Anonymous job applications and hiring discrimination Updated

Blind recruitment can level the playing field in access to jobs but cannot prevent all forms of discrimination

IZA, Germany

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Elevator pitch

The use of anonymous job applications (or blind recruitment) to combat hiring discrimination is gaining attention and interest. Results from field experiments and pilot projects in European countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden are considered here), Canada, and Australia shed light on their potential to reduce some of the discriminatory barriers to hiring for minority and other disadvantaged groups. But although this approach can achieve its primary aims, there are also important cautions to consider.

Countries vary in their
                        antidiscrimination policies, 2010

Key findings


Anonymous job applications can prevent discrimination in the initial screening stage of recruitment.

Anonymous job applications may boost job offer rates for minority candidates.

Anonymous job applications signal a strong employer commitment to focus solely on skills and qualifications.

Standardized anonymous job application forms are an efficient implementation method.

Job applicant comparability may increase with the use of anonymous job applications.


Anonymous job applications have the potential to reduce discrimination only when discrimination is high.

Anonymous job applications may simply postpone discrimination to later in the hiring process.

Blind recruiting may foil other positive measures to promote more diversity and can limit the scope for affirmative action.

Suboptimal implementation of anonymous job application procedures can be costly, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and error-prone.

Context-specific information may be interpreted disadvantageously if the candidate's identity is unknown.

Author's main message

Anonymous job applications have the potential to remove or reduce some discriminatory hiring barriers facing applicants from minority and other disadvantaged groups. When implemented effectively, anonymous job applications level the playing field in access to jobs by shifting the focus toward skills and qualifications. Anonymous job applications should not, however, be regarded as a universal remedy that is applicable in any context or that can prevent any form of discrimination.

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