“Stay away from malicious gossip and fake words" (Qur'an 68;11).
By Eileen Shim
The news: It’s a tough time for any young person to get a job — but if you’re a young person of color, the cards are stacked even higher against you.
José Zamora learned this lesson the hard way when he went through a monthslong spell of unemployment. Though he estimated that he was applying to “50 to 100 jobs a day,” he wasn’t hearing back from any hiring managers.
Then he had a revelation: “I had to drop a letter to get a title,” he told Buzzfeed.
Confused? This is what Zamora’s resume looked like before:
But then he realized he might boost his chances if he anglicized his name. “One day, I just thought, ‘What if I write Joe?’ Remove the ‘s’ in my name, and maybe I can make some dollars,” he said.
So José became Joe:
And Zamora’s instinct was proven right when, one week later, he started hearing back from jobs that had previously rejected him.
“That’s when all the responses started coming in. That’s when all the replies and emails … ‘The position is open, we want to meet with you, call us back,'” Zamora said. “I was applying for the same exact jobs, the exact same resumes, the exact same experiences — just a different name.”
Unfortunately, Zamora’s experience is not unique. While we would like to believe that hiring — especially online hiring — is colorblind, that is far from the truth. The New York Times has previously profiled prospective hiring candidates who were pressured into “whitening their resumes,” while a 2004 MIT study found that “employers, when faced with observably similar African American and white applicants, favor the white one.”
“Resumes with white-sounding names received 50% more callbacks than those with black names,” the MIT study concluded. “Based on researchers’ estimates, a white name yielded as many more callbacks as an additional eight years of experience.”
As for Zamora, he now has a job — but he’s also aware of how he had to rebrand himself as an average Joe. “Sometimes I don’t even think people know or are conscious or are aware that they’re judging, even if it’s by a name. But I think we all do it all the time,” he said.
Watch the rest of Zamora’s interview below: