Putting the Cadillac out Front

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Pretentious woman talking on her mobile phoneHave you ever dated someone based on their looks? Have you ever bought something from someone just because they were good looking? Have you ever hired the better-looking, less qualified candidate? Yeah, me neither. But it turns out the rest of the world has. Shocking, I know.

Well the perks of being good looking just went a little farther. Aside from a higher likelihood of obtaining lower interest loans and general preferential treatment, beautiful people can now join an exclusive site for recruitment purposes.

BeautifulPeople.com launched as a dating site specifically for peer-rated good looking people in 2002 and now they have branched out into recruiting…the next natural step. Huh?

Well it turns out they’re kind of onto something. Initially BeautifulPeople.com was ripped apart by the public because of the discriminatory nature of the site. As online picketers wagged their finger at this elitist dating site, their numbers and success grew. It is now over 10 years since they launched and soon they will open the doors to their online recruiting site, BeautifulPeople Recruiter, with over 750,000 members.

Existing members on the site initiate new-comers in by voting on their level of attractiveness. You can only gain membership if your peers decide you are good looking enough to join.

Here are some not-so-shocking statistics from a Psychology Today article on the success of beautiful people:

Attractive people…

  • earn an average of 3-4 percent more than people with below average looks.
  • are hired sooner.
  • get promotions more quickly
  • are higher-ranking in their companies
  • often bring more money to their companies and, therefore, are more valuable employees.

As recruiters navigate the site, they are met with a login page that states, “Numerous studies have shown that consumers tend to respond more positively and are more receptive to attractive people. If your company specializes in sales, is in the service industry, or has regular face-to-face interaction with customers – first impressions are all important.”

I hate to say it, but there is some truth to this. They’ve really just found a way to market something that we’ve been secretly doing for years. Whether you want to admit it, or even if you don’t know you’re doing it, beautiful people are more likely to get that position.

Back in my serving days, my manager was known for saying, “Always put the Cadillac up front.” This was code for, “Put the cute, tiny hostess on door duty.” Both Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch recently met some scrutiny about their unspoken hiring policies. It’s not just happenstance that everyone in their stores is 2 pounds, tan and actually pretty horrible at customer service.

A former manager at Hollister reported, “More store hours were spent recruiting hotties than actually training people to work. The better looking the “model” that we hired, the less work they would actually have to do.” In certain industries this can be an ugly truth. Most of us don’t want to agree with the idea that good looks sell, but that’s the nature of the beast.

Are we advocating following suit? Absolutely not. This is just some food for thought for your next interview or hire. While there are some undeniable benefits to having a Cadillac out front, if that Cadillac doesn’t run, what good is it ultimately? If your great looking secretary can’t figure out how to put a phone on hold, you might want to reevaluate your hiring standards.

Preferential treatment for the beautiful ones is never going to change, but you can. View this as a wake-up call for being more thoughtful and deliberate about your recruitment  methods. Nice legs might get you a client, but can they retain one?

Read more in Recruitment Methods

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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