Sex Roles, Vol. 51, Nos. 9/10, November 2004 (
Interaction of Recruiter and Applicant Gender in Resume
Evaluation: A Field Study
Michael S. Cole,
Hubert S. Feild,
and William F. Giles
In the present study, we examined the effect of recruiter and applicant gender on recruiters’
evaluations of applicants’ qualiﬁcations as reported on actual applicant resumes. Forty re-
cruiters evaluated applicant resumes that were randomly allocated to them. In total, 388 re-
cruiter evaluations of applicant resumes comprised the sample. Results indicate that recruiter
and applicant gender interacted to predict recruiters’ perceptions of applicants’ qualiﬁca-
tions. Male recruiters’ perceptions of applicants’ work experiences did not differ depending
on applicant gender. However, female recruiters perceived male applicants’ resumes to re-
port more work experiences than resumes of female applicants. Furthermore, male recruiters
perceived female applicants as having more extracurricular interests than male applicants.
Female recruiters rated both male and female applicants as having about the same amount of
extracurricular activity information on their resumes. Gender role theory provides a possible
explanation for the study’s ﬁndings.
KEY WORDS: resumes; preemployment; recruiter; gender differences.
More than 25 years ago, it was estimated that
one billion resumes and applications were screened
each year (Levine & Flory, 1975), and that number
has certainly risen. For example, it is not atypical
for an organization to review more than 50,000 re-
sumes in a year’s time (Useem, 1999). With the ad-
vent of resume submission via the internet (Lievens,
van Dam, & Anderson, 2002; Mohamed, Orife, &
Wibowo, 2002), evaluation of applicants’ resumes is
likely to continue as an important preemployment
Employers use resumes as an initial applicant
screening tool because they provide an opportunity
to appraise applicants’ qualiﬁcations in areas such
asx education, work experience, and special skills
Institute for Leadership and Human Resource Management,
University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Department of Management, Auburn University, Auburn,
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Insti-
tute for Leadership and Human Resource Management,
Dufourstrasse 40a, CH-9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland; e-mail:
(Knouse, 1989). Because employers can make these
initial assessments prior to investing in more expen-
sive selection measures such as interviews, reviewing
applicants’ resumes is a common practice when ﬁlling
entry-level positions (Hutchinson, 1984), especially
for those organizations that consider large numbers
of applicants for a limited number of job openings
(Gatewood & Feild, 2001).
Resumes establish recruiters’ ﬁrst impressions
of applicants’ employability, and these impres-
sions, in turn, are used to make prehire decisions
(Ash, Johnson, Levine, & McDaniel, 1989; Dipboye,
Fontenelle, & Garner, 1984; Hakel & Schuh, 1971).
Unfortunately, the manner in which recruiters pro-
cess applicant information is often informal, unstruc-
tured, and may vary among individual evaluators
(Ash et al., 1989; Graves, 1993). Moreover, past re-
search has demonstrated decision biases (Cable &
Gilovich, 1998; Dougherty, Turban, & Callender,
1994) and idiosyncratic patterns in how recruiters
process and use informational cues (Bretz, Rynes, &
Gerhart, 1993; Kinicki, Lockwood, Hom, & Griffeth,
1990; Zedeck, Tziner, & Middlestadt, 1983).
2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.