Names - Do they affect job prospects/opportunities?

This thought recently occurred to me; does an individual's name have any impact on job prospects?

On one's resume, name is often the first words recruiters see, and they can often make a lasting impression. No, I'm not talking about immigrants/foreigners, but native Americans that have strange/uncommon names.

When I was in school, I often associated connotations with names. I'd much rather work with a "David" than a "Zhenda" (made-up name). I've also made many first impressions through names; when someone introduces me to someone, just their name could turn me off.

This also concerns women; I tend to stay away from girls who have strange/odd names. It's just a turn-off. There's a reason why people compliment simply based on names. ("Hey, cute name!")

I'm lucky to be born with common, respectable name. One that does not give strangers reason to make skeptical assumptions of me on first impression. Personally, names have not affected my career, but I'm curious if it has affected yours, or anyone you know.

Comments (71)

Mar 9, 2018

I want to say someone did a study on this that showed that people with unusual names who submit the same resume as people with regular names are less likely to get called back.

It makes sense, when someone's name is the first piece of information about them you receive, it totally primes you to think of them as different or unusual if their name is different or unusual.

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Mar 10, 2018

I was reading a John McWhorter book back in high school (I think written in the late 1990s or early 2000s), and he was strongly advocating that African Americans not give their kids bizarre (read: newly fabricated) names because it was demonstrably setting them back in their career opportunities. Probably a good rule of thumb to live by when naming kids.

Mar 12, 2018

It isn't just the "bizzare" or "newly fabricated" names that are a problem (although even the "bizzare" names shouldn't be an issue). Names like Jamal, Darius, and other names with historical context that are typically used by African Americans are also met with bias in the application process. Basically, if you're a black parent, try and name your kid something as close to "John Smith" as possible so those making interview decisions don't assume he/ she is black. America the beautiful.

Mar 12, 2018

Pretty sure there are around 864,000 black millionaires(8% of millionaires) in the US(of which black people account for 12% of the population), and 80,000 millionaire's in Africa(50%ish from South Africa).

Where did we go wrong.

Mar 13, 2018
C.R.E. Shervin:

Pretty sure there are around 864,000 black millionaires(8% of millionaires) in the US(of which black people account for 12% of the population), and 80,000 millionaire's in Africa(50%ish from South Africa).

Where did we go wrong.

Listening to African Americans bitch and moan about white people is the punishment/inheritance that white ancestors of African Americans (slaveholders, ironically enough) gave to people like me, the descendant of poor white trash who fought against slavery for the Union out in bloody Kansas. Listen to these guys, always trying to make us feel guilty about something...

Mar 13, 2018

Seriously? I make a statement supported by facts so you think I'm trying to personally assign blame or make anyone feel guilty? Dude idgaf, I have a weird name (by western European standards), nothing close to John Smith, I 've probably not gotten interview calls because of it, fuck it - life goes on. Just acknowledge it's fucked up and move on, no one gives a shit about what your ancestors did 150+ years ago nor does it have anything to do with what's being discussed on this thread.

Mar 13, 2018
C.R.E. Shervin:

Pretty sure there are around 864,000 black millionaires(8% of millionaires) in the US(of which black people account for 12% of the population), and 80,000 millionaire's in Africa(50%ish from South Africa).

Where did we go wrong.

What in the world does this have to do with the reality cited in my post? I mean I guess it's a nice little factoid but I fail to see the relevance here. Especially given that you're comparing the richest country in the world to an impoverished continent.

Mar 13, 2018

I was replying to your "America the beautiful" comment. While obviously sarcastic, it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to deduct that you were deriding America for its racism, or at the very least being racially biased.

My "fun" stat, refutes that there is systemic racism in the US(if using $millionaire as a measure). I chose Africa as comparison....because if anywhere in the world people would not be racist towards black people that place would be Africa. I'm not arguing there are other factors at play in the continent which would limit the wealth, but I can comprise to say that while there might be subconscience racism, America is the one country where black people can be successful financially. And I think that is a positive attribute of America, so I can say, yes indeed, America the beautiful where there are more Black millionaires than any other country.

Mar 13, 2018

1.) Your "fun" stat doesn't refute systemic racism and it certainly doesn't refute the reality of name discrimination in the application process.

2.) Using millioniares as a measure is laughable, you're ignoring the median to discuss outliers, and even then 8% when the overall pop. is 12% means they're underrepresented.

3.) You're comparing apples to oranges (the poorest continent on earth to the richest nation on earth).

4.) America is not the "one country" where black people can be sucessful financially, the (known) richest black person is Nigerian, just as an example.

Mar 13, 2018

1) Never said a word or implied anything about name discrimination

2) So "outliers" don't encounter racism? And, no just no, you know damn well how statistics work and you can't make the claim that 8% out of 12% is underrepresented. You are ASSUMING that there is universal parity level of 1:1 for millionaires based out of a given population sample.

3) I said there are other factors, I agreed with you. So to whom are you arguing that Africa is a poor continent? I was simply making the claim that Africa would obviously be less racist(assuming racism exists), than America and therefore have more wealth blacks as a result of no racial oppression. But fine, let take the UK, the us has more millionaires as a percentage of the polulation than them.

4) So I can't quote extreme wealth as a factor, but you use extreme wealth(.0001% of the wealthiest) to make your argument. That's hypocritical.

Mar 13, 2018

1.) then what is the point of posting in this thread? This thread is about name discrimination in the application process.

2.) Outliers can and might experience racism, but using outliers to make an argument about society as a whole is fallacy.

3.) These "other factors" you keep mentioning are crucial to your argument, writing them off makes no sense.

" I was simply making the claim that Africa would obviously be less racist(assuming racism exists), than America and therefore have more wealth blacks as a result of no racial oppression. "

This is assuming wealth is just an inverse function of racism (less racism = more wealth) which is asinine. There are many "other factors" that affect attaining wealth.. Your comparison is apples to oranges.

4.) You made a sweeping statement about the "one country black people can be sucessful financially" which was wrong. I gave you a simple example as to how that is wrong. In no way am I saying Aliko Dangote's wealth represents overall African society, so no, it isn't hypocritical.

Mar 13, 2018

1) I didn't post, I replied to your comment. While I agree with the name thing, I find the idea that despite levels of implied racism(not arguing to what degree US is "racist"), that despite your sarcasm about America blacks can do extremely well financially. So well in proportion to the rest of the world, and only black countries, that I COULD make the argument that it's not really racism.

2) See your comment about one outlier in Nigeria, when I wrote people, not person. I'll let you pick a country which is less racist and where blacks are doing better than America.

3) I'm not writing off other factors, I agreed with your original rebuttal to Africa being poor, but it's also the only country where racism racism ostensibly doesn't exist.(aside, yes black on black racism exists there too)

4) America is ONE country where black people can be successfully financially, but I could say it is the best example of wealth for all black people. As to your example, again that is an extreme outlier of an example you gave, the millions statistic I gave is still well within the "bell curve". I'm sure even America has more black billionaire's by 100,000 people.

Mar 13, 2018

No, you can't make the argument that it is not really racism using stats about millioniares in the U.S. as compared to Africa, it's asinine. That really is all there is to say here. I made a factual statement regarding overall name discrimination in the richest country in the world and you respond with a statement on the amount of millioniares in the richest country in the world compared with the poorest continent in the world. So you 1.) use outliers to discuss society as a whole, 2.) assume your statistic actually refutes/ counters anything about racism which it doesn't, 3.) Ignore far more decisive factors in attaining wealth than racism, and 4.) compare apples to oranges.

I'm going to go ahead and move on bro.

Mar 13, 2018

Hey can you guys keep this thread going? It's highly entertaining.

Mar 13, 2018
C.R.E. Shervin:

I chose Africa as comparison....because if anywhere in the world people would not be racist towards black people that place would be Africa.

You referenced South Africa....you realize that is one of the most racist places on the planet, right?

You realize apartheid just ended in the mid 1990s there....probably not the best example of all time.

Mar 13, 2018

That was just how the statistics broke down # of $millionaires in Africa, I thought it wouldn't be fair to not include that footnote.

I'm sure you would agree that at around 55 million people it accounts for around 4.5% of the total African population of 1.26 billion. (Not going to get into Pareto distribution, as SA accounts for half of all African $millionaires) So if you don't count SA then you are still saying the remaining 95% of Africa is not racist. So, yeah I'm a little right when I can blanket say Africa as a whole would be less racist towards black people because it is mostly black people.

Also what wasn't included, white africans vs black africans. I would assume a that there is a greater percentage of white africans in SA than in sub saharan Africa. And probably even a higher percentage of # millionaires in SA, but unless I see the numbers I won't make that claim.

What I can say is that

Mar 17, 2018
C.R.E. Shervin:

My "fun" stat, refutes that there is systemic racism in the US(if using $millionaire as a measure). I chose Africa as comparison....because if anywhere in the world people would not be racist towards black people that place would be Africa.

Light skinned Afros are racist towards darker Afros. Google Rwandan Genocide.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Mar 17, 2018

That specific genocide was more about social class (which surprise surprise, was conceived and enforced in Rwanda by white colonists), not so much race, but your point remains. There are MANY examples of violent racism in Africa, and Shervin here needs to get off WSO and read a fucking book.

Mar 17, 2018

" if anywhere in the world people would not be racist towards black people that place would be Africa." Ignoring the fact that you refer to Africa as if it's one country, how the fuck have you not heard of apartheid in South Africa?? And the colonial systems that are largely still in effect today in many former European colonies and protectorates that directly and indirectly subjugate black africans?

Id also like to point out that access to money is in no way akin to "beating racism" or whatever. You also fail to consider how much harder many black Americans have to work to become wealthy in the first place.

I could go on for pages, that whole comment was ill informed at best

Mar 17, 2018

If anyone care at this point I did mention that African's can be racist toward others(I just didn't want to overly complicate my premise).

I did mention that South Africa is 4.5% of the whole continents population.

Good for the Rwandans and Rhodesians to uprise against colonialism...how is that going for them now. In the global prospective every country minus Singapore and one other I can't remember are doing economically far worse that they had been with colonialism.

Accesss to money is a huge part of racism, why do think people make arguments about red lining. If not for money and wealth what measure would you use, besides a systemic opression of one particular race.

Mar 17, 2018
C.R.E. Shervin:

Good for the Rwandans and Rhodesians to uprise against colonialism...how is that going for them now. In the global prospective every country minus Singapore and one other I can't remember are doing economically far worse that they had been with colonialism.

I don't know how far up your ass your head is when you say that any country under colonial rule is doing worse economically now than before. Of course, that's what I would expect from a guy who can't even spell "perspective". Seriously read a book.
Colonialism was all about exploitation and divide-and-rule politics. The colonial countries benefited while their colonies rotted away. Best example to point out here is the USA itself. Even the USA took over a century (and possibly even more) to get their social structure sorted out. That's what taking away your rights and creating a competitive exploitative environment does to a nation.
Also countries doing better without colonialism - Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, the UAE, Israel, USA, Mexico, India, some MERCOSUR countries.
Seriously this ass cravat might be Cecil Rhodes reincarnated or some shit like that.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Mar 15, 2018

Statistics don't matter in stereotypes.

It's about gut reaction / perception.

Mar 17, 2018

Shervin, I initially thought you were trolling but then I read your follow up posts to BobtheBaker and realized that you were actually being serious...smh.

Mar 17, 2018

I was half trolling.

It would have taken anyone 10 seconds to find statistics that the median household income for blacks in America has diverged from the trend of median income for white Americans. I don't refute that.

People say you can't judge the fat tails of the distribution, so fine at the median levels there is a divergence in the trend. Then the whole argument would evolve into policy debates.

In my gut I hate when people disparage America, we had slavery we got rid of slavery(which unlike the British was a major economic boon at the time). People want to say America is racist, fine...I disagree. I think this is the best country for blacks to be in if they want a chance to prosper economically. I'll let anyone name another country where would rather go as a black man to live and have the same opportunity.

Mar 17, 2018

George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King affirm this point. Look at the greatness they achieved.

Mar 18, 2018

Funny thing is they achieved nothing.

Sure, they initiated the "civil rights movement" and all that, but it doesn't detract from the facts that Blacks are violent, not particularly intelligent, and for the most part, still wildly unsuccessful.

Mar 17, 2018

Here's a little thought experiment, would you rather hire a Jayden Smith or an Alassane Ouattara?

I think I'll take the guy whose less likely to have a taste for meth, fireworks, and backyard wrestling.

Mar 17, 2018

Funnily, Jayden happens to be into drugs and booze and all the weird activities you suggested, while the other is a respected international politician and economist whom the IMF had no problem hiring.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Mar 13, 2018

I've also wondered if the name isn't the problem but rather it says something about your parents and how they planned for your future.

Which parents do you think raise their kids best: the ones who called the kid, Jason, or the ones who called their kid, Moonflower?

20 years down the road that kid might have a tougher time of getting a job both because of the name and because they had shitty ignorant parents guiding them for the past 20 years, if at all.

Mar 16, 2018

In a management class I took during my freshman year we read some study on putting Joe on your resume instead of Jose. The "Joe" had a much higher call back and interview rate. Might be bs liberal agenda but it was still interesting.

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Mar 10, 2018

There have been several studies showing that strange/uncommon names do in fact affect job prospects.

There's still plenty of successful people with "weird" names: Mitt Romney, Reince Priebus, Newt Gingrich, etc.

Mar 10, 2018

That's actually Willard Mitt Romney :)

Mar 10, 2018

Everyone remembers Josef Stalin.
No one remembers Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.

hint: they're the same person.

Best Response
Mar 11, 2018

Nobody has enough energy to say the second one when you're starving.

26 Broadway
where's your sense of humor?

Mar 11, 2018
Mar 12, 2018

Read: Black people. Black people's names affect their job prospects. Studies have shown this.

Mar 12, 2018

Well, Tidjane Thiam is very black sounding.

He's the CEO of Credit Suisse (and he's very black).

Mar 13, 2018

Good thing he's educated and not a crackhead

Mar 13, 2018

To be fair, his name is distinctly West African (Ivory Coast), which is probably not the same black that most people think of. An ethnic sounding name is not the same as a ghetto sounding one. Still, your point is valid

Mar 15, 2018

So you're thinking of a "Shinqua ShayShay White". Got it.

^ point of irony. have you guys noticed there's a LOT of black people with the last name "White", and a LOT of white people with the last name "Black".

Irony at its finest.

Mar 12, 2018
Mar 13, 2018

You know he is Greek, right?

Mar 13, 2018

Pretty sure he's Sikh. I mean that's why his nickname is the Sikh Freak...

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

Mar 13, 2018
Mar 13, 2018

You sure?

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

Mar 12, 2018

Of course. If you have a name like David Solomon, how can you possibly fail in life? That name is a symbol of success. You'd never meet a homeless named David Solomon.

Mar 12, 2018

There is a whole chapter in the original Freakanomics on this very topic, you should check it out.

Mar 12, 2018

First semester of college in a general business class, first to third day of class we went over resumes. My professor started with "Look: if you have a name that is weird or might be hard to pronounce, change it on your resume. When I was working (was a lawyer), if I saw a resume with a name that would be hard to pronounce, I'd throw it out. I don't want to work with someone where its gonna be hard to pronounce your name." The look on people's faces getting offended was priceless.

Mar 12, 2018

So if you define success as being able to get a banking job, then no, your name won't affect your job prospects.

There are a fuckton of Asians, Indians, and other nationalities in banking these days with some definitely unique names. Have you been on LinkedIn lately? Since after the crisis, banking has become significantly more encouraging of gender and ethnic "diversity". It's no longer a blue bloods only industry.

Mar 12, 2018

Would you hire a Shaniqua or Goldstein to run your business?

Mar 13, 2018

Lol, second this. We need answers here!

Mar 13, 2018

Definitely Goldstein, no question here. Let's use our common sense, monkeys

Mar 13, 2018
Mar 13, 2018

I had a fucking horrific professor in college with the last name Goldstein so I'm kind of leaning towards Shaniqua right now.

Mar 13, 2018

Point is would you hire a Jew sounding name or someone with a ghetto black name.

I'm not sure why I'm being given monkey hit. I'm not saying its something positive, but a lot of the way our world works.

Mar 13, 2018

Yes. Case closed.

Humans are not rational machines that look only at merit and ability. That's not how society works.

I'm Asian, and I know quite a few friends who changed their names on their college applications and on their resumes. I personally have not yet because I'm irrational.

Just a general suggestion about comments around social justice and lack thereof in society; can we move them to PMs instead of the public forums? I'd just personally like to see discussions about the existence of inherent biases in current society and how people have adapted to these constructed challenges rather than discussion about why these biases exist and whether they're fair.

Mar 13, 2018

If you change your name on your resume and what not, what do you do when you get the job offer? do you simply tell them that you lied so you can pass screening or what?

Mar 13, 2018

Based on what I've seen, you would start going by both names.

Mar 14, 2018

Yes but when they ask you for your documents, what happens? You can go by both names out of inside jokes maybe but if it is not on your passport... could they take the offer away?

Mar 15, 2018

No. You wouldn't just change your name on applications only; you'd actually start going by the anglicized name and using it day to day. Some even legally change their names too.

Mar 16, 2018

Ok so more like a "nickname"? I can think of an anglicized name to use, what about the surname/s?

Mar 17, 2018

Bro, it's not that complicated. You can change your name as much or as little as you like, in as official or as unofficial fashion as you like. As long as you're not awkward with your choice, you'll be fine.

This has been going on for a long long time. If you look at notable immigrants who've started businesses in the past (early to mid 1900's) a good number of them chose more anglicized names for themselves.

We live in a human society; it makes sense to try to fit in, and what you go by is just a part of that.

Mar 17, 2018

Right, thanks. I am going to give it a try, maybe I get more calls backs

Mar 14, 2018

I don't know if it's still on Netflix but Freakonomics actually addresses this question. Their opinion is that a name does affect an individual's likelihood of "success".

Here's a clip:

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

Mar 15, 2018
eric9242:

This also concerns women; I tend to stay away from girls who have strange/odd names. It's just a turn-off.

What an absolute neckbeard thing to say. I'd love to see some knockout show interest in you and you turn her away because her name isn't basic.

Mar 15, 2018
CRE:
eric9242:

This also concerns women; I tend to stay away from girls who have strange/odd names. It's just a turn-off.

What an absolute neckbeard thing to say. I'd love to see some knockout show interest in you and you turn her away because her name isn't basic.

so ridiculous lmao

Mar 16, 2018
BobTheBaker:
CRE:
eric9242:

This also concerns women; I tend to stay away from girls who have strange/odd names. It's just a turn-off.

What an absolute neckbeard thing to say. I'd love to see some knockout show interest in you and you turn her away because her name isn't basic.

so ridiculous lmao

I've met some wild women with some wild names. Although women with names such as Beth, Patty, Louise, etc. tend to throw me off a bit. Never kept me away though.

Mar 16, 2018

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No pain no game.

Mar 17, 2018

"The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter"