The impact your name is having on your career

Name change

While most recruiters and organisations won’t admit that they have a problem with any individual name on a resume / CV- the data shows otherwise. After reviewing the data, it would appear to be a global problem, and biases as a result of a name on a resume, do impact how long it takes to secure a job, as well as whether an applicant is perceived to be more competent and hireable.

In 2017, Inside Out London sent CVs from two candidates, Adam and Mohamed, who had identical skills and experience, in response to 100 job opportunities.  Mohamed was offered 4 interviews, while Adam was offered 12 interviews.

In 2009, ANU economist Professor Alison Booth and Professor Andrew Leigh from the Research School of Social Sciences, in conjunction with researcher Elena Varganova, conducted large-scale field experiments to measure labor market discrimination across minority groups in Australia. By varying the names on the CV’s they were able to estimate precisely the extent of hiring discrimination.

“To get the same number of interviews as an applicant with an Anglo-Saxon name, a Chinese applicant must submit 68% more applications, a Middle Eastern applicant must submit 64% more applications, an Indigenous applicant must submit 35% more applications, and an Italian applicant must submit 12% more applications”.

It would seem the more recent the migrant group, the greater the discrimination.

The National Centre for Social Research on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, UK, also led a field experiment that involved submitting matched job applications from white and ethnic minorities to estimate the extent of racial discrimination in different areas of the British Labor Market.

The net discrimination of white names over equivalent applications from ethnic minority candidates was 29%.”

The report authors noted – this is significant.

In the US, NBER Faculty Research Fellows Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan measured discrimination; responding to more than 1,300 employment ads in the sales, administrative support, clerical and customer support, sending out nearly 5.000 resumes.

Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names need to send around 15 resumes to get one callback”

So if you don’t have a white anglicised name, or name that matches the majority population of a country, then it is clear you will be discriminated against.

At My Career Groove, we believe part of the solution is blind recruitment. Blind recruitment is eliminating all potentially discriminatory factors, such as name, photographs, and even where you secured a degree or qualification to create a shortlist based just on key skills, experience and qualifications. That way, employer prejudice, or employer perceptions and unconscious biases (as most is not necessarily intentional) are eliminated during the shortlisting process.

However, most companies are not running blind recruitment, so what steps can you take today, to make sure your name does not impact on your career.

Consider Anglicising your name  

If your name is not familiar, recognisable or pronounceable for the market you are targeting, change your name on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

No, I don’t agree with this and no you should not have to do this. However, whether we are intentionally biased or not, we tend to carry biases based on color, gender, ethnicity and age. Until this changes, we have a problem that is not going away. For example: I had a client whose name was Fatima, who anglicised just her first name on her resume. Fatima, who is an Australian Muslim, went from securing no interviews, to securing a professional job within weeks. So this crude tactic works.

Remove Names of Universities

If your education is not from a Western University, or training organisation – e.g. India, China, then simply remove the institution from your resume, or provide an explanation of the training institute.  For example:

  • Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Studies (2009), OR
  • Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Studies (2009), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (One of China’s top 10 Universities)

Most employers won’t have in-depth knowledge of foreign companies or training institutions, so your objective is to educate them, or leave off the information if you think this will impact on your application.  You might like to even experiment, to see if this has any impact.

‘People’s fates are simplified by their names’ – Elias Canetti

So the evidence is clear, your name could potentially impact on your career. Who would have thought a name could have so much impact?

Other Articles you might find useful

If you need a job fast, use these top 5 strategies!

Leave a Reply