'Name-blind' applications

November 25th, 2015 by Katherine Morgan

Katherine Morgan>>


How many times have you read or heard a name and made assumptions about the person it belongs to? Now imagine you’re looking at two applications for a place on a graduate training programme. The two applicants have identical degrees, comparable experience and strong cover letters – how would you choose between the two? It’d be easy to make a decision based on the most obvious difference on the application: the name.

That’s why the government initiative of ‘name-blind’ applications is a great step forward in removing unconscious bias from recruitment processes. By making applications name-blind, decision makers will have to look more carefully at the subtle differences between applicants – and ensure that interview offers are not influenced by something as unimportant as the applicant’s name.

As someone who graduated just a couple of years ago, the memory of life in the post-university job hunt is still very fresh in my mind and something many of my friends who took gap years or went on to further study are dealing with now. I feel that name-blind CVs will be of specific help to those new to the job market – when you’re just starting out, experience can’t be a defining factor in an application (because you simply don’t have a lot), and so it leaves more space for unconscious bias to creep in. Without the name, less bias can take place.

But are we in danger of ‘over-blinding’ CVs? There is much debate about whether schools and institution names should also be removed from CVs in addition to the applicant’s name, as some might see this as a step too far. If you’ve been adjudged to have the correct qualifications and skills for interview, should it matter to your interviewer where those qualifications were from?

Whilst GCSEs and A-levels in the UK are both standardised exams, meaning the exam is the same no matter where you took it, the same is not the case for university exams; a degree from one university will be different from a degree in the same subject from another. Young people everywhere work hard for their A-levels to get into a certain university, and to take its name off an application could be seen as taking this achievement away – making them feel: what's the point in working hard to get into a renowned university if no-one will ever know where you went?

The introduction of name-blind applications by both Government institutions and companies across the country is fantastic. It’s tough enough trying to get employment without something as simple as someone’s name affecting their chances of getting a job!


Want to go to the heart of the issue? Steps has a wealth of experience in creating interactive diversity programmes designed to raise awareness and bring behaviours to life in areas such as unconscious bias, inclusive leadership and fair recruitment. Read more about our Steps to Change model and how we can help bring about long lasting behavioural change.






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