What’s In A Name?

December 29, 2019

What’s in a name? Apparently a lot if you’re applying for jobs.


A few months ago when I was applying for jobs, I found myself scratching my head as to why I couldn’t get interviews for positions I was clearly qualified for. While I was networking and meeting people, someone told me it might be my name that recruiters found difficult.

I can’t blame them. Dwarkanath doesn’t just roll off the tongue. It still seemed a bit far-fetched that it could have any effect on my job prospects.

The Idea

I had nothing to lose, so I thought I’ll try changing my name, at least in my resume and see if it made any difference. So I made a new email ID with an Americanized, easy-to-say name. Tacked that name on top of my resume keeping everything else the same. Then, I picked some 5-6 companies that had sent me rejection letters in the past month and sent them my new resume which was the same resume they had rejected.

The Gotcha

3 of the companies didn’t respond but one of them invited me for an interview. I couldn’t believe it.

Here is the rejection letter they had sent:

And here is the letter inviting me for an interview for the exact same position a month later.

So I wrote to them explaining what had happened. Here is my email:


If you’re looking for a happy ending to this story, there isn’t any. I didn’t get the job. I’ve hidden the name of the company and their HR because it’s in the past and it’s not entirely the company’s fault.

There might be other factors at play but I found this paper which studied this phenomenon in more depth. The authors sent out 5000 resumes with different names and found that an average of one of every ten “white” résumés received a callback, versus one of every fifteen “black” résumés.

Dwarkanath Prabhu
Author: Dwarkanath Prabhu

Hi, I’m Dwarkanath Prabhu! I’m a web developer, currently working at CMS, Inc.

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