Hot Guys Get More Job Interviews, Hot Women Get Fewer

A new study shows that an attractive photo may give men's resumes and edge. But for women, it's better to be faceless.

Economics researchers Bradley Ruffle and Ze'ev Shtudiner sent pairs of resumes to 2656 different jobs — the resumes were almost the same except that one was without a picture, while the other included a headshot of an attractive or "plain" applicant (apparently "job applicants in Europe and in Israel increasingly imbed a headshot of themselves in the top corner of their CVs"). Result: sexy dudes got callbacks twice as often as no-picture guys, but plainer guys were half as likely to get a call as those who left their appearance a mystery. But for women, pictureless resumes fared better than either plain or attractive headshots. If an outside employment agency was hiring, women with pictures did about the same (but still worse than pictureless women) regardless of what they looked like — but if the company itself hired, attractive women were especially penalized.

The study authors speculate that employers may have judged women for including a picture at all. They asked employers what "message" a picture sends, and got the following response:

Thirty-six percent of the respondents reacted positively to males' inclusion of a picture, invoking terms such as "presentable" and "confident". Only 28% of the respondents expressed negative associations for male photographs. By contrast, negative sentiments were the predominant response (56%) to females CVs with pictures. "Not serious" and "an attempt to market herself via her appearance" were among the reactions. A mere 12% of respondents expressed a positive association.

The authors also speculate that jealousy on the part of female HR workers may have contributed to discrimination against good-looking female applicants. Whatever the cause, it's interesting to note that beauty isn't necessarily always a privilege for women — in at least some situations, it can also be a disadvantage.

Are Attractive People More Employable? [NYT Economix Blog]
Are Good-Looking People More Employable? [SSRN]

Image via Vartanov Anatoly/Shutterstock.com