Editor’s Comment: The recruitment catwalk

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Annie Ward

Liars are more likely to land a job than 'honest Jims' and joining the rogue traders at the front of the jobs queue are those with a Danny De Vito height advantage; Editor’s Comment looks at why our recruitment methods are as prehistoric as the woolly mammoths.

By Annie Hayes, HRZone Editor

It has been claimed that height plays a distinct factor in a man’s earning potential.

Research by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies in Paris reported in the Times, says that with identical levels of educational attainment, tall men have better careers then short ones.

Accordingly, managers and professionals tend to be an inch taller on average than blue-collar workers. Even within social classes, taller people are more likely to be successful.

Two thousand men were studied as part of the research which classifies short men as those below five foot and tall men as those above five foot 10 inches.

But says author of the study, Nicolas Herpin it isn’t all doom and gloom if you’re the one always looking up: “They [short men] have shown they are hard workers and thereore look like reliable providers; in sum, they are in a position to compensate for their physical handicap.”

Hardwork aside, it appears as though short men are forever trying to catch up and in order to speed up the process they are prepared to fork out as much as £50,000 to have their limbs artificially lengthened by up to four inches.

A height advantage, however, isn’t enough to get you to the top. It helps if you’re a dab hand at bending the truth too.

According to the June edition of the Scientific American Mind we falsify, flatter and manipulate our way to social, professional and economic success.

“Research shows that liars are often better able to get jobs and attract members of the opposite sex.”

But be warned, says professional body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development who reveal in their annual Recruitment, Retention and Turnover Survey a quarter of employers have had to withdraw at least one job offer in the last year after discovering a CV fraudster in their midst.

Yet despite the warnings, plenty of liars are slipping through the net and with many companies admitting that they don’t bother checking references or qualifications it seems that the gamble is paying off.

And it’s bosses that are pandering to our desires to be taller, better looking and slightly more clever for they are the self-confessed philistines who attest to putting looks above competency and skills.

Reported in the Times, as many as one small and medium sized firm in ten relies on looks alone when hiring, while one in five recruits on the candidate’s sense of humour or ‘chemistry’.

This is backed, says the paper, by another survey, this time by the recruiter Robert Half Finance Accounting, which found that almost a quarter of managers decide on a candidate within five minutes of meeting.

And the ‘looks’ phenomena certainly doesn’t mature when we look at the plight of women. I recently commented on the sledgehammer tactics being used by females eager to break through the glass-ceiling.

In a study by the Aziz Corporation it was revealed that as many as a quarter of women in business have admitted to seriously having considered cosmetic surgery to boost their careers.

Twenty-six per cent would contemplate having a face lift, 27% plastic surgery and 28% botox treatments if they thought it would help soothe the way to the dizzying heights of career success.

So it would seem that despite an impressive array of discrimination legislation, a lifetime’s dedication to assessment techniques and competency structures, all bosses really want is someone that looks the part, can better themselves with a liberal smattering of embellishments and spends more of their time looking down then up.

This discovery has led me to believe that the recruiting game is rather like dating. For it makes no difference how many times you’re told that looks aren’t everything when you’re hunting for the ideal partner and despite the warnings and woes of loves past, you simply can't help yourself but repeat the looks over personality cycle.

It is probably inevitable, therefore that men like Arnold Schwarzenegger will always rank over the DeVito’s of the world by virtue of a DNA lucky-dip that favours those with more brawn then brain.

I’d like to hear your views on this issue – will the short and honest always be side-lined?

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