While a lot of old adages about work and career no longer apply, one that hasn’t gone out of style is “dress for success.” Decades of research have shown that how you look pays off at work, and attractive employees are more likely to get ahead in their careers. They are more likely to get hired, garner more promotions, earn more money and climb the career ladder quicker. Plus, attractive bosses get higher performance ratings by their employees than ordinary looking managers.
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall . . .
Some experts say we tend to attribute more positive traits to attractive people, and it’s this attribution more than sheer beauty that wins them the golden ticket. Others say attractive employees are predisposed through socialization to behave and perceive themselves in ways that contribute to their success. Does this mean ordinary-looking people like me are at an advantage during a job interview or performance evaluation? Not necessarily.
According to a new study in Personnel Psychology, beauty is more than skin deep, and the correlation between appearance and career success goes beyond mere good looks. In two experimental studies with data from 300 video interview pitches, researchers found that attractive individuals had a greater sense of power than their less attractive cohorts and thus exhibited a more effective nonverbal presence, which led managers to give them higher ratings for hiring possibilities. They also discovered that when individuals rated low in attractiveness adopted a powerful posture, they received higher ratings that put them on par with their highly attractive counterparts.
“What we found was that while good looking people have a greater sense of power and are better nonverbal communicators, their less-attractive peers can level the playing field during the hiring process by adopting a powerful posture,” said Min-Hsuan Tu, Ph.D., assistant professor of organization and human resources in the School of Management at Buffalo University in an interview with Science Daily. “By adopting the physical postures associated with feelings of power and confidence, less attractive people can minimize behavioral differences in the job search,” Tu added. “But power posing is not the only solution—anything that can make you feel more powerful, like doing a confidence self-talk, visualizing yourself succeeding, or reflecting on past accomplishments before a social evaluation situation can also help.”
Other findings show that facial expressions, small gestures and body posture can spell impending career success or doom—revealing whether we’re cooperative or oppositional, confident or insecure, mild-mannered or hostile or optimistic or pessimistic. The image we project, in turn, plays a significant role in the our career trajectory. When we smile, co-workers and clients perceive and respond to us in a more positive manner. Smiling also causes colleagues to perceive us as younger than our actual age whereas frowns make us look older. If facial muscles say we’re happy, we’re more likely to experience our jobs and coworkers in a more positive light. And we’re more likely to stand out from the crowd and be chosen for special projects, promotions and pay raises.
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Other Ways To Get Noticed At Work
Standing out in the workplace is more important today than ever, given the prevalence of remote working. And having a beauty premium plus making yourself as attractive as possible is important. But there are other ways beyond mere looks to get noticed and scale the business ladder, especially when you’re working from home in your sweats or pajamas.
Research has shown the ticket to success is to put in extra effort, make consistent contact and have good communication. When remote employees made the effort to go the extra mile, managers noticed and respected the extra effort, and it boded well for workers. Fully, 93% agreed they had a favorable impression of the person who went the extra mile. They felt the efforts made these employees were more motivated (67.6%), more engaged (55.9%) and more productive (55.6%)—favorable impressions that translated into action. Employees who’d gone out of their way to be noticed while working from home were more likely to receive a promotion (31%) and a raise (23%), compared to those who hadn’t. Remote managers most often recommended people who offered new ideas (50.4%), helped colleagues with work (44%) and did more than their job description (42%) to receive the same recognition.
Knowing how to get noticed at work can promote your career. Although it takes extra time and effort to maintain visibility, the payoff is well worth the effort. Regardless of your appearance, here are steps you can take to make sure your hard work gets noticed:
- Develop a “visibility strategy”: 36% of employees had a strategy.
- Make sure all of your projects keep moving: 41% cited staying on top of a project was a visibility strategy.
- Help colleagues with work: 37.4% took on additional work to help their colleagues out and 22% had success when they eased a co-worker’s workload.
- Take care of small details: 36.5% made an effort to focus on small details.
- Offer new ideas: 54% of managers said offering new ideas improves your visibility.
- Lend a helping hand to co-workers: 44% of managers cited helping colleagues with work gets you noticed.
- Volunteer your time: 42.6% of managers said volunteering for a task or opportunity was a plus in the eyes of higher-ups.
As the workforce continues to adjust to the pandemic along with new forms of hybrid and remote work, visibility isn’t always easy to maintain. Yet, it’s hugely important for career advancement. It’s true that colleagues draw conclusions about us from how we appear, but success isn’t always about our natural born beauty. If you want to send a signal that you’re on top of your game and up to the task, you don’t have to get Botox, a makeover or face lift. If you feel blue or have a sour attitude before a stressful workday or big professional event, facial and body adjustments can jump-start a positive mood. Slumping your body or frowning isn’t an image that says, “I’m confident and up to the task.” Even if you have to fake it to start, pull your shoulders back, hold your body erect, head high and smile. Then notice how your facial expressions and physical posture not only reflect how you feel but contribute to how you feel and the professional image you project. If you want to be seen and heard effectively, finding the right role that matches your personal set of skills, developing a visibility strategy that puts you in the spotlight and projecting mannerisms that show confidence—all comprise the ticket to advancing your professional career.