Episode 11: Applying for a job (2): Language and impression management

In the introduction, Veronika mentions that the chief adviser to the UK government, Dominic Cummings, used his blog to ask “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” and “true wild cards” to apply for a position as his personal assistant. Here is the original blog post from the start of 2020: https://dominiccummings.com/2020/01/02/two-hands-are-a-lot-were-hiring-data-scientists-project-managers-policy-experts-assorted-weirdos/

We also made the point that how much time recruiters spend on filtering CVs is a matter of seconds. These two studies provide evidence for this claim and suggest that the initial time screening a CV has actually gone down from 30 seconds to 6 seconds:

Barnum, C. M. (1987). Writing résumés that sell. Management World, 16, 10-13.

Wallwork, A. (2019). English for Academic CVs, Resumes, and Online Profiles. Springer, Cham.

As promised, here is the list of studies on unconscious bias in recruitment decisions: 


We focused on biased decisions with regard to ethnic background, including that indicated by names. A recent study is 

Derous, E., & Ryan, A. M. (2019). When your resume is (not) turning you down: Modelling ethnic bias in resume screening. Human Resource Management Journal, 29(2), 113-130

while the following article looks at whether anonymous CVs could be a solution (spoiler: possibly, but for high-status jobs, ethnicity tends to matter less to begin with): 

Lacroux, A., & Martin‐Lacroux, C. (2020). Anonymous résumés: An effective preselection method? International Journal of Selection and Assessment 28(1), 98-111. 

We then talked a bit about cross-cultural differences in content, layout and language use in CVs. One study, summarised by Veronika, compares German and Italian CVs:

Hepp, M. (2006). The text type “curriculum vitae” in an intercultural perspective. indications for a linguistically based german as a second language instruction at university. Studi Linguistici e Filologici Online, 4(1), 109-129. http://www.humnet.unipi.it/slifo/ [in German]

Bernard then mentioned the DISCO tool, short for European Dictionary of Skills and Competences): http://disco-tools.eu/disco2_portal/

Moving on to digital footprints and digital shadows, Bernard referred to the relevant work of his colleague Stijn Baert (who also compiled the list of studies on unconscious bias): 

Baert, S. (2018). Facebook profile picture appearance affects recruiters’ first hiring decisions. new media & society, 20(3), 1220-1239.

In 2019, people and institutions posted (semi-serious) pictures on Twitter under the hashtag  #dollypartonchallenge to show how they represent themselves across different social media platforms. Here is the contribution from Lancaster University, Veronika’s employer:   

(In case you are wondering about the duck: Lancaster University is a campus university set in woodland and fields. The ponds on campus are home to many ducks and the birds have in recent years become a kind of mascot for the university.)

To find out more about the consultancy business of our interview guest, Anna Marie Trester, go to https://careerlinguist.com/. Her latest book is 

Trester. A. M. (2017). Bringing Linguistics to Work. Lulu Publishing. 

During the interview, Anna Marie mentions Erving Goffman (1922-1982), a Canadian sociologist whose work became very influential for conversation analysis and interactional sociolinguistics.  

Finally, for the analysis part of this episode, we did an audit of each other’s internet presence. Here are the images we talk about: 




The notion of offer and demand images is taken from 

Kress, G. R., & van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading Images: The grammar of visual design. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge. 

See you again for episode 12!

Listen to the episode here

Full transcription of the episode

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