Canadian resumés with English names are 40% more likely to secure a job interview, study finds

Resumes with English names more likely to be noticed (CTV News):

Canadians with English names have a greater chance of landing a job than those with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani names, says a new study.

In fact, after sending out thousands of resumés, the study found those with an English name like Jill Wilson and John Martin received 40 per cent more interview callbacks than the identical resumés with names like Sana Khan or Lei Li.

“If employers are engaging in name-based discrimination, they may be contravening the Human Rights Act,” said the study’s author, Philip Oreopoulos, economics professor at the University of B.C. “They may also be missing out on hiring the best person for the job.”

[…]

Twenty per cent of the resumés with foreign names even listed fluency in English, French and their mother tongue, but Oreopoulos said “it did not seem to make a difference at all.”

He said that the distinct foreign-sounding name may be a “significant disadvantage” even for second- or third-generation citizens who are applying for jobs, but it is still better for them than their parents.

[…]

Another interesting finding was that, Chinese resumes that had English first names increased the chances of getting a callback.

Those Canadians with English names are stealing our jobs!

I’m one of those second-generation Canadians with a non-English first and last name being discriminated against. I’ve never listed “fluent in English” or “native English speaker” on my resumé, despite having a Chinese first and last name. I find it insulting—being born and raised in Canada—to have to mention it. (Although I do not list my place of birth or citizenship, either, for the same reason.) It is somewhat comforting to know that if I had accommodated the white lens, it would have not helped me anyway in this case.

Should I apply for jobs using an English first name? On the one hand, I increase my chances of getting a callback and landing a job that matches my interests and abilities. On the other hand, I would become another one of those Chinese Canadians with an assimilative English first name, and I may have to exchange my Antiracist of Colour membership card for the sell-out one.

Hat-tip to Sobia’s What’s in a Name? Your Job! at Muslim Lookout.

7 Responses to “Canadian resumés with English names are 40% more likely to secure a job interview, study finds”

  1. PureGracefulTree Says:

    Sigh…I’d long suspected this, but it saddens me to hear it proven in a scientific manner.

    I have a Western first name (given to me by my parents) and an Asian last name. I have always believed, though I didn’t have much proof, that this helps me in my job hunt. I have many Asian co-workers who have chosen to adopt a Western name during the time I’ve known them; I’ve even known some who were “ordered” by their (Asian) bosses to do so.

    I hate that anyone feels like he has to change his or her name to appease would-be employers, and I can’t blame anyone for doing so, especially when I’m guilty of the same kind of narrow thinking; when I was shopping for a violin bow several years ago, I remember being distinctly less enthusiastic about my “Guy Jeandel” candidate once I realized it was Japanese and not French.

    I wonder if “native” is more likely to yield a positive response than just “fluent”, since “native” at least suggests someone American-born and all the cultural implications thereof. I list myself as “Fluent in English and Spanish; conversant in German, Mandarin, and Taiwanese”. I wonder if my explicitly stated lack of fluency in the Asian languages ultimately is a plus or minus—a minus because the languages are useful for doing business in the Far East, but a plus because a would-be employer can be confident that I’m a “real” American just like him or her. Sigh.

  2. Renee Says:

    This comes as no surprise to me. A Canadian identity is still very much seen as white with people of color being understood as other, no matter what color your birth certificate is. Even if you use an English sounding name on your resume to get an interview if they have something against Asians once they meet you they will not hire you anyway. Why waste your time in a company that is that clearly racist.

  3. Restructure! Says:

    Renee,

    Even if you use an English sounding name on your resume to get an interview if they have something against Asians once they meet you they will not hire you anyway.

    I don’t think people are either bigots or non-racists; it’s a continuum.

    The comments of the article show that studies about name-based discrimination are not enough to convince people that there is named-based discrimination. The commenters conclude that there is “no discrimination” since “immigrants” need to speak English (they use name-based discrimination to argue that there is no discrimination). Some gems:

    annoyed.
    Well in an ENGLISH/FRENCH country, of course names that are english are going to be noticed first. Because of the qualificaitons. I personally hate it when i try and get service and i cannot be serviced in either FRENCH OR ENGLISH. It isn’t about discriminations, it is about qualification.

    and

    fez
    english names = ability to speak english. NO matter where you are in the world, you have to be able to speak english.

    These people don’t have something against Asians. It’s just that their prejudices override their ability to read and comprehend English.

  4. Lxy Says:

    “NO matter where you are in the world, you have to be able to speak english.”

    This comment by Mr/Ms. fez is priceless in its arrogance.

    Everybody in the entire world should speak English!

    It’s the language of the Anglo-American Empire after all–a global imperial language that all subjects (and non-subjects) must learn.

    Seriously though, this bit about names reminds of the “helpful suggestion” that State Rep. Betty Brown of Texas made to Asian Americans suggesting that we should adopt Anglicized names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

    White cultural cleansing, anyone?

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