Making Those Who Cannot See Look Best: Effects of Visual Resume Formatting on Ratings of Job Applicants With Blindness

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Objective: Although general attitudes toward individuals with disabilities are often positive, these perceptions do not always lead to equal footing in the hiring process. This study examined stereotypes of job applicants perceived to be blind and the role of applicant blindness in hireability ratings made by human resource managers. Specifically, we highlighted a unique challenge for individuals who cannot see: the visual formatting of resumes. Design: Human resource managers (N = 249) evaluated the visually formatted or unformatted resumes of hypothetical job applicants who were portrayed as blind or sighted and rated applicant hireability and personality characteristics. Results: Although applicants perceived to be blind were perceived as more conscientious and agreeable by human resource managers, these positive evaluations did not translate into favorable hireability evaluations. Conclusion: Because human resource managers severely penalize applicants who do not attend to visual, nonfunctional resume presentation, applicants who cannot see are apt to find themselves disadvantaged in the hiring process. The implications of these findings for organizations, job seekers, and rehabilitation professionals are discussed.

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