Are Your Looks Hurting or Helping Your Job Search?
Will my photo give me an advantage in the job search or hurt my chances of landing the right job?
I admit, I don’t know much about beauty pageants. I’ve seen the movie Miss Congeniality and I’ve been forced to watch an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, but I don’t know if I’ve ever sat down and watched the Miss America competition in its entirety on television. However, I was pleased to hear that fellow New Yorker Mallory Hytes Hagan took the crown last Sunday.
As I watched the news coverage the next morning and saw the winner and runners up taking the stage, it got me thinking about beauty – or more specifically, one’s appearance – and how that plays a role in the job search and our careers.
While it’s not fair, experts agree that a person’s appearance can affect the outcome of one’s job search and potential for advancement in the workplace. Your personal grooming, professional wardrobe – even your haircut – play a role in your personal brand.
But should you advertise your looks as part of your branding campaign, or do you save that for the in-person networking events and interviews? Below are my thoughts on including images with your resume and online profiles.
Unless you’re creating a CV and applying to a job outside of the United States, or you’re in the entertainment world and a head shot is part of the job, you should never include a picture of yourself with your resume.
First, the photo will often clue the employer into your nationality, religion and age (among other factors) that could inadvertently lead to discrimination. No need to give them any of those details until they’ve considered your application based solely on your qualifications. In fact, some companies are so afraid of being accused of discrimination that they’ll automatically reject resumes with photos to avoid any potential allegations.
Second, TheLadders did an eye-tracking study back in 2012 that showed the average recruiter looks at your resume for a mere 6 seconds before deciding if you’re worth a second glance. When you only have six seconds, why would you give them something extra to look at?
Your LinkedIn profile is 40% more likely to get clicked on if it contains a photo. And being attractive with a professional and friendly photo that’s in alignment with your personal brand can certainly be an advantage in the job search.
However, we know that discrimination is alive and well in the job market. Many people worry about being passed over because of their age, and studies have even shown that women who are considered “too pretty” have a harder time landing what’s considered to be more “masculine” jobs. In addition, it was found that overly attractive women were more likely to be passed over or penalized by a hiring manager of the same gender.
If you’re going to include a photo, avoid the web cam self-portrait – it will only make you look unprofessional. Keep the shot on-brand – that means no family group shots, cartoons, or cute pics of your pets. If you’re concerned about discrimination, no photo is better than one that doesn’t project the right personal brand.
Your personal appearance will always play a part in your career and the job-search process. Carefully consider where and when you want to advertise that brand to set yourself up for success.
Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders, the online job-matching service for career-driven professionals. She is a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) who provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and "Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.