Question – what would happen if the recruiting industry began holding itself to the same standards as the fashion or music industries? Answer – meet BeautifulPeople.com Recruitment. For those who are not familiar with the site, BeautifulPeople.com allows its 750,000 members to post pictures of themselves, while others can vote on whether or not they are beautiful. On June 3rd, the site officially launched its free business recruitment service, allowing employers interested in only hiring good-looking employees to draw from its candidate pool. Finally, those blessed with looks but lacking skills or work experience will have job opportunities other than becoming pop singers.
It appears to be a bold move by the website considering the negative publicity surrounding the recent comments by Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries. Jeffries stated, “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Since making the statement, the backlash against the brand has been swift, as the company reported a significant drop in sales (17%) and stock price (8%). However, despite the insensitivity of Jeffries’ statements, is Abercrombie really acting differently than many other companies?
Good-looking staff are more successful
According to Greg Hodge, BeautifulPeople.com’s Managing Director, “An honest employer will tell you that it pays to hire good-looking staff. Attractive people tend to make a better first impression on clients, win more business and earn more.” As frustrating as this sounds, Hodge is not alone in his sentiment. In a previous blog, I referenced studies showing that the more attractive an employee is, the more likely positive skills and behavioral traits will be applied to him or her in an employment setting. According to Forbes.com, overweight employees are common targets of discrimination, averaging a 9% drop in pay over a lifetime for every 64 extra pounds of body weight.
Employers see the beauty of it
So could this recruiting model actually gain momentum? Sadly, it appears so. According to PR Newswire, many business owners are shamelessly jumping on the bandwagon. Dominic Pietrangelo, CEO of Urban Homes Group, a Los Angeles-based real estate agency, stated, “Securing prospective realtors through BeautifulPeople makes sense. It’s no secret that attractive agents have an advantage and more often than not are better received by clients. In a highly competitive market, every advantage counts.” But it’s not just business owners looking to hire a pretty face. Working mother Olivia Kinnard intends to use the site to search for nannies, saying, “The truth is, my toddler, Kit, responds better to good-looking people. And I’m sure I’m not the first parent to think they need a slim and fit nanny to be able to keep up with a busy child – it’s just that many wouldn’t dare to come out and say it!”
What about the not-so-beautiful candidates
So this is what it’s come to. Even before the comments made by Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, there has been plenty of recent criticism of the fashion and entertainment industries for projecting unrealistic ideals regarding physical appearance directed at young people. BeautifulPeople.com’s entry into the recruiting space seems to embody these ideals, turning what some would like to think of as a bad dream into a reality. Do good-looking people have an advantage in the workplace? Most statistics say yes. But now employers have access to a recruiting database that unapologetically screens on looks. How do you tell a candidate who just lost out on a job opportunity to a better-looking, less-qualified candidate that they shouldn’t worry, because it’s what’s inside that really counts?
What do you think?
Because I work in a recruiting department with industry professionals, I’m confident that BeautifulPeople.com Recruitment won’t be anywhere near the top of our list for sourcing candidates. However, I foresee the site gaining traction from business owners who have probably screened on looks all along, but just haven’t owned up to it. I’m curious as to what the recruiting community’s take is on a site that provides the opportunity to do what most HR professionals have spent their careers trying to avoid. Recruiters, let me know your thoughts…