Friday, July 23, 2010

Appearance Can Make a Difference

There is an increasing amount of research data supporting the claim that, compared to others, physically attractive people have a better chance of getting hired—and often at a higher salary.

Various online sources cited the Journal of Labor Economics data stating that attractive workers earn nine percent more per hour compared to plain-looking (below-average-looking) workers. This potential workplace bias raises the question of whether job seekers have any protection against discrimination based on physical appearance—similar to laws that protect against race, sex, age, and disability discrimination. There aren’t many laws regarding this type of discrimination with the exception of the few listed here:

  • Michigan bans employment discrimination based on height or weight
  • Washington D.C. outlaws employment discrimination based on personal appearance
  • Santa Cruz, California, bans discrimination based on height, weight, or physical characteristics
  • San Francisco, California, has a law making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on weight and height

The fact is, there really isn’t much recourse for someone who, when looking for a job, feels they have been discriminated against based on physical appearance.

For those job seekers who may not be viewed as above average in physical appearance, there is an upside. The priority of most hiring managers is to fill open positions with competent people who have the skills and experience necessary to perform the job. Additionally, hiring managers consider other attributes like attire, handshake, voice, and body language when establishing an impression of a potential job candidate. The best overall strategy for any job seeker, whether physically attractive or not, is to project confidence; showcase interpersonal skills; and articulate depth of experience, knowledge, and skills.

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