Sometimes, career success requires more than showing up and working hard. Your professional appearance could be a factor for getting promoted.
This post is an excerpt from Wendy’s new book, Red Flags: How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers, and Other Toxic People in Every Area of Your Life.
Think doing your job well is the only way to distinguish yourself in the workforce? Think again. Employers consistently hire, retain, and promote based not only on dependability, but also based on likeability.
Whether employers readily admit it or not, part of an employee’s likeability is his or her physical appeal. (Click here to tweet this hard truth.)
So does this mean only the beautiful get ahead? Certainly not. Personality, humor, and approachability produce social attractiveness that research shows actually makes people better looking — supporting the reality that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
But a polished professional appearance will score you more points than you think.
Here’s how to take advantage of the psychology of attraction, and increase your personal appeal and promotability.
Invest in your appearance, because beautiful looks good
Make it a point to always look your best in the workplace. You do not need to be a beauty queen — do the best with what you have. Hair, tailored clothing, a bit of makeup, polished shoes: all of these are attributes that will earn you a return on your investment. Beauty is bewitching.
The halo effect is well supported in research, and refers to our assumption that physically attractive people have positive qualities in other areas. As powerful as it is, however, the halo effect is a perceptual bias. Although people attribute positive qualities to good-looking people and negative qualities to people who are unattractive, these stereotypes are not always accurate.
Attractive employees are viewed more positively
The halo effect consistently blesses job candidates with perceived qualities they do not have. Believe it or not, many employers favor more attractive job applicants simply by viewing their resumes, assuming that they will make better employees.
Note, however, that beautiful women might not always get hired ahead of their less attractive counterparts when it is other women who are making the hiring decisions. Chalking the beauty discrimination bias up to jealousy, some research suggests that when human resource departments are composed mainly of women, female applicants should consider omitting photos from their resumes.
Always get up on the right side of the bed, because likeable people get ahead
If you want to increase your chances of getting ahead in the workplace, do not get up on the wrong side of the bed. Ever.
While everyone has personal issues and bad days, the less of this you share through your demeanor, sociability, or disclosure in the workplace the better. It is much easier for colleagues and coworkers to relate to you when you are smiling and appear to be happy, even when you might have come to work with a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to the day.
Good looking and likeable is a combination that can deliver a one-two punch of appeal in the workplace, sometimes knocking out good judgment. We are more likely to give likeable people what they ask for.
The power of kindness: attraction breeds interaction
Going out of your way to greet people with a smile and a kind word will gain you more fans, friends, and followers than you can count. Whether in the form of sincere compliments, offers of assistance, or emotional support, acts of kindness are an easy way to raise your social capital in the workplace.
Likeability is attractive because it is linked with happiness, and positive emotion is contagious. Specific traits that correlate with likeability across different types of relationships include kindness and warmth. Not surprisingly, happy people are often more popular and attractive than their less-cheerful peers.
How does likeability attract at the office? Like a magnet. In the workplace, there is a tendency for both colleagues and superiors to extend greater accommodation to positive employees in order to increase interaction. Imagine having both peers and supervisors vying for your attention — because of the way you make them feel.
A disciplined work ethic and meticulous work product are valuable assets, the power of attraction through likeability and emotional appeal is priceless.
Dr. Wendy Patrick is an attorney, media commentator, and author.The material in this article comes from her book, Red Flags: How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers, and Other Toxic People in Every Area of Your Life (St. Martin´s Press, 2015).