In today’s most bizarre and worrying news, it seems that you could now be getting hired – or not getting hired – based on how attractive your profile picture on Facebook is.
As if we didn't have enough worries when it came to job applications already, from how to make our CVs stand out to being asked weird interview questions if we are lucky enough to get called back.
A study by Belgium’s Ghent University found that your chances of getting an interview rocketed by almost 40% if you were perceived to be attractive, while better-looking people were also 21% more likely to get positive feedback on their job application.
Scientists from the university sent over 2,000 fake job applications to real vacancies in Belgium, and then set up four different Facebook accounts, set up with stock pictures of men, to accompany each CV.
Nearly 200 people had rated each photo for attractiveness and personality, and deemed a photo of a smiling man against a blue sky background the most attractive, and a photo of a man who was not smiling and sitting on a bench with his arms folded the least attractive. In second place was a grinning man displaying a thumbs up sign, and in third place was a man with a serious expression sitting on a bench.
While there were slight differences in each CV, such as the names, the only way employers could pick between the two fictitious applications they each received were by checking the Facebook profiles.
After sending off the fictitious applications, the researchers found there was a vast difference between how each CV was treated.
‘The candidate with the most favourable Facebook profile picture received approximately 21 per cent more positive responses to his application in comparison to the candidate with the least favourable profile picture,’ said Professor Stijn Baert, a social economist from the university.
'These important differences can only be driven by the view of the Facebook profile picture, so it is clear that a significant proportion of employers screens via Facebook.
‘Via Facebook, employers can collect information about candidates in a quick and easy way. Moreover, international research suggests that the impression someone gives on Facebook reflects his real personality rather than some form of self-idealisation.'
Forgive us for being old-fashioned, but we thought the only thing that mattered when applying for a job was our ability to, erm, do the job well and in a professional matter, as well as being able to be a team player – but according to the research, a well-chosen profile picture is far more important.
However, on the other side of the coin, this study is looking at 2,000 applications for jobs for men in Belgium, so it's hardly a conclusive study. We'd love to see more research on this topic for jobs for women in the UK - and we'd hope that the content of our CV, and our experience in the workplace, would mean more to hiring managers than the outward appearance of a Facebook profile picture.
What do you think of the research? Let us know @marieclaireuk