How an ethnic-sounding name may affect the job hunt

More waves from the 2011 study by Oreopoulos (blind cv test showing how ethnic-sounding names screened out candidates):

It’s a dilemma with no easy solutions for job applicants, Dr. Oreopoulos said. “You could change your name, but your name is a significant part of your identity. I definitely wouldn’t recommend changing your name to get a higher chance of getting a job,” he said.

He suggested one tactic might be for a job seeker to put his or her name in a smaller type size or in a less visible location on the résumé, while playing up language skills and other necessary experience.

Another approach would be to take advantage of the trend toward video résumés, which can make it clear that you have the language and presentation skills to do the job, he added.

As for employers, he suggested that one way to reduce potential bias among hiring managers would be to specifically ask for résumés that mask the applicant’s name, similar to what is done for orchestra rehearsals in which the musicians play for the vetting committee behind a screen.

For example, in a job application the name and contact information could be on a separate sheet at the back of the résumé rather than on the cover page, he suggested.

Ultimately, “I think the onus is much more on employers to be aware of their potential bias and look beyond names, so they take advantage of the quality and experience of the best candidates,” Dr. Oreopoulos said.

“If our theory is correct, it’s in the employers interest. If it is subconscious, then employers are missing out on good candidates.”

And the comments from HR managers confirm the bias – only the last comment acknowledges the problem:

“Foreign sounding names may be overlooked due to a perception that their English language skills may be insufficient on the job.”

“When you’re calling someone with an English-sounding name, you know what you’re getting into. You know you can call Bob Smith and can talk to him as quickly as you want to …”

“I personally am guilty of gravitating toward Anglo names on résumés, and I believe that it’s a very human condition – [a result of]resistance to change.”

“… It’s difficult to imagine hiring someone with a long first name, as it might be impractical in terms of answering the phone and saying it. People with easy-to-use shorter names are easier to hire and work with.”

“I’m down to about seven seconds to vet a résumé … I do realize how unfair the whole process is.”

How an ethnic-sounding name may affect the job hunt – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

2 Responses to How an ethnic-sounding name may affect the job hunt

  1. Pingback: Blind Auditions Could Give Employers A Better Hiring Sense | Multicultural Meanderings

  2. Pingback: Jobseekers resort to ‘resumé whitening’ to get a foot in the door, study shows | Multicultural Meanderings

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