Name Discrimination at Elite Firms?

A couple of weeks ago, Bryan Caplan of the libertarian blog Library of Economics and Liberty published How Elite Firms Hire: The Inside Story, a summary of an academic paper about the hiring practices of elite professional service firms (investment banks, law firms, and management consulting firms).

Here are two of the points he made, plus longer quotes from the original paper:

“Most applications practically go straight in the trash.”

Because professionals balanced recruitment responsibilities with full-time client work, they often screened resumes while commuting to and from the office and client sites; in trains, planes, and taxis; frequently late at night and over take out… [E]valuators tended to do so very rapidly, typically bypassing cover letters (only about fifteen percent reported even looking at them) and transcripts and reported spending between 10 s to 4 min per resume.

“Evaluators have a lot of slack.”

[M]ost firms did not have a standard resume scoring rubric that they used to make interview decisions, evaluators reported “going down the page” from top to bottom, focusing on the pieces of resume data they personally believed were the most important “signals” of candidate quality.

So: the evaluators are in a rush, they aren’t forced to abide by any guidelines, and they focus on data they “personally” believe are “signals” of candidate quality. Makes me wonder how much name discrimination is going on here…

Related: Ethnic/Black Names and the Job Hunt, Asians in New Zealand Change Names to Get Jobs, Could Your Name Prevent You from Getting a Job?, The Best Name for the Job

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