Are good-looking people more employable?

The resumes of "attractive" males received a 19.9 percent response rate, nearly 50 percent higher than the 13.7 percent response rate for "plain" males and more than twice the 9.2 percent response rate of no-picture males. Among women, the BGU study indicates that, contrary to popular belief, "attractive" women are called back for a position LESS often than "plain women" (unattractive), as well as women who had no picture on their resume.

"Good looks" are only sometimes a positive factor in consideration for a job, according to new research from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). In the new working paper, "Are Good-Looking People More Employable?" two economics researchers from BGU prove that a double standard exists between good looks as a positive factor in men and women.

The research involved sending 5,312 CVs (resumes) in pairs to 2,656 advertised job openings in Israel. In each pair, one CV was without a picture while the second, otherwise almost identical CV, contained a picture of either an attractive male/female or a plain-looking male/female. The dependent measure was whether the employer e-mails or calls back the candidate for an interview. Overall, the response rate was 14.5 percent.

"Unlike Anglo-Saxon countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K, it isn't taboo in Israel to embed a headshot of oneself in the top corner of one's job resume," explains BGU economics researcher and lecturer Dr. Bradley Ruffle. "Rather, the choice to include a photograph on one's job resume is left to the candidate with the result that some do, while others don't. This fact makes Israel an opportune location to explore the effect of a picture and its attractiveness, or lack thereof, on the likelihood of being invited for a .

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to explore beauty discrimination in the hiring process of an actual labor market, rather than a laboratory market or hypothetical decision scenario," Ruffle continues.

The resumes of "attractive" males received a 19.9 percent response rate, nearly 50 percent higher than the13.7 percent response rate for "plain" males and more than twice the 9.2 percent response rate of no-picture males.

"It follows that an attractive male needs to send on average five CVs in order to obtain one response, whereas a plain-looking male needs to send 11 for a single response," explains Ze'ev Shtudiner, co-researcher and Ph.D. candidate. However, among women, the BGU study indicates that, contrary to popular belief, "attractive" women are called back for a position LESS often than "plain women" (unattractive), as well as women who had no picture on their resume.

"Among female candidates, no-picture females have the highest response rate, 22 percent higher than plain females and 30 percent higher than attractive females. Our findings on penalization of contradict current psychology and organizational behavior literature on beauty that associate attractiveness, male and female alike, with almost every conceivable positive trait and disposition," explain the authors.

As a result, attractive and plain women alike are better off omitting their photograph from a resume since it decreases their chances of a callback by 20 to 30 percent.

The number of attractive women that were subjected to discrimination varied on who was hiring them, the research shows. When employment agencies received resumes for positions, attractive female candidates were no worse off than plain candidates and penalized only modestly compared to no-picture females.

However, when the corporation at which the candidate might work recruited directly, attractive females received a response rate of about half that of plain and no-picture women. This is likely due to the high number of women in human resources staffing positions, the researchers conclude.

To verify this stereotype, the researchers conducted a post-experiment survey in which they spoke with the person at the company who screens candidates. That person was female in 24 of the 25 (96 percent) of the companies they interviewed. Moreover, these woman were young (ranging in age from 23 to 34 with an average age of 29) and typically single (67 percent) -- qualities more likely to be associated with a jealous response when confronted with a young, attractive competitor in the workplace.

"Indeed, the evidence points to female jealousy of women in the workplace as a primary reason for their penalization in recruitment," Ruffle states.


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Citation: Are good-looking people more employable? (2010, November 30) retrieved 24 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-11-good-looking-people-employable.html
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Nov 30, 2010
Women discriminated against by other women?

This is where feminism squared gives you minus one, proving it was imaginary concept to start with.

Dec 01, 2010
thank god that one day genetic engineering will do away with such inequalities once and for all. Being different is not always a good thing, and least not socially in a world full of bigots.

Dec 01, 2010
ziphead, are you implying that women have always been on equal ground with men in all societies throughout history? Are you denying that people who fought for womens rights were not feminists? Do you believe that women should not have rights? What are you
trying to say with your ambiguous statement?

Dec 01, 2010
There could be a lot of other explanations for this besides a jealous response. How do you reconcile the 33% of not single women's decisions being the same as the single women's? It would be contrary to other evidence to find an identical jealousy response in women who are single as in women who are not single.

Another possibility, among many, is the women hiring could be concerned over whether the more attractive women will result in office sexual/romantic complications. HR seems happiest when employees are never attracted to each other romantically or physically.

Dec 01, 2010
You probably wouldn't want to hire supermodel to programmer position - on the other hand: how high is the probability, you would get a job offer to such position from supermodel?

Dec 01, 2010
thank god that one day genetic engineering will do away with such inequalities once and for all. Being different is not always a good thing, and least not socially in a world full of bigots.

Being the same, or even highly similar, is never biologically advantageous. Let's not let a world full of social bigots dictate how we change our own biology, okay?

Dec 01, 2010
If I were hiring for an office job, I'd hire a plain looking girl. They work harder than the pretty ones. And it's work I want done, right?

Already at school they had to work more to get grades, had to work more to get a boyfriend and keep him, and then at jobs they also had to work harder. The pretty ones get away with being late, doing a sloppy job, cutting corners, and all the men around help them at every step. Getting used to this is not good for your employer.

Heh, and I actually have seen first hand what a gorgeous programmer does to an entire floor of cubicles. Not a pretty sight. And you can forget about productivity, in this case for years.

The worst thing was, she was exceptional in that she didn't seem aware of any of this, and she even worked as hard as anybody.

Dec 01, 2010
The number of attractive women that were subjected to discrimination varied on who was hiring them, the research shows. When employment agencies received resumes for positions, attractive female candidates were no worse off than plain candidates and penalized only modestly compared to no-picture females.

However, when the corporation at which the candidate might work recruited directly, attractive females received a response rate of about half that of plain and no-picture women. This is likely due to the high number of women in human resources staffing positions, the researchers conclude.

This bit transformed my perspective on the results. It's almost too funny to be true.. but it just may be. I have been told by several girls in the past that girls are far more vicious and scheming toward other desirable girls than they ever allow guys to see.

Dec 01, 2010
Another possibility, among many, is the women hiring could be concerned over whether the more attractive women will result in office sexual/romantic complications. HR seems happiest when employees are never attracted to each other romantically or physically.

It would still have to be explained why they're still inclined to hire attractive guys. It's worth investigating, but there's not yet any clear reason from the evidence, and the story you've suggested is missing a piece somewhere.

Regarding what HR wants, I think it's interesting that there are organizational objectives which exist separate and parallel to the desire of each individual in the organization. We shouldn't expect the motivations of the individuals to be insignificant.

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