Your Career Still Depends on Your Resume
It's not easy to fight obvious bias or bigotry, though it seems so when compared to unconscious decisions, like these hiring issues. They are far more difficult to combat. A recruiter can't easily be trained out of an inclination she doesn't even know she has.
Moss-Racusin has worked on a response to the implicit biases demonstrated in her research. In an effort to see if a course of education on diversity improved the hiring process, she conducted another study in which participants received training on diversity issues and then made hiring decisions. The results showed a clear decrease in gender bias. But that sort of training is only a start—what works in an academic setting isn't guaranteed to work in industry.
If you're submitting resumes today, you have to assume that the people reviewing your job applications are going to be unaware of these trends—that they're unaware of the factors affecting their own decisions. And, unfortunately, there are limits on what you can do about those internal biases (swapping out the name of your college for one with equally good academics but a better reputation, for instance, is still lying, no matter your intentions). Awareness and education around these issues in the future won't help anyone looking for a job today.
But there are a few actions you can take to improve your overall odds of landing a job.
- First, minimize the personal information you share on your resume. You won't be able to remove every single hidden cue, but you may be able to reduce some of the more obvious pieces of information that employers don't need to have. The system is rigged, but it's the only game in town for most of us.
- Second, prioritize applying to organizations that are making an effort to make their approaches to hiring more equitable. Look for companies that are making obvious efforts to build a more diverse team—they'll often make the message loud and clear in hiring materials. You can double-check a company's commitment by talking to past employees, as well as researching them online.
- Third, look for opportunities to connect with prospective employers outside of the normal job application process. Despite all the automated resume analysis tools some employers are implementing, landing a job is still mostly about who you know. When you can build personal connections at the companies you'd like to work for, you may be able to skip the application process and turn your resume into a mere formality. This approach does require a lot more work and the inherent biases in hiring criteria won't disappear, but it's the closest most of us can come to opting out of the system.