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You Won’t Believe What Can Influence Hiring and Promotion Decisions

surprised ladyHaving a good sense of humor or harboring a cache of pop culture knowledge — about topics like Miley Cyrus flaunting her risqué twerking moves at Sunday’s VMAs, which earned her notoriety on Twitter — may not just come in handy to impress a date. Some of these seemingly trivial traits may actually give job candidates a leg up over the competition in the eyes of hiring managers, according to a new CareerBuilder survey that reveals surprising factors that play a role in determining hires and promotions.

More than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals in the U.S. participated in the survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.

Against the backdrop of a level playing field with comparable credentials, one candidate is more likely to outshine the other by displaying certain characteristics. For instance, 27 percent of respondents said the scale tips in favor of someone with the better sense of humor; and 26 percent say they’d prefer someone who’s involved in the community.

External appearances appear to play a role as well, with 22 percent saying they’re more likely to offer employment to the more fashionable candidate, and 21 percent give props to someone who is more physically fit (but please finish reading this before running off to the gym!).

Promotion Commotion: What NOT to Do

Interestingly, such competition isn’t limited to job seekers alone; once in the workplace, employers tend to evaluate workers for promotions based on factors other than the obvious performance metrics.

There are also certain behaviors that can stymie one’s chances of moving up the ladder. The biggest gaffe in this area is an employee who says, “That’s not my job,” as 71 percent of respondents can attest.

Then there are less subtle signs that can lower an employee’s chance at a promotion – 69 percent find it unprofessional when someone acts like he doesn’t own a watch (in his defense, who does these days?); 68 percent say they are turned off by those who lie at work; and for 64 percent of respondents it’s a red flag when an employee takes credit for another’s work.

Then there are personality traits that are best when checked at the door: 46 percent of respondents would rather stay away from the gossip girl (or guy – hey, we don’t discriminate!), while 30 percent don’t take too kindly to individuals who swear at work. On the other hand, saying nothing at all — during meetings, in particular — isn’t the best strategy either, as 22 percent use it as a promotion deterrent.

Also, despite what Hollywood sometimes leads us to believe, attempting to make romantic connections in an office environment isn’t a surefire way to move up, as 8 percent of respondents said they would take an employee out of the running for a promotion as a result.

Those fortunate enough to steer clear of these behaviors and land a promotion should understand, however, that a fancier title doesn’t always translate to fancier pay. But that’s OK, because we started with the premise that these folks probably have a good sense of humor.

Deanna Hartley

About Deanna Hartley

Deanna Hartley is a senior copywriter and community manager on the creative services team at CareerBuilder, where she writes about issues that are top of mind for employers and recruiters – including talent acquisition, employee engagement and retention. An avid social media user, Deanna is the face behind @CBforEmployers on Twitter as well as CBforEmployers’ Facebook and Instagram pages, so it’s easy to stay connected with her. Prior to joining CareerBuilder, Deanna was a senior editor for the Human Capital Media Group, publishers of Talent Management, Chief Learning Officer, Diversity Executive and Workforce Management magazines. Deanna holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She loves caffeine, social media, pop culture and dogs – though not necessarily in that order.


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