English names a boon for job hunters: Study - Metro US

English names a boon for job hunters: Study

Job hunters with English names have a 40 per cent greater chance of landing an interview compared to people with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani names, according to a University of British Columbia study released yesterday.

Six thousand mock resumés were drafted and sent to online job postings in the Toronto area, across 20 occupational categories.

The study found that English names — like John Smith — had a much higher rate of callbacks than non-English names, despite identical resumés.

The findings surprised Yan Liu, who has been looking for a job since February.

“Employers probably get hundreds of resumés,” she said. “Maybe they look at them for 10 seconds and only read the name, not their work experience.”

Liu graduated from Concordia University with a degree in information technology. She has been living in Vancouver since November of 2008.

She completed a job hunting program last week through SUCCESS, an organization connecting Chinese immigrants to employers.

“At my university in China, my professor gave me the name “Maggie,” but I don’t use it anymore,” she said. “I think my Chinese name ‘Yan’ is easy for most people to pronounce.”

The UBC study seems to offer an explanation as to why skilled immigrants fare poorly in the Canadian labour market.

“The findings suggest that a distinct foreign-sounding name may be a significant disadvantage on the job market — even if you are a second- or third-generation citizen,” according to the study’s author, economics professor Philip Oreopoulos.

Michael Lam, director of employment services at SUCCESS, said many immigrants are encouraged to use an English name.

“It makes it much easier for employers if they can pronounce an applicant’s name,” Lam said.

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