Ever since mankind took its first steps, it looked for ways to satisfy its needs. One of these needs is physical and emotional pleasure, which spawns the desire to provide for one’s family. When people ask, “Do looks matter in business?”, one cannot help but juxtapose these two forces in order to get the answer.

No newsflash

Surely you have seen the numerous “exposeés” that release stories on companies hiring employees based on looks, or giving salaries to the more “gifted” employees. Exposé? Breaking news? You know, “denial” is not just a river in Africa; it is also flooding everything in the job market and today’s society.

How many times have you walked into an office and had a bombshell of a receptionist greet you? Let’s make one thing clear: the number one thing any executive looks for in an assistant is a combination of competence, professionalism and performance. The second thing they look for has to do with having a certain look . Anyone that says otherwise has smoke emanating from his pants.

Surely having Gisele Bundchen as your colleague is useless if she cannot get the job done. But given two equally trained, educated and performing candidates, whom would you choose: the eye candy or the rotten tooth?

Who’s the finest of them all?

Before all the disgruntled females ship Gloria Steinem to my office, let me state that in the 21st century, this applies to both sexes, albeit to varying degrees.

In business, it’s only normal for successful people to prefer hanging out with equally successful, or ambitious people. Similarly, we would rather be around good-looking people if for no other reason than considering those that surround us as extensions or reflections of ourselves. Please remember that these are really not necessarily my points of view, but generally accepted principles.

All this is nice and dandy, but ultimately, what does this mean if you are good-looking or more importantly, if you are not?

Performance, then presentation

Jerry Seinfeld once said 85% of people are un-dateable, but what percentage are un- hireable ? After all, business is all about presentation, and if you need to be confined to the storage room when clients come by, will you be hired in the first place?

Of course you will. Business is really about performance. Otherwise, how could such un-dateable people hook up with such good-looking people? Because they get hired, they perform, they rise to the top, and as a result, they peak women’s interests.

Maybe this is oversimplifying the issue, but the truth is that while looks may help you get that interview or even land you that job, sitting there and looking pretty will land you on the unemployment line quicker than you can strike a pose.

Damn you’re fine

Others are more fortunate. They get noticed the moment they step into a room, people want to get to know them better, some wish to hire them on the spot, and even others wish for more. These people have the opportunity to shine handed to them on a silver platter.

What happens afterwards comes down to performance. You see, over time, looks get neutralized, but performance does not (in business). There will always be a better looking person just waiting for your spot and if that’s all you have going for you, then you will be out of luck — especially if the Tom Cruise look-alike also has Jack Welch leadership skills.

Some people fear that their looks are what got them into a certain position. If this is the case, it comes down to what you are comfortable with. If you could care less and are willing to play along with this game, then so be it. Who am I, and who are the purists to say otherwise?

The problem arises for those that do wish to stand on their performance and not their looks. In that case, you should strive to find jobs that consider good looks a bonus (sales, for example), but require results in order to survive (such as consulting). Only then will you know that you are being appreciated for your brain rather than brawn.

On that note, I am off to conduct some interviews.

Ash Karbasfrooshan is also the author of Course To Success, available at www.CourseToSuccess.com.