The surprising names that are most likely to get a callback from hiring managers

An new survey directed by Zety, picks the brains of the hiring managers and recruiters that stand between us and our dream jobs. Unfortunately, in addition to the well-documented biases that keep many executives from calling us back, there are a series of oddly specific ones, like being born with the name Casey Smith for instance.

The good folks over at Zety sent over a selection of fictitious resumes  (“which were identical in every aspect other than the applicants’names”), to 910 employers. Eighty-one percent of the employers involved were Caucasian, 7%  were African-American, 6 % identified as Hispanic, and 6% said they were Asian or Asian-American. Fifty-three percent of this pool was male, and 47% were female.

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Here’s what they found.

Why isn’t the phone ringing?

In addition to asking employers how likely there were to give each sample resume a callback, they were also asked to explain their reasoning. As you can see, Poor Destiny Jackson expressed some of the lowest percentages. When queried as to why, the most consistently cited explanation was, “lack of education”-remember all applicants had the same exact resume. The most significant percentage of employers said they did not intend on giving Jose Vasquez a callback. One hundred and four recruiters passed on Vasquez to be exact, 49 of which were men and 55 of which were women.

Conversely, Malik Washington was found to be the most likely to receive a callback. One hundred and seventeen hiring managers said they would do so-62  and 55, male and female employers respectively.

It wasn’t just the perceived gender of the applicant that affected call back rates; the gender of the employer seemed to bear a pretty consistent weight on the decision-making process as well. On balance, the hiring managers involved were more likely to callback applicants with names that implied that they were of the opposite sex, which is perhaps why some gender-neutral names were found to be particularly polarizing.

Interestingly enough, the hiring managers that said they would not give these samples a callback frequently cited:  “lack of experience.”

As previously highlighted, Casey Smith,  a name that can easily belong to an applicant of any sex, was 82%  less likely to get a call back than applicants with female names and 84% less likely to get a callback from applicants with male names. More specifically, women hirees were 91% likely to give Casey a callback compared to the 71% of male employers that reported planning to do so hypothetically.

Unfortunately, no definitive conclusion can be drawn regarding the effect a name as on hiring probability, though the fact that it does, to at least some degree, certainly is cause for concern. I would also add that it would be fair to suspect certain gender and racially motivated biases to have a hand.

The authors of the review conclude with the following:

“As much as we’d like to think that our professional experience, education, and skill set are what pop out to hiring managers, our survey reveals this doesn’t always happen,”

They continue, “It was a little shocking to have some of our respondents say outright that they would not consider an applicant, and it was also insightful to see the biases that were present when our respondents viewed the same resumes, with the only difference being the name at the top of the document.”

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