Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Women Should Not Include Their Picture on their CV/Resume!

According to a study conducted in Israel, the decision of whether to include your photo in your CV depends upon if you are a woman or a man – and how attractive you are! Don’t believe me - take a look at this article: http://www.jpost.com/LifeStyle/Article.aspx?id=197151.

I have always been of the opinion that photos can play a positive role, personalizing a paper CV and helping to bring out the applicant’s three-dimensional reality. Of course, the picture should be appropriate and professional, traditionally a head-shot with a pleasant expression. I have seen CV photos that include half of another person, or where the candidate looks so downcast that it seems someone is forcing them to sit in front of the camera; in these cases the photo does more harm than good. Also, if you are applying for a job and are concerned that your age or religious clothing might make the company less likely to invite you to an interview, then going without a picture may well be the correct decision. I know, some people are probably thinking that if the employer doesn’t want someone 50+ years old, and the candidate is above 50, then they should understand this immediately from the CV and not waste anyone's time. Sometimes though it is possible to overcome such employer restrictions - if you have the opportunity to meet with them, they see that you are composite of many characteristics, only one of which is something that is not to their liking. Therefore, saving this sensitive discussion for a personal interview rather than when you are simply evaluated based upon your CV is always preferable.

The above article introduces a new twist. Stated simply, women’s chances of being invited to an interview based upon their CV goes down when they include their photo, and this reduction is in direct relationship to their attractiveness. Yes, according to this study, the more attractive a woman is that puts her picture on her CV, the LESS likely she is to be called by the employer. For men, interestingly enough, the results are the opposite: including a picture increases the likelihood of being contacted by the employer, and more attractive men have a better chance to get called.

The researchers for the report were very surprised by these results, and did further investigation to try to understand the reason for this situation. The results indicated to them that typically the people that initially review incoming CVs are women (mostly young and single), and that these gate-keepers were negatively influenced by an attractive female candidate. The article says it clearly: the researchers believe that the CV reviewers were jealous of women candidates that were “good looking”. By the way, this reaction only occurred when job seekers were applying directly to the employer; when applying to a placement company where the CV reviewer does not end up working with the candidates that are ultimately hired, there was no penalty for a woman with a picture on her CV being attractive.

So, what are job seekers supposed to make of such statistics? At a minimum, if I were a woman, I would think twice about including a photo in your CV. And can you carry this concept over to LinkedIn? If the conclusions of the researchers are accurate, then before making a decision about including your picture in LinkedIn (which almost everyone does), you need to first consider who your target audience is, not generally, but actually which organizations will be reading your LinkedIn profile, and who individually is the most likely viewer going to be. Only then can you make the final decision.

All the new technologies and options we have available are truly amazing, and absolutely make a job seeker’s efforts much more effective. However, these modern conveniences come with potential draw-backs, and the first step in dealing with them is to recognize they exist. I wonder how universally we can apply these soap opera conclusions, but it is certainly interesting to consider.

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