Man Gets Job When He Adds 'Mr.' To His Resume

By Kim O'Grady

It was the late '90s, and I was at an interesting phase of my career. For the first time in my life, I possessed relevant qualifications, experience and could also show a successful track record in my chosen career path. I had the job seeker's trifecta. It was also summer and my current employer was pissing me off with their penny-pinching ways, so after three years of ball-busting effort I decided a break and a job change was in order. Displaying characteristic overconfidence in myself, I quit my job (without burning any bridges) and set about applying for others.

I was experienced in managing technical and trade-supply businesses. I also had engineering experience and sales experience and had demonstrably exceeded every sales and profit target I had ever been given. I started applying for roles that would stretch me and lift my career up a notch. There were plenty of opportunities around and I usually had a few applications on the go at any one time. I was an experienced guy in an experienced guy's world, this wouldn't be hard. Then the rejection letters trickled in. I could take rejection, it goes hand in hand with business, but after the first few months I was frankly confused. I hadn't had a single interview. Instead of aiming high I lowered my sights and started applying for jobs in which there was no career advancement. Now I had everything these employers could possibly want, I would be a shoo-in. But still not one interview came my way, not even a phone inquiry.

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Somewhere after the four-month mark my confidence was starting to take a hit. The people rejecting me were business people too. How could my reasoning that I was perfect for these jobs be so different from theirs? Putting on my most serious business head I went back and scoured my curriculum vitae. It was the only contact that any of my potential employers or their recruitment companies had had with me. My CV was the common denominator and if something was wrong it must be there.

I had fortunately seen a number of CVs in my time. I was happy with the choice of style and layout, and the balance of detail versus brevity. I was particularly pleased with the decision I made to brand it with my name, with just enough bold positioning to make it instantly recognizable. And as I sat scouring every detail of that CV, a horrible truth slowly dawned on me. It was my name.

My first name is Kim. Technically it's gender neutral, but my experience showed that most people's default setting in the absence of any other clues is to assume Kim is a woman's name. And nothing else on my CV identified me as male. At first I thought I was being a little paranoid but engineering, trades, sales and management were all definitely male dominated industries. So I pictured all the managers I had over the years and, forming an amalgam of them in my mind, I read through the document as I imagined they would have. It was like being hit on the head with a big sheet of unbreakable glass ceiling.

My choice to brand the CV with a bold positioning of my name actually seemed to scream that I was a woman. I could easily imagine many of the people I had worked for discarding the document without reading further. If they did read further, the next thing they saw (as politeness declared at the time) was a little personal information, and that declared that I was married with kids. I had put this in because I knew many employers would see it as showing stability, but when I viewed it through the skewed view of middle-aged men who thought I was a woman, I could see it was just further damning my cause. I doubt if many of the managers I had known would have made it to the second page.

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I made one change that day. I put "Mr." in front of my name on my CV. It looked a little too formal for my liking, but I got an interview for the very next job I applied for. And the one after that. It all happened in a fortnight and the second job was a substantial increase in responsibility over anything I had done before. In the end, I beat out a very competitive short-list and enjoyed that job for the next few years, further enhancing my career.

Where I had worked previously, there was a woman manager. She was the only one of about a dozen at my level, and there were none on the next level. She had worked her way up through the company over many years and was very good at her job. She was the example everyone used to show that: It could be done, but most women just didn't want to do it. It's embarrassing to think I once believed that. It's even more incredible to think many people still do.

Kim O'Grady is a freelance management consultant based in Perth, Australia. He specializes in assisting small-to-medium enterprise across a range of disciplines, from leadership to business-process improvement. Kim blogs informally at http://whatwouldkingleonidasdo.tumblr.com and you can follow him on Twitter @kimogrady1


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Amanda Clark

My boyfriend is black, but has a traditional Jewish name( First Middle and Last are Jewish) so people assume he is a white male, so naturally they are shocked when they meet him. This goes to show that discrimination doesn't just take place in the work place, but everywhere. People form stereotypes about names, leading them to miss out on great people because they discriminate.

August 08 2013 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
EmilyLave07

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July 20 2013 at 3:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
cecilmober

To Beautiful Rung.... I was employed as a disabled person and was working the audit at a Doubletree by Hilton and I thought everything was fine.I could have never been more wrong and naive. I was taken into the office and written up because my Black daughter-in -law and my mixed granddaughter who looks Hispanic went to the bathroom with me . My daughter-in-law had been in a car accident which made her walk with a limp. She was at the top of her class at University of Kentucky and my grandchild is in advanced classes in her school system. My manager said the controller walked in an saw me with two African American women and that she had feared for her life. I was absolutely stunned to the fact that anyone could fear a 13 yr old beautiful child. my manager then proceed to say that she feared because they thought I was either selling rooms under the table to them or I was buying drugs.He then proceeded to tell me he had been watching me and he saw me answer the my cell phone while working. Everyone else texts and talks on their phone but he was adamant that I was not allowed to use my phone while at work. So to say I was looking to be discriminated against is a serious stretch of your imagination.My manager then proceed to replace me by hiring numerous other people that I trained to replace me. He even went so far as to make me work 16yrs in a 24 hr period when he knew I couldn't stand for more than a couple hours at a time and they hid the chair that the other auditor would sit in when he worked. I had numerous other employees tell me that they saw him sitting it the chair all night long and that they were hiding the chair. One employee even sent a picture of it to me.I tried to help this manager but he trusted no one and repeated ask me to tell him what was going on.He ran away all of his good employees because of his actions.

July 16 2013 at 11:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
msmith6791

Just put the point in the 1st short paragraph I am NOT interested in reading a book to find out he story

July 16 2013 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to msmith6791's comment
xak999

Attention spans really ARE lowering aren't they? Is it that too much out of your way? What if your boss asked you to read something that can't be over 300 words--would you quit?

July 20 2013 at 4:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Beautiful Rung

People looking for discrimination will always find it whether it's there or not.

July 16 2013 at 8:12 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
wbischo

I had a similar experience when I used my entire first and middle name on my resumes. My first name and middle names are both feminine, but as I was applying to jobs mostly held by women, I doubted that would be a problem. I soon came to realize though, that my first name sounded like names given mostly to black females. I was not black, but I came to feel I was being passed over for job interviews because the person reading my resume THOUGHT I was black, and was deliberately not calling me for an interview. I started leaving off my first name and used only my first initial and full middle name of Anne. I started immediately getting offers for interviews and soon had a job. Gender and race will continue to dictate WHO gets jobs for a long time to come it seems.

July 16 2013 at 4:13 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Anna

It is true. I have a lot of school and a lot of experience and I am good in what I am doing. My profession is in a man's field.
30 years ago, when I came to US I has a different first name. You could not tell just from the name if I was a woman or a man. When I became US citizen I changed my first name in a more feminine name. After that I had harder time to find a job even if I had more experience in my profession and later more school. Coming from Easter Europe where in the work place did not matter if you are a man or a woman and it was important only how good you are in your profession, this was a shock, but going back to a communist country was not an option for me. After the communism fall down I was already too old to go back.
When the economy got bad I was not able to find almost any job, and when I found a job, I have been given to do only the kind of work men (that did not have even close with my the knowledge and experience) did not want to do, because that part of the job was too boring. If I will be give more qualified work, after I asked them several times to, and I succeed to do the job well, usually I will be put out of the job.

July 16 2013 at 3:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
doctressjulia

AND NOW you have a tiny inkling of how women get screwed out of good-paying jobs in favor of men with the exact same qualifications.

A learning experience, no?

July 16 2013 at 2:40 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
stlrjon

I call bs. My guess he needed to swll a stiry and made up one that would sell.

July 16 2013 at 2:02 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Brian Hope

One infamous name: Kim Philby

July 16 2013 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Brian Hope's comment
hedunlap

Who?

July 16 2013 at 10:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
louf55

Good call stirjon...

February 28 2014 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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