Could Your Name Be The Subliminal Reason You're Getting Rejected?

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Jose to Joe
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At the beginning of his intensive, months-long job search, Jose Zamora tapped into all of the traditional job-seeking methods. He scoured online listings, sent out 50-100 resumes every day, and waited to hear back from prospective employers. Then he waited some more. Nothing. He was baffled.

Finally, as Jose explains in his viral Buzzfeed video, he had a hunch. He changed one single -- and it turns out, pivotal -- thing about his resume. He dropped the "s" in Jose and morphed himself into "Joe."

One week later, Joe Zamora's inbox was full.


Career experts wouldn't be surprised by the results of Jose's hunch. Countless research studies have revealed this subliminal name discrimination, especially against names that seem Latino or black.

On the flip side, studies have also uncovered a remarkably simple way -- as simple as Jose's serendipitous solution --to create the impression of intelligence and high status. Use your middle initial. If your parents were particularly eloquent and blessed you with two or three middle names, use all of them.

George H.W. Bush anyone?

Why do people subconsciously see smarts and status from the simple presence of a middle initial? Psychologists (note the middle initials) Wijnand A.P. Van Tilburg of the University of Southampton and Eric R. Igou of the University of Limerick suggest several possible explanations, including the fact that names are often presented formally in "intellectual domains."

When you receive a letter from a doctor, lawyer, or other high-status professional, he or she probably signed it using at least one middle initial. Eventually these cues sink in and perceptions shift. It's also possible that "social groups with habits of giving their children more middle names have overall more resources available for education," they write in the European Journal of Psychology.

Next step for Joe Zamora: How about Joe S. Zamora?
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