Blog #2 – On Resume Ethics, Personal Identity

Due to the discriminatory process of sorting applications and the extremely competitive nature of the application process, I believe that it is completely justifiable for people to alter their identity and exaggerate their qualifications for the purpose of getting an interview.

Discrimination is still very real. Studies have been conducted to measure the correlation between ethnic names and callbacks for job applications. A lot of the time, people with more distinct, ethnic names won’t get callbacks, while people with more common names (e.g. “Caitlin” or “Cody”) will. Beyond race, there are gender-related issues that go beyond the binary. Women often tend to have trouble getting jobs in male-dominated fields, and it’s especially difficult for transfolk to get jobs pretty much anywhere. I don’t think it’s dishonest to alter your identity by using initials or even changing your name on the application. Hiring managers look at the names and use them to make assumptions about peoples’ identities.

Normally, peoples’ names might exclude them from the interview process entirely, but I’ve considered that their names might create expectations for the interview, if they are called to do one. For example, a transwoman named Jane might be called for an interview; the hiring managers will likely expect a ciswoman. Alternatively, if a Black man were to change his name from D’Angelo to Adrian on his application, the managers may be expecting a white man for the interview. Obviously, the managers are at fault for any prejudices they may have, but I feel like it’s worth considering that “resume ethics” aren’t the real issue here; it often tends to be the morals and expectations of those who conduct the interviews and look through the applications.

Example of a job post with a long list of skills – applicants are likely to have a few of these, rather than all of them.

Additionally, the job market is extremely competitive. I have a lot of friends who are technical majors or work in a technical field and several of them have explained that when hiring managers are looking to fill a position, their listings are unrealistic. Oftentimes, HR departments post descriptions for what would be a perfect candidate for the job (e.g. “x years of experience with A-type programming”, “y years of experience with B-type programming”, “z years of experience with C-type programming”). The majority of the time, they wind up hiring someone who has some of the qualifications listed in the description.

I have a friend who never finished college and has a job that pays close to 100k a year. He works within a group that works for the Department of Defense. He taught himself some of the skills the job required, but for the most part, he was just very good at interviewing. He is probably the best example I can think of for why it should be okay to bend the conventions for writing a resume. He wasn’t truly qualified for the job, but he was proactive in teaching himself some of what he would need to know and becoming the best employee he possibly could become after getting the job. My understanding is that he came from a low-income family and worked his way up. Some may argue that more qualified people should have these positions “reserved” for them, and I don’t completely disagree, but I think that the people who make the effort to secure positions like this shouldn’t be excluded. I understand that this might be harmful to people who are totally qualified for certain positions and I have trouble justifying it when considering that. However, I feel that there should be preference given to people whose groups are underrepresented (as long as they are able to perform the job well), examples being women, racial minorities, and people of non-binary genders.

In conclusion, I defend the approach of stretching the truth to get an interview because it tends to yield workers who are ambitious and proactive, while also circumventing the biases of the people who review applications and resumes before interviewing applicants.


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