Here's How Your Face Affects Your Ability to Get a Job

May 15th 2016

Thor Benson

You go for a job interview and don't get the job, so you might assume your resume wasn't good enough or you didn't answer the interview questions very well.

But there might might be another reason: your face.

Research suggests that employers favor candidates whom they consider to be more attractive, all things being equal. Why? Because some employers believe — consciously or not — that prettier people will be more successful and make their companies more money.

"It turns out that more attractive people often bring more money to their companies and therefore are more valuable employees," said Dario Maestripieri, a University of Chicago professor of comparative human development, evolutionary biology, and neurobiology, in a 2012 Psychology Today article. "For example, a good-looking insurance salesperson will sell more insurance than one with below-average looks."

Good-looking people earn more than $230,000 more over a lifetime compared to people who are supposedly less attractive, according to Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas and author of "Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful."

A company that has an attractive CEO will receive a stock boost when that CEO appears on television, according to a 2014 University of Wisconsin study.

This all goes back to our primal instincts, Hamermesh told ATTN:. "The best guess is that we are conditioned from early days to think as if we were still in the jungle looking for mates who will increase our chances of successful reproduction," he said. "Until fairly recently, beauty was correlated with good health and thus greater likelihood of reproductive success. We're still hung up on that, even though the correlation doesn't exist anymore."

If you are someone who doesn't fit conventional notions of what is attractive, your best course of action is to accentuate qualities beyond your looks, such as your intelligence or good character, Hamermesh said.

Facial symmetry is associated with being more attractive, Hamermesh said, so someone with an asymmetrical face may have a tougher time getting a job. The idea of beauty is more complex than that, but it's a good starting point. "Beauty is much more than that, and, like pornography, we know it when we see it. But it's difficult to define," he said.

Beyond symmetry, the ratios of your face can affect your ability in the job world, The Atlantic reported in an article about the link between your face and your economic ability. For example, men with wider faces are better negotiators, according to a 2014 study conducted by the University of California, Riverside, London Business School, and Columbia University. The study looked at 60 men who were instructed to negotiate theoretical signing bonuses. Researchers found that men with wider faces negotiated $2,200 higher bonuses on average than men with narrower faces.

A similar UCR study from 2011 found that CEOs with wide faces typically created more financial wealth for their companies than CEOs with narrower ones.

Skin tone can also play a role in your success, according to Catherine Hakim, author of the book "Honey Money." "It does not matter whether you are white, black, brown, or blue, the key thing is an even skin tone (even color, with no variations or blotches, etc.)," she told ATTN:. Even skin tone and facial symmetry have long been connected with good health, she added.

"Research shows that attractive men and women are 15 percent more likely to be chosen for a job, or for promotion, than unattractive people with the same qualifications and experience," Hakim said.

Hakim said she's surprised people have taken so long to see the inherent benefits of being more attractive in the job market. "We are aware of this in relation to marriage and mating markets, of course, but only recently recognized the benefits in the labor market, politics, sport, the arts," she said. It's definitely not fair that people with certain facial characteristics have an easier time in the working world, but that doesn't mean it's not true.