What is it about?

When we apply for a job in the formal labour market, we often need a résumé. That's a document summarizing who we are: the education we have achieved, the skills we have, maybe some volunteering we’ve done… It's the document employers see first and use to decide whom to invite to an interview. Aware of the tendency to invited members of ethnic minority groups less often, minorities have all the incentives to hide anything on their résumé that signals this minority status. We're looking at small modifications in the hope that the résumé is not filtered out at the first stage, not adding false information or the like. This is called “résumé Whitening”. We know that students at an elite university state that they would consider résumé Whitening techniques, but to date there was no study enumerating the actual use of résumé Whitening. We find that around 9% of recent migrants to Switzerland used one or multiple means to make their résumé less “foreign”: stating equivalent diplomas, highlight volunteering in Switzerland, removing information from the country of origin, etc. Furthermore, we also find that the use of résumé Whitening is more common for people who have struggled to find work, who have faced challenges when moving, and those from countries where we can expect higher levels of discrimination. This shows that résumé Whitening is a reaction to discrimination.

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Why is it important?

Field experiments to study ethnic discrimination rely on members of minority groups to signal their minority status, which means that the résumés prepared by researchers probably slightly over-estimate the extent of discrimination.


I am happy that we could add these questions to the Migration-Mobility Survey (https://nccr-onthemove.ch/research/migration-mobility-survey/) of the NCCR on the move.

Didier Ruedin
Universite de Neuchatel

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This page is a summary of: The Extent of Résumé Whitening, Sociological Research Online, June 2022, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/13607804221094625.
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