Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Don't Hire Me, Because I'm Beautiful

For men, the results were as expected. Hunks were more likely to be called for an interview if they included a photo. Ugly men were better off not including one. However, for women this was reversed. Attractive females were less likely to be offered an interview if they included a mugshot. When applying directly to a company (rather than through an agency) an attractive woman would need to send out 11 CVs on average before getting an interview; an equally qualified plain one just seven.

Before you go getting all "people don't think women can be smart and pretty at the same time," the folks who conducted this study have excluded that hypothesis. So, what gives? We should ask January Jones. January Jones, how many CVs did you send out to Mad Men before you got your job at Mad Men?

118 Comments / Post A Comment


Do people do this? Include a picture? I've never done that. Mostly because I tend to look a bit spacey or suspicious in photos. I made the man in the American Embassy laugh because my photo made me look like a murderer.


@feartie Yeah, "look like."




@feartie I don't have a picture on my CV, but it's on LinkedIn and Twitter and everywhere else, and I guess people find it there.


@Eva@twitter I do that, but I thought it was sort of...I don't know, forward, egotistical, to put a mug shot in with the CV?


@feartie I also tend to look odd in photos, but several jobs have required a picture in the application. I'm really not sure why, unless it is some way to subtly ensure that hiring quotas are met (but then they ask M/F and race, so what they think I will lie?). Or maybe the quota is actually for hair color or fashion sense? (Employers, please, I will dye my hair and wear different clothes, if only I have money from your salary!)


@feartie When I was working at one of the colleges at my university, the dean hired a new executive assistant, and I helped with some of the organizing process. Most of the candidates included photos. I thought it was weird.


@feartie I don't include a photo because I look younger and weaker than I actually am (my job requires management and heavy lifting). I've come across resumes with photos and they are very unnecessary.


@feartie I totally just interviewed someone who had included a picture. It sort of weirded me out, but she was model-pretty, so...I assumed it was just another piece of favorable knowledge about her to include, like a 4.0 GPA or some industry award? Except apparently not!

On an unrelated note, I didn't apply for a fellowship this summer specifically because it required a photo, and I couldn't figure out why they would want one, and I'm kind of homely and have not a single decent, professionalish picture of myself. :-/

Beauty. Blargh.


@feartie If I got a resume or application that included a photo, I would immediately grade that applicant down in my head, regardless of what the person looked like. And I have to say...I've looked at tons of applications, and I can't remember anyone ever doing this. That's just weird.


@feartie My understanding is that the picture is standard on CVs in parts of Europe, but yeah, it's a bad idea in the U.S.


"The researchers’ unavoidable—and unpalatable—conclusion is that old-fashioned jealousy led the women to discriminate against pretty candidates."

WTF? Are we all twelve years old again?


@QuiteAimable As much as I'd like to be like "Yeah, SO IMMATURE!", I think a ton of grown-ass women I know or have ever dealt with would line up perfectly with that conclusion. It's why my husband always says he is thankful he was born a man, because he sees how women look at each other at parties, on the street, really anywhere. It's like this death stare.


@olivebee I know they would. It just really bothers me.


@olivebee Sounds about right to me, too. Not that I've had that exact problem (In France the practice is to put a photo on your CV, but I thought it was frowned upon, of not illegal, here, like putting your age on your CV, who does that? no one! But they do in France. I always put quite banal-looking photos on my CV, nothing outstanding). But get this: for years when I came back to NY from France, I didn't tell anyone I met/dated/worked with that I'd been a model, or even that I was still doing fittings for some designers to pay my rent. (And guess what? Nobody suspected it, either. Haha!) But as soon as I did tell, the crap I took from what I presume were jealous/threatened women (and panting horn-dog men) was unbelievable. And it was totally expected, not a surprise. But you know why I finally told? Because it was weird, hiding it. I was like, hey, I wasn't exactly a serial killer, you know? And it's part of my story. A laughable part, no less. It was funny that I was a model because I was considered an "ugly model." I told was because I was tired of hiding a very formative period of my life, and also because I figured I could handle the eventual crap now that I felt more solid in my new life and career as a cartoonist/writer/etc. But boy, as soon as I let it be known, that was it. Suddenly every woman thought I wanted to steal their boyfriend (which I found touching, really, that they'd be jealous of the poor slobs), or that I'd spent my life currying favor from everyone instead of earning things...
I've always thought that if I had a daughter, I'd wish she'd be born quite ordinary looking, or have at least one thing "wrong" with her looks that would keep her from being considered too beautiful, so that people would just see her for herself. Not that I'm all, "poor me" -- I'm just saying, it's tricky!


@olivebee Do you live in DC, by any chance? Because for some reason that is the place where I have noticed the Female Death Stare. Not really in any other place I have ever been! It's quite extraordinary.


@olivebee I think you've just highlighted a big reason why I enjoy The Hairpin so much: I get to witness a bunch of ladies who are mostly strangers to each other be cordial and thoughtful and genuinely nice to each other, for the most part. I wish it wasn't, but this level of respect seems to be a rarity (across all genders really) in this gad-forsaken world. I love how harsh vibes are usually discouraged or ignored here, unless we're talkin' douchey dudes. That's when it gets really good.


@WaityKatie No, I am in Chicago where that stare is as common as the squirrels around here. At this point, I rarely notice it, but my husband is always like "that girl over there just gave you a major stare-down."

@whizz_dumb Yes, exactly! That is why I love it here, too. People are thoughtful and supportive to literal strangers. I was a lurker for a LONG time before commenting, because I was so scared of judgment, but then when I saw how cool everyone is, I was like "time to take the plunge."


I wish I could learn how not to notice the stare-down. It's downright unsisterly.


@QuiteAimable In a culture that judges women by their looks it's not surprising that some insecure women would become competitive on that basis. In my experience though, that's more a sexist stereotype than a reality.


@blily actually, you're right, we have all been forgetting that men do the same thing to each other. It's just human weakness. And often the stare-down isn't even based on physical appearance. All it takes is being single. You are the fox in the henhouse when you're single, quite often.


@olivebee Um, sometimes I am staring because I love your outfit, and I am trying to figure out where it is from and if it would look good on me and my face just kind of falls into a weird position and it's not a death stare, just a "damn, that skirt is CUTE" stare and I'm sorry!!!

(This does happen - sometimes I see another woman who looks really great and I think sometimes I stare too long. But I'm not being mean, just totally using real people as my own personal store mannequins).


@Bebe Yes, this. I never notice women staring at me (or anyone really, I'm super oblivious) and I'm pretty sure that when I stare a girl to check out her outfit ("Is that that skirt I was looking at in Target? I wasn't sure if it looked good, but does she have more of a butt than me? Do I need more of a butt to wear that skirt? Is it sticking out weird on her like it did on me?") it looks like I am giving her death stare. I'm not! It's like bitchface. THAT'S JUST HOW MY FACE LOOKS, OKAY?!

fondue with cheddar

@l'esprit de l'escalier Not getting the stare-down is one of the best things about getting older.


@mlle.gateau Default faces are always interesting (default being when you're totally relaxed and not really emoting). I apparently look distressed at default. I have a friend who looks very, very angry at you in default (auto-staredown-- kinda useful for irritating people).


@olivebee Dude, I live in Chicago too! I guess I'm not pretty enough to notice it? But also, who are these ladies? I have never given this stare nor witnessed it, and I have one billion lady friends, some of whom are objectively very conventionally attractive.

Though I do scowl when I'm thinking hard and I feel like that face is very open to misinterpretation.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@all I'm late to the thread, but I wanted to confess that I think I have totally been this judgey lady. I hate that I do this, but I often rate myself against other ladies' faces/bodies/clothes/hair/accessories/poise/personalities/whatever else. And my automatic defensive position when I feel (ugh) threatened or (ugh UGH) lesser is "I hate that person/thing/place."

I hope it doesn't come across on my face. But also my default face is... Crabby? Unapproachable? "Bitchy"? So probably I give this face to anyone I look at.

Why do I always feel the need to be the prettiest girl in the room? I think this stems from having mostly male friends, several of whom I had romantic entanglements with, through middle and high school. Still trying to come to terms with the fact that the real world is not just me in a room with a bunch of boys fawning over me and occasionally girls envying me. WHY I AM THIS PERSON.


"Applicants had already been graded for their attractiveness" -- I really wish there was a lot more about THAT. (No I don't, what am I saying?)


@thebestjasmine - They gathered up a room of lad mag subscribers and just held up a photo. Women's "attractiveness" was graded on the length of time before the 15 year old boys started touching themselves, how quickly they drove over the speed limit, how many of their 'friends' they punched, total catcall decibel level, and total liters of drool. This is the only acceptable test of womens attractiveness, which is how we ended up with Megan Fox.

Blackwatch Plaid

@thebestjasmine Seriously. The researcher in me is crying "but how did they measure that construct? What the fuck does 'attractiveness' mean here?" Gah.


@glittercock And even better than that is they also measured "how intelligent each person looks." What??


@WaityKatie I wear glasses, I am sure that raises my intelligent lookingness!! So much so I can use vaguely made up words.

Though I will say I do mentally subtract at least 10 IQ points when I see someone is a mouth breather and they don't appear to have a cold or seasonal allergy.


@swirrlygrrl I have never understood why breathing out of your mouth is correlated with being stupid? Why is this A Thing?

I almost always breathe out of my mouth - nose-breathing is uncomfortable & makes me feel like I'm not getting enough air. Maybe I have really small nostrils on the inside, or something.


@MollyculeTheory Ahhh, mouth-breathing is actually dangerous for you though! Your nose filters out all kinds of nasty crap in the air before it can get into your body. PLUS, mouthbreathing dries out your mouth and that hurts your teeth eventually. You might have a deviated septum or something, I would get that checked out! (I don't know why it's a shorthand for stupidity either, though).


@WaityKatie WHAT? What? OMG. I just thought it was personal preference/habit. I had no idea mouth-breathing was worse. Isn't that what most people do at night?


Weirdly, at my pilates class this weekend I overheard the following exchange:

Middle-aged man: "Attractive women just shouldn't send head shots with their resumes."

Middle-aged woman: "I don't think anyone should send photos with their resumes."

MAM: "Well, yeah."


It's part of the reason my Facebook isn't publicly searchable and I don't have a photo of myself on LinkedIn. Because I don't want people judging me on my appearance before I wow them with my smarts.


@ImASadGiraffe Exactly this. Part of it for me, I have to admit, is I'm really insecure anyway. If I had to submit a photo and didn't get an interview, I would think it was the photo, and I don't need that in my pile of neuroses.


Attractive People Should Not Include A Photo With A Job Application.



@leon.saintjean YUP.


@leon.saintjean SERIOUSLY. I also thought that little tidbit about some places not even wanting to know your name was interesting - I don't know how reliable the research is, but there's some evidence that an odd, overly unique, or overtly ethnic name can harm your chances of getting interviewed/hired; I'm intrigued by the idea of removing that sort of identification from applications as a way of making the hiring process more of a meritocracy.

Blackwatch Plaid

@MoxyCrimeFighter Yeah, the "ethnic names" thing is pretty well-established. A friend of mine used to have a job where she'd apply for jobs using identical resumes but different names to check companies for discrimination. All too often, Black or Hispanic surnames lost out on callbacks.




@Too Much Internet - Shit, this is going to end up costing me a job, not getting me one. So the rules are opposite.


@glittercock Sometimes I wonder how many jobs I've not gotten thanks to my Hispanic surname, and how many interviews were torpedoed because I'm fat. And then I curl up inside a bottle of vodka for a few days.


@glittercock Well, cool. My first name is more common among African-Americans, my last name is a little weird/ambiguous, and my face isn't hard to find on the internet once you know my name. I'm *clearly* having such a hard goddamn time finding a job from a combination of weird/ethnic name and Excessive Sexiness Syndrome. That seals it.

Ham Snadwich

@leon.saintjean - Am I still allowed to include my hobbies and the fact that I like long walks on the beach?


This is the opposite result of several studies I, uh, studied when I....studied...psychology in college. Everything we always read/discussed about attractiveness was that pretty woman have it better in ALL arenas of life (avoiding legal punishment, getting hired, etc.).


@olivebee Ergh, I meant women, not woman.


@olivebee Pretty Woman really does have it better.


@frigwiggin She even got Richard Gere to overcome his fear of heights!


@Brunhilde [sniff]...I just get really happy when they finally let her shop...


@Decca Let's just watch Romy and Michele and forget this whole study ever happened.



@leastimportantperson Only if you'll admit that I'm the Mary.


@Decca You have absolutely no proof that you're cuter.


@olivebee I really think the bizarreness of including a photo with a resume in the first place makes the results questionable.


@leastimportantperson You look so good with blond hair and black roots it's like not even funny.


I always thought I had a good interview:application ratio (even better than 1 in 7) because I was so good at preselecting what I should bother applying to, but now it turns out it's all just because I look plain. Bah!


@Eva@twitter Sarah Plain and Tall would kill on The Apprentice.


@Eva@twitter I would maybe believe you, except your picture is RIGHT THERE, beautiful.


@Donovanesque Aw, thanks. Maybe I need to put this picture on LinkedIn? Or, no, I should NOT do that.


Who says hunk? Unless we're describing cheese or chocolate? Either of which I would hire immediately. To be the associate director of yum yums.




@JessicaLovejoy I prefer "tall drink of water" myself.


@JessicaLovejoy I died of convulsions... from laughter. Thank you.


@JessicaLovejoy Cheese Chocolate and Strawberrywitz

attorneys at deliciousness


@JessicaLovejoy It'samazing how quickly candidates dissapear from that position. I'm always quite satisfied with their performance, though.


Nice to know that women can't win anywhere, at any time. Didn't get the job? Too pretty! Got the job but can't get promoted? Not pretty enough! Got the job but have to put up with people questioning your skills/intelligence because you're not repulsive? Too pretty, also probably a witch! Got the job but refuse to put up with sexual harassment from your male colleagues? Too pretty/obviously the owner of a vagina, probably a feminist lesbian! In a position of power and you don't hire a pretty woman? Jealous hag whose dugs are dried out and whose uterus is full of straw and twigs! /grumpiness


@MoxyCrimeFighter To be fair, it's probably my fault for stating also probably a witch in my "special skills" list.

Also, those uterus twigs are just the thing I need for this potion.


@JessicaLovejoy The perfect nest for an adder's egg.


@MoxyCrimeFighter Fuck you, my straw-and-twigs womb may not nurture infants but I hear no complaints from the mice nesting in there.


@MoxyCrimeFighter - I don't know why you can't just appreciate all of those lovely poems Andrew Dice Clay wrote for you.


@MoxyCrimeFighter How many children have those women had, hmm? Three, maybe? A dozen, if they're really working at it? I've given birth to sixty-seven new beings, and that's just in the last four months.

dj pomegranate

@JessicaLovejoy That's not really fair, because it is a very special skill, and they always tell you to put things on your resume to "show your fun side" right? (Or was that just my career counselor? So should I maybe take off "Laughs alone with salad"?)


@MoxyCrimeFighter And we can play this game in all different facets of our worklife!! Make less than your male coworkers? Clearly, you are not aggressive and confident enough. Boldy state your requirements and call people out on their responsibilities? You are a BITCH, so AGGRESSIVE!


@MissMushkila HAHASOB


how about we just don't include head shots because it's weird and unnecessary!


@machinesss Yeah, is this a thing now? I'd think it would open hiring companies up to way too many discrimination lawsuits.


My favorite: calling a regular interview an "audition."

Maybe these photos are "head shots."


@l'esprit de l'escalier
Upon reflection, that second sentence makes no sense? And if I couldn't edit comments I'd never comment at all!


If I ever applied to any job that requested a photo, I'd probably send one of me winking while giving a thumbs up. No, wait - double thumbs up.


@Decca I would be tempted to put up a different digit, but that's just me.


@Decca I'm pretty sure the only jobs that request a photo are sketchy anyway ("massage" parlours and escort services). Other than actors, but sometimes the selection process for that is pretty squicky too.


@camanda No, wait - double birdie.


@Decca "Who's got two thumbs and is the perfect candidate for this job? THIS lady!"


@iceberg Or, to take a tip from Liz Lemon: "Who's got two thumbs, speaks limited French and hasn't cried once today? This moi!". You'd be showcasing your language skills and emotional resilience! Employers love that.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Decca I think I would just send in a pic like this and then claim it was just a really good photo of me if I get an interview.


If any prospective employer ever asks me for a headshot I'm sending them this one.

dj pomegranate

@Diana Please, please attach this photo to any/all job applications.



I am PRETTY SURE I have been in that backyard



@melis You couldn't remember that. No way.

But we'll get rid of Pierre, just in case.


@Diana I think it's imperative that you include the somewhat uncomfortable-looking gentleman in the photo you submit.


@Diana Who needs a "statement necklace" when you have a giant bird head? It's the perfect accessory for all ocassions, and even better on bad hair days!


The only people on this earth who should be sending headshots with their resumes are ACTORS. Seriously, what did I miss and how did this become something for employment nowhere near the entertainment industry?


My reaction when someone sends me a resume with a headshot is, no matter what their attractiveness level, "why the hell did you send a headshot when you're applying for a job at a nonprofit?"


But if you don't send a headshot, how will you be able to convey to your future employers that you are NOT AT ALL FAT, which is even worse than being attractive when it comes to getting hired/promoted/etc!

(Yes, for the purposes of this rant, I'm implying fat and attractive are mutually exclusive, because that's what most of the damn world thinks.)


@cherrispryte That's silly. Everyone knows that people who send only a headshot rather than a full body shot ARE fat. Have you never done internet dating?


@cherrispryte I've been itching to tell someone this, but I recently interviewed someone who listed "Top 50 list in The Hill" as an award/honor on her resume, and I KNOW she means the Hottest on the Hill list. I KNOW.

WHY WOULD ANYONE ADMIT TO THAT? WHY WOULD YOU PUT THAT ON YOUR RESUME? It's like explicitly saying that you are planning on using your Sexy Super Powers as part of your lobbying arsenal. Gahhhh weird.


@bowtiesarecool My god, being on that stupid list should be the most shameful thing one could ever imagine. Definitely not resume material.


@KatnotCat Right? The only other person I know who will admit to having been on it was a TOTAL juicebox. I wouldn't want to claim that kind of company.


I've heard of headshot resumes being the norm in some countries, but no one's ever told me WHY they'd want it. What possible reason, other than "we want pretty/ugly/certain ethnicity", would an employer have to want to see my face?


@MilesofMountains I'm American, so this is all rumors, but I've heard (on hiring blogs etc.) that it's typical to give much more personal information as part of an application process in parts of Europe. People include information about family apparently, as well?

And then you have me in the U.S., carefully sidestepping questions about whether or not I have kids in interviews. Even though I don't have kids, which is definitely the correct answer they are looking for - I seriously had an interview earlier this year that was several repetitions of this:
Interviewer: Well, I don't know if you have kids, but.....
Me: *Silence during long pause*
Interviewer: ...we have very good school districts!

Interviewer: Well this job requires travel which can be difficult depending on your family situation....
Me: *sustained silence regarding my family situation*

Yeah, I did not get that job.


@MissMushkila Oh no! You could have said "travel is no problem" without referring to the hypothetical tons of kids (or lack thereof) you'd be leaving behind. (And "no kids" might *not* actually have been what they wanted to hear, because "no kids" means "might take maternity leave" to some people.)


@MilesofMountains in Italy it is considered more or less mandatory to include a headshot, your DOB, your marital status, and whether or not you have any children. I have generally gotten away with only including my DOB because I'm a foreigner, but the one time I wanted to apply for an office job, they asked me all of those things and also whether I was planning on having children in the near future. Oh, extra bonus -- very often they ask you if you want the job before telling you how much it pays. And apparently it's gauche to ask.


@ormaisonogrande Also they often stright-up advertise jobs for specific genders and ages! "Looking for a female candidate age 22-27."


@baklava! yes, that too. Also I forgot the best: "bella presenza" which basically means, if you aren't hot don't bother applying.


For some reason I thought this wasn't legal....guess not?


@redheadedtwit It's only illegal if you are hiring on the basis of protected categories; gender, race, age etc. Level of perceived attractiveness is not a protected category.

There was a case against Abercrombie a few years ago, where they were accused of being racist in their hiring practices. If I recall correctly, their defense was they weren't racist they were discriminating on the basis of the applicants attractiveness. This is allowed because having hot employees is part of their marketing scheme..so yeah, that's fucked up...


Re: January Jones

Would only Befatsuited Betty get hired for a job? Or only Regular Betty?


@l'esprit de l'escalier Fatsuit Betty gets the job, Regular Betty gets promoted.


Blankenship! Im going to include her in all my future CVs.


I'm on the job market and haven't gotten any interviews. This made me anxious. Sigh. But, as much as I would like to credit my long and unsuccessful job search to my beauty, I think it has more to do with my humanities degree.

Also, I guess this means I should take my photo off of my public twitter profile, where I'm trying to be semi-professional?


This exact article was on cracked.com 6 months ago.
Not that I read cracked.com or anything... It just came up in my facebook feed I swear.
Anyway, I just thought it was strange that The Economist would rehash something from a comedy-based website. Unless they independently viewed the research and then wrote an almost identical article. Which is totally possible and in which case, carry on Economist, you're doing fine.

P.s. The female jealousy thing kind of irks me. Seems like a whole lot of generalisations right there. The actual research itself even says
"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."
To verify the stereotype they got some (poorly) correlated evidence and wow! Apparently being a young woman means you hate pretty girls! SCIENCE!
P.p.s.I do the hiring at my workplace (although I am not in HR, I am just the manager) and I am young and female and rather plain but I believe I hire people based on the spelling in their resumes rather than their appearance, and once they are at the interview stage, how much they laugh at my jokes. So meh. I don't know. Maybe all women are petty and jealous and I am just not friends with a wide enough variety of people to know that? I know this place must be some kind of haven if that's the case.
P.p.p.s. I love you guys. You're so nice and non-judgemental and whatnot.


Samantha Brick, at the coalface of this issue:


Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account