« What’s the best way to get geographically dispersed workers to drink the company Kool-Aid? | Main | Welcome to Training Day »

July 31, 2006

Why Attractive People Get Paid More and What You Can Do About It

By Catherine Kaputa

It’s pretty disconcerting to find out that the workplace is a beauty contest—but that’s what a new study by a Harvard and Wesleyan economist proves. (Maybe a lot of us suspected it wasn’t just about hard work!)

The economists set up a mock labor market with employers and job seekers. Some employers only considered the resumes. Others saw a resume and photograph or a resume and a telephone interview. Others received resume, a telephone interview and a photograph. The last group had a resume, telephone interview and an in-person interview.

The findings were startling. Of course, those with good looks were no better at performing the "job" in the research than less attractive people.  And when employers saw only the resumes of job applicants looks had no effect on their evaluation.

But in all the other cases, the beauty premium kicked in.  Employers showed a bias for good-looking candidates and predicted they would be more productive (and paid more). The researchers determined that 15 to 20 percent of the beauty premium comes from self confidence, while 40 percent each comes from oral and visual communications skill.

Good looks have what social scientists call the halo effect. Because someone is attractive, we assign many other positive attributes to him or her that have nothing to do with looks. So how can you level the playing field if you are not one of the beautiful people? Here are five tips from my new book, U R a Brand, How Smart People Brand Themselves for Business Success.

1. Package yourself. Clothes won’t make a difference in how well you do your job, yet they will have a significant effect on how you are perceived on the job. Clothes are a quick read and one of the easiest ways to communicate a message about who you are.

2. Emphasize an unusual or different feature. Having different looks can be very effective in building a powerful and attractive image. Think how Barbra Streisand, Andy Warhol, and Arnold Schwarzenegger all dramatized their usual looks, features or shape.

3. Have a trademark. Larry King has his suspenders; Steve Jobs has his jeans. And Bono has his tinted wraparound glasses.

4. Focus on “soft power.” Soft power uses things such as your values, style and point of view to attract others to you. One thing to think about is executive presence. How do you enter a room? Do you stand tall and walk purposefully? Or do you slouch and look distracted?

5. Hone your oral communications skills. The ability to sell yourself and your ideas—to communicate to another person, whether it is your boss, employee or mate—is a critical skill for personal success. And how you say something is as important as what you say.

After all, you’ve got 80 percent of the beauty premium licked if you create a dynamic oral and visual communication style.

CksCatherine Kaputa is a brand strategist, business coach and workshop leader. She is the author of U R a BRAND! How Smart People Brand Themselves for Business Success (www.urabrand.com). Kaputa is founder of SelfBrand, a brand and media consultancy that works with companies, products, and individuals (www.selfbrand.com).


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Why Attractive People Get Paid More and What You Can Do About It:


margery weinstein

Superficiality appears (no pun intended) to be a specialty of the human species. Kind of surprising, given our much-touted brain power advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom, that those with the shiniest coats and best set of fangs usually win out.

But, there's a flip side to the beauty "advantage," at least when it comes to women in the workplace.

It's like a car or a washing machine that looks too good to be true--it's so pretty nobody can believe it's also functional with a working motor and capacity inside.

The office is an environment that stresses labor, sobriety and discomfort, despite the best efforts of the "work-life balance" movement, so an overly pretty, delicate face is out of place and can be an unintentional distraction, though not in the way you might expect. Sexual advances and inquiries kept nicely in check by dint of law, those blessed with superficial virtue find themselves running abreast of something feminists don't address--the damage other women sometimes do to each other through embarrassingly petty competition, from both bitter managers who resent a fresh, young, pleasing face that also happens to have a good brain behind it, as well as from peers who see the little beauty (they may have more apt terms for her) as a potential rival.

Actually, it's all the worse for Miss. America if she's smart. Somehow it's easier to forgive the beauty if the brain is also lacking.

All said and done, it's great to look good. Better than looking bad, of course, but it's an attribute that comes with consequences--not all of them pretty.

Sherry Williams

I think is is all about who you are within? It isn't about what you are able to do. If you put your mind to being a hardworker, and not so much on how I look. Your job will come out a little more easier.

Nike Shox

How cool and pretty it seems! It is my fortune to heard of the valuable things from your blog.I am always interested in the so pretty and fashion things about the clothes and sports shoes.So hope to exchange with you after the nervous work.
by Nike Shox

Coach handbags

Great blog article about this topic, I have been lately in your blog once or twice now. I just wanted to say hi and show my thanks for the information provided.

 Supra Shoes

Enter your blog feel good, have a very clear picture, I like it very much.by Supra Shoes

Nike Air Max

I am entirely attracted by the good stuff.Happy to sharing the great blog with you.Good luck to you.

Small Business Answering service

Thanks for such a great blog to share with,very nice information.I enjoyed reading it and I think other readers might enjoy reading it as well.I'm looking forward to read more on your site.

Air Rift

Studying your surprising blog, I notice it is of the particular insights and best suited suggestions.Believe I will acquire what exactly I would like from your trusty ideas.Greatest wishes for you!

Air Jordan Shoes

Impressive post. My colleagues and I were just discussing this the other day. Also your page looks great on my old blackberry. Now thats uncommon. Nice work.

Air max 90

We have got examined tons from other means most laptop accomplish,and consequently my spouse and i are hey so that it will using of which almost any bloghandlers correct which will last similarly to while poor quality,even if email are actually it's, my partner and i like start reading your amazing web publication,so this particular article think perfect in addition to may possibly realize some thing young,and then approach consideration any web-site as


Passion gives life power and juice and meaning. Great post. It's comfortable to read your blog. Can we, how prove the existence the significance. It seems not dazzled. Cartier Watch



Bought this for my husband as a Christmas present. I ended up giving it to him early because he had a very important business trip, and I wanted him to look his

best. He absolutely loved it! He loves the large face, and the weight of the watch. It looks so classy

and sophisticated. It added the perfect frosting on my already gorgeous husband!

Supra shoes

I have got understand competencies at fashion of the information when,in addition , method am greetings on the way to account that many lots of blogusers obtain the peek similar to that of as being crappy,web page mail usually are holidaymakers, i the same as taken a look at the particular web page,and consequently authored certainly exciting and furthermore , might study a bit new,as well as most secure context that notebook mainly because

gucci heritage large boston bag

this part of blog "The measure, opposed by private lenders and critics of an expanding federal government, was included in a package of proposed changes to an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system." was very interesting, thank you!

buy viagra

this theme pisses me off a lot, why some companies practice this unfair unfair stuff now days ? and why we let them do that ?

Buy Viagra

That is hard to think, but it is a reality that attractive people sometimes have many other possibilities to grow up into a company,also I think it's unfair to other people who work so hard to reach their goals.

Buy Viagra

Excellent article but I think it's better that companies should look for the ability of workers and not for the beauty.

nike free run

For men's Nike Free Run shoes, the "D" width is Nike Free 3.0 usually the same thing as a Nike Free 5.0 regular or medium width. However if you Nike Free 7.0 are talking about women's shoes, the "D" width is usually considered a wide width, while a "B" width would be the women's medium or regular width.

yiwu agent

I really appreciate the effort you have given to this post. I am looking forward for your next post. I found this informative and interesting blog. I just hope you could make another post related to this. This is definitely worth reading.

horse race betting

I certainly enjoyed the way you explore your experience and
knowledge of the subject! Keep up on it. Thanks for sharing the info

olive oil packaging

It's politics and showbizzes. Simple as that.

helicopter tours hawaii

Brilliant idea for a simple project! Keep it up!

visvim shoes

David Constable is an expert candle maker, and this book proves it. Full of useful information for any beginner, it is an essential choice whether you just want to make a few candles for home, or even start your own small business.
Discount Visvim

mbt shoes

I like your article very much! It's worth reading.Thank you for sharing it!

Thomas sabo uk

Too much reading.Saved Url and should read it a spare time.Thank u.

The comments to this entry are closed.