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Want a Job? Attractiveness Matters

Posted By Jim On 12/09/2010 @ 7:28 am In Personal Finance | 17 Comments

True or false: Employers are more likely to call attractive candidates than plain candidates.

The answer, according to a study by Bradley J. Ruffle and Ze’ev Shtudiner [3] of job applicants in Europe and Israel, is true… if you are male. If you’re female, it’s better to be plain!

Check out their abstract:

Job applicants in Europe and in Israel increasingly imbed a headshot of themselves in the top corner of their CVs. We sent 5312 CVs in pairs to 2656 advertised job openings. 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. Employer callbacks to attractive men are significantly higher than to men with no picture and to plain-looking men, nearly doubling the latter group. Strikingly, attractive women do not enjoy the same beauty premium. In fact, women with no picture have a significantly higher rate of callbacks than attractive or plain-looking women. We explore a number of explanations and provide evidence that female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace is a primary reason for the punishment of attractive women.

It’s important to note that in Israel, including a headshot is not taboo but it’s also not expected. In most countries in continental Europe, it’s actually a social norm to include a headshot. They found that men who were attractive and included a heatshot outperformed those without headshots or those who were “plain” looking. With women, the highest response rate was for no pictures (also, plain outperformed attractive).

I’m curious how his would play out here in the United States where headshots are not common (at least I don’t think they are?)…


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[3] study by Bradley J. Ruffle and Ze’ev Shtudiner: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1705244

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