The Secret to a Raise Isn't What You Think

Want a raise? Forget what you thought you knew.

Earning the salary you deserve isn’t about how hard you work or the strength of your negotiation skills.


Nope. Not at all, apparently.

No – The secret to a raise is based on grooming and attractiveness. At least according to the study, “Gender and the Returns to Attractiveness,” led by sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner.

Sadly, this fact isn’t surprising given the loads of “amazing” advice the internet is serving up lately. Like that brilliant article about how wearing your engagement ring to interviews hurts your employability, for instance. (PS: It doesn’t.)

So forget your college degree and how hard you worked to get where you are in your career. Throw it all out the window! This is what you truly need to make it in life: A face full of makeup.

How Your Looks Affect Your Living Wage

The sociologists held interviews with more than 14,000 people and discovered that nearly 100 percent of the time, a woman’s attractiveness to others comes down to grooming, which affects her living wage.

Yes, apparently wearing makeup directly correlates to income in the 21st century. Women who sport a full face of makeup earn about $4,000 more than those who don’t. Click To Tweet


Guys, you’re not off the hook: Gelled hair and a dapper beard affect your wages, too. Yet, that was only for half of the men in the study, who were cited as good-looking based on grooming habits.

Does that mean you should get a blow-out or apply a fresh coat of lipstick before you talk to your boss?

No, absolutely not.

But this study suggests so.

Attractive” employees are estimated to earn about 20 percent more than those deemed average. That’s in line with the 21 percent wage gap between women and men.


Where do you draw the line between professional dress guidelines and seeming to reward employees based on conventions of attractiveness instead of merit?

When Grooming Matters — but Employability Based on Looks Shouldn’t

Grooming habits matter in the workplace — it’s true. Someone who is well-dressed in clean clothes seems to take pride in their professional appearance, and that’s been an acceptable standard when it comes to fair grooming codes in the office.

Yet, having your salary depend on wearing makeup, and having someone judge your employability on how they define attractiveness, even subconsciously, is ridiculous.

When you ask someone for advice about finally getting the raise you deserve, the first thing you’re told isn’t going to be “put on more makeup” or “trim that beard.”

You’re going to hear more about showing your merit as an employee and standing your ground on negotiations. (As you should.)

It looks pretty grim with statistics like that to ever think you’ll get the raise you’ve earned.

Feel empowered to subvert superficial standards. Be professional and make sure your dress code at work is a professional one.

Makeovers can be fun and good for the soul, but you should only switch up your look for yourself.

Landing Your Raise: Remember Talent Isn’t Based on Attractiveness

Even celebs, under high pressure to look attractive according to society, are giving the cold shoulder to dressing the part.

It’s inspiring to see famous women go without makeup, like when Alicia Keys stepped out onto the red carpet at the BET awards looking like — well, herself. Her musical ability isn’t going to suffer if she doesn’t wear makeup, just like your professional abilities won’t suffer if you don’t look like you’re walking down a red carpet at work.

Although, that would be cool — maybe ask for a red carpet when talking about your raise.

When you schedule a meeting to negotiate your salary, do dress professionally, yes, but be yourself. Show how hard you’ve worked, what you’ve achieved in your position and what your plans are to further be an ally to the company.

Own your value and know your worth, because your raise is worth more than your looks!

What do you think of this study? Keep the conversation going, by commenting, sharing and subscribing to Punched Clocks.

The following two tabs change content below.
Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *