No photos please, we're British

May 03 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A UK recruiter has criticized the growing practice of attaching candidate photos to CVs.

The practice, which is considered the norm in mainland Europe, is now rapidly spreading across the British recruitment industry.

But Jonny Cainer, Managing Director of recruitment agency Marketing Professionals (UK), says the practice is deeply flawed and can lead to prejudice.

"As a recruitment agency, we always attach photos of candidates to their CVs to act as an aide memoire but we would never send photos to client companies.

"No matter how liberal our society has become, the fact remains that people are influenced by people's looks.

"Discrimination works both ways. Employers can be resistant to a perfectly good candidate because of their age, sex, race or simply even their 'look'. Women can be discriminated against because they are perceived as too pretty to take on a heavyweight position or not good looking enough to represent the company. Nobody wins."

Well – not quite. As we reported last month, good-looking, slim, tall people win because they tend to earn around five per cent more per hour than their less attractive colleagues while those with below-average looks tend to earn 9 per cent less an hour.

But Cainer accepts that once a candidate is face to face with a potential employer, there is no escape from them making value judgments based on appearance but they have the opportunity to 'shine' and influence the client's opinion during the interview.

"Discrimination of one sort or another will always exist," he says. "At least by leaving photos off during the selection process, those candidates that do get shortlisted for interview have got there based entirely on merit."