Lindsay Olson

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The Ugly Factor

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Good looks equal higher pay. According to this New York Times article a few days ago, studies have estimated that unattractive men and women earn five to ten percent less than those considered attractive or beautiful. This was a study published in the American Economic Review in 1994.

Does that hold true across the board? Well, again in 2005, another study was published concluding that the "discrimination was consistent across occupations, so that even a computer programmer buried behind a desk could suffer from the plainness penalty." Interesting.

Here are some facts from Career Builder on the topic of workplace attractiveness:

A London Guildhall University survey of 11,000 33-year-olds concluded:

  • Unattractive men earned 15 percent less than those deemed attractive, while plain women earned 11 percent less than their prettier counterparts.
  • Overweight women are more likely to be unemployed and those who are working earn on average 5 percent less than their trimmer peers.

Two professors from the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina concluded:

  • Tall people earn considerably more money throughout their careers than their shorter co-workers, with each inch adding about $789 a year in pay.

The University of Pittsburgh found:

  • The tallest students average starting salary was 12 percent higher than their shorter colleagues.

This leads to the obvious question: what is "attractive" and what is "unattractive"?

When Career Builder asked hiring managers, they say " it is the appearance of confidence they find attractive, not the presence of physical beauty. And they contend that attractiveness has more to do with how you carry yourself and the energy you exude -- rather than having perfect features or a great physique."

I would have to agree it goes back to confidence. How one carries himself in an interview process is almost as important as the qualifications for the job. This is just as important for both phone interviews and in-person interviews. It doesn't matter if you are a a knock out or plain Jane. You will not get the job without some spark. It's about your body language, how well you speak and portray your previous experiences and your overall demeanor.

Do you feel it's common that the workplace discriminates based on looks?

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