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Should You Put a Smiley in Your Online Job Application?

While our natural response to this question might be, “no, what are you talking about, why would you even suggest that,” the folks at The Annals of Improbable Research alert us to a study by a group of professors on this very topic. Titled “E-Screening: The Consequences of Using ‘Smileys’ when E-Mailing Prospective Employers,” (warning: PDF) there are two key conclusions to keep in mind:

“… smileys can indeed have the desired effect on perceptions of warmth, which may be particularly important to women, who are said to place a priority on close, personal relationships.”

There is an important proviso, however :

“Applicants using smileys are perceived to be less competent and lower in the agentic, instrumental ‘male’ attributes and behaviors (e.g., independence, leadership) believed to be necessary for success at male-gender-typed jobs.”

Note that the study focused exclusively on the noseless colon-parenthesis smiley: :). Results may vary if using the winking smiley [;)], Look of Disapproval [ಠ_ಠ] or Abe Lincoln [=|:-)=].

(The Annals of Improbable Research via J-Walk | Research paper (PDF))

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