Your Weight Can Reduce Your Chances Of Getting Hired

Whether it’s a spare tire or muffin top, the health impact of an extra five pounds has been well-publicized for years.

One little-mentioned consequence, though, could have an impact on your future career and earnings.

Recently,  a study was published by researchers from the University of Toronto and University of Strathclyde, who wanted more information about the discrimination experienced by individuals who are seeking employment.

Specifically, they wanted to know if the weight of a job seeker has any impact. Would being one size bigger lead to discrimination during the job search process?


What Researchers Did

They used data from 120 individuals — 60 men and 60 women — who were asked to become corporate recruiters for a day and charged with ranking the hire-ability of individuals based on photographs of potential employees.

These photos were of four women and four men, all of whom were white and straight-faced, to minimize chances of bias. Each candidate had the same qualifications listed on their resumes as well.

For each candidate, a few different snapshots were created though digital enhancement. Each snapshot showed the candidate at a different weight. The photos were edited with each subject’s appearance falling within healthy boundaries and none were considered medically obese.

weight job search hunt

To make a decision, the “recruiters” had to rate the likelihood of hiring the person in each snapshot based on a seven-point scale,with one being extremely unlikely and seven being extremely likely. They were shown the photos in random order.


What the Study Found

Consistently, the heavier version of the same person was less likely to be hired. For women, however, the disadvantage was much greater. Heavier women were judged more critically.

“Women within the normal BMI range appear to suffer greater weight-based bias than men,” researchers noted. “Even a marginal increase in weight appears to have a negative impact on the hireability ratings of female job applicants.”

13 Oct 2016

  About The Author  

Varuna is an ACTA certified trainer, who has facilitated a wide range of workshops covering job search strategies, public speaking and social etiquette, for graduate and younger students in Singapore. She has an MBA and has worked in several functions in the corporate banking industry in Singapore.

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