Leadership

Study finds you’re less likely to get hired if you’re overweight. Here’s how to avoid this bias

In a perfect world, hiring managers would focus solely on skills and not physical appearance. Unfortunately, that's not the case, especially for women, a new study has found.

Fairygodboss, an employer review site for women, released a report on the grim reality of being a female job seeker. The survey of 500 hiring professionals reveals biases that could prevent women from getting hired.

One of the most notable findings? That weight can affect your hiring potential. In one of the studies, respondents were shown pictures of a range of body types and were asked questions based on the images.

Twenty-one percent of the hiring professionals who were surveyed described the heaviest-looking woman as "lazy." That description was selected less frequently for every other woman pictured.

Only 18 percent said she had leadership potential, while 21 percent of respondents described her as "unprofessional."

Moreover, only 15.6 percent of hiring professionals said they would consider hiring the heaviest-looking woman.

The survey acknowledges that this professional bias is a "sad reality."

"Overweight women may need to emphasize their work, ethic, professionalism and leadership skills more so than other candidates in order to level the playing field," the report notes.

Age also plays a role in your chances of getting hired, according to the study. The research found that even when older women are perceived to have positive characteristics, respondents may still not choose to hire her.

Out of 15 potential employees of varying ages, hiring managers ranked the oldest-looking candidate highly for professionalism, reliability and leadership ability. These are also the top three traits that survey respondents said they look for in a job candidate.

Yet despite the oldest-looking woman's high rankings for these qualities, only 29.2 percent of respondents say they would actually hire her.

The survey notes that when it comes to the interview process, women are still judged on how they look. "But being informed about people's biases can help you to try to counteract a few things that may be in your control," the survey notes.

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