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How Hiring Managers Silently Judge You Based On Your Looks

[Photo: courtesy of Fairygodboss]

So, no surprises here. Only disappointment. And we can do better.

Fast Company recently profile a report prepared by Fairygodboss, an employer review site for women, which uncovers the persistent biases and stereotypes that are held by people who make hiring decisions about female job seekers.

The 2017 report is titled, "The Grim Reality of Being a Female Job Seeker: If you're overweight, not 'nice'-looking, older or a minority, you won't be hired." The findings are based on research of 500 hiring professionals to better understand how gender bias and personal appearance impacts women's employment prospects.

The report's conclusion offers advice to women job seekers that there are "specific factors women can be wary of -- and perhaps manipulate -- to decrease their chances of being superficially judged during the hiring process."

While I agree it's important for women to understand that decisions are being made about them based on unfair and irrelevant data points (i.e., appearance, age, race, etc.), and I concur it's wise for women to do what they can to neutralize those "data points," it's not OK to let these practices persist in the hiring process. We can't just throw up our hands and say, "Well, that's just the way it is." When we allow these practices to go unchecked, we become complicit.

We must go one step further. Each of us who has any part in the hiring process must understand our own biases and stereotypes. We must make a concerted effort not to let those judgments unfairly influence the decisions we make about whom we hire and, more importantly, whom we reject.

After all, our goal is to hire the best candidate FOR THE BUSINESS, not the candidate who seems the friendliest or the one who looks most like us.

The original article, written by Lydia Dishman, appears below in its entirety.

If you still believe looks don’t matter when it comes to landing a job, think again.

Fairygodboss, an employer review site for women, just published the results of a survey of 500 hiring professionals, representing a variety of races and genders, who were asked to rate the top three traits they perceived when shown images of female job candidates of different ages, races, and body types.

The spoiler alert is in the title: “The Grim Reality of Being a Female Job Seeker.”

The adjectives they were told to choose from included:

professional unprofessional confident leadership material intelligent reliable friendly lazy cold superficial insecure

The candidate most likely to be chosen for hire was a Caucasian brunette while women of different races, sizes, or nontraditional appearances were not. For example, only 15.6% of those surveyed said they would consider hiring the heaviest looking woman, and as many as 20% classified her as lazy.

Other notable findings include a surprising slant on ageism. The older-looking female candidate was ranked first for reliability and third for leadership among the pool of 15 women. Yet while those traits were important to hiring managers, she was ranked 10th overall. The bias against her mostly came from respondents over 45, meaning that the older female candidate might do better if being interviewed by a millennial manager.

That’s the only case in the study of a group going against a candidate who was most like them. Women of color were more likely to be hired by managers of their own race or non-whites. “This data,” says the report, “suggests that if women are interviewing with someone of a different race, they may want to consider the fact that their leadership potential might be underestimated and seek to combat this bias by placing additional emphasis on their leadership track record and abilities.”

Among respondents of all races, just over a third (33.2%) said that the Latina candidate had leadership potential. A little less than a third (29.2%) said that African-American woman had leadership potential, which was just slightly better than Asian Americans (27.6%).

But hey, remember to smile ladies, because only 15% of hiring managers would consider you if you weren’t.

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