Hiring Wisdom: Why Dress For Success Really Matters on the Job

This research study summarized below concludes that good grooming offsets the pay disadvantage of being unattractive. How does it affect your perception and decisions when an applicant is either well or poorly dressed?

Good grooming generates a wage premium of 4 percent to 5 percent for young men who are well groomed, according to a statistic in a recent paper, Beauty and the Labor Market: Accounting for the Additional Effects of Personality and Grooming, by researchers at the University of Miami.

The team discovered that physical appearance and personality have a positive effect on earnings in the marketplace and that good grooming may also offset the pay disadvantage for those who are physically unattractive.

“Non-cognitive factors do matter”

Additionally, it was found that while good grooming also affects women’s wages, it is a less prominent factor. While previous research has found a “plainness penalty” of 5 percent to 10 percent of wages for both men and women is often applicable, the new research was the first of its kind to also look at factors such as personality and grooming.

Professor Phil Robins, senior researcher at the University of Miami, said “We’re finding that these non-cognitive factors do matter from the very beginning.” The new research comes off the back of an initial study of the effect that attractiveness, grooming, and personality had on high school students’ GPAs.

It was found that although beauty on its own affected students’ GPA positively, when grooming and personality were thrown into the mix, personality was the most important factor for girls with high GPAs and grooming was the most important factor for boys.

Better groomed men earn more, as did likeable women

As an extension of the first study, the new research took the same group of students and analysed their career progression from ages 18-26, to determine if these three traits had an effect on their salary and earnings.

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Again it was found that men who were better groomed than their peers earned more, as did women with more likeable personalities.

Co-researcher Professor Michael French said, “I think it revolves around the fact that society likes women to have pleasant personalities more than men. Maybe men are assumed to be more aggressive.” He added, “A pleasant personality may not be a social norm for men, whereas grooming, perhaps wearing sharp clothes and dressing like an executive, is important for men.”

Mel Kleiman will talk about how Great HR is Simple — It’s Just Not Easy at the TLNT Transform conference in Austin, TX Feb. 26-28, 2012. Click here for more information on attending this event. 

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.


1 Comment on “Hiring Wisdom: Why Dress For Success Really Matters on the Job

  1. My son got in trouble at his middle school and often punished by his vice school principal. One day, I told him to wear pastel/light color polo shirts to the school everyday, not large black T-shirts.

    Surprise! Grades improved, and no more detentions.

    Same dress code set by him and me was used at to his high school. He got high GPA, high SAT score and was accepted by a good college.

    I assumed that lighter color clothes softened my son’s tough looking and gave good impression to the teachers. Most of the teachers were female, and they wanted to have clean likable boys rather than tough smart students.

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