If you’re a male, yes — your handsomeness may well speed you along the hiring path. But if you’re a good-looking female — watch out. The green eye of jealousy could be waiting to trip you up and send your resume to Nowhere-Land.
These findings are based on a study conducted by economists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel who sent 5,312 résumés to over 2,600 employers with advertised job openings. Two virtually identical résumés were mailed, one including a photo of the (supposed) applicant and the other, with no attached photo. Sometimes that photo was a good-looking man or woman and sometimes, a plainer-looking man or woman. (Sending photos with résumés is common in Israel and while not typical here, the practice is slowly picking up steam).
Which applicants were later contacted for job interviews? Of the males, 19.9 percent with accompanying photos of handsome faces received callback responses. Only 13.7 percent of the guys with plain looking photos were contacted. But for the men who sent in no photos — a mere 9.2 percent received callbacks.
Interestingly, These responses were reversed for the female candidates. Those who sent in no photograph at all had the highest 16.6 percent callback rate. Those who sent in plainer photos had a 13.6 percent rate. And at the bottom of the pile, résumés with attached photos of attractive women had the lowest callback response of all — only 12.8 percent.
These differences were not mirrored when résumés were sent to employment agencies where the response rate was the same for ALL categories of women: pretty, plain and cagey non-photo-senders.
So what’s going on here? Why the big difference between women applying for jobs at employment agencies versus the actual companies doing the hiring? Why were these employers discriminating against good-looking women? The answer is that sneaky little evil called jealousy. Investigating the employer’s hiring policies, the researchers discovered the person in charge of selecting résumés for further consideration was invariably a single young woman, 23 to 34 years old. The investigators concluded these women felt threatened when confronted by attractive young female competition.
The survey also brought out different reactions to résumés accompanied by photos, depending on the candidate’s gender. When a man’s résumé featured his photo, employers saw this as positive, as an affirmation of his confidence and presentability. However when a woman’s résumé accompanied her photo, they saw this as negative, as an attempt to use her looks to secure an advantage over other candidates.
What’s your reaction to the practice of sending applicant photos with résumés?
More on the career path: