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Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. Today, I want to talk about using your real name on your resume.
This week, I was inspired by a Tik Tok I saw floating around where a Black HR Leader explained how HR professionals actually do judge Black candidates based on the names on their resume. She then goes on to encourage people with, and I quote, “hood names” to use their first initial and middle name if it happens to be, quoting her, “less hood.” This is a prime example of the statement all skin folk ain’t kinfolk. This lady seems to be in a position of authority based on her follow-up comment trying to explain this incredibly incensing video away, and instead of focusing on the people who perpetuate bias in the hiring process, she promotes whitewashing your resume.
Now, let’s be real here. As the lady stated and based on the data, if your name is interpreted to be Black, it can and most likely will open you up to some form of bias throughout your job search. In a study titled “Whitened Resumes: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market” published in the Administrative Science Quarterly in 2016, 25% of black candidates received callbacks from their whitened resumes, while only 10% got calls when they left ethnic details intact.
Personally, I don’t think that is enough to hide your name, and here’s why.
Your name is part of you. If someone prefers the version of you that requires you to hide a piece of who you are, they don’t want you to show up in that space as your full self. Often when working with clients I find that they’ve hid so much of themselves throughout the job search, interview, and onboarding processes that when they begin to feel comfortable and let their hair down a bit, they begin to receive push back from their counterparts. They begin to feel as if they no longer belong in that environment, no matter how well they perform. So they are forced into the perpetual hell of code-switching, but what happens when you’re tired of code-switching? Chaos often ensures in the workplace.
So now to my main point, this is a great opportunity for you as a job seeker to weed out companies who more than likely do not want you to bring your whole self to work. Does that mean you could potentially lose out on some opportunities…the unfortunate reality is, yes that’s more than likely an outcome. But you have to ask yourself, is that actually a workplace I want to be in and can ultimately thrive in?
Obviously, this is a deeply personal choice. Sometimes we are in a bind where we just need that new opportunity to pay our bills or bail ourselves out of a terrible situation. And on the flip side, some people thrive in consistent code-switching. If either of those situations resonates with you, then more power to you. Do what you have to do. But remember all of our names have power and are often the first way that people show us respect. If people use your name to discriminate against you and force you to use a socially acceptable name, they’ll ultimately never fully respect you.
Thanks for tapping in with me today! Don’t forget; I’m now taking submissions from you all on career questions, issues, concerns, or advice you think may help others! So make sure to submit yours at bit.ly/tapintristan.
This tip is brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @layfieldresume or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.