Can My Physical Appearance Affect My Employment Prospects?

Can My Physical Appearance Affect My Employment Prospects?

Evidence suggests that physical appearance does indeed play a role in employment prospects. For decades research has demonstrated that cultural beliefs, social stereotypes and widespread biases and prejudices incline many people to make hiring decisions based on what you are rather than who you are. All other things being equal, if you as a job applicant are taller, thinner, of lighter skin and better dressed compared to another applicant then you are more likely to be hired.

However, more subtle aspects of physical appearance also affect employment prospects. One of these is even the simple appearance factor of whether or not you wear a beard. Research showed that bearded men were rated significantly higher on masculinity, aggressiveness, dominance and strength.‌

In other experiments, researchers had subjects evaluate nine equally qualified men for management trainee positions based solely on a photograph. They found that the bearded applicants, although evaluated equally with non-bearded applicants, were selected for management positions at lower rates.

A Brazilian study found that 50 personnel managers (28 men and 22 women) who made hiring decisions at different companies in Sao Paulo clearly preferred clean shaven over bearded, mustached, or goateed men as prospective employees.

So, although researchers had found that beards signaled greater masculinity, it may not always lead to the candidate having an advantage in landing the job.