Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hiring For Looks – How Far is Too Far?

I know, it seems that every month or so, someone publishes an article on how “more attractive people” have more successful careers, or something of that nature.

What always mystifies me is why anyone thinks that they need to do research on this? Isn’t it obvious? Haven’t we all been in a room at some point, where someone has been discussing two candidates for a position, and someone has said, “well, this is a difficult decision; Edna and Cindy-Lou are both equally qualified, but Cindy-Lou looks like she stepped off the cover of a magazine.” And guess who got hired? (I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t Edna).

And just to be clear, I am guilty of having been swayed by someone’s looks in the hiring process as well. I’m no saint. And in our business, I think it is just an honest statement to say that we ALWAYS consider how a person looks when we think about sticking them out in front of our customers.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t hire people that are over-weight or in some other way don’t fit the mould of a typical fashion model, but we do consider how they present themselves as a component of whether or not we want them out there as our first line of defence.

The point of my original question stems from my having just returned from lunch at my local Earl’s Restaurant where I was reminded, with glaring clarity, that they ONLY seem to hire fashion models, as does Joey’s, Cactus Club and Browns Social House.

Don’t misunderstand me, my server was competent as well as exceedingly attractive, but really, where do they possibly find so many women who look almost identical?

It’s like being in the middle of a variation of the Stepford Wives, only this version is the Stepford Servers and they’ve ramped it up a notch to say the least.

What I can’t figure out, is how they get away with hiring only a certain “body type” and then subsequently convincing them to pour themselves into some low cut mini dress and giant high heels?

Or, am I just naïve?

I get it that these restaurants are giving the majority of their patrons exactly what they want, but is the point that I have been missing up til now is that the servers know it too, and what’s more, they’re perfectly fine with it. In fact, they’re delighted by it as well because they are busy, their average check is high, and their tips are extremely high (I have to assume).

This is not the first time that I have wondered about this, but it is the first time that I have realized that I probably have this all wrong. Yes, they are selectively hiring, but is it also that their applicant pool is in fact largely of this nature in the first place?

I mean, it’s not a secret what the servers in these restaurants look like, so maybe, just maybe, some smart and attractive women have been saying to themselves, hey, why wouldn’t I want to work here, be appreciated for how attractive I am, use that to my benefit, and make ten times what I would if I took the “high road”, wore my turtle neck, my floor length skirt, my flats and worked at Red Lobster.

Maybe, as has been the case in other instances, we’re trying to “rescue” people who don’t need or want to be rescued, but who instead, know exactly what they’re doing. They’re working the system to their benefit, thanks very much, now go save someone else.

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