Discrimination because of surname is not a new practice. It's so common that members of some minorities have taken to changing theirs in order to improve their economic prospects. But discrimination doesn't stop with the last name. Here is a piece from CBSNews that talks about distinctive names and their effects on resumes: ‘Black' Names A Resume Burden?.
A 2003 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research called "Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," demonstrated that a "white sounding" name on a résumé yielded as many callbacks as an additional eight years of experience, and that it yielded 50 percent more callbacks.
Studies have shown that recruiters and hiring managers — consciously or not — assess candidates on the basis of a name and that common names were best liked and most likely to be hired. Even more discouraging is that a hiring manager could have his or her own bad association with a name. If the first name on a resume is the same as that person's evil stepmother, there might be some psychology going on that would get that resume sent to the trash.
So what can be done? Not much about the psychology, unfortunately. But some talent management software-like Hazlet — offers users options for keeping candidate names hidden.
I suppose some candidates could use initials, but who knows if that would tick off some hiring manager because it comes across as pretentious?
Clearly, there are no easy answers. I'd like to hear from those of you who believe you have been discriminated against because of your name. Or maybe some hiring managers would like to chime in?
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.