If you’re searching for a job you know that it’s a jungle out there. With the unemployment rate nearing 8.2%, you have to do everything you can just to get your resume looked at. That’s why I found this recent job hunting advice at TheGrio.com particularly interesting.
An article entitled Job Hunting Tips For Black College Grads, suggests that African-Americans with “ethnic” sounding names consider using initials or their middle name when submitting resumes.
Quoted is Charles O. Wilkins, an African-American human resource veteran who states:
“I was just talking to another colleague and friend about this, and we both agreed that a very ethnic name, unfortunately, could be a disadvantage in the job market.”
Wilkins goes on to add, “I’m not putting down ethnic names, but that kind of name will not help them at all. It will just identify them as being black.”
My first thought was that “altering” your name is like selling a small piece of your soul. Your name is one of the first gifts your parents ever give you. Why should you have to hide your African-American heritage just to bring home the bacon?
But perhaps Mr. Wilkins has a point. Studies have shown that applicants with “Black sounding” names do face more difficulties than those with less “ethnic” sounding names.
One study entitled, Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? sent out identical resumes to nearly 1300 employment ads. The only difference was that half of the resumes featured “White sounding” names like Brett, Anne, and Jill while half featured “African-American sounding” names like Kareem, Tamika, and Rasheed.
They discovered that applicants with Black sounding names had to send out 50% more resumes than those with White sounding names in order to get a call back.
It seems even on paper racism rears it’s ugly head. African-Americans make compromises all the time to fit into the work place. Just ask any brother who has struggled with whether or not to cut off his dreads or a sister who has questioned whether not to go natural in a conservative office setting.
And when it comes to putting food on the table in the middle of a recession, one can’t blame a brother or sister for compromising by “altering” their name on a resume in order to land an all important job.
But somehow it just doesn’t seem right.
BMWK, what’s your view? Is using a less ethnic variation of a name on a resume a smart strategy or straight sell-out move?