal Engineers were and are more physical. There is little point in being 6”7″ and applying to drive a tank, you would have difficulty getting in the things.

From day one, we would tell potential recruits to “smarten themselves up” (incidentally, mothers used to be pleased as punch to have their sons told, in no uncertain terms to get various bits of jewelry as piercing, out of their bodies).

In the case of the military, this may be seen as an extreme example of appearance mattering. But it does and very much so, for the reasons you describe”.

Christie Mason shared her views

“I think that I do have a prejudice about hiring people. I prefer to NOT hire extremely attractive people. Attractive is good; just not extremely attractive.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been extremely attractive. It probably bothered me in high school, but I don’t remember it bothering me since then.

I’m just basically grateful to not have that burden. Think about what it’s like to be extremely attractive. People focusing on your physical aspects and not hearing/seeing you. Focusing your resources on maintaining your physical gifts and realizing there’s always going to be someone younger or more attractive no matter what you do. It’s like the difference between using your resources to buy a car that decreases in value every year v/s making an investment in a financial account that grows in value every year. I like to be around people that grow, instead of depreciating.

I suspect my prejudice comes from 25 years of professional experiences. Many times attractive people are drawn to functions that reward them for being attractive. Those aren’t the type of functions that I usually need to fulfill. I need people that know how to manage themselves, have the maturity to be responsible and committed, and who focus on developing their expertise, not their appearance.

I’ve seen a lot of inappropriate situations develop from the presence of

extremely attractive people. Those situations tend to not be the fault of

the attractive person; their presence just seems to attract the wrong type

of focus. That focus can result in strong temptations towards inappropriate

connections or unethical processes.

I’ve also been thinking about how the interview process is a mutual selection process. If you were being interviewed and you felt your selection was dependent on your looks, would you really want to work there?

As I think about it, there’s a shrinking pool of careers that require attractiveness. There are some successful movie actors that are downright ugly. Tony Robbins isn’t exactly beautiful, but he is tall. TV may be the last bastion for attractive people to find jobs. Reality shows – attractive people, day & evening soap operas – attractive people. Ah, but that’s not quite true. In Donald Trump’s “Apprentice”, “The Donald’s” not attractive (except for that aura of power and money), George seems to be authentically old, Caroline’s improving, but ALL the apprentices are slender & attractive. Just thought of another reality show, “Project Runway” had some attractive and some not so attractive people competing and I’m willing to bet the

winner never thought of himself as one of the “beautiful people.”

Think about CEOs, there is the occasional good looking person, but they’re not the majority. It occurred to me that there are certain racial groups that have a predominance of attractive features, but I don’t see those races overly represented in the Forbes 500. I suspect there’s a level of achievement where your accomplishments provide the aura of attractiveness, not your physical features.

I’m wondering if there’s a difference between being considered attractive v/s sexy. I’m remembering one study that took one side of someone’s face, reversed it, and made a composite of both sides that resulted in a perfectly balanced face. They then included those images with unmanipulated faces and found that the balanced faces were consistently rated more attractive than the unbalanced faces. I also remember another survey that determined the perfect ratios of different facial features and found they were the same ratios found in the faces of babies, or was it 2 year olds? That study always bothered me because it indicated that being sexy meant having the face of child. Can’t figure out where we got stuck on the idea that a child’s face was sexy but if you think of the people rated “Sexiest ….” it seems to be true.

And one more thought. Be careful of these types of surveys, we don’t know how many organizations were surveyed, if all functional areas were included, what industries, how the questions were worded, or if the survey process had a built-in bias. These surveys are fine for getting an article published or to support marketing but probably not valid enough for determining how to live your life”.

Paddy Landau shared her experience

“My father, who used to own a large business, told me a story about his highly competent secretary. He had interviewed a number of people for the position, all of whom were young women, sexily dressed. Except one, who was older, conservatively dressed, and had excellent references. As he was finishing the interview with her, she said, “I suppose you won’t hire me, though, because I’m too old.”

He did hire her, and was always pleased with her performance.

Regarding the study of perfectly balanced faces: This derives from an evolutionary fact that it takes energy to create a well-balanced face. A well-balanced face is indicative of “better genes” (i.e. genes that would predispose the offspring to a higher chance of survival). Although this is no longer relevant in today’s world, our instinctive reactions remain. Of course, we do have the ability, unlike other animals, to overcome our instincts”.

Rosanna Tarsiero also commented

“Though I am not extremely attractive, I am attractive and “taken care of” (in terms of skin care, make-up and clothes) enough for it to be a problem in real life, which also is why I prefer online settings. Online, I can be myself without clients/colleagues/bosses to look at me as if I was purple and with three eyes, JUST because I said something intelligent and I “wasn’t supposed to”. As a woman I met on the net once told me after having read my works, and just after having seen my pictures: “I couldn’t imagine you were beautiful”. Lord knows why.

Even when your focus isn’t on your beauty, THEIRS still is, and they still suppose yours to be as well. Or you have to give your make-up up, as well as your clothes, just because THEY have “the problem”, in terms of stereotyping you (i.e.: cured=stupid).

I think it’s also because in order to succeed you have to depend on yourself, not on people’s judgments. So, if you look at beautiful persons that also are successful (like for example Charlize Teron or Denzel Washington), you’ll find out they thought they were ugly. Therefore, they focused on something else, which in turn made them less dependent on what people’s think of them”.

It’s not easy to be beautiful and not exactly because beauty doesn’t last.


I like to say thanks to Rosanna Tarsiero, Paddy Landau, Christie Mason and Allen Woods for sharing their perspective, experience and point of view. I also like to thank the team of Virgin Management Consultancy for sharing the vital statistics and giving more weight to this article.

Looking forward to your views and comments.