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How appearance can affect your paycheck

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How appearance can affect your paycheck [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2011, 07:10
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or B-school interviews... ... l?tickers=^dji,^gspc,spy,dia

Provided by the Business Insider, February 19, 2011:

How successful you become is mostly up to you. Success also depends on how you're perceived by others. Numerous studies have shown looks can impact career advancement.

Some say physical appearance matters even more to employers than a cover letter.

Researchers have found that facial structure, hair color, and weight all can affect our paychecks. We can't help our genes, but some of them may be helping us more than others.

If you're a 6-foot tall male

Men who are at least 6' tall make an average salary of $5,525 more than their shorter, 5'5 counterparts, says Harvard University. Another study polled half of all the Fortune 500 companies about the height of their CEOs. On average, male CEOs were three inches taller than the average man at just under 6'.

If you're a skinny woman
New York University sociologist Dalton Conley conducted a study and discovered that a woman's weight negatively impacts her household income and "job prestige." In fact, a 1% increase in body mass results in a 0.6 percentage point decrease in family income.

Another study by Jay Zagorsky titled "Health and Wealth" found that Caucasian women get the most financial slack for higher weight, seeing their wealth drop 12%. In comparison, African-American women who are overweight only see a 7% drop. Men weren't affected.

If you're a woman who's three inches taller than her colleagues

For every three inches taller than average they are, women earn 5 to 8 percent more money than women of average height.

If you're symmetrical

Have one eye that's smaller than the other? It could be costing you some of your paycheck. Symmetry is perhaps the greatest sign of perceived beauty, and people who are attractive make a considerable amount more than everyone else.

If you smile a lot

Rick Wilson of Rice University studied "Fiscal Attraction." He found a correlation between good looks and success. In particular, the better a person looks, the more other people trust them, and trust is a quality most leaders possess. One of his findings also showed that subjects ranked people who were smiling as more trustworthy than people with straight faces.

If you're attractive

Yale's Daniel Hamermesh conducted a study, “Beauty in the Labor Market.” He found that people with above average looks typically received premiums in pay of 5% or more, and that less attractive people "suffered a salary penalty of up to 9%." Hamermesh also writes that attractive men earn 9% more than unattractive men, and attractive women earn 4% more than unattractive women.

But not if you're too attractive

Normally, being pretty is a good thing. It's been proven time and time again that attractive people make more money. Cute babies are held and played with more than others, teachers have higher expectations in the classroom for good-looking children, and hiring decisions are made largely (but often subconsciously) on looks.

One study, Physical Attractiveness Bias In Hiring, shows that beauty can be beastly. When women apply for jobs typically handled by men, they are discriminated against. One of the researchers says, ""In these professions [such as manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor], being attractive was highly detrimental to women," said Johnson. This was only the case for women. Extraordinarily attractive men weren't found to be discriminated against.

If you have hair on your head but not on your face

According to The Times, "facial hair has long been considered a potential blight on career advancement." They report the results of a survey: "60% of businessmen without beards or moustaches feel that these features are a bad sign. Some feel that the person can’t be bothered to shave and others that they are hiding something."

63% of men also report that hair loss or balding has negatively affected their careers. US News and World Report discusses how plastic surgery can boost careers, in particular hair implants. "In the corporate world, there's a lot of emphasis on image, and image goes with self-confidence," says Antonio Armani, a Beverly Hills, Calif., cosmetic surgeon who specializes in hair transplants. "I think a lot of people do invest money in improving their looks because they feel this is one way they can go up the corporate ladder."

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery also reported that two thirds of its members, both men and women, wanted cosmetic surgery because they wanted to "remain competitive in the workplace."

If you're a woman who wears makeup

According to TheGlassHammer, a website designed for women executives, "there is strong statistical evidence to show that women who wear make-up in business get better jobs and are promoted more quickly." And a survey reported in The Times shows that "64 per cent of directors said that women who wore make-up look more professional and 18 per cent of directors said that women who do not wear make-up “look like they can’t be bothered to make an effort”.

If you dress conservatively

Harvard Business Review writes about how dressing professionally and conservatively can advance careers: "Women, in particular, believed that dressing the part was a vital factor in attaining success: 53% of them felt aspiring female execs needed to toe a very conservative line, avoiding flashy make-up, plunging necklines, too-short or too-tight skirts, and long fingernails — exactly the sort of sartorial no-nos UBS spelled out. "Indeed, half the women surveyed and 37% of the men considered appearance and EP to be intrinsically linked; they understood that if you don't look the part of a leader, you're not likely to be given the role.

Far from imagining that appearance is a personal matter, they perceived that looking well-turned-out engenders self confidence, a trait they considered the bedrock of authentic leaders."

If you have great posture

According to Harvard Business School's study, "Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance," sitting in a position that oozes confidence (i.e. legs up on your desk, chest puffed out, or leaning forward) will make people deem you powerful.


It raises testosterone levels by roughly 20% and lowers the stress hormone cortisol by the same. The reverse is also true. If you slouch, cross your legs, or look weak, it works against you. Sitting powerfully for just two minutes can make a psychological difference.

According to the study, "High-power posers were more likely than low-power posers to focus on rewards— 86.36% took an offered gambling risk (only 13.63% were risk averse). In contrast, only 60% of the low-power posers took the risk (and 40% were risk averse).

Finally, high-power posers reported feeling significantly more “powerful” and “in charge.”
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Re: How appearance can affect your paycheck [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2011, 19:37
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Fascinating study. Thanks for posting. Dressing for success and being conscious of one's apperance has never been more important. Don't give someone a reason to say no to a raise, promotion, or admissions offer!

Bryant Michaels
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Re: How appearance can affect your paycheck [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2011, 16:26
This was just published from the Poets and Quants website:

Harvard MBAs To Applicants: Cleavage a No-No

by John A. Byrne

Harvard Business School applicants are getting some quirky counsel on how to avoid the kind of faux pas that would destroy their chances of ever gaining admittance to the West Point of Capitalism. The advice, straight from Harvard MBA candidates, covers everything from how much deodorant to apply on the day of your admissions interview to how much kneecap should be revealed when you cross your legs.

The guidance is getting dished in the new 2011 Unofficial Harvard Business School Interview Guide published earlier this month by the B-school’s student newspaper, The Harbus. As its authors put it, “our guide bestows first-hand insight, advice and analysis from current HBS students…the analysis we provide comes not from ‘recent applicants’ but from those who got in, enrolled, and are now immersed in HBS culture.”


Think of this as a modern, MBA version of Emily Post’s Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage. It’s a 40-page PDF filled with often obvious, though pragmatic, guidance to avoid an HBS-crushing blunder. One example: “Ladies, practice sitting so that no one can see up your skirt.” It’s the kind of direction a young woman would have heard from her Aunt Betty when she was 13 years of age. If she didn’t get it then, chances are that Dillon House, where HBS’ admissions staff toils, has already made a mistake in inviting her to an interview.

Catherine Leary Tomezsko, general manager of The Harbus, concedes that some of these recommendations may well be “glaringly obvious,” but the idea is not to take anything for granted. “We want to make sure that everybody who buys the guide has a chance (to get into Harvard),” she says. The newspaper first began publishing the $35 guide only last year and has had “enormously positive feedback” from users. The Harbus plans to launch a separate website,, to sell the guide in early March, adds Tomezsko. The proceeds are distributed to educational non-profits in the Boston area. Along with the advice on etiquette, there’s a list of 50 questions that Harvard has recently asked applicants and analysis on how to best prepare and answer them (Click here for a sample).

In any given year, HBS interviews some 1,800 applicants and is now in the midst of second-round interviews. On some level, the advice reflects the near all-consuming obsession most applicants experience when they attempt to get into one of the world’s leading business schools.

Sandy Kreisberg, an MBA admissions consultant known as HBS Guru, thinks a good deal of suggestions, particularly as they regard appearance, seems extreme. “Dress and perfume have not sabotaged any interview that I am aware of, although I am sure there are exceptions,” he says. “I think the real advice about dress is, ‘Don’t make a statement.’ Just wear something that is comfortable and respects the situation, and does not draw attention to itself. The most common way that HBS interviews turn damaging is that you talk too much and get lost.” (See “Sandy’s List of Dos & Don’ts for HBS Interviews” for his more irreverent counsel.)

Never mind. At the very least, many of these guidelines are good for a laugh, no matter how painfully apparent they may be.


Perhaps the most surprisingly obvious of all the suggestions in the guide concerns hygiene. “Take a shower the morning of your interview,” the editors of the guide advise. “Second, use deodorant liberally; you may be nervous, and a second (or third) application can never hurt. Pack it in your bag and consider reapplying once you arrive. (Seriously.) Third, do not, under any circumstances, wear perfume or cologne. You never know who might be allergic and you run the risk of leaving a pungent trail in your wake.”


“Ladies,” recommend the Harbus editors, “skirts should hit at the top of your knee. If thigh is showing, go back to square one and try again. Anything longer than the bottom of your knee looks matronly…Also, if you have a gap between buttons of your shirt, you have two options: buy a safety pin or wear a camisole. It is unadvisable to flash your interviewer. (This includes any variation on cleavage; just don’t do it.”)

And for male applicants? “Gentleman: don’t swim in your suit. Baggy = sloppy. You don’t have to like the slim cuts of Thom Browne, but if it looks like you dropped 30 pounds and forgot to buy a new suit, this is a problem. In the same vein, the length of your jacket should hit at the hip—there is no reason why you should ever sit on it.”


Regarding the question of ‘fit,’ the Harbus editors write: “Here’s where a great suit can go terribly wrong. As Tim Gunn from ‘Project Runway’ likes to say, ‘a suit is meant to enhance your figure, not hide it.’ Unless you won the genetic lottery, chances are an off-the-rack suit will not fit you perfectly. This is where a tailor comes in. You may need to shorten the sleeves or lengthen the pant hem, or adjust the darts.”


The editors obviously caution against wearing loud colors, noting that “loudness only detracts from your finished look. Prints should be small—no cartoons, golf balls, or impressionist paintings that consume your tie. And gentlemen, it’s best to choose an accent color for your tie (no matchy-matchy, but nothing off-the-wall, either). When in doubt, buy a shirt and tie at the same store with input from a salesperson. (We recommend Brooks Brothers.)”


And then there is their advice on hair. “The number one rule for hair is CLEAN…If you have biological concerns (ie. dandruff or a pet that sheds), be sure to pay extra attention to unsightly accumulations on your suit. Keep a lint roller in your bag if you are super-concerned…Girls, just check the split-end situation and shave your legs if you are wearing a skirt. We really wish we didn’t have to say this, but we will: check eyebrows, nose and ears for flyaways. That is, if your nose or ear hair is visible or you sport a unibrow, then you must apply the proper hair removal techniques.

“We personally think high ponytails are a bit unprofessional. Best to secure bangs or wispies with bobby pins or barrettes, or pull it all back into a topknot. Above all, do not fidget with your hair, and do not show up looking like you just stepped out of the shower.”

Guess all of that outside the box thinking and mold breaking will have to come from the inside.
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Re: How appearance can affect your paycheck [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2011, 08:00
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Here's two more I always see violated: 1)men don't show your underwear. Particularly for business casual, you should never see someone's white undershirt beneath the dress shirt. Yes, you should wear one, but go with a v-neck, not a crew neck. Only wear crew neck t-shirts under dress shirts that are buttoned to the top with a tie. 2)Additionally, get shirts that are appropriately sized in the neck. too often, men wear shirts that are cartoonishly large around the neck. The collar should fit snugly, but not uncomfortably against the neck. You should not be able to slide your finger between your buttoned collar and neck without touching the collar! how many CEOs do you see showing their underwear or looking like a stick-neck poking up out of a circular collar?

Bryant Michaels
Admissions Consultant

Re: How appearance can affect your paycheck   [#permalink] 01 Mar 2011, 08:00
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