Think twice about a pic with your CV
London – A beautiful woman can use her looks for many things – but getting a job, it seems, is not one of them.
Including a photo with a job application is less likely to lead to an interview for a pretty woman than it is for a plain Jane – or someone who sends no picture at all, research suggests.
In contrast, a handsome man boosts his chances of getting to the next stage of the selection process if he includes a photo.
The researchers say it is likely that women who already work in the company are jealous of beautiful rivals moving on to their territory. The Canadian and Israeli researchers submitted pairs of CVs to more than 2 500 jobs advertised over an 18-month period.
The CVs contained fictional personal details, were designed to make the candidates sound appealing and included good qualifications and work experience.
One CV from each pair contained a photo of someone judged to be attractive or plain – with research showing that the attractive candidates’ were ‘unmistakably better looking’ than the plain ones.
Previous studies have found evidence of a ‘beauty premium’, with good-looking people judged to be brainier and more trustworthy. They also tend to hold more prestigious jobs and be paid more.
In this study, for the female “candidates” the CVs without pictures were most likely to lead to an interview. The applications with photos of plain women were the next most successful, but the beautiful women fared worst.
The findings could not be explained by the jobs, qualifications or amount of public-facing work involved. Researcher Bradley Ruffle, of Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, believes good-looking women are being penalised for their beauty. And with his research showing that most of those doing the recruiting were young, single females, he thinks jealousy is to blame.
He said: “Females in charge of hiring may well be jealous of prospective female employees who are attractive and compete with them for mates, or at least for the attention of male co-workers.”
He said it is also possible that attractive women are seen as “social magnets” who lower productivity. Or, he suggested, men may be deterred from hiring them over fear of a backlash from their spouses.
When it came to the chaps, CVs that included pictures of handsome males were the most successful, while CVs without a photo did next best and plain males fared worst.
Dr Ruffle said: “A plain male needs to send over twice as many CVs as an attractive male for an equal chance at a callback.”
He said that recruitment agencies, in particular, may be relying on photos to choose between identically qualified candidates. Keen to make a good impression with the company using them, they may avoid putting forward unattractive male applicants.
The inclusion of photos with an application is required by law in China and is becoming more popular in Britain.