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The five little horrors that affect your job search and wages
When I was looking for work last time, I remember getting bitter and frustrated with my efforts, over not being able to even get a phone call back in response to the stellar resumés that I was sending out. I remember telling a friend that it was probably because I had a foreign-sounding name and people didn’t want to call me because they were worried about how to pronounce it. He told me I was nuts. But he was wrong. Or was he? I did eventually get a job after all. But is the work world ever really fair? Unfortunately, no. We present you five horrifying findings about gender, names, weight, height and hair colour and how that may affect your job search.
It’s still a man’s world
Men earn more than women. Perhaps this is the best-known fact about the career world being unfair. Consider these findings:
- The Conference Board of Canada gives this statistic: “Young women employed in management occupations earned 86 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2005. In sales and service occupations, the gap was even larger, at 72 cents for every dollar.”
- The Canadian Labour Congress quotes some statistics: “In 2008, women aged 65 years and older on average received incomes that were 65 per cent of those of men of the same age. In 2004, 7.3 per cent of retired women lived in poverty, more than double the rate of retired men.”
- In the UK, the Office for National Statistics surveyed hours and earnings and found that “men earned vastly more than women: £28,091, compared to £22,490 — a difference of 19.9 per cent. Even overtime has an effect — 24.1 per cent of men working full-time take-home overtime pay, compared to only 12 per cent of women in the same position.”
- And in the U.S., Bloomberg Business Weekly points out that “in the first three months of 2012, women still earned only 82.2 per cent of what men earned. That’s comparing the ‘usual median weekly earning’ of full-time employees. Comparing annual pay of full-time, year-round workers, women earned only 77 per cent of what men earned in 2010.”
What’s in the name?
In the article How an Ethnic-Sounding Name may Affect the Job Hunt, a study was discussed which tested the hypothesis that a foreign-sounding name was a barrier to employment. “The researchers sent out more than 7,000 hypothetical resumés to hiring managers at companies in the three cities that had advertised jobs requiring that applicants have a bachelor’s degree and fluency in English. The positions covered a number of professional fields.” It was found that English-sounding names “were 35 per cent to 40 per cent more likely to be contacted by employers than the second 25 per cent of the résumés which were identical, except that the supposed applicants had Chinese-, Indian- or Greek-sounding names.”
As for the applicants, the two tactics suggested by the co-author of the study, Philip Oreopoulos, were:
- Putting names “in a smaller type size or in a less visible location on the resumé, while playing up language skills and other necessary experience.”
- Using “ video resumés, which can make it clear that you have the language and presentation skills to do the job.”
This is the one area where we (at poss.ca) have no suggestions on how to improve the situation when it comes to looking for work. Other than the drastic action of picking an English-sounding name, there’s not much else you can do. There’s a push toward getting managers to apply certain hiring procedures such as asking applicants to mask their names on the applications but until that happens, there isn’t a lot we can do about this prejudice.
What’s on the scale?
If you get to the part of the job search where you will actually meet with an employer there are other subconscious factors at play that may influence your chances of getting a call back. Unfortunately, things like your weight, your height or the colour of your hair may play a role in landing the job.
In the article For Women, It Pays to Be Very Thin in The Wall Street Journal, the article talks about how women who are thinner make more money than their heftier counterparts. “Separate studies of 11,253 Germans and 12,686 U.S. residents led by Timothy A. Judge of the University of Florida found very thin women, weighing 25 pounds less than the group norm, earned an average $15,572 a year more than women of normal weight.”
The study suggests that besides a completely prejudiced view of weight, another conclusion was possible: “People who conform to others’ ideas about the ideal body image may actually perform better on the job, because they can wield more influence over other people and get more things accomplished.”
Should you go blonde?
The Five Unfair Ways That People Make More Money article on Workopolis talks about another scary finding. Dr. David Johnston a Queensland University of Technology researcher discovered that blonde women make seven per cent more than redheads or brunettes. If you think this is nuts, consider this: a whopping 13,000 women were surveyed for this study and even after factors such as weight or education were dismissed — it appeared blondes still had more fun looking at their paycheques. The researchers could not explain why blonde-haired women enjoy more financial success, but said no other hair colour produced similar results.
How about growing a little taller?
Perhaps you’ve heard this one before: taller people make more money. An article in LiveScience looked at a few studies which confirmed this prejudice and found that indeed there is a growing body of research that finds taller people make more money.
Here are some examples of tall findings:
- Tall Men Make More Money; Women With Children Make Less in the Atlantic, talks about a study where it was suggested that, “tall men make more money, because they tend to ‘have higher average cognitive and non-cognitive’ abilities.”
- A 2009 study in Australia, mentioned in the LiveScience article “found that being sixfoot tall raises annual income nearly $1,000 compared to men two inches shorter.”
- An older study (2004) Standing Tall pays off found that a “man who is six feet tall earns, on average, nearly $166,000 more during a 30-year career than someone who is five feet five inches--even when controlling for gender, age and weight.”
It’s true that humans are prejudiced to the core, but don’t let your own bitterness get in the way of pursing work — at the end of the day, you should always treat findings as these as amusing facts rather than explanations for why you can’t find a job. And we’re pretty sure you will find something sooner or later, so keep up the good work!