Is “a short, fat, unsightly candidate” the right choice?

The Globe and Mail recently published Lucy Kellaway’s article Why a short, fat, unsightly candidate could be the right choice. This article, which discusses research that supports the importance of image, seemed right up our alley. Here are some salient findings from the article:
  • “A 2005 survey revealed that Fortune 500 CEOs were on average 6 feet tall – a whopping 2.5 inches taller than the average American man”
  • “ Those with deeper voices tend to run larger companies, get paid more and last longer in the job.”
  • “Various studies have shown the existence of a “beauty premium” – the gorgeous are estimated to earn 10 to 20 per cent more than the rest of us.”
You get the picture. We talked about just this in our blog post: The Economics of Beauty – Are Attractive People More Successful? The post discusses some thoughts I had after hearing Dr. Daniel Hamermesh speak at the Rotman School of Management about his book Beauty Pays. His book, based in research and his background in economics, supports the findings detailed in the Globe and Mail article. At this talk, Dr. Daniel Hamermesh told the story of a bet he took with his co-writer. It went something like this: what would be better for business? – Employing two average looking representatives OR employing one great looking representative and one traditionally unattractive representative? Turns out, the second option was better for business - the attractive co-worker excelled at being the face of the company selling their goods, while the less attractive co-worker excelled at supporting the company behind the scenes. 
This subject all makes us a little uncomfortable, so let me end by sharing some research from The Center for Talent Innovation on Executive Presence. In their studies appearance is the least important factor of Executive Presence. Displaying confidence, etiquette, charisma etc. all play a role in how you are perceived. For better or for worse how people perceive (all of) you is the price of entry for many opportunities. Unless you look and act the part, it is difficult to be invited in to show you have the real goods!

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