Is your name affecting your job search

It is no secret that those from BAME backgrounds are less likely to make it through the first stage of the application process due to their name. Although illegal, this discrimination still happens.

Research carried out by Nuffield College’s Centre for Social Investigation (2019), found that British citizens from BAME backgrounds were less likely to get a positive response from their employers compared to their white British counterparts even though they had identical CVs, cover letters, skills and years of experience. WOWZA!

There are various other pieces of research that show employers are twice more likely to invite ethnic minority applicants for interviews if they have ‘whitened’ their CV. This discriminatory practice is just as strong for organisations who claim to value diversity.

The question is, do you really need to mask your ethnicity on your CV just to get an interview? In other words, should you be ‘whitening’ your CV. Please note that this is not our recommendation as we believe that everyone should be their authentic self. But we would like to advise you on what you can do if your name is affecting your job search as well as the mitigating steps you can take to ensure you are not discriminated against because of your name.

Your CV is not a legal document so you don’t actually need your legal name displayed. There are three main ways you can list your name on your CV:

1. Use or create a nick name

You can always use a nick name you have (if appropriate) or even create one. For example, if your name is Edeka Osaji, you can list your name as Edward O. It is very common in Chinese communities to have a Chinese name and an English name which are completely different. For example, 'Lei' being the Chinese name and using ‘Luke’ being the English name.

2. Go by your middle name

You may have a middle name that sounds more ‘white’ than your first name which you can list on your CV as your first name.

3. Shorten your name to initials

You can always shorten your name to initials, for example Sruid Jambaz Lanzo can be listed as S.J Lanzo.

Whatever option you go with it is important to ensure your name is consistent throughout your application.


We must not ignore the potential implications of ‘whitening’ your name / listing your name different to what it actually is.

One implication is social media. It is very common for employers to look up applicants on professional social media sites and they may not be able to find you if your name listed on your CV is different, unless of course you list your name as the same. Don’t feel pressured to do this because you shouldn’t have to change your name on your professional social media sites just because you want a job. Remember that when you start a job you can always revert back to your actual name.

Another implication centers on organisations who actually want to diversify their workforce and therefore having a BAME name may increase your chances of being invited to an interview.

You also need to think about if there are other parts of your CV that may reveal that you are BAME such as your hobbies - are they common in the white western culture? Even the societies you have either led or been part of at university - should you remove ‘Black’ or ‘Asian’ from the name of the society?

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