Why Do Some Immigrants ‘Whiten’ their Résumés?

Over at the NCCR on the move blog, there’s a summary of research undertaken jointly with Eva Van Belle on CV Whitening. The blog post takes a step back and embeds considerations of CV Whitening in broader research on ethnic discrimination in the job market and the correspondence tests we use to measure discrimination.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

In Western countries, we observe that some employers discriminate against people with a name indicating that they are from a minority group. Research has shown that if you have a name signalling that you are an ‘immigrant’ or belong to an ‘ethnic minority,’ the chances of being invited to a job interview are reduced. Factoring in the potential discrimination, some immigrants and members of ethnic minority groups have been observed to adopt strategies to hide details that show their minority status from their applications.

Correspondence tests have highlighted systematic discrimination in the labour market. In a correspondence test researchers create fictitious applications and send them to real employers and landlords. The applications are constructed in a way to highlight discriminatory practices in cases where minority applicants are invited less often to interviews. On average, applicants from non-neighbouring countries find it much harder to be invited to a job interview.

Considering the discrimination, ‘immigrants’ and members of ethnic minority groups have a clear incentive to hide details from their applications that make their minority statuses apparent. On the contrary, if an employer cannot tell that the applicant is an ‘immigrant’ or belongs to a minority group, the chances of getting invited to an interview have been noted to increase.

Read on >>

Ruedin, Didier, and Eva Van Belle. 2022. ‘The Extent of Résumé Whitening’. Sociological Research Online. Forthcoming. https://doi.org/10.1177/13607804221094625.

Out now: The Extent of Résumé Whitening

I have the pleasure to announce a new publication that enumerates the extent of résumé Whitening using data from the Migration-Mobility Survey of the NCCR on the move.

Figure 1. Prevalence of résumé whitening by world region of birth and strategy of résumé Whitening. Switzerland, 2018. N=7659 recent immigrants. CC-by

In this article, Eva Van Belle and I examine how widespread so-called CV or résumé Whitening is. We know from correspondence studies that there is persistent hiring discrimination against ethnic minority candidates. With this, they have clear incentives to modify their CV or résumé so that signals of minority status are hidden.

We know that students at an elite university state that they would consider résumé Whitening techniques, but to date there was no study enumerating the actual use of résumé Whitening. We added a series of questions to the Migration-Mobility Survey to obtain a representative sample of recent immigrants in Switzerland (N=7,659).

Around 9% of the immigrants used one or more of the résumé Whitening techniques we asked. This seems to be done in reaction to the experience or anticipation of ethnic discrimination, as we can show.

Ruedin, Didier, and Eva Van Belle. 2022. ‘The Extent of Résumé Whitening’. Sociological Research Online. https://doi.org/10.1177/13607804221094625.