DSC_0104Good resume but no interview? Could it be your name?

Name discrimination is a discouraging fact, but hardly a surprise.  It’s just one of the many biases that can affect the hiring process.  If you were a job seeker facing possible name discrimination, would you switch to a more commonly known middle name or a nickname that sounds mainstream Anglo?  Maybe use only your initials, or otherwise change the name on your resume?  Or, would you stick with your real name, regardless?

Like it or not, your name can impact your career.  Your name can make a difference in how seriously you are taken at work and whether you even get your foot in the door for the interview.  Indeed, it’s what people don’t know or understand that is sometimes at the heart of prejudice; catering to such ignorance is no excuse for work place discrimination.

Like it or not: Hiring managers sometimes read a name that is obviously ethnic and perceive that person as unable to get the job done, as having low education, or as coming from a lower socioeconomic class.

Bruce Lansky, author of “100,000 Plus Baby Names” is convinced a name could potentially make or break a child’s future career.  One study conducted by researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago found job applicants with names inferring an African-American heritage received limited positive feedback when it came to the hiring process.

Here’s how far the name-game has come: Larry Whitten, owner of the Whitten Hotel in Taos, N.M., ordered a group of Hispanic employees to change their names to sound more Anglo Saxon.  For example, a name like Marco was to be changed to Mark.

Studies surmised managers tended to seek out applicants they felt perceived as “familiar” or “mainstream.”

Going back to the original title and name discrimination, how does one mitigate?  No doubt tolerance begins by teaching people in charge of hiring about the subconscious biases they may have. Until acceptance, there will be no way to change these patterns.

CC Connection: Sometimes name discrimination isn’t about race or ethnicity or xenophobia at all.  It’s just laziness or fear of embarrassment.  If the name on your resume looks hard to pronounce and/or isn’t gender-specific, it’s quite plausible that a hiring manager might (consciously or not) reject it for that reason alone.

If you want to mitigate potential name discrimination, try the strategies that follow to get your resume noticed:

  • If you feel comfortable going by a western nickname on your resume, make the switch. The idea isn’t to permanently change it but to increase the chances that a prospective employer will read your resume.
  • Consider using your first and middle initial in place of your first name.
  • Conduct an experiment of sorts. Send two resumes out to the same companies, one with your name as is and the other with your name westernized.

If an employer intentionally discriminates, you’ll be rejected during the interview.  On the other hand, some employer’s only subconsciously eliminate an applicant based on an “ethnic” name.  Once you appear in person, the employer might be more moved by your knowledge, skills, and abilities than by ethnicity.

Presented by:
Elsa De Jesus
Your CC Connection

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About D. Huffman

Education Career Services is an experienced career management publisher partnering with Career Service Departments, private industry, and progressive career candidates across the globe. We develop and publish cost-effective full course career textbooks and workbooks geared to attain your career your success; visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of affordable products and services. Our team of professional certified resume writers, employment interview professionals, and career coaches fuse best practices from the Global Thought Leaders Group, the National Resume Writers Association, and the Professional Resume Writers Association while merging best practice applications into a life-long resource. Joining our family means partnering with top career associations as well as a collaboration of over 35 contributing career directors from across the United States. Our mission is straightforward: Empower YOU through our partnerships, publishing personalized career strategies and branded material capturing the uniqueness of YOUR knowledge, skills, abilities, and career goals. Follow us on Twitter: dannyatecs.

4 responses »

  1. It’s sad that this even needs to be discussed, but you’ve made it clear that we need to make conscious choices, whether in limiting the chances for potential subconscious discrimination, or to address it directly. Well balanced and well researched article, and one that should promote (or provoke) some interesting discussions.

  2. ElsaMar says:

    Thanks Diane!

  3. Racquel Cruz says:

    Interesting and so true…This is something that has been in the back of my mind when applying for a job. Unfortunately, the name on your resume whether your birth name or not may have an impact. My name is a little different and possible hard to pronounce for some. Maybe changing the resume helps a little too. If you put the title and experience as your headline, you could put your name in there after. I would suggest putting your real name, but also a nickname or AKA. What do you think Danny?

    • D. Huffman says:

      Racquel,
      It is always a pleasure hearing from you. As founder of artists-square.com, a great website for the creative individual, I know you recognize how labels can mitigate perception. Unfortunately we live in a peculiar culture where names can affect without due cause.
      On this note, see you at artists-square.com!

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