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21 January 2019

Positive effects of anonymous job applications

One of the major employment trends in the United States, Canada, and Europe is the practice of anonymous job applications. This process first began in many countries in the European Union and following its success has since expanded to other nations. The ultimate goal is to make way for bias-free hiring by means of anonymity.


While the actual impact of anonymous job applications is not yet known, the idea of this process has been supported both in theory and in practice. It’s a well-known fact that both gender and ethnicity have an influence on the hiring process all around the world. This is despite the fact that current legislation considers this to be discrimination. Anonymous job applications are seen as a way to combat this discrimination.


Employers and anonymous job applications

We all have subconscious biases whether we realize it or not. And it’s no different when it comes to employers and recruitment teams. Consequently anonymous job applications are a logical next step for employers. Research has shown that personal information like name, gender, and country of origin can prevent employers from looking at an application objectively and may even prevent them from going through the rest of the application.


The practice of anonymous job applications is not a risk for businesses. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. They still have the chance to meet the applicant in an interview and they are more likely to choose a qualified candidate by eliminating undue distractions through the screening process. 


Ratna Omidvar is the president of a Canadian nonprofit organization, Maytree Foundation, and he suggests the following practices during the screening process when searching for candidates:

  • Online applications: Employers who use online applications or their own platform could exclude certain information such as name, gender, and age
  • Traditional or email applications: Employers can request two versions of the application - conventional and anonymous. Alternatively personal information can be added on the last page of the application.


Obviously these practices are not perfect since applicants will eventually meet the employer either in person or via video. But the idea is that prejudice during the screening process will be eliminated which is a step in the right direction.


Employees and anonymous job applications

There are plenty of advantages when it comes to employees using the anonymous job application process. But perhaps the most significant is for those who are currently employed and searching for a new job. Loyalty and discretion would drive those who already have a job to apply anonymously. An anonymous job search is the safest way to change jobs without the current employer getting wind of what is going on. If you have justifiable reasons for concealing your identity it isn’t considered misleading.


If you want to apply for a job anonymously you can use a few sentences in your cover letter to explain that you are currently employed and wish to have your details concealed to avoid any conflict with your current employer. Alternatively you can provide your details but request that the recruiter to help maintain your anonymity.


Equal opportunities for women and minorities

Possibly the greatest positive effect of anonymous job applications is to give women and minorities equal opportunities to enter the workforce. It’s a way to help employers to overcome any subconscious bias and ultimately find the most qualified person for a specific position without any prejudice. Believe it or not, anonymous applications gives these groups a better chance at being selected for an interview.


Things to consider when applying for a job anonymously

If you are following the anonymous job application process then you need to keep a few things in mind. At the end of the day you want to ensure that you cover all the basis for remaining anonymous.


Work history

Your CV can give away more information than you intend if you aren’t cautious. Carefully go through your work history and eliminate any information about previous work experience or employers that could disclose who you are. When you are describing your work history and industry you can use “confidential.” Also remember to leave out the city and town of each employer if you want to remain completely anonymous.


Academic achievements

Again, be sure to use the “confidential” tag when you are describing the schools, colleges, or university that you attended. These can be a dead giveaway as to your identity, particularly if you are well-known in your professional network as having gone to certain schools. You can exclude graduation dates as well, but you will need to add certification dates so employers know how current they are. 


Personal details

An effective way to protect your identity is to limit the information that you provide on your cover letter header. This means leaving our your full name, email address, and mailing address if they contain your name or any other information that could identify who you are, like birth date. You can create an alternative email address that looks somewhat professional. For example; It’s not ideal, but it’s your best bet if you trying to remain completely anonymous.

Posted by: Edit Ford

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