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Pretty nice perks for pretty people

Published: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT

You know it’s true — people see you at work and wonder how someone as incompetent, lazy and hostile as you could ever get a job. Well, now we know.

Bad workers get hired because they’re so darn good-looking. If you weren’t so tall and buff and blonde, you’d be pounding the pavements like the rest of the unemployed uglies. But you got the genes, so you got the job.

It may not be the way the world should be, but it is the way of the world.

How do I know? Aaron Gouveia told me so. Aaron must be pretty darn handsome, because he got the sweet job of content manager at Salary.com, which is where he recently published, “7 Ways Looks Affect Your Pay.”

Right from the jump, Aaron tells it like it is. “Discriminating against people based on their physical appearance is wrong — both morally and in many cases, legally speaking.

But the harsh reality is this isn’t a perfect world, and discrimination — whether intentional or inadvertent — still plays a role in the workplace.”

I’m sorry that I have to be the person to break the news that this isn’t a perfect world, but now that you know, you should prepare yourself for the realities of the job market. And while your astonishing good looks may have won you a position at your current employer, remember that looks do fade, and someday, you may have to get a job based on your abilities. That would be bad news.

So, what to do?

The best way to get a job and to get paid more, too, is simply to be tall. According to a 2004 study by Timothy Judge at the University of Florida, a tall worker can earn an extra $789 per year. Fortunately, there is a remedy to terminal shortness. Remember the Inquisition? If the price of a decent salary is a couple of agonizing hours on the rack, I say, pay it.

Another group of people who pay a high price when it comes to pay are known by their scientific name — fatties. Have a Body Mass Index of more than 30, and you are likely to be paid $4,772 a year less than normal-weight coworkers if you’re a man and $8,666 a year less if you’re a woman.

Though your Twinkie budget alone is probably three times higher than these measly amounts, this could be a good argument for going on a diet or getting a sex change.

Hair color is also an issue. “A 2010 study from the Queensland University of Technology studied 13,000 Caucasian women and found blondes earn 7 percent more than female employees with any other hair color.” At least this is one appearance issue that has an easy remedy, and I wouldn’t be deterred by the fact that this study was funded by the Clairol Institute.

Here’s another idea — you’re more likely to get hired or get a raise if, instead of working, you started working out. A study from Cleveland State University claims, “people who exercise three or more times a week earn an average of $80 a week more than their slothful coworkers.” Before you pick up that barbell, consider the likely results if you spend all that work-out time spreading rumors of business and moral malfeasance about the gym rats. You’ll never have their six-pack, but you could have their job.

If you’re not a natural beauty, there is hope. You can slather on the makeup. “A study in the American Economic Review said that women who wear makeup can earn more than 30 percent more in pay than non-makeup wearing workers.” This is a problem for men, of course, and if you’re not ready to increase your salary by 30 percent simply by arriving at work with lipstick and eyeliner, remember that a dab of rouge and a light dusting of powder should add at least 10 percent. The fact that you’ll also get better service from the IT department is just lagniappe.

Before you launch your makeup makeover, sign up at the gym or sign off on three-hour lunches at the SmorgyBob, you should know that it is also a disadvantage if you are considered “too pretty”. Unless you are applying for a job as a receptionist or a stripper, studies show your good looks could count against you.

Of course, people like thee and me have no choice. We were born beautiful. We just have to live with it.

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