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Firms' dislike of foreign names

#1 Firms' dislike of foreign names
26/07/2003 00:00

Aidan O'Connell

I've been working in consulting for several years, on and off, but find that although I'm a very effective consultant and am respected once people can see what I am capable of doing, it's getting interviews with new employers which is the hardest thing to do. Others I have known, with 'English' names, have found it much easier and in certain cases I have been described as a better consultant than they are.

As I have an Irish name I can't help thinking that I'm being unfairly stereotyped as a 'thick Paddy' by firms at the CV sifting stage and am not getting the opportunities I deserve. I'm a member of MENSA, so the 'thick' label just doesn't fit!

Has anyone else had similar experiences, or would anyone like to comment or offer advice?

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#2 Re: Firms' dislike of foreign names
01/08/2003 00:00

Just a label

Hi Aidan, I hate spreading bad news, however negative facts of life whilst they are hardest to accept, are often the truth. I personally have worked in various sectors and in consultancy in the UK and Abroad. Human instinct is, as you might expect from primal times ; every individual seeks to belong to a clan or "you are like me !". A manager is likely to hire a deputy who's likely to support him and hire his son, than steal his own position. It's Survival instinct. Go down any management list and the two top names are similar culture. e.g. (EDS Belgium e-commerce ), (KPMG Luxembourg), ( PwC London ), etc. Studies have shown early as the 60's onwards, managers have been hired (filter 1) because they look like one, age, etc not based on efficiency, (filter 2) qualification, experience and other deciding factors. As for names, clients often feel closer to ones they can pronouce, let alone identify as "I would have a drink with you" and you're from the same neck of the woods. In slightly better times, white names all get hired. Think about those clever Indians, Blacks and Chinese that are way down the hiring queue behind you. Since economically we are in testing times, even "white names" are being filtered out by fickle criteria. So I guess it's a new experience for many US & Europeans. The move to setup practices, call centres, etc in Asia is not at all about names, just lowering cost in the face of desperation. You may find Raj working in a Bombay call centre for a UK travel firm with the alias name (Richard). In the past I have done a few practical tests like putting two or three identical CV's on the Web and direct apps to firms, one with a black name, White name, etc. Guess which one received most calls? In any case, the best thing is to ignore these kinds of obstacles and try to find opportunities to network face to face and make personal contact with the good guys & gals. You could imagine the uphill struggle & flack Einstein had to deal with and with his background and thick Germanic Accent...

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#3 Re: Firms' dislike of foreign names
01/08/2003 00:00

Sarah Jeffery

I found that most people with foreign names, did not have an easy ride. However, for all the companies I worked for, I found those colleagues exceptionally good at their job than the average employee. Obviously hired because they have skills/ abilities the firm can not do without.

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