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It's Not You, It's Your Name

Updated: Jan 26, 2019

Your name might be the reason why employers are not calling you back.

African American Business Man

Your name might be the reason why employers are not calling you back. Have you ever wondered why you never received that phone call or email from the job(s) you have previously applied for? Let’s break it down, you’ve researched the company, fixed your resume, matched your skills to the job description, made follow-up calls and emails and still no answer. Or there's a chance that you have received an “Unfortunately, we chose another candidate" email. Well ONE of the reasons why employers are not contacting you might be because of the sound of your name

According to, students with stereotypical “black sounding names” are less likely to get called for interviews from “white sounding” names (i.e. John, Jane). Male residents with “black sounding” names are mostly viewed as physically large, dangerous and violent. Further studies showed that resumes sent out with the names Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones found it harder to receive a call back or had to at least dish out more resumes because of the 50% gap in callback rates. (Similar comparisons with Latino and East Asian-sounding names). ***Please note that these researches have been based on callbacks, not if the person actually got the job or not.***

A quick story...

I remember writing a college paper on this topic a few years ago. Here's a story....My first name is Lee, and I am a female but on paper employers will have a hard time distinguishing that because Lee is a unisex name. I remember going on an interview and waiting in the reception area with a few other applicants and the hiring manager came out to call the next person. He literally looks around the room turns his back towards me to face the men and screams out "Lee Whetstone!". So I raise my hand as if I was in school and answered "yes that is me." The hiring manager turned around with a look of embarrassment on his face and politely escorts me to the interviewing room. Moral of the story, stop being stereotypical!

So what do you do from here? Do you change your name? Would you purposely give your child an easy sounding non-ethnic name for a better chance at getting hired? This has been a topic of discussion for so many people I know personally over the years. One solution would be for people to put stereotypes to the side and to make their judgement calls based on experiences and recommendations.


Lee Whetstone is an Entrepreneur, Motivator, Brand Marketer, and the Founder and CEO of Leading with Lee Magazine. She sets a media platform for entrepreneurs to share their success stories and also uplifts and encourages future game changers to live and work in their passion filled purpose. 

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