A few years ago, a short, skinny man who graduated first in his class at Yale could have easily been passed over by a Fortune 500 company because, well, he didn’t look like he played team sports in college. Today, the nerds have their revenge as they pull down huge salaries from tech firms and in some cases become social savants.
In some professions, looks are everything – think modeling or acting. But even if you’re in an industry where you spend all day designing handbags, your physical appearance could affect whether you’ll be hired and receive a promotion.
Appearances and first impressions do count, especially during a job interview or when asking the boss for a raise.
While many first impressions are based on stereotypes, some academic studies have identified a few tantalizing connections between physical appearance and career advancement.
It’s supposedly easier for women to land a first job, especially a well-paying one, if they’re brunette rather than blonde, according to one study.
College-educated blonde women tend to enter the job market with significantly lower wages than their brunette counterparts, according to 2010 research from the Australian School of Business. The research analyzed analyzing U.S. data.
One potential explanation is that blondes still suffer from long-held stereotypes associating their hair color with being “dumb” and that brunettes are taken more seriously, the research suggested. This is similar to the so-called vocal fry, which can affect the job prospects of young women who are perceived as less competent and less hirable than those without so-called creaky voices.
Wearing glasses to an interview might also help your chances of being hired whether you’re male or female, according to a U.K. survey in 2011 by the College of Optometrists. It found that a third of adults think people who wear glasses look more professional, while 43 percent think they appear smarter.
It’s not a surprise that organizations want to hire smart staff workers, but the notion that intelligent people wear glasses is a stereotype that just hasn’t gone away, Cary Cooper, a psychology professor at Lancaster University told The Daily Mail. He also said it’s possible some individuals project more confidence when they’re wearing glasses – which in turn could improve how they’re perceived.
While brunettes had it easier right out of college, blonde women have better chances of being promoted. One reason, according to Geni Dechter, a researcher who conducted the study, is that blonde female workers might be inspired to work harder, thus leading to more promotions than their brunette counterparts.
More recent research has also found that men with wider faces are better at negotiating than men with narrower faces. In a study from the University of California, Riverside’s School of Business Administration, those with wider faces negotiated a signing bonus of nearly $2,200 more.
Being tall also helps in negotiating higher salaries. More precisely, every inch may be worth about $789 more per year, according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. This may be because tall people could have a greater sense of self-esteem and confidence.
“The process of literally ‘looking down on others’ may cause one to be more confident,” Timothy Judge, psychologist at the University of Florida and one of the authors of the study told the American Psychological Association. “Similarly, having others ‘look up to us’ may instill in tall people more self-confidence.”
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