We have all got that one friend who seems to have it all – conventionally good looks and a well-paying job, not to mention the innumerable romances that come their way. You might just chalk it up to the beauty that they possess and you’re not alone, at least when it comes to the cushiness of their professional life. Economists have long studied the “beauty premium”, a phenomenon that posits that those who are relatively more attractive are paid more, even if appearance is irrelevant to their line of work or their performance.
Nevertheless, looks can only take you so far and a new study reveals the specific qualities that may help you heft a bigger pay cheque home.
Dispelling the beauty premium
To analyse potential workings of the beauty premium, researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Massachusetts in Boston (UMass Boston) looked at a nationally representative data sample from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to Adult Health (Add Health). This survey has been following about 15,000 participants in the U.S since 1994 when they were adolescents and has continued checking in on their physical and emotional well-being every few years.
Notably, the survey participants’ physical attractiveness had been measured by interviewers on a five-point scale over the last 13 years, with 1 being “very unattractive” and 5 being “very attractive”. The respondents were also asked for their gross earnings of the previous years, allowing the LSE and UMass Boston researchers to make a correlation between pay and levels of attractiveness.
Paying with your personality
Fortunately for everyone who feels a lacking in the looks department, the researchers found that “very weak evidence for the beauty premium”. More significantly, the beauty premium of looks disappeared once other factors linked to the idea of physical attractiveness were taken into account. In the course of their analysis, the scientists unveiled that it was in fact, health, intelligence and personality traits that reigned when it came to pay differences.
In particular, it was the healthier, more intelligent respondents and those with more Conscientious, more Extraverted, and less Neurotic personality traits who earned more.
“Physically more attractive workers may earn more, not necessarily because they are more beautiful, but because they are healthier, more intelligent, and have better personality traits conducive to higher earnings,” explains Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, one of the lead researchers and authors of the study published in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology in February 2017.
This doesn’t mean that talent and your actual job performance have no bearing on your salary, of course, but your attitude and personality at work can help your professional pursuits, too. That the study points out extraversion and conscientiousness as factors in fatter salaries is no coincidence perhaps. Extroverted and outgoing coworkers are likely to be able to network and create comfortable connections with useful contacts, who might be able to offer opportunities easier to those more visible in the workplace. Offices will also benefit from conscientious or thoughtful employees who are organised and slog away at goals even in the face of crises and challenges.
Selling yourself in other ways
These results may inspire you to start hitting the gym or come out of your shell, but there’s also no replacement for actual job skills, which will enable you to have more leverage when asking for a salary raise or look for better job opportunities. You’re better off scaling up the career and salary ladder by upping your skills as a worker.
Read also: 5 Interesting Online Courses to Take in 2017
But there’s no harm in taking the effort to dress a little sharper either. There’s a reason why we put our best front and foot forward during job interviews. People do make judgments at first impression, even if those may turn out to be invalid. You wouldn’t turn up at an interview for a customer-facing job with sloppy dressing. So we make a point to dress well and better than we do on a daily basis, in hopes of securing a good impression and the job.
You won’t have to spend much on dandying yourself up either, especially with the right cards. With the Citi Rewards Card or OCBC Titanium Rewards Card, for example, you can earn up to 10x points when you charge your shopping for shoes, bags and apparel to these cards. These reward points can be redeemed for more shopping vouchers or cash rebates. Another good card to consider for your purpose of overhauling your wardrobe is the Standard Chartered SingPost Platinum Visa Card. It offers 7% cashback on charges of online purchases to the card – great for those who prefer to mull over their choice of an office blazer in an online shopping environment.
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