What’s in a name? Qualifications count

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Could your name cause you to not get a job?

A recent study indicates that this could be the case. Researchers at the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently sent out 5,000 fake resumes as a test. The qualifications on the resumes were the same. The only differences in the resumes were the names.

Guess what? The resumes with the name of Tyrone drew less response than Brett’s or Greg’s resume. Names like Neil, Greg, Ann and Emily drew more response than Ebony, Aisha, Tamika or Kareem. Researchers drew the conclusion that resumes with “white” sounding names drew more response than those with “black” sounding names.

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Most employers will tell you that a resume does not win anyone the job. But a resume can open a door and this study indicates that doors may be more difficult to open for some than others.

Our nation has made great strides in the workplace. Racially diverse firms are much more common today than 30 years ago. But this study shows there still may be enough bias left to shut a door.

And that’s too bad. An employer should look at what is on the resume as it relates to qualifications and experience. The name should not matter.

Those interviewed in Selma were not shocked at the study. Many felt it to be accurate. However, we were encouraged to see those interviewed say they intended to keep plugging along and not let the threat of bias stop them.

This is a great attitude. It’s easy to blame our failures on the actions of others. The reality is, if we are good at what we do and persistent in our job searches, we can overcome the obstacles.

The fear of bias can often be far more crippling than the actual bias.

We are glad this study was conducted. We hope employers and hiring managers make note of it and work to reduce bias in the hiring process.

The key to building a great staff at any firm is to simply hire good employees who know their jobs well. It’s a simple task that works well when followed.