What Are Blind Resumes?

A blind resume only includes information that relates to an individual’s work capability, excluding indicators of age, ethnicity, or gender. Photographs are also excluded. Blind resumes are  also known as redacted or anonymous resumes, and are used to decrease discrimination and bias in the hiring process.

How Are Blind Resumes Helpful?

Blind resumes have generally been used in academia, research, medicine, and science, although they are gaining in popularity in corporate settings as the desire to have a more diverse workforce has become top of mind in most industries.

In 2021, economists from the University of California Berkeley and the University of Chicago found that applicants whose names sounded black were called back 10% less as compared to white applicants with similar applications.

Because blind resumes focus on the candidate’s professional experiences by removing identifiable items, recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to be objective when evaluating a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Components of a Blind Resume

In an effort to overcome unconscious (or implicit) bias and promote diversity in the workforce, personally identifiable information like name, educational institutions, number of years of experience and other identifiers are removed (redacted), anonymizing the resume. Those components can allude to someone’s race, religion, age, gender,  or socioeconomic status, impacting the hiring decision. Let’s look at what is left out and what stays on the resume.

Name and Contact Details

This section (the applicant’s name, phone number, email address, and location) is redacted to reduce the recruiter and/or hiring managers’ ability to impact the interview based on  unconscious (or implicit) bias derived from the applicant’s personal information.

Personal Statement

A personal statement is a short essay that the candidate uses to share a little about themselves, summarizing their skills and experience and explaining how they can fill the role. This section is often redacted as well, reducing the recruiter and/or hiring managers’ ability to impact the interview based on  unconscious (or implicit) bias derived from the candidate’s writing.

Work Experience

In this section, the applicant shares their most recent positions, in a chronological format. This section includes the full job title, start date, finish date, and a summary of the applicant’s responsibilities and achievements. This section is usually formulated using bullet points.  To reduce bias around age, the start date and finish date are redacted.

Education and Qualifications

Typically, this section includes the names of the schools, colleges, or universities attended by the applicant, as well as the courses taken and grades obtained, college degree, certifications, and licenses. In a blind resume, names of institutions are redacted to prevent educational bias.

Key Skills

Both soft and hard skills are listed in this section. Hard skills are those techniques or knowledge one learned through on-the-job training or attending school. They’re measurable abilities of tasks performed: for example, computer programming and data entry.

This section may also include soft skills, or personal attributes of the candidate such as multi-tasking, time management, problem-solving, and communication. Soft skills are removed  from blind resumes.

Limitations of Blind Resumes

Blind resumes help to decrease bias, but they do not prevent it completely. Let’s look at a few areas in which blind resumes are still vulnerable to unconscious discrimination.

Gaps in Employment

Though the tide is shifting, some recruiters and hiring managers hold bias against gaps in employment. Unfortunately, with the use of a blind resume, those gaps are more visible in a chronological order format.

Unconscious Biases

In the hiring process, unconscious bias occurs when we involuntarily categorize people based on our first impressions. Without even knowing it, many are prone to incorporating biases in their decision-making process. Though the candidate’s information is hidden at the initial stage of the hiring process, those items are made visible during the interview stage, and biases may then occur.

Some recruiters or hiring managers are unable to move past and/or recognize their own biases. This limitation may indicate a need for others to participate in the process.

Word Choices

Our words matter. Though items such as one’s name are removed from the blind resume, the writing can often reveal more about the candidate than intended. For example, women often use words like assist and organize while men tend to use more skill-oriented and technical terms.

How to Implement Blind Resumes In Hiring

Here we identify five priorities for enhancing the impact of your recruitment implementation strategy.

Step 1: Goal

Determine your goal. What is it that your organization is trying to accomplish? For example, do you want a more diverse C-suite? Is this a short or long-term initiative?

Step 2: What to Redact

The objective behind redaction is to overcome unconscious (or implicit) bias and promote diversity in the workforce. Decide which items you will redact from resumes.

A list of possible items to redact is below:

  • Name
  • Year of graduation
  • City, state, or country
  • College/university name
  • Organization names
  • Photographs

Step 3: Tools and Resources

What do you need to achieve your goals? Work with your fiscal team to determine a budget, if any.

For instance, you may choose to use software such as Pinpoint or Textio, which remove demographic information from resumes, anonymize applications, and source diverse candidates.

If your budget is minimal or no funds can be allocated, consider designating a member of your team to mask the data.

Step 4: Training

Lastly, it is imperative that you train your recruiters and hiring managers on unconscious biases and the importance of diversity within the workplace.