Name Discrimination, Fact or Fiction?

whats in a name name tagGood resume but no interview?  It could 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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