Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Resume photos should be abolished

Tainan next month is to become the nation’s first city to no longer require that job applicants attach a photograph with their resume. The city government has also placed stickers on mirrors and glass surfaces around the city in the hope that private companies will follow its example.

Requiring photographs with resumes has been a long-standing practice in Taiwan and it is also common in most of Europe, but it is not the norm in the UK and is outright frowned upon in the US.

Nevertheless, it is a practice that should be abolished unless the open position is for a profession where appearance is crucial to the job.

Unfortunately, reports continue to show that in general, human resources personnel in Taiwanese firms do not even look at a resume if there is no photograph attached.

People subconsciously judge others’ character based on looks, and even if a hiring manager tries their hardest to remain neutral when choosing between two people of identical qualifications, it is likely that the more attractive person will have an edge.

In this age of Photoshop and smartphone apps that can greatly boost the attractiveness of a person, it is even more crucial to curb this practice.

If a company wants to know what an applicant looks like, it can easily find them on social media, where it is up to the applicant to decide how much and what type of content is made public online.

However, that would happen after the photograph-free resume is read, which is different than the photograph being the first thing that hiring managers see.

This is especially relevant in Taiwan, where society still places a great deal of attention on people’s looks — especially women. News headlines that refer to the attractiveness of the featured person, while having nothing to do with the article, are prevalent. For example, a woman working at McDonalds can make the evening news for only being attractive.

Disproportionate attention is also given to politicians who are good looking, regardless of their accomplishments and agenda. Every day Internet users are bombarded with content featuring attractive police officers, construction workers and so on.

People do gravitate toward other people with attractive features, but there is the media and entertainment industry for that.

The situation has become rather unhealthy, as it reduces the worth of people who do not fit societal beauty standards, but are still doing a great job.

On the contrary, people are often teased for their appearance, from schoolyard bullying to seemingly innocuous jokes that TV talk show hosts make about their guests’ weight. This reinforces negative stereotypes and normalizes judging people by their appearance.

It is particularly this kind of environment in which resume photographs can seriously affect a person’s chances of landing a job.

It goes without saying that submitting casual photographs or selfies with a resume is bad judgement — but still, every May, when graduation looms, job banks and employment agencies still feel the need to urge applicants not to do this, leading to serious questions about schools preparing students for the real world. However, that is a different issue.

Tainan has been working with the Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation, which supports burn victims and people with facial disfigurement — who are undoubtedly the most affected by resume photograph requirements.

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