how looks can affect a job search

6 Dec

This article, “Beauty Discrimination During a Job Search,” discusses a study conducted by economists at a university in Israel that questioned whether including a picture of an attractive man or woman with a résumé would increase someone’s chances of getting called back for an in-person interview. It showed that attractive men were more likely to get called back than “plain” men, or men who didn’t send in pictures, but surprisingly (at least to me), it also found that attractive women are less likely to get called back for an interview.

When I first saw the article title, I thought that it was going to say attractive people were more likely to be successful across the board – isn’t that what we’re always told? But when examining their findings, the people who conducted to research found that most people who screen résumés are young, usually single, women. The article offers two explanations for the discrepancy of their discrimination. One is that they are intimidated by other young, attractive women, but I think the other is more compelling: that there is a double standard that men can advertise their looks but women should not. When a man sends in a picture, it could be seen as going the extra step and saying, “I’m the one you want for this job,” whereas when a woman sends in a photograph she is construed as trying to use her beauty to get ahead.

I think that this double standard definitely exists in our society – you see it all the time with movie stars: men who do scenes that show off their bodies are just talented actors who happen to be “hot,” whereas women who do the same are untalented and just relying on their physique. It never occurred to me that this double standard would exist in the business world, but I suppose it does make sense. The trouble is that I can’t see a way to fix it. If more men start screening applicants, won’t it be just as likely that they’ll send through more attractive women? And even if companies request that applicants don’t send in photographs, discrimination based on appearance is still possible in the event of an in-person interview. Maybe this is a pessimistic perspective, but I think the only thing that could fix this problem is time and more education on these ridiculous double standards that so many of us adhere to.


2 Responses to “how looks can affect a job search”

  1. ysamar December 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    This is ridiculous. The business world, instead of focusing on smarts, they would rather focus on beauty. If a woman sends in a photo she’s trying to use her looks but if a man sends in a photo he is just pursuing the position. Does this mean that women who are naturally pretty won’t get good jobs because all of a sudden they use their looks to get the position? What is she supposed to do? Make sure she looks as ugly as she can? The society norm is just to deep in and it will never change until a miracle happens.

    • oleggusev December 19, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      WOW!!! I didn’t see that one coming. I totally thought that pretty people are more likely to get the job, especially women. I know that in my country (Russia) that is true. In Russia a lot of times girls get jobs only because of their looks. Even if one girl is more qualified than other, employers often choose beauty over brain. But that is not true for men. If a handsome man attaches a picture of himself to his resume, that means that he is cocky, and not a hard worker. I definitely see why the article states that good-looking women are not as likely to get a job. Intimidation and jealousy are some powerful feelings. If women are the ones that go over the resumes than most pretty women don’t stand a chance.

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