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An attractive profile picture improves your job prospects

Employers screen applicants via social networks, and make decisions based on their Facebook profile pictures.

Do you have an attractive profile picture on your social networks? If you have answered no, you should reconsider. Pictures make the man in the age of mass media. The Facebook experiment shows that an attractive profile pictures improves your job prospects.

It has long been known that employers screen applicants on the internet when they are looking for new employees. What’s new is the fact that an attractive profile pictures improves your job prospects.

Researchers of the Belgian Ghent University discovered that the applicant's attractiveness and personality traits reflected by the profile pictures have a determining influence on the decision who is invited to a job interview. That’s the result of they study published by the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

Over 2000 fictitious applications were sent to real job offers from different sectors. Two applications with equivalent educational levels and abilities were sent to each vacancy. Searching for the names of the applicants on Google or Facebook lead to the Facebook profiles set up by the researchers.

On those, only the profile pictures were accessible. The pictures differed in physical attractiveness and reflected different personality traits. The candidate with the most attractive Facebook profile picture received 20 percent more positive feedback than the least attractive candidate.

The good looking candidates were also 40 percent more likely to be immediately invited to a job interview. Said pictures were not part of the application, but could only be found via Facebook.

Many social networks and media provide information, but Facebook is most likely being used  for job vacancies requiring high education levels.

They also conducted an alternative experiment where the researchers added the profile pictures to the résumés and chose names that did not lead to a unique Facebook profile.

They found that attractiveness and the person’s reliability reflected by the pictures had a similar effect to the experiment with the Facebook pictures.

Stjin Baert, professor of economics at Ghent University and author of the study, is certain: “Even though not all employers browse Facebook, the profile picture affects the chances of interview equally to a photo in a resume. Because the self-display on Facebook is regarded as more realistic and more honest compared to the self-idealization in a resume”.

That’s why the economist thinks that screening via Facebook is efficient economically. However, Baert doesn’t want to evaluate if this screening via private networks is also ethically justified, but he added that it’s the responsibility of the users of social networks to manage their privacy settings.

In the age of mass media and flood of pictures it is, as Gottfried Keller didn’t say, not clothes that make the man but rather their pictures!

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