Being really, really, ridiculously good looking comes with a lot of perks in life: research has found that attractive people earn an average of 3% to 4% more than a person with below-average looks. That’s up to $230,000 extra dough over a lifetime. Cha-ching.
But a new study shows there’s a downside to good looks: being attractive can make you less likely to get hired for a sales job. But there’s a twist: It’s only true for men.
Why beauty hurts for getting a sales job
Previous research has found that in hiring situations like job interviews, your attractiveness has the biggest positive effect on the impression you make on the interviewer. However, more recent studies have found that when you’re the same gender as the interviewer, being attractive causes you to be discriminated against.
So what’s going on?
A study by Professor Lee and colleagues found that there were different situations under which being good looking helps vs. hurts for getting hired for a sales job.
Situation 1: When being good looking matters for getting a sales job
- Being a good looking female salesperson has no effect for getting hired for a sales job.
- Being a good looking male salesperson helps or hurts for getting hired for a sales job (more on this below).
Why? Research has found that attractiveness is correlated with competence in men but not in women.
Don’t worry though, the data suggests that women have an advantage for sales jobs regardless of their looks.
Will Hunting: just a misunderstood, hot genius.
Situation 2: When being good looking helps for getting a sales job
If you’re a male sales candidate and you’re not a potential competitor for the job your male interviewer is hiring you for, being good looking makes you more likely to get the job. In this cooperative context, the interviewer isn’t threatened by your competence.
Situation 3: When being good looking hurts for getting a sales job
If you’re a male sales candidate and you are a potential competitor for the job your male interviewer is hiring you for, being good looking makes you less likely to get the job. In this competitive context, your interviewer is threatened by your competence (and good looks).
Not only is this unfair to you, it’s terrible for companies’ hiring outcomes and future sales revenue too. As Professor Lee states
Managers are affected by stereotypes and make hiring decisions to serve their own self-interests, so organizations may not get the most competent candidates.
These days, more and more companies are hiring using a consensus approach and multiple interviewers. That means there’s a very real chance that you might not get the sales job of your dreams because one of your interviewers views you as competition. So what should you do if you’re an attractive salesperson? Stop being so good looking, of course.
Actually, what you should be doing when you’re looking for a sales job is apply to companies that are using methods to try to overcome these self-interested hiring biases. The best way to do that?
According to Human Resources Online, you should be applying for sales jobs at companies that assess your selling skills – not your looks – using a data-based assessment in order to find the best matches for their sales team.
So tell those hiring managers: Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (and competent), hire me because I’m the best match for your sales job and let me kill your numbers. And if that doesn’t work, complete a sales personality assessment and let the data speak for itself.
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