Job fair 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerzolomiski)
Good looks may help you get a date, but they’ll likely help you find a job in
Israel only if you’re a man, according to a recent study carried out by
researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
The paper, titled “Are
Good- Looking People More Employable?,” found that a double standard exists for
men versus women when it comes to whether an attractive mug is an asset in a job
interview. Contrary to popular belief, the study found that men, not women, are
more likely to get a job if they are good-looking.
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The two researchers
who carried out the study, economics professor Dr. Bradley Ruffle and PhD
candidate Ze’ev Shtudiner, sent out 5,312 resumes for 2,656 advertised job
openings in Israel. Each potential place of work received two resumes: one
without a photo and one with a photo. The photos were of an attractive man or
woman, or of a man or woman who might not want to pursue a career in
The study found that goodlooking men received a 19.9- percent
positive response rate – far higher than the 13.7% of men who were less
conventionally handsome, and nearly double that for resumes sent without a
picture. According to the study’s findings, a man with good jaw structure or
nice eyes would need to send out five resumes on average before getting a
response, while a more plain-featured applicant would need to send out
However, in what could be seen as a counterintuitive form of reverse
sexism, the study found that photographing well was not an asset for women
seeking a job in Israel. On the contrary, researchers found that women who sent
resumes with no photo received a positive response 22% more often than
unattractive women, and 30% more often than attractive women. In other words,
according to the study, women are better off omitting a photo from their resume,
as it would decrease the likelihood of a positive response.
In what may
be good news for attractive females going the employment agency route, the study
also found that no difference existed between “plain Janes” and their more
biologically blessed sisters when the places to which they were applying
outsourced their hiring.
On the other hand, researchers found that when
applying directly to a company, good looking women received a positive response
only half as often as women with no picture or less-than stellar looks. The
researchers concluded that this was due to the high number of women staffing
human resources departments at Israeli corporations.
After the study, to
illustrate this assumption, they surveyed 25 companies and found that the person
in charge of screening candidates was female in 24 of the cases and that most
were young and single – which the researchers said might lead to jealousy if
they were presented with a good-looking applicant their age.
Sunday that he had been motivated to carry out the study because “in Israel it
is acceptable to include or not include a photo, as opposed to the US, where it
is taboo to include a photo with your resume, or China, where it is required to
send a government- regulated photo. So Israel is an in-between case where it is
left up to the job candidate, which makes it an interesting case to
Ruffle said he had solicited pictures from students with the
promise that they would be paid if their pictures were used, and then subjected
the headshots to a panel of three female and three male judges. The photos were
rated on a one-tonine scale of how attractive, how Ashkenazi or Sephardi, and
how intelligent the people pictured appeared. Ruffle said they selected people
who were deemed very attractive or very unattractive, and whose ethnicity was
hard to pinpoint.
When the results came in, Ruffle said, he was
“absolutely surprised” by what he found.
“I wasn’t surprised by the male
result, but I expected to find that attractive people, whether male or female,
would have an advantage,” he said.
“We found this for men, and we
expected it to be even more the case for women because of the common perception
that attractive women get what they want and [that] women are more focused on
looks than men. So we spent some time trying to explain the
This led them to the conclusion that jealousy on the part of
female HR workers was a significant factor in whether or not attractive women
get jobs when applying directly.