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Whiten and Masculate Your Resume For Success

A girlfriend of mine was telling me about her job, specifically her bosses, when I realized that she was only using female pronouns. I excused myself for interrupting her and made the comment that I was certain she had mentioned she worked for men. She said, I used to work for men, but now I work for two females: Heather and S.J. So I asked, "Isn't S.J. a man?". She responded, "No. Her name is Sara Jane and when she graduated from college she was having a tough time even getting an interview. She had read multiple studies that showed if you switched a female name with a male one on a resume that they are 60% more likely to get an interview. She changed her name to S.J. on her resume to remove any trace of gender and had a job offer within weeks."

When a woman changes her name on a resume she is 60% more likely to get an interview scheduled than when she uses her actual name. Kind of makes you want to punch the wall, right? Well, it gets worse. I read a study by Harvard Business School (research by: Katherine DeCelles) that discusses the job interview success rates of minority applicants when they whiten their resumes. Did you know that African Americans are 25% more likely to get a call back if they "whiten" their resumes? Removing any trace of their heritage from their resume can increase their chances of getting a callback. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the measures minorities and women have to take just to get noticed. But that's another topic for another day...

DeCelles research didn't just stop at the various methods minority groups are choosing just to have a better chance at being considered throughout the job application process, but she took it one step further to discuss measures that companies can take to combat discriminatory hiring practices. Guess where it starts? At the top! She argues that companies can perform regular checks for discrimination in the screening process or performing blind recruitment, which would remove race, age, gender, or social class from resumes. This would allow resumes to be evaluated fairly.

Another measure that could be adopted is the close tracking of a company's talent channels to see whether or not certain demographics are more apt to apply through certain channels. For example, if 80% of minority applicants are found through college visits and job fairs, then it might make sense to evaluate if we should reallocate our recruiting budget. As leaders, when we encourage these types of consistent checks to happen throughout our recruiting processes, then we have a better understanding of why we are not meeting our diversity quotas. 

As leaders we need to be asking these tough questions of our organizations. If we truly live what we our websites' preach, namely that we are an "equal opportunity employer", then we need to constantly be challenging the organizations to remove forms of bias from the recruiting process. If that was really the case, our applicants wouldn't have to resort to changing their names or "whitening" their resumes, especially when their qualifications are just as good, if not better than those of their Caucasian male applicants.   

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Source: Minorities Who 'Whiten' Job Resumes Get More Interviews
Source: LeanIn.Org 50 Ways to Fight Bias