As a recruiter, let’s face it, sometimes you don’t have the easiest of jobs. What’s even harder is when you have to not only advocate for yourself, but your client and talent equally.
So what happens when your advocacy is tested? What happens when you have to advocate against societal and recruitment biases? Let’s take a look at a growing industry problem…recruitment bias with names.
t’s a sunny day somewhere in America; the birds are chirping, and college graduates are looking for jobs.
Graduate A has a 3.99 GPA, is in the top 10% of the class, was a club Vice President, and has 2 years of internship experience in the field.
Graduate B has a GPA of 3.4, is in the top 20% of the class, but only 1 year of unrelated work experience.
Graduate B gets a callback, while Graduate A receives the “At this time, we are moving forward with other candidates whose background and skillset more closely meet our needs.”
How is this possible?
Graduate B’s name is Hannah; Graduate A’s name Doshameika. Yes, ladies and gents, this is what we call a biased recruiting practice, and it does still happen. A resume comes across a hiring manager’s desk and the first thing they see a person’s name. They continue to peruse the resume and although the candidate has great experience and skills, they won’t commit anything other than the name at the top of the resume to memory, whether purposefully or not.
But what if an exact duplicate of that same resume showed up again with a name like Heather or Connor? Unfortunately, there is a better chance of that resume getting a call or interview; but why?
Psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow discusses how human nature can take hold of us so easily that our hidden biases impact our decision making. He suggests that when looking at resumes we focus on a few factors slowly, but hundreds quickly and unconsciously. Even when trying to avoid it, your mind has already put a million different scenarios, stereotypes, and impressions that outweigh much of everything else.
In fact, it happens so much that there has been an increase in people (those who have what are considered “ethnic or labeled unprofessional names”) changing their names to “whiten” up their resumes in order to get further in the job interviewing process.
What can you do?
Live by the golden rule, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” This simple quote means that at every stage of the recruiting process, you should be treating your talent with the best respect possible. You must be a successful liaison. This means understanding, communicating, and negotiating for your talent, and being prepared for any and every problem that may arise and hinder that.
As a candidate advocate, you are your talent’s subject matter expert. By the time you pass your talent’s information to a hiring manager or client, should they come back with any retort, you’re ready to acknowledge their worries and you know how to counter those concerns. Your confidence in your candidate and their skill set should be exuded enough to overshadow any doubts triggered by biases.
Recruitment bias based on a person’s name happens and it’s not ok. A person shouldn’t be judged by a name that they didn’t choose, and their name does not determine who they are or the work their capable of doing. A job seeker also shouldn’t be penalized, nor should they have to try to adapt and conform to biased standards and discrimination, especially when names like Daenerys, Jaxxon, and Jaqen H’ghar are so casually thrown around.
As a recruiter, it is your job to be the voice of reason and promoter behind the person and their abilities to get the job done. The next time you have a someone who has a second thought about hiring someone based on their name, Google Dr. Pepsi.
“In the workplace, employees should be judged on their merit and hard work and not on aspects that are irrelevant to their performance.”