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I found a couple of questions dealing with the issue of not disclosing ones gender on your resume, but I'd like some information on how to write your resume so that it won't contain any information that a potential employer could discriminate against. What comes to mind are:

  • Gender
  • Heritage
  • Age

Is there anything else to be considered, and are there any established ways on hiding these information?

I'm explicitly not asking if this is a good or bad idea, but if there is a common and at least somewhat accepted way of doing this.

  • Gender and heritage can often be deducted from the name. The age could reasonably be approximated by the previous jobs etc. – Michael Kunst Jan 29 at 15:57
  • @JoeStrazzere: In my country (in Central Europe), this would be very weird not to state the official name. (A CV without photo is also not recommended, unfortunately.) – guest Jan 29 at 19:05
  • @Bee: Sometimes there are not explicit but implicit biases. Sometimes the team one works with would not have a "problem" with your gender, race etc but HR does. – guest Jan 29 at 19:06
  • Everyone, please note that the user is in Switzerland (according to his profile). Michael, Please specify the type of job you're applying for and if this is an actual problem that you're having. The more details the better. A good answer will actually depend on your circumstances and the type of job you're applying for. Also, can we assume that you're only applying for jobs in Switzerland? – Stephan Branczyk Jan 29 at 20:23
  • It's utterly pointless to hide any of these things, since they will become obvious in the interview process anyway. Most companies will treat this properly. If you are worried that a specific company will discriminate based on this, don't apply there. Why would want to you work for someone that you don't trust ? – Hilmar Jan 30 at 4:25
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Is there anything else to be considered, and are there any established ways on hiding these information?

You don't need to hide anything, none of the points you mentioned - Gender, Heritage and Age should have a place in a traditional CV. You can (and you should) leave them off. Use the real estate for more relevant information.

Regarding the discrimination: You cannot stop a company from discriminating, you can only try to sue them afterwards of they do.

Heritage and gender can often be deducted from the name. Age probably from work experience and, even better, education. They can even find out more from the nature of your pet projects, github commits, blog posts etc...

However, don't worry too much about that. You'll surely to find opportunities with organizations who do not try to discriminate between applicants.

Do not try to degrade your CV (in attempt of hiding information which can lead to discrimination) - rather, find opportunities / organizations where the discrimination will not happen.

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  • Unfortunately, the first two (and sometimes the third) can be reasonably approximated from the name, and that's generally something that's in a CV. – Erik Jan 29 at 15:46
  • Hard to do in practice. Heritage and gender can often be deducted from the name. Age probably from work experience and, even better, education. – Adriano Repetti Jan 29 at 15:47
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    Yes, they can be derived, but omitting them is not hiding. Now, if the organization is using that to discriminate - that's their prerogative, there's really nothing applicant can do to prevent that, they can only react after it had happened. – Sourav Ghosh Jan 29 at 15:49
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    "a traditional CV." You may want to specify that. It is very traditional where I come from and I share a language with the OP, we are probably about 6 hours apart by car. In the nineties, my traditional CV even included the occupations of my parents. Weird as heck? Absolutely. But also very "traditional". – nvoigt Jan 29 at 16:39
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The other answer and comments miss the point. There are many ways to determine age, gender, and heritage that have nothing to do with stating something like “I am a black woman who is 55.” Plenty of other info can reveal it.

The other answers are also mostly from the perspective of developers. I can apply for a couple jobs and have interviews in a week, as can a lot of the people on here. Work is more scarce for other fields.

Gender

  • Don’t put any gender specific activism on your resume as volunteering
  • Use a gender neutral short form of your name. “Sam” over “Samantha”
  • Try to fill in one year long gaps with something (if you quit to take maternity leave or something).

Age

  • Don’t put your graduation dates on your resume.
  • Don’t include all the jobs going back to the beginning.
  • Use a less stuffy and traditional resume and one which has a little bit of colour (not a lot, but perhaps a blue dividing line instead of black). Also use a nice template.

Heritage

  • Can’t do much about your last name unless you change it
  • Avoid listing languages if they are not relevant to the position. Saying you know Farsi pegs you as Iranian. Urdu as Pakistani.
  • Drop job locations from your resume.
  • Have a native speaker of your location proofread it and add the appropriate local names for things and check for unusual word choices.

This advice is most applicable to USA/Canada.

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    So, in order to bag this job, we need to put effort in preparing a CV with less focus on content and more focus on representation? Well, I can't imagine how my life would be if I get the job, which I was not supposed to get because of the discriminatory minds. I'll take a pass, thanks. :) – Sourav Ghosh Jan 29 at 16:03
  • @SouravGhosh devs can casually pass on jobs. That is more problematic in other professions. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 29 at 16:20
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    @SouravGhosh There are studies (USA) showing the exact same CV with a “black” name get rated less favorably than those with a “white” name. There is this demonstrated thing called implicit bias. It would be great if that didn’t exist and would be awesome if no one had to decide between “at least get the job and have a chance to win them over” and “unemployed” but that is not the current reality. It’s not just a guy in a white hood throwing away resumes. It’s more subtle and pervasive. – Damila Jan 29 at 16:32
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    Could you state which countries your advices apply to? Especially for the gender thing - there seem to be languages where it is okay/expected for women to use the male form of their occupations (eg Russian) and some where it would be strange/wrong/misleading to use the male form for women (eg German). – guest Jan 29 at 19:34
  • @guest added that it is for the USA/Canada. I don't know much about other resume norms or whether dropping those things is acceptable. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 29 at 19:35
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First of all, you can't. As a very simple example, your name gives clues as to your gender and heritage. Your name is "Michael Kunst", therefore I assume you are male because your first name is Michael, and have a background coming from somewhere in north-central Europe (near Germany), because your name sounds German. Even if the name "Michael Kunst" is a pseudonym and you're actually a woman from China, nevertheless I have already made assumptions about you based on that name, and most people looking to make assumptions about people for gender or heritage related reasons will do something similar.

So then the answer (to this specific question about your name; there are other questions to ask about other features of your resume) is one of two things, neither of which work:

1) Do not provide your name on your resume. This is egregiously unprofessional. How am I supposed to address you in an email? "To whom it may concern"? Nah.

2) Provide a fake name on your resume. This might actually be worse, because your very first impression to the company, your resume, has a lie on it. That's not a great way to open a relationship, by lying.

The other thing is, even if you were to try to lie or hide your identifying information on your resume, it would come out eventually, because you have to do an in-person interview eventually. If they are expecting a white male aged 30 and they get an old black woman, the company is going to know something is up, and even if at that point they decide not to be racist/ageist/sexist/etc about the situation, the mere fact that they've now uncovered the fact that you lied to them is probably grounds for terminating the interview process.

Just tell the truth. Don't make your identification egregious, like don't write on your resume "Qualification: I am a 55 year old black woman", but just be truthful in what you do want to say.

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In Europe, there are laws against discrimination. In any case, you don't have to tell in your CV anything you don't want your employer to know.

Obviously, hiding the gender will be somewhat difficult, because it can be inferred from the name. Hiding the heritage or racial features is plausible if in your country there's not a custom of putting a photo in the CV. The age is definitely not important, just remove it from the CV.

But, in all honesty... Do you want to work in a company that would discriminate you for somewhat reason? I wouldn't.

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    You may not have that experience, but think about it this way: "Do you want to sit in the front of the bus, with the people who discriminate you for somewhat reason? I wouldn't." It's an exaggeration of course but you can see my point. :) – Hristo Kolev Jan 29 at 16:06
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It is difficult to make a truly neutral CV because :

  • Your experience length and diploma dates hints your age quite exactly
  • Your name can disclose your gender, perhaps sometimes heritage
  • Even if you don't include name or shorten experience some details about you can be found out by checking your contact or finding out on social media so you'd have to make a neutral contact point as well

And if you do all this effort and it goes against conventional CV at your location (it is in mine), this will leave your recruiter with an odd feeling that you are trying to hide something.

This also does not always prevent discrimination, because if someone wants to discriminate you, they can still discriminate you at the interview, without having to disclose anything that you would hint you for sure it's discrimination.

So I would probably advise to follow the convention of your location and try to be as neutral and professional as possible, but without trying to actively hide any particular details of your identity.

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Next to every great answers you already have I would add that you can't realy because who tend to discriminate on gender or origin could also discriminate you based on your attemp to be as inclusive as possible in your resume. My point is that if someone wants to discriminate people based on their CV they will always find a way to do so.

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You asked,

I'm explicitly not asking if this is a good or bad idea, but if there is a common and at least somewhat accepted way of doing this.

The easiest way this is done is indirectly. Rather than worry about what to leave off. focus on only including things that you can justify including.

In other words, include items that fall into one of two categories:

  • Things that are actually relevant to the decision making process about whether or not you are able to perform the job
  • Information needed to contact you about your interest in the job

Leave everything else off. If a piece of information is not directly helpful to determining your fitness for the job, or for communicating with you about the job, the only impact it can have is negative. Don't give people the opportunity. While there are obvious types of discrimination (gender, age, etc) and you can take deliberate steps to protect against them, there are also subtle types: I once had a hiring committee member notice that a candidate had listed volunteer work at a cat shelter on their resume, and then exclaim that the candidate must be "a crazy cat lady."

The moral of the story is, You can't predict what people will be judgmental about, so don't give them bait.

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