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Do Looks Really Matter in Closing Sales and Climbing the Ladder?

Do Looks Really Matter in Closing Sales and Climbing the Ladder?

We often hear that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. However, such conventional wisdom may not always apply in the workplace. Studies indicate that your physical appearance can have a significant impact on your choice of career and professional advancement.

People of all ages, from schoolchildren to office workers, are perceived based on their looks, notes researcher and author on physical attractiveness, Dr. Gordon L Patzer.[1] “What you look like—or, more importantly, how your looks are perceived (by others and by yourself)—shapes your life in dozens of subtle and not so subtle ways from cradle to grave,” says Dr. Patzer. In his studies, he illustrates this with examples of cuter newborns, who will be embraced more, and fifth-graders who are treated more leniently by their teachers because they have more pleasing facial features.

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Similar trends can be observed in the workplace. Unsurprisingly, women often feel stronger pressure than men to maintain an attractive appearance. A study conducted in 2005[2] by sociologists at NYU found that if a woman gains a noticeable amount of weight, she is likely to see a decrease in her earnings as well as in her professional status. This is less often the case for men, with whom society is much more forgiving.

According to this study, “body mass is also associated with a reduction in a woman’s likelihood of marriage, her spouse’s occupational prestige, and her spouse’s earnings. However, consistent with past research, men experience no negative effects of body mass on economic outcomes. Age splits show that it is among younger adults where BMI effects are most robust, lending support to the interpretation that it is BMI causing occupational outcomes and not the reverse.”

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Inversely, women will sometimes find that being too attractive can hinder their professional advancement. The same study notes that women who are deemed “too attractive” are not taken seriously, and viewed with suspicion by both their male and female colleagues. There is no way to gauge the ideal level of attractiveness, but it is evident that from an early age and throughout their careers, women are held to much higher levels of scrutiny than men.

One challenge that both men and women share is aging – older workers in certain fields must compete with younger people whose naturally youthful appearances make them seem more qualified to keep up with current trends in technology and business. For more mature professionals, that can mean going under the knife. While cosmetic surgery has long been considered the sole preserve of Hollywood superstars, the popularity of surgical and minimally invasive procedures has risen significantly over the past years. Botox, for instance, has seen a 335% rise in popularity[3] among men since the year 2000.

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Cosmetic surgery is not a cheap endeavor, costing tens of thousands of dollars for certain procedures. However, if spending lots of money now could mean making more money in the future, then it’s not much of a surprise that people are willing to take that financial risk. “The competitive job market is often cited as the main motivating factor for men to get plastic surgery,” says Dr. Douglas Steinbrech,[4] a New York plastic surgeon who caters to a predominantly male clientele. “Men are definitely paying more attention and investing more into their appearance than before. In order of popularity, they are lining up for nose jobs, eyelid surgery, breast reduction (gynecomastia), liposuction, and face-lifts. Men now account for more than 10 percent of plastic surgery patients.”

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but with proper grooming he can still win prizes.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Chris Barry

freelance writer

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

  • Taking a job for the money
  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

1. Be a Mentor

When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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This can get you stuck.

Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
  2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

2. Work on Your Mindset

Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

3. Improve Your Soft Skills

When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

    According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

    You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

    Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

    Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why do you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    Define success to get promoted

      These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

      Final Thoughts

      After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

      Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

      More Tips on How to Get Promoted

      Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

      Reference

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