In Advancing Your Career, Does Looks Matter?


It would be a very comforting world if only our career’s success is purely relative to our talent, perseverance, and skills. In the real world however, have you ever considered that there may also be factors unrelated to these that play a crucial role?

In my experience in the corporate world, I have seen managers talking amongst each other after a final interview, sharing their thoughts about the potential candidates for an office staff position. One very interesting conversation I heard was about the candidates’ physical appearance. To quote one of these managers, he said, “Okay sana kaso mukhang katulong, di nya ba alam na final interview ito?” (She is okay but she looks like a housemaid, does she know that this is her final interview?). In another circumstance, a colleague who is doing workforce and scheduling task shared that when he was doing his final interview, his boss said, “Why are you wearing a jersey shirt? Did you think this is a basketball try-out?” Lucky for him there was no other qualified candidate, otherwise he would not have landed the job.

Studies have proven that a person’s looks truly has an effect in his success in the corporate world. American sociologist Dalton Conley and an associate conducted a correlation study between that shows that when women gain weight, there was a decrease in the level of their job prestige as well as their income. Another study funded by Procter and Gamble, and reported in the New York Times, showed that putting make up (provided it is not overdone) improves people’s perception of her likeability and competence. In a survey amongst employers conducted by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) three-quarters of the participants responded that the applicants grooming would have an impact to their opinion of the candidate. Numbers don’t lie and we can definitely see that physical appearance has a huge impact in one’s success.

Professional Looks

Despite these proofs, many hiring professionals would deny that a woman’s physical appearance has a great influence in their decisions for hiring. To most hiring professionals, appearance is considered a very superficial basis for assessment and using it is supposedly highly frowned upon. Reality however teaches us that it has an impact in the selection process and it is backed-up my many studies.

In light of this, what does a professional need to do to get ahead of the race? Some people may take interest in plastic surgery to make their facial features better. In Korea for example, a study showed that almost 20% of women have undergone some form of plastic surgery. This is according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Koreans believe that a beautiful face is key to a person’s success.

Not everyone however agrees to or can afford undergoing plastic surgery to improve their looks. Not only is it costly, it also comes with great risks. We have seen celebrities who have gone under the knife and ruin their looks rather than improve it. Fortunately, there are other ways of improving ones looks.

Dressing well is one way that a person can improve his physical appearance. A person who is well dressed is perceived to be of a good social stature and education. While this cannot always be true, we have undergone a lot of unconscious social conditioning that programs us with this kind of pre-conceived notion. This is the reason why most sales person would be wearing a coat and tie or long-sleeves with collar rather than a jersey shirt. We tend to respond better to a person who is dressed well. It is therefore not a luxury to invest on good clothing that you can use for your day-to-day professional look as well as for special events. Observing basic personal hygiene also improves that way a person looks. Trimming your nails regularly, combing your hair and tooth brushing — all of these activities help you maintain a better looking self. Taking a bath everyday ensures that you remove dead cells that make your skin look dry and unhealthy. Simply following our regular hygiene definitely impacts our physical appearance. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are also key ingredients to improving ones looks. Obesity is rarely seen as ideal and that goes the same to being severely underweight. Eating right ensures that you get a good amount of nourishment for your body to build muscles and a healthy percentage of fat (yes, we need fat). A regular exercise regime ensures that the body maintains a good metabolic rate that results to proper functions of your body system and a normal processing of nutrients. For women, using make-up is also a very good way of managing your physical appearance. Make up improves likeability and perceived competence. However, applying make-up can be a tricky form of art. It can make you or break you. You should get the right blend – not too much, and not too less. You should also pick the right kind and color that matches your skin. You can decide to learn more about applying make-up by going online, reading about it, checking make up tutorials, and attending make-up education workshops.

Looking good physically may be easy to overlook as we want to focus on working and making the most out of the limited time in our day. However, it is still very important, that as you work your best, you also look your best. They say dress for success and this may be something that is trivial but worthwhile of your efforts and investments.

If you would like invest a reasonable value to learn more about proper professional make-up, COMPETAD Training and Professional Development is offering a workshop about this in March 2017. Check out this link for more details: Basic Face Make-up Workshop 2017. This is an intimate small-group workshop so you can truly learn and ask questions from our make-up expert.