Most Chinese employers check out online photos of potential candidates when hiring, using social media, according to a survey by global HR consultancy SHL. This comes amid declining job offers due to the economic slowdown.

SHL’s managing director, Stuart Hedley, told the Journal that such practice is alarming. “You have to wonder, ‘how valid is using someone’s photo as a predictor of future success?'” Mr. Hedley added. Still, “discriminatory” Chinese job ads are found across the country, stipulating certain physical qualifications, including height, weight, race, gender and even astrological signs.

According to a study conducted by a professor from UC Santa Barbara and Xiamen University, job ads particularly discriminate gender. Ten percent of job ads in Zhaopin, one of China’s busiest hiring boards, explicitly stated their preference between man or woman. 37% of ads recruiting women are seeking “attractiveness”.

According to the Journal, only 26% of foreign respondents said they try to find out how potential candidates look. Foreign firms were also less likely to discriminate based on gender than private Chinese firms, the study stated. SHL indicated that 48% of Chinese employers seek photos of their candidates, compared to the US which stands at 21%. Only 10% of UK firms admit to consulting online photos, while the figure in Australia is 9%.