• Chiara Costa-Virtanen

Anonymous recruitment in Finland - A tool or just a sloppy solution?

More and more companies are going towards the anonymous recruitment.

Anonymous applications don't include information regarding the applicant's name, date of birth, address, native language, gender or other details that could affect the judgment of a recruiting manager.

This recruitment system is based on the theory that whether you will be invited for an interview, it will only be based on your qualifications, not your name, gender, age or background.

Finland saw his society enriched with multiculturalism just in the recent decades, so a foreign name can still be a handicap for a jobseeker:

In a 2012 study commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, two equivalent applications each were sent in response to 1258 job ads. The applications were nearly identical – except for the applicants' name.

One of each pair of applications was sent under a traditional Finnish name and the other with a Russian-sounding name.

The applicants with Finnish names were twice as likely to be called in for interviews than those with Russian names – even though many native Finnish families have Russian names dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the country was part of the Russian Empire.”*

A name can indeed, also outside work life, influence the subconscious about ethnic origin, gender, immigrant status, etc., and prevent employers from objectively seeing the rest of what is in the application.

This kind of discrimination has been unfortunately first experienced by the Finnish Romani, one the ethnic minorities of Finland and that still faces a lot of discrimination during the job search process. In the last decade, also the foreigners living in Finland joined the unfortunate stigma of the missed opportunities because of the name they have.

Discrimination in recruitment is moreover harder to prove than other fields of discrimination. There are many ways of discriminate in indirect ways, without giving proofs of it. A company could for example not write directly on the job advertisement that they don hire a certain group of people, but they can just simply not invite them to the interview.

So, in order to try to find a way to make the recruitment fairer, it was thought of hiding the name and surnames of the applicants, together with other background-based information, leaving them for the second part of the recruitment – the job interview. Is it really a useful tool, a good solution to the problem, or just delaying to face the actual issue?

The truth is that anonymous recruiting is a too simple and sloppy solution.

First, the name and background might not appear immediately, but the rest of the application (such as cover letter, languages spoken, Finnish language profit level etc ) will anyway show the background of the applicant, same for previous education and job experience from the country of provenience.

Let`s also put the case that the candidate will pass the first part of the online anonymous recruitment, and will called to the job interview. Wouldn’t the employer notice immediately anyway the origin of the applicant? This is the case for example that might was experimented with the ethnic Finns.

Moreover, the process of name and background hiding is degrading for foreigners. It is a justification of the necessity of hiding the ethnic background of the applicant. Name and surname are part of the identity that foreigners bring to Finland with them, and by hiding them means to negate the acknowledgment of their background.

It is somehow a way justify that some employers might be resentful over hiring foreigners, so better if they get an unexpected foreigner at the interview, without a warning first.

What are the solutions then?

Again, educate the employers! Instead of trying to make foreigners to jobs by hiding who they are, encourage instead the employer to check only the CV content, also if the name shows clear foreign background. The attention should not go on the name and the background, rather to what the person has to offer to the employer.

It`s all about a game team and acceptance of the other. Foreigners shouldn`t be required to hide their identity in order to get more chances to be called to an interview.

Finnish employers have to think long term and implement the recruit of international talents, if they want Finland to be still competitive in the Nordic business. If they don’t , on the long term their way of working and dealing with business will result outdated, and will be completely out of the pitch. This is for example what happens with the international students: They come to Finland attracted by the great quality of education but then, after graduation, they leave because can’t get a job.