Can an ethnic-sounding name take you out of the competition for a job?

Last week, I was reading an interesting article on the Globe and Mail’s website about career advice. It revealed that job applicants with an ethnic-sounding name may actually be subconsciously discriminating against you and assuming that you may not have the right language and social skills for the job.

I think it’s quite shocking in this day and age that an ethnic-sounding name might reduce your chances of landing a job. Even if it’s not a conscious decision, now that a study has revealed that recruiters are more likely to pass over a resume with an ethnic-sounding name, employers should make sure that they aren’t making these mistakes and missing out on top talent.

According to the article, “the researchers sent out more than 7,000 hypothetical résumés to hiring managers at companies in three cities that had advertised jobs requiring that applicants have a bachelor’s degree and fluency in English. The positions covered a number of professional fields.” The study found that employers are 40% more likely to choose an applicant with an English sounding name than an ethnic-sounding one.

If employers want to increase diversity in the workplace, then this is a great way to start. Employers should be looking over their hiring ways and examining if they’re prone to these errors – and if they are, start correcting them before missing out on great candidates.

Have you ever felt that an ethnic-sounding name may reduce your chances for landing a job?

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One response to “Can an ethnic-sounding name take you out of the competition for a job?

  1. Yep heard this all before and it’s not anything new in the black community. In some cases it’s become a joke (“Don’t give your kid a black name or they’re just gonna work at McDonald’s!”). I’m lucky my full name (first, middle, and last) is Anglosaxon all the way. The funny thing is that last yr, my mom and I were watching an ABC 20/20 special about the science of names. What redsol and karen stated are true and that’s what the program was covering. My mom flatted out told me that’s why she didn’t name me Keisha. Being a woman minor is hard enough in the U.S. With an “ethnic sounding” name, that’s taking icing away from the cake. But dangit, it would have been nice to been name Keisha or La’Shay 😦 My name is so common and plain that it sucks. I grew up with a lot of Keishas or variations of that name. My name is a so-called “Black American” name. Strangely, people tell me my name is “pretty” or “cute” and this has almost always come from a white or Asian person (LOL and NO my name is NOT really Alayzia). During my sociological studies, I read U.S. research studies of highly skilled asian, black, and hispanic work with ethnic names (Vu, De’Shawnte, Lorenzo, Mihn, La’Shaya) getting turned down jobs in place of poorer skilled workers with more anglosaxon names (Dennis, Stephanie, Kristy,Micheal, Jayson). I remember when Obama was running for president people made a big deal about his name not sounding “American” enough or claiming he was a Muslim, or purposely trying to put fear into people by using OSama instead of OBama. I work with high schools students and many of them are black/Asian immigrants. Some of them have changed their names while the other chose not to.

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