The components of the average resume include your contact information, past work experience, and education, with each section strategically written to highlight why you’re perfect for the desired position. Nevertheless, the first thing companies look at on a resume is the applicant’s name.
Who you are begins and ends with your name. It establishes your identity and, in the job market, is your identifier from the rest. Which begs the question, does the name on your resume matter?
This became a popular topic of conversation following an episode of ‘The View.’ The segment ‘Are you judged by your name?’ discussed the Evolution and Human Behavior journal study regarding the use of the mind’s-eye image to define a threat. The study found that people imagine men with stereotypical names to be excessively large and violent.
Raven-Symoné, one of the show’s four hosts, shared her opinion on racial bias and how job applicants are first judged by their name, then their skill set. She ignited social media after stating she would not hire an individual with a boisterous name. A great deal of criticism followed, but interestingly, this is a fact.
In a study titled, ‘Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,’ when judging applicants based solely on the name on their resume, those with more common names were more likely to receive an interview.
The study, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used help-wanted ads and fictitious resumes to measure racial discrimination in the labor market. The behavior was synonymous among all industries, with federal contractors and ‘equal opportunity employers’ proven to discriminate as much as others.
Applicants with popular names received 50 percent more responses, as did those whose resume stated they lived in prominent neighborhoods.
But what does that mean for the percentage of the population with unique names? Whether an issue of race or a simplified popularity contest, this is not the real problem. At any given time, there are a handful of people in the world who want your job. In the job market, that number grows exponentially, which means you must showcase your best self.
Your resume is merely a representation of yourself, within an 8.5-by-11-inch background. So, how can you make your work experience speak louder than the name?
Use your connections
The preface to this is you must network. This is a requirement for success in today’s generation for good reason. Your dream job may be listed on a job board, so networking is the best way to get your foot in the door, or sometimes just a step in the right direction.
In a sea of applications, yours can easily be overlooked or overshadowed by someone who has a relationship with the company. Use every opportunity you can to build relationships, and it will help you get closer to the position you want.
Let your work experience speak for itself
There are many ways to make your skill set stand out, away from your name. If you’re creative, use a unique template. If you’ve had a unique job experience, make sure that stands out within your resume. Always remember that your resume is the paper form of an introduction and must grab the company’s attention. Highlight your proven skills in their best light, and they won’t be ignored.
Always do your research on the company and position so you can cater your resume to their needs. If you’ve worked with one of their partner companies or supported similar initiatives, make that known. Use your resume as a tool to highlight why you’re the perfect fit for the position. Observe the company’s standards and pay attention to their current practices. When the company finishes reading your resume, you want them to feel assured that you have the capable experience and know-how for the job.
The importance of a resume can easily be overlooked, but it is the best tool to showcase everything you have to offer a company. Establish what you want your resume to say about you to the world. Use the basics of what you already know about resume building, with an added element of individuality.
A stellar resume will describe your work experience and, most importantly, prove you’re well equipped for the job and great contribution to the company.