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Resume Racism, how recruiters really read your resume

Resume racism

What image does your resume portray?

Resume Racism

This week’s topic is Resume Racism. It will most likely bend a lot of readers but my hope is that it is an eye opener for both candidates and hiring managers alike. The following is a topic that won’t get much airplay, even amongst my peers, but I need to air this laundry because I see this phenomenon effect candidates on a regular basis. I am not talking about misspelled words or typos, which will end a resumes career ASAP. Any HR pro-am will tackle that topic. I am talking about prejudice and racism that is interpreted via the resume, and this all happens BEFORE a face to face interview.  

This past week, I have been collaborating on a resume with an uber smart candidate. When I say “uber smart”, I mean PhD, time at Cambridge, 40-under-40 recognition, bilingual, and entrepreneurial with a successful business smart. The whole nine yards, the “sick” kind of smarts.  

After an online introduction, I met this candidate in person over coffee and found them to be articulate, presentable, social, and yes, a big brain without coming off like an intellectual with a PhD from Cambridge. All good things for me. This initial meeting wasn’t necessarily an interview, but more of a “get to know each other” meeting. AFTER our meeting, the candidate forwarded their resume for review.    

Looking at the resume from afar I liked what I saw. The document was well balanced and filled the pages without looking crowded. Resumes have the potential to mimic bad art by appearing empty like a white modernistic interpretation or the opposite, overcrowded and busy. This one had great aesthetics. 

When I started to read the document, I realized this candidate was not just accomplished, this candidate was VERY accomplished. The document was 3 full pages, great brands, a long list of honors both academic and professional, held a professorship at Cambridge, graduate of a well-known Ivy League school, blah – blah – blah. And I say those last three “blahs” facetiously. The entire document was filled with relevant information and all accomplishments were recent. 

As I mentioned, I met the candidate in person and they could back up the entire document. Well spoken, great presentation layer, and obviously intelligent. In a nutshell, a lot of companies would love to have this candidate on their team.  

Sound too good to be true? It was, temporarily. Throughout the document, I saw a number of yellow flags. None of these flags individually would nuke the candidate, but as a collective, these flags made a difference. Not just any difference, but even me, HRNasty, the magnanimous and open minded recruiter would have had a hard time calling this candidate for a phone interview. Had I seen the resume first and not met the candidate in person, I am confident I would have had a prejudiced image. This candidate would probably have never received a call and the company would have missed out. 

I was confident that other hiring managers and recruiters would look at the resume and feel the same trepidation I did. After looking at the resume, with even just a cursory glance, I was left with the impression that this was an angry minority, a strong-minded activist, or all of the above.  In other words, an HR nightmare.      

Based on the position the candidate was applying for, this may be the desired image. If the candidate is looking for an advocacy position with a minority group raising money for a cause or charity, PERFECT!  The picture that came to mind was that of a downtown mob with riot police, Birkenstocks and fingers pointed in anger!  Our candidate was looking for a position in corporate America, and I am confident the resume would raise hairs on the backs of most hiring managers neck.  

Resume Racism

Hopefully I don’t picture this when I look at your resume

Just a few of the words and phrases which were included in the resume:

  • Ethnic Media                        
  • Martin Luther King
  • Celebrate (insert country here)
  • Gender x” of Power, “Gender x”  of Courage
  • Advocacy
  • Local Ethic Media
  • Heritage Community
  • Diversity
  • Interactive Workshop
  • Coalition 

None of the above would have raised any flags individually, but as a collective, even I got a little scared and I am certified to facilitate a number of diversity classes. (This candidate is not looking for a position in Diversity)    

The resume was creating an image and reinforcing prejudices and we hadn’t even met.

The candidate I met in person didn’t give me the impression they were ready to go door to door for the next “we are treated unfairly cause”. The closer on the deal is that this candidate has an Ethnic sounding name, which implied that the skin color is something other than white. We are not talking a Schmidt or McHenry with this candidate. The name at the top of this resume is ethnic enough that the reader could wonder if English is the first language.    

The ethnic name, above bulleted terminology, Ph.D. and graduating undergrad with honors from a California school that has a strong reputation for political science just makes for a quick trip to the recycle bin. The last thing I need to be known for is bringing in the candidate that resulted in anger management training for all ACME Publishing employees.    

Horrible? Yes! HR embarrassment? Abso-f***in-lutely!   Should I be shot in the back of the head? Yes, with a sawed off shotgun. This attitude doesn’t deserve a quick and clean single bullet. It should be slow, painful, messy and I get that. 

The resume was “too ethnic”. I appreciate diversity just as much as the next guy, and am certified to facilitate more diversity training than I will list publicly, but too much of a good thing is too much. Just because one Aspirin works, doesn’t mean 5 is better.  

Am I making this up???  No. In my real life, I have a name that is often interpreted as “ethnic”. Now that I have worked in HR for a few years, I know better and have changed my name to something VERY Americana. Not just farmland Americana, but ICONIC and universally recognizable Americana. I am trying to present myself as a guy who grew up on Skippy peanut butter, understands baseball, and drives a Ford truck Americana. This profile has the least chance of raising any eyebrows because I am in HR and even I try to avoid the word diversity. 

When a recruiter is faced with two resumes and they don’t know how to pronounce the name of one of the candidates, guess who they are going to call?  Either put a nick name in parenthesis, or add a pronunciation so the caller doesn’t feel awkward about reaching out to you.  

When I brought this up with the candidate, they IMMEDIATELY understood where I was coming from and were very thankful. There was no Askhole here, they knew EXACTLY the profile I had in mind and quickly changed up the resume. .  .  This candidate strongly suggested that I blog about this.        

When I am looking at 50 resumes for a position, I am not just trying to see who is qualified and who can do well, but who will make it through al of the potential interviews. First impressions will set the tone for the interviews and resumes are the first impression. I do not want an interviewer going into the interview with a preconceived negative bias.  As much as I want the interviewer excited about the candidate, I really do not want them wondering or having any doubts about the candidate. There is a difference between approaching something with a neutral attitude and approaching it with an attitude of “doubt” and “you need to prove yourself out of this hole”.       

Yes, we can all agree that HR and Hiring managers need to change their attitude.  Yes, we can all agree that the above attitude is pretty shitty. But you know the saying, “shit happens”. From an HR perspective, I appreciate diversity in the workplace. But this isn’t a blog post about how the business can do better with diversity or how a company is stronger because of an open-minded workforce.  Blah, Blah, Blah. The goal of this blog is to  increase your odds to an interview and a job offer. The way to a more diverse workplace is to bring in more diversity, and a resume that doesn’t set off any alarms is the first step. 

Here are some of the before and after bullet points that were on the resume and you can see the difference: 

Before: As a National Association of (Ethnicity “X”) American Professionals (NA”X”AP) board member, sold 25% of total ticket sales for 2011 Gala and brought in most new corporate sponsors in 2012.


After:  Sold 25% of total ticket sales for major fundraising event in 2011 and brought in most new corporate sponsors in 2012 for a professional development association. 

note:  ethnicity has nothing to do with the accomplishment

Before:  As a Celebrate (Ethnicity X) Symphony committee member, directly sold 8% of total ticket sales through Symphony for the sold-out 2011 Celebrate (Ethnicity X)! concert at the Staples Center and 10% of total ticket sales for the 2012 concert. 


AfterDirectly sold 8% of total ticket sales through personal network and business development efforts for a sold-out concert in 2010 and 10% of total ticket sales for a sold-out concert in 2012 

note:  ethnicity has nothing to do with the accomplishment

So don’t just worry about typos and formatting.  As much as that can create a negative prejudice, so can the content of the document.  As you create your resume, think about the image you are projecting and if it fits the position you are interested in.  

See you at the after party, 


nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something.  “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • Bunny

    It’s the way the real-world spins. Is it right – absolutely not. Is it real-world? Yup.
    I also advise people to take off medic alert bracelets/hide insulin pumps/etc. I do this with my medical stuff, and, once I have the job, I only mention it if they do first. Then I play it down BIG TIME.

    • Bunny,
      Thanks for checking out the site and I love your advise. Yes, take off medical related articles or keep them discreet. Some companies don’t want to jeopardize their health insurance rates, others are scared of time off. Is it right? Absolutely not. Thank you! HRN

  • Miss Teacher

    Hi, I have almost read everything you have on your site and it is so honest and informational! I think it is one of the best sites I’ve ever come across. This post on resume racism is so true! You are absolutely right about the name. My husband has a clearly common Spanish name and I know he has had his resume tossed in the garbage because of it. I changed his name on his resume and cover letter and he did at least get some job interviews. He feels uncomfortable with this as he used to be in law enforcement and his extremely honest. He knows that the jobs he is going for will do a background check on him and he doesn’t want to lie. I told him, it’s just a nickname “no big deal” what do you think? I treasure your advice.
    P.S. I wish you were based in Utah as I would love to show you his cover letter and resume. He isn’t getting any job offers. 🙁 He was a police officer and has left that field and is trying to enter the financial industry as a fraud investigator, but he is having trouble changing careers in his forties.
    Thanks so much for your time!
    Miss Teacher in Utah

    • Hey there, thank you SO much for the support on the blog. Your note means a lot! Especially on this topic because so many people don’t think this goes on. Seriously, everyone has a nickname and I say there is no harm in using it at all. Mr. Teacher, Miss Teacher is absolutely right. There is no harm or foul in listing a nick name. It is not dis honest at all. If anything I think you are doing not only yourself a dis service but any employer you really want to work for is also getting a dis service. The hiring manager should have the option to hire you and talk with you. By not listing a nick name, we are potentially NOT giving them the employer the opportunity to review your credentials and talk with you. Anyone who is as honest as you are would be an employers dream, especially as a fraud investigator! We are cheating the employer! I myself have a nick name that I use on my resume. I have been known as my given name with some employers and my nick name at other employers. My friends who have known me at both employers wonder WTF? They get it when i explain it to them. All we want to do is get the interview. Listing a name that is familiar and easy to pronounce will increase our chances of landing that initial interview. Without that initial interview we have no shot. Once we get into the interview process and we start making progress, you can say that this is a nick name and go with your given name, but we really want to just get the interview. As a police officer, surely you know what predjudice is and how both police and the public make snap judgements based on appearance, name, accent etc. This is not a face to face encounter, this is just a piece of paper and we don’t have the benefit of giving them a smile, or confidence. PLEASE ADD THE NICK NAME.
      Good luck,

  • Joey CoCo

    Just goes to show you that being black is always a disadvantage – no matter what you accomplish. You are expected to apologize or hide the fact that you are not white to be acceptable – even when you are better.

    This is why the best advice I can give young blacks is get yourself into a position that you do not have to work for white people unless you choose to do so. That and only that will be your fallback position for the rest of your life.

    • Joey,
      I am sorry you took the post this way. I am not saying that it is a dis advantage to being black. A person from the military can have a resume filled with acronyms, come to the interview with a military haircut and use terms like “outstanding”,
      “yes sir” and “no mamm”. They could be white, but unless they are going for a position that is military based, we are probably not going to get the job. I am not saying we need to suck up to the man. I am saying that we will have better odds if we appeal to our audience no matter what the situation. I provide the insight so that folks have another option to try and find success in the world. There are many ways to win the battle, and I am trying to provide another.

  • Chevin,
    Thanks for stopping by and not only understanding where I am coming from but WHY I am posting this on this controversial topic. I do appreciate you having the courage to let folks know that this unfortunate issues do happen whether we think they are fair or they are not and I am sorry you have had to experience them first hand. We all know these things happen, but when they happen right to our face, that is an entirely different matter.

    Please let us know how your experiment goes and maybe you could do a guest post so that other can benefit from your learnings. I for one would love to learn more. I wish you luck with your search and if there is anything I can do, just email me. Thanks again! HRN

    • C. S Stone

      Hi, HRNasty… just an update on my journey (or lack of one as it turned out)… I was offered a lateral at work that I took so I’ve put the move to greener pastures on hold for right now. I did send the CV around with and without the picture and all I heard was crickets. I’m chalking it up to the economy and the still rather volatile nature of my industry as we do some reforming out there (ha)… I need to update the CV now anyway, with my new responsibilities… yay me!

  • Subaltern

    You can write the sentence “I believe America is the greatest country on Earth followed by European countries” on your resume with a name like George Washington. That might help you get a job. Guess what you will be treated like at that job.

    Fuck that. I will have my dignity. I will be poor but I will have my dignity. This is hard for those whose nations and therefore minds were colonized to understand.

  • Joe

    Ain’t something. Posted a comment 30 minutes ago exposing you as the racist you are and of course it’s taken down.

    No surprise there. All in a days work for a corporate white supremacist.

    • The comment is still up. Sorry you took offense.

  • J

    Dude, all this tells me is that you’re a racist asshole who looks for reasons to discriminate against people. Most people think that talent, experience and competence should be enough to get a job. But according to you it’s also being as close to WASP as possible and never having any life experiences that are different than your own. In other words, you make it a point to get rid of people who aren’t like you.

    The fact that you are actually bragging about keeping someone out of what could be grat for both employee and employer just let’s me know that Donald Sterling’s attitude is prevalent everywhere.

    The worst part about it is that you’re clearly not alone. There are tons of Ku Klux Pricks like you in the hiring game. People like you are why I’ve learned to NEVER, EVER trust recruiters or HR people. You are simply a bigoted POS.

    I hope someone finds you out one day and not only sues you but blacklists you as well.


    • Vooptue

      It’s been 4 months… has this principled attitude gotten you a job yet?

      • j

        Yeah, dickhead. Just so you know, my skin color and everything I participate in is plastered all over my resume. But MY ACTUAL SKILLSET is the only thing employers who MADE OFFERS asked me about.

        Is “Vooptue” Old English for asshole?

        • JoeGray,
          I am really glad you had a great experience and congrats on the offers. My post may sound like I assume every recruiter is like this and I know they are not. What I am trying to do is prepare candidates for the worst case scenario. I want to put candidates into a position where the candidate has the option to decline a job. I do not want a candidate to put themselves into a position where they are getting declined for even just an interview because of the impression they may be presenting via the interview. If the candidate is running into open minded recruiters, then they do not need me. But when they are continually getting declined, I want to provide some insight into what MAY be happening.
          Again, congrats on the offers and thanks for swinging by


  • John

    It bothers me that you changed your “ethnic” name because after working in HR (oh, the irony) you now “know better”. This is troubling on many levels.

    • John,
      appreciate the comment, really it means a lot, but seriously, I am “OK” with it. At the end of the day, I am just glad I figured out a work around, and that I have the ability to share it with others. I know that there are a lot of qualified candidates out there not getting a fair shake. Again, Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to hearing from you in 2014!

      • Dylan

        Of course you’re OK with it. Everything you’ve written here screams how OK with it you are. Collective action for a better world gives you the heebie-jeebies, but individual action to conform to white supremacy gives you a warm fuzzy. It’s who you are.

  • Agnieszka

    I had my manager say straight up that if he had not met me before reading my resume, my resume would have gone on the discard pile because he couldn’t pronounce my name. I’m not supporting this type of behaviour, but I think that it does occur and should be kept in mind when crafting your resume.

    • Agnieszka,
      thanks for stopping by and really, thanks for confirming the message. I know a LOT of folks who don’t believe what I wrote here, don’t want to believe it, or don’t think it is fair. Unfortunately, sifting through 100’s of resume’s to find a few jewels to call is as much about “who is the easiest to call” as it is being qualified. If I only had 3 resume’s for every job, I would call them all, but when you have 100’s, you start to get really picky. Thanks again for the support!

    • Agnieszka,
      Thanks for stopping by and the support. I am not here to change the rules, just get folks to a point where the game is fair. Yes, unfortunately it happens, but at least now, we know how to get around it. 🙂 Thanks again for the validation!

  • Bagelz

    I’m writing a CV right now and just came across this and a lot of what I was going to write (for a hospital clinical position) was about my work with diversity and multiculturalism. Reading this makes me somewhat sad, because a lot of the things I was a part of on campus gave me wonderful opportunities that I was truly passionate about. I could have done a lot more work that was more relevant to my actual position, which a ton of kids in my class have, but I would have to work with people whose company I absolutely disliked doing things that seemed more empty than useful. I guess I will try to change around the language to not make it sound like I’m an angry minority.

  • Pamela Kennedy

    You can leave off anything ethnic sounding and still not get the job. If your resume looks too “white” and your skin is NOT when you show up, you will not get the job. Story of my life. If you “whiten” your resume (this is directed to all my fellow Ivy Leaguers who are non-white) you will blow the interview just by showing up. Period. If they want you because you look lily-white on paper, then — well, to minorities that’s a no-brainer.

    The only time I got a decent-paying government job after graduating Yale was in an agency that has some of its operations centers in Ghetto Trash areas and yes I passed the interview (I had also passed the “TEST” at 100%) but because it was in a heavily Black area, almost all my co-workers were Black and they treated ME like “Black” too – and I’m NATIVE AMERICAN – and I wound up being around nothing but resentment and jealousy and petty nonsense because I’d gotten in by having a Bachelor’s degree and the Blacks there tended to have gotten the job by “working their way up through the ranks” from having nothing but a high school diploma. Now, had the job been one in a scientific discipline in my major field there wouldn’t have been anyone there who DIDN’T have the requisite Bachelor’s or higher degree but I digress, that’s “water under the bridge,” so to speak.

    Because of the color of my skin and the aforementioned mistaken racial identity every time people lay eyes on me, I’m pretty much stuck with either Call Center jobs or other back-of-the-house “customers can’t see you so it doesn’t matter what you look like” jobs and those are rapidly dwindling in number these last few decades since I graduated. It sucks. You get INTO the top universities because you’re brilliant, and the additional “hook” of being a minority. Then after you graduate you get absolutely shunned by the job market or schlepped in to only areas with “people who look like you.” This sucks.

    My point is this: The resume can say anything you damn well please. Problem is that it’s what you LOOK LIKE when you show up to the interview which makes or breaks you. Period. They will hire you – or not – not even looking at your actual qualifications. Not even looking at the piece of paper in front of them. That’s how bad this world has become — well, maybe it was like this all along, but in days gone by, not as many minorities were graduating from top high schools and the nation’s top universities. Not as many women, either.

    • Ivy

      I’m pretty sure the problem is your attitude, not your skin color.

      • Pamela Kennedy

        It’s not “my attitude” that being treated like a race I”m not even a member of constitutes misperception discrimination and is in my case a violation of “law” based on a Supreme Court decision handed down in 1967 known as “Loving v Virginia.” Why the hell should I LIKE being treated like a race I’m not even a member of – and when I have a problem with it everywhere I go, that’s an “attitude” ?? It’s racism, it’s against the law and I’ve start suing for it. The “attitude” is coming from people who see me and assume I’m an entire ethnicity that I’m not, not ME.

  • This doesn’t seem like a racial issue per se, I think activism on any resume is going to turn off employers. Which is something I really ought to have realized in college. Yes, activism can show leadership, passion, and skills in event planning and social media, but unfortunately not every organization is going to see that through all the stigma that being an activist comes with. Such activities have a place in some resumes, but not all.

    • Allison,
      thanks for stopping by and you bring up a great point. This candidate could be labeled an activist per the resume. Although they don’t always go hand in hand, your last sentence brings up a good point. Depending on the role you are interested in, these activities may or may not have a place on a resume. If you are passing out a resume for general networking and don’t know where that resume may end up, keeping the tone neutral is the safe route to go. You bring up a great point! Thank you,

  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s resume would have been pretty “ethnic” looking.  Straight up just racist, sorry.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      In his day, there weren’t as many minorities getting in, attending and graduating from top universities in fields other than social sciences or English, so in those days “having to ‘whitewash’ your resume” wasn’t as prevalent. In those days if you were black and attended Yale or Cornell instead of Howard or Spellman – well, the job market wasn’t as saturated with blacks who attended Yale or Cornell or Dartmouth so these things just weren’t as pervasive as they are now.

      • Ovary♀Action

        This response is almost hysterically out-of-touch and racist. Whatever you have to tell yourself to justify your discrimination. Your use of the term “blacks” is incredibly distancing, and creates an “other” mentality that leads to the exact kind of racism and discrimination this article admits to. Just be upfront about being prejudice, and I would respect you at least a little.

        • Pamela,
          I completely agree, but at some level, as much as we want to hire thought leaders, we don’t want to hire a potential liability that may pull the race card whether it is deserved or not. Folks behind the scenes see these lawsuits on a regular basis, the day to day individual contributors and leadership rarely see this unless they are directly involved. If a hiring manager has the choice between 2 qualified candidates and one “looks” like they may be sensitive to any issues whether they be social or not, they will go with the other candidate. I believe that we can present our resumes in a way that shows our passion, shows our credentials but doesn’t give any room for assumptions and this is the point I want to get across in the post.

          • Lanie

            As an African American woman, I understand precisely what your saying Pamela. This is strategic positioning in characterizing the resume, skills, education, and background qualifications in this way. We have to be wise to acknowledge that while it may not be fair to have to make oneself diminutive to appease the possibly irrational, illogical and paranoid sensibilities of some recruiters and hiring managers at many of these business organizations, the fact is that we have to be strategic with how we present ourselves and be audience centered in finding a balance between presenting the best authentic version of ourselves with being aware that impression and perception management is part of being self aware and aware of whats going and how things may be perceived in the external environment.

            Of course ‘de-radicalizing’ the resume so to speak is only PART of the challenge. You still have to deal with overcoming recruiters trying to voice analyze you during the phone screen, i.e. do you sound other than white; and over coming the image shock when they have believed they have been communicating with a white candidate and love the applicants qualifications until they see they are a member of a racially different group or culture. In these situations; all of the sudden the glowing candidate does not look so shiny now.. type of thinking. This is a huge problem in the recruitment/interviewing/hiring environment of today!

          • Lanie,
            I wish I could write as well as you. Thank you so much for not just articulating the challenge but publicly acknowledging that it exists. As a minority, it amazes me how often a “majority” will lecture me on this topic, on how I should address it, as someone working in recruiting I should be more aware of the demographics in the company etc. Thank you also for your support and understanding where the blog is coming from. I used to be accused of being “racist” to varying degrees because the reader assumed I was white. Just because I am reporting on a practice doesn’t mean I am using that practice. I am trying to show that it exists and provide a solution to work through the system.

            You have done that in a much more articulate manner than me. Glad to have you here. Thank you, HRN

  • Karthik Ramakrishnan

    This is a terrific read. This is not an easy topic to broach. I have to admit that I do not agree with having to change names to get a foor in the door. I do understand that there biases in this world and you have to ensure you make a good first impression but you needn’t do that by compromising who you really are. 

    Keep Blogging Mr. Nasty!

  • Nasty, tough topic to broach. You have some mighty cajones, my friend. Overall takeaway for candidates is to not come across as a zealot for ANYTHING. It makes you look crazy or unbalanced. Nobody wants to hire crazy. That’s my Reader’s Digest version. You’re welcome.

    • Busta,
      Always great to have your quick wit and succinct style.  Folks listen up, Busta just said it best.  “Nobody wants to hire crazy”.  I love it!  

  • Melissa Austin

    I do agree that there must be some consideration on how a reader would interpret your resume. However, the current imbalance of job availability to job seekers is creating a disrespectful and almost hostile environment. I have kept my married name for the sake of “appearing” American as apple pie…and I am not even that sure what that means considering I live on the west coast in areas with over 50% asians and latinos. 
    Perhaps the next step is also changing my 1st name to a gender neutral one considering that women, being 51% in population, are only in 11% of the global leadership roles…

    • Melissa,
      Thanks for stopping by and the comments.  I hope I didn’t give the wrong impression with the post.  The candidate I was working with was reinforcing the ethnicity with all of the bulleted phrases and words listed in the post.  I think that all companies want diversity, but they don’t want someone that is overboard in “anything”.  It isn’t  just gender or ethnicity, it is these in combination with but the bullets in the post that scared me.  Changing your name to “Pat” will probably not make a difference and too much mystery is just as confusing.  At the end of the day, we want to hire people without hangups or people who are signaling that they are singularly focused on any one thing.  Too much of a good thing is too much.  Hope this helps,   

      • Pamela Kennedy

        By the same token companies tend not to want to hire a non-white person who has a J.D. degree AT ALL so I usually leave that one off applications and resumes.

  • Thanks for writing this because it’s an incredibly sensitive topic. I have to say, I agree with you on all of it, except to the extent of Westernising a name. That would upset me if I had to do it.

    • Sarah, thanks for the comments, really appreciate your candor.  I don’t look at westernizing my name as a bad thing.  This may be weird, but so many of my friends and friends parents have done it, it is a very natural thing.  At the end of the day, everyone just wants a chance, and I am confident I can prove my worth, I just want a foot in the door so I can have a chance.  🙂  I am just glad that folks have figured out how to play the game.  Thanks again!

      • When you put it that way, it makes sense I guess. We really are willing to do anything to give ourselves the very best chance, for some it’s changing their name, for others it’s living in another country working as a domestic helper while a relative raises their child. I think idealistically it disturbs me because I want everyone to live a candy cotton life of love and acceptance and fair goes. But I so get not missing out your chance for some ideal – go get your dues.

      • Out of interest, what would be your views on revealing your real name (and the reasons for changing it) at a later date, once you’d proved yourself?
        Might that be a good way of challenging such bias?

        • Christoff_ff, 
          This is just me, but if I am proving myself, I don’t think I will have the need to reveal myself.  Doing great work is enough and I want to be treated as an equal. I don’t want to be looked at through a different lens.  I don’t want anyone to say “he does great work AND he is an XYZ”.  I don’t want anyone to say “he doesn’t do that great of work, but what do you expect, he is an XYZ”.  

          There is too much of a chance of someone taking offense to the move.  I think that some might interpret the move badly.  “what, you didn’t trust that I would accept you as you are?” attitude.  If I am doing great in my job, I don’t think I will have the need to prove anything.  This may be a little passive, but doing great work is enough.  Representing my minority whether it be race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc  is a bonus.  Making a bigger deal out anything that doesn’t need a big deal is where folks start to mis understand intent. 

          I just wanted to get my foot in the door like anyone else and I want to stay in the door based on my work and nothing else.  I don’t want any special consideration.  Hope this makes sense over email.  

          Seriously, thanks for taking the time to consider and look at the hard issues.     

    • Really interesting piece.
      Have to agree with Sarah that the westernizing of the name is a bit sad.
      Appreciate you’re referring to subliminal bias, but I’d sooner take a lesser post (in terms of remuneration) than work for an employer that couldn’t accept my name.

      • Christof_ff
        Thanks for the comments and appreciate the support on the blog and the ethics.  I don’t look at it as a very big thing.  I got braces when I was young because I wanted to look more presentable. Some folks dye their hair, others wear really nice clothes for a “different” presentation.  I don’t look at the name as much.  And for the record, maybe I should have made this more clear.  I didn’t go down to the court house and formally change my name, I just adopted a nick name and list that on my resume vs. my “given” name.  I still know my roots.  I also look at it this way.  If I can go into an environment and show everyone that someone “different” is appreciating my work then I am exposing people to new ideas about my demographic.  

        Again, I appreciate the support!   

        • Pamela Kennedy

          I’m sorry, hair dye? Changing your name? Women change our last names with MARRIAGE. The one thing we can’t change (not, at least, without the help of Michael Jackson’s dermatologist and all the millions of dollars THAT must have cost) is the color of our skin. And THAT’S the one thing that gets me turned down most of the time. Top education, top skills, black pinstripe suit and hair in a bun to the interview, and still, DIDDLY SQUAT. The one thing that it would take major dermabrasion and skin bleach to change is the one thing that keeps me kicked to the curb. People look at the color of my skin and think that my entire upbringing and education and skills must be a “lie.” Nope, hair dye won’t cut it.

          • SG47

            I suggest you to seek an employer who is of the same ethnicity as yours, or go to the country that is the origin of your ethnic background. That’s what I did for my entire career, sought only Asian employers, and flew to Japan, the homeland for people like me, for good. “Stick to your own kind”, I should say (and that does not mean hate other ethnicities/races). “Multiculturalism” is such a paradox that it should be called “societal disintegrationism through cultural/racial difference”.

        • Diana A L

          I totally get it! A lot of my co workers are Asians and they have Western nicknames that are easy to pronounce for their non Asians peers. Why do you think Western companies change their names depending on the market they are in ? If their brand is unpronouncable for locals (or means something offensive), they change it. Nowadays one has to brand oneself, and not offending your customers is key.

          • Diana,
            I think you have the best example yet, and I plan to use it in the future when I speak publicly on this topic. Your BUSINESS reason is spot on. If the brand or name of the auto is unpronounceable, or the consumer doesn’t understand it, they are not going to buy. If the hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t understand or can not pronounce the name. . .they aren’t going to buy. I love this example. Thank you!

          • khbasc

            ‘or the consumer doesn’t understand it’. Seriously, how hard is it to learn to pronounce a name from another culture? Aren’t western cultures meant to be diverse and forward thinking? I’d call that ignorance… f’d up world we live in.

    • Diana A L

      A lot of people Westernise their name when they work in the Western world (think Jackie Chan). They even Anglo saxonise their name (Gwyneth Paltrow, George Michael, Jennifer Aniston, Larry King). Check Lea Michele and Rachel Zoe for further evidence. The real question is whether someone can afford to not Westernise their name. If it furthers one’s career, it is a smart move.

      • too ethnic

        Being qualified and having the right personality should be the only traits considered by employers. People conforming to make ‘smart moves’ is just accepting ignorance and prejudice in the west. Why should people have to change? We all live on the same planet by the way, white people aren’t the only inhabitants. Think about what I’ve said and maybe one day you’ll be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.