There is a dirty little secret which, thanks to the news media, is not so secret anymore: good-looking people get hired and promoted more than those who are less attractive. In undercover investigations, anonymous surveys, and workplace studies it has been proven time and again that people who are described as thinner, taller, or considered “attractive” by today’s standards find more professional success.
A study by Duke University researchers found that CEOs are more likely to be rated as “competent”, and actually make more money, based just on appearance. A September article in Psychology Today was more blunt stating “despite the sophisticated HR advancement in hiring and compensation practices, it appears your appearance, and particularly good looks, still matter.”
That’s the bad news, but the good news is you can do something about it, and it won’t cost you much.
Drugstore Bound: Many of the same lotions, creams, and makeup products you buy in lower end pharmacies are made by the same multi-national conglomerates that also sell similar products in Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman’s. Essentials you need: some good face lotion, sun protection, deodorant, a decent hair comb or brush, dental floss (do you really want gook in your teeth?) and mouthwash. You may not look like George Clooney or Julia Roberts, but you can certainly clean up your own personal hygiene enough to show a potential HR person that you care about your appearance and looks
Build a Work Wardrobe: Go through your closet and look for items that you think will either present well at the interview, or could help you look more “pulled together” once you have the job. Jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes are absolutely UNACCEPTABLE in the workplace. The best job advice I received ten years ago from an old boss was “the minute you get the job, start looking for the next job.” That next job could be a promotion in your current company, but appearance counts, and your clothes are one of the first things managers evaluate.
The Eyes Have It: I have allergies, most people do, as well as cold and sinus problems. Buy some eye drops, an ice pack, and slice up a cucumber for your eyes and use them the day of the interview. Ladies you know what I’m talking about, but this is important for men also. If you look puffy and tired, that can translate to “lazy” or “old”. Those are two words you do not want swirling through the mind of a potential employer. Make sure you get sleep and look refreshed. If you are sick, FAKE it. I’ve anchored dozens of shows with sinus infections, colds, and migraines. Even if you feel horrible, you don’t want to look horrible.
Walk, Run, or Bike: I don’t care if it’s walking 30 minutes a day. Not only does exercise help you keep your weight in check and give you energy, if you are stressed and possibly feeling depressed about the job hunt, exercise is the best medicine. You need to take a break every day from the job hunt (which is a full-time job) and getting your body moving will help you feel better emotionally and physically.
Sleep, sleep, sleep: I have no doubt that the stress of looking for a job and not knowing when you will land one is a horrible feeling, I’ve been there. But you also need to be at your mental and physical best when you do get a call for that first interview.
Don’t Smoke: If you do smoke, please try to abstain before the interview, or the entire day. Smoke is easily detected on clothing and skin, and that could signal other unhealthy habits to employers, whether you practice them or not!
Limit or Eliminate Alcohol: Try to limit your intake on a daily basis, and abstain the night before the interview. If you’ve ever been around a heavy drinker, you can smell it on their skin, even the day after. Is that the message you want to deliver?
Water: It sounds silly, but drinking a half gallon of water a day will give your face a hydrated look, because you are hydrated! It also helps your mental state and has been shown to make people actually “appear” younger. Add lemon if you think water is boring, but drink it daily.
I know it sounds superficial and we have laws in place against discrimination under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Americans with Disabilities Act, but study after study proves the workplace is still a place of bias. I don’t believe you have to be a model or athlete to get hired, but by making daily grooming a part of your job hunt regimen, you’ll have all the edge you need.
Next week I’ll discuss social media apps.
Cheryl Casone joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in September 2007 as an anchor. She also serves as a financial contributor on FOX News Channel (FNC), and provides weekly job reports.