London :Do you have an impressive profile picture on Facebook? It might increase your chances of getting hired, a new study suggests.
Users’ Facebook profile picture affects their callback chances about as strongly as the picture on their resume, researchers at Ghent University in Belgium have found.
Employers have very limited information when they make their first selection of applicants for their vacancies. One potential source of information is the social networking website Facebook, researchers said.
Researchers examined on a scientific basis whether employers actually use Facebook during a first screening. They sent fictitious application letters in response to genuine vacancies.
A total of 2,112 job applications were sent out in response to vacancies in various sectors of the Flemish labour market. For each job opening, a pair of male graduates with degrees in commerce, business administration, or applied economics was constructed.
The CVs and motivation letters differed in detail and layout but were similar in productivity-influencing characteristics. The only substantial difference was the candidate’s name or picture.
These features were randomly assigned to the application pairs. The photos used were selected for their different scores in attractiveness and personality.
Entering the names of these fictitious job candidates in the Facebook search bar or in Google led exclusively to one of four fictitious Facebook profiles controlled by the research team.
Only the Facebook profile picture was publicly visible. The four photos used varied in terms of physical attractiveness and apparent personality traits.
Researchers then compared the chances of positive responses for applicants with different Facebook profiles. The respective picture was viewable on Facebook but not included in the application letter.
The candidate with the most favourable Facebook profile picture received approximately 21 per cent more positive responses compared to the candidate with the least favourable profile picture. The chances to get an immediate invitation to a job interview even differed by almost 40 per cent.
The results also show that highly educated applicants are more likely to be screened via Facebook than the less educated. Occupations with regular customer contact are not more prone to Facebook screening than others, researchers said.
“Given that these strong differences can be driven only by the Facebook profile picture, it is clear that many employers screen via Facebook,” said Stijn Baert from Ghent University.