Aesthetic Hiring: Why You Should Only Hire Beautiful People (And Why You Shouldn’t)

In June last year, there was a stir in the media as the site BeautifulPeople.com launched a new online employment agency unlike any other in the market. A spin-off from the dating site’s core principles, the new recruitment site also vouched only to host “beautiful” job candidates.

While the moral compass in us is reviled with indignation at the endorsement of such a blatantly shallow screening process, as a company in its start-up phase, is any advantage better than no advantage at all?

Three reasons you should hire beautiful people
1 “An honest employer will tell you that it pays to hire good-looking staff.”

Managing director of BeautifulPeople.com, George Hodge commented in a statement that, “Attractive people tend to make a better first impression on clients, win more business and earn more.”

So there’s that sweeping argument.

2 Beauty Is Wealth: CEO Appearance And Shareholder Value

A November study by Joseph Taylor Halford and Scott H. C. Hsu found that, generally, more attractive CEOs obtained more surpluses for their firms from merger and acquisition transactions than average-looking people. They labelled this “a finding consistent with the hypothesis that more attractive CEOs improve shareholder value through superior negotiating prowess.”

This conclusion was preceded by a study of 1,830 merger and acquisition deals between 1985 and 2012. It has also been noted that when attractive CEOs appear on television their stock forecasts enjoy an exaggerated incline.

3 We operate on the basis of first-impressions

Following the claims of George Hodge (above) that attractive people make better first impressions on prospective clients and in networking situations, it is difficult to ignore the evidence that we are drawn towards people who are better-looking.

“Better-looking” takes on different connotations in different contexts. For example, in the world of finance and hedge fund management, those managers who looked more trust-worthy attracted more funds. Ankur Pareek and Roy Zuckerman, who conducted this study, noted that there is “no evidence that trustworthiness predicts actual manager skill,” suggesting that we rely on our gut instinct when faced with difficult decisions.

Looking the part is important

These facts, trends and assumptions tell us that, no matter the role that we play, people formulate immediate presumptions about who we are, what we do and how well we do it when they meet us. We are attracted to beautiful people because they are nice to look at and, as people have been attracted to them since preschool, are likely confident in social situations, outgoing and pleasant.

In a business context, the way you look does not just pertain to where your nose sits on your face, but also to the way you dress, the bag you carry and even the way you speak. The context of your meeting is important, whether you are meeting a potential client for the first time, catching up with an old account who is thinking about rehiring your services, or interviewing your first social media intern.

It can also be a question of brand. Club promoters, shop assistants and other frontline staff can project a positive image just by virtual of being beautiful, particularly when appealing to an aesthetically-engaged audience. Aspirational products such as expensive clothing and makeup, promising to better our lives by making us more attractive, seem to be designed for attractive brand ambassadors for that very reason: we want to be like them.

Should you only hire beautiful people?

Of course not: the notion is absurd. Despite the fact that beautiful people tend to fare better professionally in general, earning more on average than their less-fortunately endowed counterparts, this is no reason to consciously endorse the idea.

First impressions of trustworthy-looking hedge fund managers can quickly be overcome when that manager loses you a whole lot of money on the account. At the end of the day, you would be wise to hire the person you think will best fit the role in question. It’s your company’s reputation and the people who represent your brand will not only sit around in your office looking pretty. They will interact with your clients on a daily basis, take on responsibilities and get paid at the end of every month.

While televised interviews with attractive CEOs may result in a short-term boost in stock prices for the likes of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, the longevity of the company rests in important business decisions, not her hairstyle.

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