Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 727–746 | Cite as

Impression Management Use in Resumes and Cover Letters

  • Marie Waung
  • Pam McAuslan
  • Jeff M. DiMambro
  • Natalia Mięgoć
Original Paper

Abstract

Purpose

This study contributes to the ecological validity of resume research by systematically examining the impression management (IM) content of actual resumes and cover letters and empirically testing the effect on applicant evaluation.

Design/methodology/approach

A content analysis of the frequency and intensity of IM tactic use in 60 resumes and cover letters was completed (Study 1). Next, an experiment was conducted in which IM tactic use was manipulated and the effect on applicant evaluation examined, using a sample of MTurk workers as evaluators (Study 2).

Findings

In Study 1, four self-promotion categories, three ingratiation categories, and one hybrid category were delineated. In Study 2, ingratiation and lower intensity self-promotion were found to increase perceptions of job and organization fit.

Implications

Employers should be aware that resumes and cover letters contain IM tactics that may influence applicant evaluation. In addition, employment training programs might communicate the benefits of using ingratiation and lower intensity self-promotion, while emphasizing the importance of accurately conveying one’s qualifications. Furthermore, the present taxonomy of IM resume content might be applied to resume database search engines to identify and index IM tactic use.

Originality/value

This research is the first to develop a taxonomy of IM tactics based on actual resumes and cover letters and may facilitate more comprehensive manipulations of IM tactic use and better integration of IM research across the selection process.

Keywords

Impression management Resumes Cover letters Self-promotion Ingratiation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Michigan – DearbornDearbornUSA

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