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I was scrolling through my Facebook page last night when an article grabbed my attention. It was a piece from the AAP describing the Victorian Government’s movement to trial “blind recruiting” – the concept of removing all personal identifiable information from a CV in order to remove any potential bias.

It really struck me. Immediately I asked the question – is this a problem in the hiring industry? Do recruiters, clients and hiring managers judge CVs based on personal details rather than skills and qualifications. The answer is I think, both yes and no.



Why the answer is yes…

Humans inherently have biases, whether they intend to or not. Even when a person is not intentionally racist, sexist, elitist, ageist, disabilist or any of the other ‘ists’, they are a product of their culture, gender, location and upbringing and this leaves a mark.

I certainly try to judge CVs based on their merit and would like to think that nothing would stop me working with a candidate from any background if I believe they are right for the job. Over the years however, I have certainly experienced the kinds of bias the Victorian government are looking to avoid.


Some of the questions I’ve been asked include:


  • How is their English? The applicant who was actually born in Australia but kept their traditional ‘overseas’ name.
  • The team is all men; do you think she will cut it? The applicant was a women applying for managerial position for a regional mining job at a site that had self-recognised ‘boys club’.
  • Is she going to be having more children? The candidate had recently returned from having her first child and the employer was concerned she wanted to have more (without speaking to her).
  • He is young, how is his attitude? This candidate was one of those exceptional ‘young guns’ who was applying for a role usually held by far more ‘senior’ candidates.
  • They’re from a dodgy suburb, are they reliable? This candidate was from an area considered low in the socio-economic sense.


Some of these questions on the surface, seem innocuous but are representative of the bias (often unintentional) that questions a person’s aptitude prior to an interview. Society does generalise about foreign candidates or women in traditionally male positions or young people being “lazy” / not having the same work ethic as older staff. It’s wrong, but it happens and we can’t argue that it doesn’t.

I have also been asked by clients to source for a role very specific things. I have been asked specifically for male or female candidates, candidates from or not from a certain ethnic background, candidates not over or under a certain age and many more specifics that “in theory” shouldn’t affect a person’s ability to be exceptional at their job.



Why the answer is no…

I honestly believe the majority of people try and succeed in being open minded and unbiased. They do try to overlook any biases when judging a CV and look at the person’s skills instead.

This is because most people understand (or at least try to) that it isn’t a person’s cultural background, age, gender or location that makes them who they are, but rather the sum of their experiences.

When I look through my brain for examples of hiring managers asking for potentially discriminating traits verses not making any personal specifications at all, the latter thankfully outweighs the former. The vast majority of hiring managers only specify what experience and qualifications they require and leave it at that.



Why I think it’s a good concept

I think it’s a good concept and worthy of exploration. It’s not a new idea certainly but setting it up as a quantifiable trial will I think, yield some interesting results.

At ALRA and in previous recruitment agencies, I’ve spoken and thought about this issue in many different forms. For example, when creating CVs for candidates, one thing I ALWAYS advocate against is putting a photo of yourself on your CV. People judge a CV very quickly and you want to ensure they are judging you on your skills / experience and not your physical appearance.

In theory, the less judgment there is on predefined / potential biases in a CV, the better the quality of the hire, as the candidate is being screened purely on merit.

Where I think the concept may fall down, is though it will enable unfairly judged applicants to reach the interview stage, unless interviews are also going to be conducted completely blind (not sure how that would be possible), the same biases may come into play.

Either way however, I’ll be keeping an eye out for any results.