Women who show more skin in a job application photo may have a much better shot of landing an interview, a new study suggests.
Researchers in France found that women who submitted a color picture of themselves wearing a low-cut dress were more likely to be called in for a job interview for sales and accounting positions than women whose photos showed them wearing a dress with a less revealing, round neckline, according to the study.
The analysis revealed that the female candidates who showed more cleavage were five times more likely to be invited to an interview for a sales position, and four times more likely to land an interview for an accounting position, than women who were more conservatively dressed, said study researcher Sevag Kertechian, a doctoral candidate in human resources management at Paris-Sorbonne University in France.
In France, including a picture with a resume when applying for a job is a common practice, Kertechian told Live Science. [7 Facebook Posts That Could Ruin Your Career]
The study suggests that dressing in a sexy outfit gives a woman more chances of passing the first step of the recruitment process, Kertechian said. He noted, however, that the researchers aimed to look at the effects of a low-cut dress that was "not provocative," but still sexy.
The researchers presented their findings on June 30 in London at the Appearance Matters Conference, which is hosted by the Center for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England Bristol. The results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
In the study, the researchers asked two women who had very similar looks — and who listed nearly identical skills and work experience on their resumes — to submit applications for 200 job openings in sales and in accounting over a three-year period. Each woman submitted 100 applications that included a photo of herself wearing a V-neck dress, and 100 applications that included a photo of herself wearing a more modest, round-neckline dress.
The study showed that the plunging neckline was more successful at catching the eye of recruiters: When the applications included the photos of the women in dresses with a low-cut neckline, the women received 62 more interview offers for sales positions, and 68 more interview requests for accounting positions, than they did when their pictures showed them wearing dresses with a more conservative neckline. [5 Delightfully Tech-y Dresses from the 2016 Met Gala]
Dress for success?
The researchers noted that the study was small, and that attaching a photo to a job application may not be required in other countries, or in professions other than acting or modeling, for example. And the study did not look at whether the women were ultimately successful at obtaining a job offer more often when they wore a low-cut dress to an interview for these positions.
Still, the findings suggest that a woman's selection of clothing in a job application photo may help her get a foot in the door for an interview.
Kertechian said that he was most surprised by the results for the accounting position. He had expected that a woman's looks and clothing choice would matter for a job in sales, which has more public interaction, but had not expected that those choices would also have a big impact on her chances of obtaining a job interview for the accounting position, which is an office job.
One factor that can influence the results is the person doing the initial screening of the job applicants. In this study, 75 percent of the recruiters for the accounting position were male, Kertechian said, so this may possibly explain why the photos of the women in the low-cut dress were more effective in this stage of the application process.
Kertechian is not a fan of including photos on job applications. He said he believes that not including pictures and creating a more anonymous process is a crucial first step in giving everyone an equal opportunity for a job that "will ultimately depend on skills rather than looks."
Originally published on Live Science.
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Cari Nierenberg has been writing about health and wellness topics for online news outlets and print publications for more than two decades. Her work has been published by Live Science, The Washington Post, WebMD, Scientific American, among others. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition from Cornell University and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Communication from Boston University.