In my previous career in human resources, I came across a variety of ethnic names, from Hispanic names like Juan and Miguel to names, like my own, that some people consider to be “black” names. You know: the Keishas, Ayeshas, Tanieshas and Tishas. I didn’t push those résumés to the side because of their ethnic names; I actually gave them extra attention because I knew they would add diversity to the companies I worked for.
But unfortunately, not everyone thinks the same way.
Take, for example, José Zamora. Zamora’s story was the same as those of so many Americans nowadays who are struggling to find a job. Zamora stated that he probably sent out between 50 and 100 résumés a day and received little to no reply.
So he decided to take matters into his own hands: He changed his name.
In the BuzzFeed video below, Zamora explained his subtle name change that apparently yielded him more responses to his résumé. He went from “José” to “Joe.”
Unfortunately, people are discriminated against on a daily basis because of the name on their résumé. The fact is, not all managers are looking to diversify their companies, or even to hire someone based on qualifications and not his or her presumed ethnicity. In 2002, one study indicated that "resumes with white-sounding names received 50 percent more callbacks than those with black names.”
As someone with an ethnic first name and last name, I’m quite sure I’ve thrown curveballs at people. Most were shocked when they saw a black woman with the last name “Callahan” walk into their offices. I’ve even had people ask, “Where did you get that last name from?” To which I promptly replied, “My parents.”
In today’s crappy job market, it’s a shame that people aren’t given a chance to even get their foot in the door for an interview, and résumés are sent to the delete folder just because of a name. Zamora’s story isn’t a lesson in what you should do in order to get a job, though. It’s more a lesson in what you shouldn’t have to do.
“I had to drop a letter to get a title,” Zamora said. “Sometimes I don’t even think people know or are conscious or aware that they're judging—even if it’s by name—but I think we all do it all the time.”