Here’s the unfortunate reality for most of us:
Science has shown that recruiters and hiring managers prefer candidates that are attractive.
But what does that mean? Does it mean that “perfect” candidates need to have the brains of a rocket scientist and the looks of movie star?
No, it doesn’t.
If that were the case, the unemployment rate would be somewhere around 99%.
Here’s what it does mean:
1. A candidate demonstrates thoughtfulness by paying attention to the details.
We’ve all read profiles that feature a certain breed of visionary executive who is unconcerned about the “details,” and instead only focuses on the view from the “50,000-foot level.”
That is, without a doubt, a myth.
Visionary executives and managers are obsessed with details. Those executives understand that getting the details right is how a company turns a vision into reality. For example, the stories about Steve Jobs’ obsession with details, down to what colours were included on the floors of his manufacturing plants, are legendary.
And the first time a candidate can show attention to detail is at the interview. A candidate who shows up poorly groomed or in mismatched clothing shows an inattention to detail that could prove to be a fatal flaw in his or her ability to execute on the job.
2. A candidate is more likely to get hired if he or she appears healthy enough to do the job.
The life of a senior executive can be mentally and physically grueling. Long hours, travel, and the pressure that can come with these roles inevitably take a toll.
That’s why candidates who appear healthy can have an edge in the recruitment process.
Does that mean you need to be a competitive bodybuilder or a tri-athlete in order to make the leap from Director of Finance to Chief Financial Officer?
But as someone who advises senior leaders on how to maximize their potential, I believe daily, serious exercise (preferably with a coach or trainer who will help hold you accountable) helps create the kind of healthy routines that will allow a leader to maintain his or her schedule, get in the habit of setting (and surpassing) personal goals, and gain the kind confidence he or she will need.
And a (big!) side benefit is living a longer, happier life—both at work, and at home.
3. A candidate should understand the unique the intersection of corporate brand, personality, and individual executives in the age of social media.
We mentioned earlier that Steve Jobs was obsessed with details.
And one of those details, particularly during his most successful time at Apple, was his appearance.
Does that mean Steve Jobs was the most attractive executive at Apple?
That’s a matter of opinion, but the answer is probably no. However, his look of black turtlenecks, jeans, sneakers, and a short beard was practically a trademark. His look was minimalist by design.
Kind of like an Apple product.
Despite Jobs’ passing, that look continues at Apple. Executives at the recent launching of Apple’s latest product line all wore similar minimalist outfits of blue, long-sleeved shirts and jeans. Their look was free of anything that wasn’t completely necessary—kind of like the argument the company gave for eliminating the headphone jack on the iPhone 7.
Apple isn’t the only company with executives that have appearances that aspire to match the brand.
Richard Branson’s long hair and goatee are an unconventional look for a CEO. Then again, Virgin is a company that started as a record store before becoming an airline that aspired to provide private space travel.
Executives who incorporate elements of their company brand into their look—or elements of their look into their company brand—are nothing new.
Here’s what is new:
The blending of our personal and professional lives in the age of LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook has changed things for all of us. All employees—and especially executives and managers—are public reflections of their brand and its true value.
Hiring managers and recruiters understand this—or at least they should.
At Robertson and Associates, we understand that the world has changed, and the line between an executive’s personal and professional personas has become extremely blurry. Does that mean that companies can or should only hire “attractive” (whatever that means) employees?
But it does mean that companies and candidates need to pay more attention to personal presentation than ever before.
Pierre Collowald is a Senior Partner at Robertson Associates, a European Executive Search and Leadership Solutions boutique. Pierre is working out of Brussels, Paris and Zurich. firstname.lastname@example.org