6 Things They Say Hurt Careers (That Statistics Say Help)
With economic recovery moving slower than a stoned snail and companies receiving 10,000 applications for 90 positions, everyone's concerned with job security. But have no fear, we at Cracked are here to help.
It turns out that many of the ways we intuitively believe we're improving our success in the workforce are totally wrong. If you want to get ahead, you'd be better advised to ...
Start Drinking at Bars
Whatever positive thing you can say about alcohol (like, say, you have it to thank for the loss of your virginity), it sure as hell isn't going to help your career. Climbing the corporate ladder takes a lot of hard work, while spending nights out drinking means you're always calling in sick or spending half the shift hung over. So workers who frequently visit bars to drink away their problems must be making less than their hardworking coworkers who stay late at the office, right?
Not so, says the Journal of Labor Research. Their studies found that social drinkers earned 7 percent more, and people who frequented bars on a regular basis earned a whopping 10 to 14 percent more, than non-drinkers.
"Hey, my stocks are up. I think I'll burn a $100 bill in front of a homeless guy in celebration."
Why? Well as any fraternity brother trying to justify his 1.5 GPA will tell you, it's not about what you know, it's about who you know. It's all about networking. Workers who regularly visit bars are able to build better relationships with coworkers and make all sorts of contacts outside their company. The guy you're singing karaoke with tonight is the same supervisor who might be giving out promotions six months from now, or the client you'll be trying to sell to next week.
"You're a terrible doctor, Steve, but you're a hell of a good time. How's head of surgery sound?"
On the other hand, sober working drones may be seen as good workers, but are less likely to make these close personal relationships. And with as many as four out of five promotions being based on those kind of relationships, building that camaraderie with coworkers is more likely to get you that promotion than, say, constantly working. And nothing builds closer relationships like being a wing man for the boss at a bar.
And yes, we're referring to our hypothetical drinker as a male for a reason -- the data shows this trend is only applicable to men, as no correlation between bar visits and paycheck size was found for women.
And just in case you thought that the rule is as simple as "Be a nice guy and you'll be rewarded," it actually turns out that it's more helpful to ...
Be a Jerk
You'd think that just straight being an asshole would be the quickest and easiest way to fail a job interview, or at least alienate your coworkers and make the daily grind much grindier for everybody. But there is an upside to being the biggest dick in your office -- an upside to the tune of $9,772 annually, or more than enough to cover a year's worth of anger management lessons.
That's how much more men who are rated "more disagreeable" than their nicer counterparts make on average, according to a survey by researchers at Notre Dame and University of Western Ontario. The kicker is that this was a self-survey -- the participants aren't people who don't realize they're coming off like dicks, but people who proudly announce it.
"I will work-fuck you until your soul evaporates!"
Now, you might be thinking that the connection between success and dickishness goes the other way -- that these are people like Dr. House, who know they're great at their jobs, and thus know they can afford to act like cockholes. But the same researchers approached it from the other direction and found that being a jerk also makes you more likely to get hired in the first place, even if the nicer people are equally qualified.
Their study presented 460 students with a list of candidates for a fictitious consulting position and asked them to hire someone. All other things being equal, candidates who were flat-out described as "more agreeable" were less likely to get the job, while more obnoxious candidates were more successful.
Some of you have already guessed why. The effect was more pronounced in men, leading researchers to speculate that managers and interviewers are subconsciously looking for traditional masculine alpha-male characteristics, which, right or wrong, we associate with being kind of a douchebag. So it's kind of a circular argument that goes on in the minds of the people doing the hiring: Dr. House types can be jerks because they're geniuses and thus confident, therefore when we see a guy acting like a jerk, we figure he must be a genius like Dr. House.
"No, you can't have the promotion, but you can have two for flinching."
You don't have to agree with it to acknowledge that it goes on. So if you want to impress your boss, just put bees in your coworker's lunchbox. And while you're at it ...
Yes, it turns out it's not just being a general dick that earns you a fat bonus on your paycheck. Specifically, having watched too many episodes of Mad Men can grant you an advantage in the workplace. It turns out that being a chauvinist pig boosts your earning potential by $11,930 annually.
But why are sexist men rewarded for exhibiting culturally unacceptable behavior, especially when sexism lawsuits against corporations are up by more than 25 percent over the last five years? Don't blame the system; a sexist douche (we'll call him "Chad") actually has a competitive advantage when negotiating a salary.
It starts with the fact that one consistently successful way to get more money from your job is to ask for it. This is one of those times when a sense of entitlement helps you -- march into the boss's office and insist that you're owed more money, and he'll eventually give in. Aggressive negotiators end up earning more than $600,000 over the course of their careers than their coworkers who learned manners.
Which brings us back to Chad. You see, Chad not only thinks Pam likes getting her ass smacked because look at what she's wearing. In his small mind rests another idea: That men should earn more money than women, because men have families to support. That's going to motivate him to storm into the manager's office more often than his more enlightened coworkers. Thanks to his "My dick deserves more cash" philosophy, Chad will soon be rolling in the dough. Though he'll request that his female coworkers knead it first.
"Going ... down?"
Grow a Mustache
The mustache has gone through an interesting evolution. After the '70s, its popularity sharply declined, resulting in the cancellation of Magnum, P.I. in 1988. Loggers and rednecks kept "the stache" alive in the '90s, but somehow the modern mustache got corrupted after being adopted as the universal symbol of pedophiles and hipsters.
This negative perception of the mustache has even started to influence workplace policy. Many employers are starting to adopt stricter policies toward facial hair in the workplace, with some banning it altogether.
We have no idea why.
So unless you're applying for a position at NAMBLA, it seems that sporting a mustache is a sure promotion-killer, right? Bizarrely, a survey conducted by finance management company Quicken, in conjunction with the American Mustache Institute (how did we not know that existed until today?), found that men with mustaches take home 8.2 percent more money than bearded employees and 4.3 percent more than clean-shaven employees.
That's right, it's that stupid upper-lip hair that's actually important, to the point where continuing to a full beard can be career poison.
Yeah, tell that to Santa. We dare you.
Though the researchers didn't offer an explanation, it's possible that mustached men make more money for the same reason that women prefer men with facial hair. Studies have found that men with heavy or light facial hair are perceived by women as more masculine, aggressive and socially mature.
But there's a reason why mustached men aren't all millionaires. The Quicken study found that mustached men had worse personal finance habits than clean-shaven men, saving 3 percent less and spending 11 percent more. What, you think a perfectly groomed 'stache comes cheap?
"My face is worth more than your car."
Get Fat (if You're a Guy)
It's no secret that society isn't too fond of overweight people. And nowadays many companies are encouraging their employees to slim down by holding weight loss challenges (it helps keep health care premiums down, obviously). And just in general, isn't it the slim, handsome, athletic types who are always winning in life? That's what TV has taught us, right?
Actually, overweight men are earning significantly more than men who aren't nicknamed "E. Honda." Even more amazing is that there's a linear correlation between weight and annual salary, meaning the fattest men are bringing home the fattest paychecks.
And as the above graph shows, ladies get the short end of the stick again, as heavy women 10 pounds overweight earn about $25,000 less than women who are 70 pounds below average. What? 70 pounds below average! With the average woman weighing 165 pounds, that means the richest women weigh about 95 pounds, and are nothing more than skin and bones.
"For breakfast, I like to open the door and just take a deep smell."
This difference is again the result of Hollywood's stereotype of gender. Women on the silver screen today are far skinnier than their counterparts from 50 years ago, and this has given us the unrealistic expectation that women in real life should be that skinny. On the flip side, skinny men are typically assumed to be "sneaky," "weak," "nervous" and "sick."
So if you're working around the clock sacrificing your health to get a pay raise, you'll probably be better off not filling out your paperwork and instead coating your reports in gravy and eating them.
"Jenkins is a vegan. That granola-munching bastard doesn't stand a chance."
Be Less Attractive (If You're a Woman)
By now the ladies of the Cracked community must be feeling a little jilted; getting drunk won't make you richer, eating delicious fatty foods makes you poorer, and the known status of mustached women in the workplace is inconclusive at best. But here's something only women can do to increase their odds of getting hired: get ugly.
Conventional wisdom dictates that beautiful people are more likely to succeed in the working world, and everywhere else. And that may be true for certain jobs (specifically, where guys are doing the hiring and the applicant is in a position where she is visible to customers). But it's not true on the whole.
"That's nice, can you just sort of jiggle around for me?"
At least, that was the conclusion of two Israeli researchers with borderline creepy access to thousands of female photos. These researchers sent out 5,312 paired resumes to job openings, with each pair being almost identical, except for one small detail. One resume in each pair contained a picture of either an attractive or an average-looking man or woman.
The researchers found that female applicants who didn't enclose a photo were 22 percent more likely to get the job than plain-looking female applicants and, strangely, 30 percent more likely to get the job than attractive female applicants. Being pretty made you less likely to get the job, with the exact same resume.
"It's been four hours ... wait, is this a broom closet?"
However, the researchers noticed that there was a huge disparity between the responses of women recruited directly by the company and those recruited through other means, like an employment agency. Attractive women recruited directly by the company got a response rate half that of plain Jane's and non-pictured women. Why?
"Your resume looks great. So tell me, what's it like to be a dirty, filthy whore?"
Well, the theory is that attractive women were less likely to get jobs when directly recruited because the person in human resources conducting the interview was almost always a young, single woman. That is, the type of person who not only isn't going to be hypnotized by the size of pretty eyes and big boobs, but also might, for whatever reason, take some pleasure in shooting down such an applicant. The researchers speculated that a young single woman might view a pretty girl as competition, but they have no way of knowing that. All we know is it's kind of depressing to think that actual hiring decisions are made based on a human resources person being afraid someone else will win Chad's heart.
Mike Cooney is a freelancer and can be contacted at Mikey.Cooney@gmail.com.
For more reasons why you're terrible at your job, check out 5 Scientific Reasons You're a Bad Employee. But just be glad you aren't one of The 7 Most Impressively Lazy Employees of All-Time.
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