Blind CVs: Should you be using them?

Blind CVs: Should you be using them?

Blind hiring, along with blind CVs, are a new solution for the recruitment process that has stepped on the scene. But exactly how effective are they? 

Table of Contents

What is a Blind CV?

So what exactly is a blind CV? It is the basis of blind hiring, and a CV that doesn’t have any identifying factors. This includes things like a candidate’s name, gender, age, or race. The long and short of it is that there is no information present that isn’t related to the candidate’s working capabilities.


Areas like academic background, work experience, and contact information are all able to appear, as these create fewer issues around recruiter bias.


This type of recruitment has been introduced with the purpose of eliminating any type of conscious or subconscious bias. By evaluating the candidates more objectively, the companies will be able to hire diversified candidates who are truly fit for that job position. But the question is how does blind hiring affect the recruitment process?


Bias in the Recruitment Process

As much as we would like to live in a world without discrimination or favouritism, the reality is that they are often present, especially in the world of business. While this is not always purposeful, any type of preconceived idea or discrimination can hugely impact the candidate ultimately selected for hire.


There are many pieces of research and academic studies that prove that bias is widespread in the hiring process. Take a look at the following facts:


  • According to a 2017 UK study, just a third (32%) of HR managers felt confident that they are not prejudiced when hiring new staff. Nearly half (48%) admitted that bias affects their candidate choice, while 20% said they couldn’t be sure if bias affected their decisions.


  • A report by the Women and Equalities Committee from 2016 showed that Muslim women are three times as likely as women in other social groups in the UK to be unemployed.


  • In a US study, universities seeking a laboratory manager were randomly given CVs with male or female names. Those with ‘male’ names were rated as “significantly more competent and hirable.”


  • As a part of their study, the US National Bureau of Economic Research sent out 40,000 fictional job applications and found that the fictional workers aged 49-51 received 19% fewer responses than those aged 29-31. Those aged 64-66 received 35% more interview invitations than those aged 29-31.


Such a discriminating attitude towards potential candidates enables companies to find the best candidates. The characteristics which employers subconsciously value more don’t necessarily depict a better candidate. That is why blind recruitment was introduced.


The Introduction of Blind Hiring

It all started in 1952 when this method was used by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The musicians were asked to play behind the screen during their audition which increased the number of women who were accepted to the orchestra. According to later research, blind auditions by 50% increase a woman’s chance of being accepted by an orchestra.


The problem with bias is that it happens subconsciously so people don’t have control over it. Even those who claim that they are completely objective while going through the candidate’s CV, they still might choose a male candidate rather than a female.


How Does a Blind CV Work?

In a recent podcast about unconscious bias, Ksenia Zheltoukhova the CIPD’s Head of Research said, “Anonymising CVs is an effective intervention for increasing diversity in organizations and reducing bias in recruitment.”


Therefore, it all starts with censoring the CVs. You can’t really make the whole recruitment process anonymous but CV censorship will help you pick the best of the best without subconscious bias.


A blind CV can be executed in more than one way. It all depends on how much you want to emit. One option is to just eliminate the basics such as name and gender. Another option is to remove other personal details as well such as the educational background.


The reason why some recruiters opt for the second option – that is eliminating educational history – is to prevent favouring candidates who have a similar background to their own. For example, if the recruiter went to Yale, he or she might identify and feel closer to those candidates who also went to Yale.


The steps you need to take to make the blind CVs work are:


1. Decide which information you want to remove from the CVs: Based on how unbiased you want to be, you should decide what information you want to omit from the CVs. You may decide to simply opt for removing the candidates’ names, or if you’re more concerned about age discrimination, their date of birth and some background information.


2. Anonymise the data with an automation tool or colleague: There are now automation tools out there that let you anonymise the CV data, simplifying the process. Alternatively, you can ask a colleague who won’t be involved in the recruitment process to take your chosen information off the CVs.


3. Review your blind CVs: Review your CVs as you normally would, so as not to impact your entire recruitment process too substantially. Once you invite your selected candidates to interview, you will find out who they are.


The Advantages of Blind CVs

Blind CVs can definitely improve your recruitment process. To summarize all the positive impacts:


  • They eliminate initial bias: Bias can occur in the very early stages of recruitment, and this can be avoided.

  • They limit the impact of personal information: Personal information can affect the recruiter’s judgment, leading to screening out potentially suitable candidates.

  • They discount race, age and culture: The best candidates can be singled out without these often discriminated against elements coming into play.

  • They help with a diversified workforce: Recruiters are arguably more likely to hire a diverse workforce if unconscious bias can be limited.

  • They show company values: Blind CVs can show that the company isn’t discriminating.

  • They boost the employer brand: If it’s clear that the employer cares about equal opportunity, this can be positive for the employer brand and help attract talented candidates to the business.


You might think that your recruitment team is already as objective as it can be, but you’ll never know unless you give blind CVs a chance.


The Potential Issues of Blind CVs

While the positive sides of blind CVs are notable, we can’t forget that there are two sides to every story. Some of the limitations and drawbacks of blind CVs are:


  • Gender and race quotas: Those who have quotas for gender and race might not be able to fulfill them if they eliminate personal information.

  • Cultural fit: Without knowing personal interests, the recruiters won’t know if the candidate is a match to their company’s culture.

  • Bias at interview: It only eliminates bias from the initial stage of recruitment, so the bias can reappear during the interview.

  • Not all information is limited: The recruiters can still form bias based on other information; e.g. the experience can reveal the age of the candidate.

  • An incomplete picture: Eliminating personal information can lead to an incomplete picture of the employee. If someone has a gap in their work history, a blind CV won’t give the explanation why and therefore it can harm the candidate’s chances.


Undeniably, using blind CVs has its issues as much as it has its advantages, but it can bring some innovation and improvement to the hiring process. It all comes down to what the company finds to be the best for its progress.


Final Thoughts

Using blind CVs can improve your company’s diversity and help you choose the best candidates by putting bias aside. Besides using blind recruitment, you can also emphasise your commitment to diversity by stating on the job post that you are interested in forming a diverse team.


Also, make sure that everyone on the hiring committee is ready to put their differences aside and accept the blind hiring process as the best choice for the company’s progress and success. By building a team of diverse people, you are building a better tomorrow for future generations.


Blind CVs are just one of the ways you can potentially optimise your current recruitment process, and make better hiring decisions. For more tips on how to create a great recruitment process, download our Talent Acquisition Toolkit for free today!

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