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Aussies Anglicize Names to Hunt Jobs

Published: 15/04/2013 12:18:35 PM GMT
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SYDNEY - Seeking better job opportunities, many Australians are changing their Muslim or foreign names to overcome habitual workplace discrimination and increase their chances of employment.“I've had friends who have perso (more)

SYDNEY - Seeking better job opportunities, many Australians are changing their Muslim or foreign names to overcome habitual workplace discrimination and increase their chances of employment.

“I've had friends who have personally changed their names, and they believe that has had a profound effect on their career path,” Jeffery Wang, a Chinese-born Senior Account Executive, told SBS news on Monday, April 15

“I believe if it works for you, it's great,” added Wang, who runs a professional development forum to help young Australians from multi-ethnic backgrounds advance their careers.

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Australian-born Muslim woman Cindy Mohamed agrees with Wang.

The young Muslim woman had to change her name after 9/11 attacks after becoming frustrated with numerous rejections for jobs she felt suitably qualified for.

Changing her surname to ‘Makram', a name borrowed from her father's side of the family, she won a job interview from a company that had already rejected her application as Cindy Mohamed.

She was so upset by the realization her name was affecting her job-hunting that she “actually told them off”.

“I thought, ‘From now on I'm sending my resume with Cindy Makram.'”

The annoying experiences reflected a growing trend in Australian companies, tending to hire Australians with anglicized names.

These facts were proved by researchers from the Australian National University who found those with “non-Anglo” sounding names had to submit more resumes in order to gain an interview.

Someone with a Middle Eastern-sounding name typically must submit 64 per cent more applications than a person with an Anglo-sounding name to land a job interview.

Those with a Chinese-sounding name needed to submit 68 per cent applications, an Indigenous person 35 per cent more, and an Italian person 12 per cent more.

Another study released by the University of Melbourne in March this year found that job seekers were more likely to feel discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity while looking for a job than they were once they had actually secured a role.

Wang says he is “not surprised” by the study's findings.

“The reality is that that's probably not too far from the truth at all,” he says.

“What I was surprised at was just how badly the Chinese names ranked.”


Researchers of the study encouraged job seekers who fear being discrimination to consider Anglicizing their names.

“This is the counsel given by some immigration lawyers,” Alison Booth, one of the researchers of the study, wrote.

However, Cindy Mohamed says she felt confident reverting to her actual name once she had secured a job at a major telecommunications company.

“[That company] was amazing,” she said.

“They said, look, we have Muslims, we have Hindus… it wasn't a problem.”

“I am using Mohamed now. I am more confident of who I am compared to seven years ago,” she says.

As most Australian Muslims were not lucky as Cindy, she urged employers to look at a whole resume before making a decision about whether to interview those with Muslim names.

“Hire people for their skills, not their name,” she says.

Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.

Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.

In post 9/11 Australia, Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.

A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.

A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.

Reproduced with permission from