[04.11.11] I’m Too Beautiful to Get Hired [Featured]

Help! I’m Too Beautiful to Get Hired


Help! I’m Too Beautiful to Get Hired | CAREEREALISM.comRecently, I got an e-mail from a reader who was convinced she was getting discriminated against in her job search because she was too attractive. She gave several examples where she said the hiring manager was clearly intimidated by her beauty. A little hard to imagine, right? My immediate reaction was, “Too pretty? Hmmm. I think you may be pretty full of yourself.” That’s until I asked lawyer and discrimination expert, Donna Ballman. Here’s what she shared:

“As a lawyer who has practiced employment law for 25 years, I’ve definitely seen cases of discrimination based upon beauty. In general, the standards are applied differently based on gender. Although appearance discrimination isn’t illegal, sex discrimination most certainly is. When clients (usually female) come to me with this issue, I ask if people of the opposite sex are treated the same. Usually I have beautiful women who are pigeonholed. Assumptions are made that she can’t perform certain jobs, but handsome men are happily hired and promoted. The same would apply to men though. If a company hired beautiful women but didn’t want handsome men in the same position, that would also be discrimination (you might see this with receptionists, pharmaceutical reps or waitresses as examples).

The other thing I see are women who are not hired or disciplined because their clothing or makeup are not appropriate. That’s not illegal. I tell them to cover up and tone it down so they’re not a distraction.

One more point – if a sexy woman isn’t hired or promoted because the company assumes she’ll become a sexual harassment victim, that would also be illegal. It’s gender stereotyping. The company has a duty to maintain a workplace that’s sexual harassment-free.”

That’s why Donna joined me last Friday on “Career Reality TV!” Watch the episode below!

Who is Donna Ballman?

Donna Ballman is the award-winning author. She’s been practicing employment law, including negotiating severance agreements, in Florida since 1986. Her blog on employee-side employment law issues is called, Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home. She has over 2,100 followers on Twitter as @EmployeeAtty. She has taught continuing legal education classes for lawyers and accountants and has published articles on employment law topics such as severance, non-compete agreements, discrimination, sexual harassment, and avoiding litigation. She’s been interviewed by MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, Lifetime Television Network, Daily Business Review, and many other media outlets on employment law issues.

Wish you could have watched the show live? Sign-up below to receive weekly reminders and updates about “Career Reality TV.”


J.T. O’Donnell is the founder of CAREEREALISM.com and CEO of CareerHMO.com, a web-based career development company.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. This is only true if the majority of the other women (or the wife) are unattractive. If there are a lot of attractive people in a workplace then there would be no problem.

  2. The most bizarre experience was/is when a male co-worker creates a hostile environments against a women, of all things because he felt married women do not have to or should not be working, then proceed to continuously ask where their husbands are and make crude remarks about the woman if she is talking to other men in the work place or more idiotically commenting “she walks around like she is not married” – idiotic but really ridiculous when all the person is doing is working with different groups and quite well at that, but this is something that happened and it was one of the most insane workplaces ever encountered. Of course the same male had no problem as long as he was the one spoken to – which is even more harassing because it is obvious the guy was a psycho trying to control another person, but did they fire him even though he had a reputation for harassing women at his former company too… no! Instead he gets a promotion, nuts is what that place was to work in, but complaints where met with its all in your head… so much for the district manager doing anything about it after that type of response- a year later he ended up getting let go. Better to get out of these situations that stay, nothing ever gets better in workplaces like that.

  3. What usually happens to me is if the hiring manager is male, I definitely get the job. If the hiring manager is female, I might get an interview but not much more. It’s so very frustrating! I almost feel they think if their husband happens to come up to the office and becomes acquainted with me, that things could go wrong for them somehow. That is SO not the case! I am happily married… So what’s all the prissy non-hiring drama about? By the way, I dress very professionally; completely covered but usually wear standard height stilettos. Just because I’m professional in my dress enough to be able to tolerate stilettos all day doesn’t mean I’m a hooker trying to steal your man!

    • Oh wow. I have been going through the same thing! Looking for a serving job. Like you said, if its a women boss they say they are not hireing but if it a male I get hired that day! What I like to do is walk in and ask for a manager right away. Most female servers will even say the manager won’t be in for a month, week ext. Find a male in the building and ask him, he will find the manager for you. Ask if they are looking for servers or bartender whatever and I know it sounds silly for a serving position but have a resume on you and hand it to him. Talk about your skills tell him when your available. Thank him and make sure you give that jealous hater a big smile on the way out. Remember its one of the best complaments you could ever get that you are sooo good looking you can make someone hate you and act so ulgy when you have done nothing to them but walk in the room! Nothing makes me feel better! Hope we NEVER have a female president. Women can be so nasty they might do somthing like bomb Brazil cuz they hear a man talk about how pritty the women are!

    • Thank you! I was starting to feel insane. I did a group interview the other day for a company my friend works for. I am qualified and experienced, but thanks to my friend I also was far more prepared for the interview than the other candidates. During a certain question, they ALL suggested doing something against company policy (taking children off to a separate play area so as to distract them while dealing with their parents), but I was better prepared and able to answer it an a more effective manner. There were a few other things too, but I did the best out of all six people, with another pretty girl also doing well. Neither of us were hired! A dumpy unattractive girl who didn’t seem to understand the questions and also was told more than once that her answer “was against company policy and not an acceptable way to handle the situation” was hired for the job. She’s less experienced and less qualified, and according to my friend in the company, was marked at only 51% in her original solo interview, compared with my 89%.

      The ONLY difference was the interviewer; the first solo interview was carried out by a panel of two men and an attractive woman. The group interview was carried out by an overweight, unattractive woman, who looked me up and down in a judgemental way when I walked in the door (I was wearing a knee length office dress and a blazer, with only mascara and foundation on, it’s not like I looked unprofessional or trampy), and I feel like she judged me immediately based on my looks. The girl they hired wore a mid-thigh length grey skater dress and had a shirt over it, tied at her waist. Actually a cute outfit, but not at all interview appropriate. I suggested to my friend that there may have been some bias, and she said that the same woman (HR manager believe it or not) had made a snide comment to her about her recent engagement, saying “girly girls like you just think they’re entitled to everything” when she said she wanted to re-size the engagement ring. She also made a joke about my friend only getting hired because the man who had interviewed her “probably believed in affirmative action”, so she just seems like a terrible person.

      I work hard to look good, I eat right, take care of my skin, exercise, and endured years of dental work. I also worked hard on my career, enduring years of university and unpaid internships; why should my looks matter at all?

      Apparently the head manager is unhappy with the final selection, as he attended the original solo interviews, so there may be some changes yet, but I’m still really upset!

  4. I was told, to my face, by the hiring manager of the office, that he almost didn’t want to hire me bacause I was, “a sexual harrassment lawsuit waiting to happen”. I did get hired, and discriminated on in other ways; (example: he wouldn’t put me on (SALES) leads but wanted me there when others didn’t have to be there. He had me document manufacturing and doing clerical when I was hired for sales. After three months, I was not put on a single lead!) I had to quit because I was sad and in a position that I was NOT hired for (office admin, when hired for sales). It was hard on me and I am happy to hear that I don’t have to sit down for less because of this physical disability. Being that attractive looks is something that most would think would only get you privilege, most are not compassionate, nor give good advice on this matter. Being treated fairly is important, especially when you have mouths to feed. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Knowing the law will enable me to be more effective in the future.

  5. Innocent bystander

    I have seen this in the workplace. An IT consulting firm terminated the employment of a woman b/c of her looks. Apparently she was too much of a distraction to the men in the office.

    Studies have shown that attractive (and taller) people are paid more and get promoted more.

    So it seems to me that it is quite possible she isn’t being hired b/c she is too attractive.

    • Ron,

      Thanks for sharing this. It’s exactly what we are referring to. Honestly, we are all guilty of discrimination. We do it every day. So, why would we assume hiring managers would be free of it?

      I am fascinated by this because I actually see it as an opportunity. If you know you could be discriminated against, you can prepare and find a way to work around it.

      Great stuff and I hope you’ll be joining us online Friday. Viewers participate by Twitter and Email with us during the show. Your comments would be a nice addition!

      • Good point Jeremy, most folks don’t put picture on a resume. But, given we do add them on LinkedIn and Twitter, and that 4 out fo 5 hiring managers admit to checking out a candidate’s social media profile before contacting them, the problem still remains that you could get discriminated against.

      • I have been asked for it more than once for applications for service positions. For the record, I mean assistant managing jobs in trendy cafes and bars, not waitressing at Hooters. I have stopped applying for jobs that require photographs as part of the application. It’s demeaning. I have a Master’s degree, I shouldn’t have to take selfies to be considered for a job. Look at my experience, not my face.

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