There’s a notion in America that we control our own destinies. If we’re hard-working, creative, and personable, we tell ourselves, we stand a fighting chance of getting ahead. To some extent, this is true, but as Marnie Soman Schwartz explains in an eye-opening Shape story titled “4 Weird Things That Affect Your Salary,” our talents and work habits aren’t the only predictors of how much we’ll earn. Read on and see what might be helping or hurting your chances of making the money you want.
1. Emotional Intelligence — This one actually makes sense. Researchers refer to one’s ability to read other people’s feelings as “emotion recognition ability,” and data out of Germany suggests this skill translates to higher earnings. As Schwartz writes, it’s all about navigating the “office social scene” in pursuit of your goals.
2. Childhood Academic Performance — According to a U.K. study, one’s math and reading achievements at the age of seven predict economic status later in life. What’s more, researchers at the University of Miami have found that each one-point increase in the high school GPA of females translates to a 14 percent jump in yearly salary.
3. Looks — We’d all like to think that once high school is behind us, and we’re in the professional world, we’re judged on our intelligence and character, not on our appearance. Turns out this might not be true, unfortunately. A decade into their careers, Schwartz reports, women “earn about $2,000 more each year for every point on a five-point attractiveness scale.” Other findings suggests tall women earn more, while overweight ladies make less.
4. Name Length — If you’re on the fence between, say, Beth and Elizabeth, listen up: Folks with shorter names have been found to make more dough, and Schwartz says each extra letter could cost you $3,600 per year. There was, however, at least one exception, and if your birth certificate says “Lawrence,” stick with that, not Larry.