Books

African jobseekers change their names to overcome ‘racist’ recruiters

For his latest book 'Why We Are Coming', he interviewed 1006 academically qualified African job applicants aged between 21 and 50 over three years and found that 90 percent changed their resumes to conceal ethnic features.
Yasin Kakande CREDIT: SWNS

African jobseekers are “whitening” their CVs by Photoshopping their skin and changing their names to overcome “racist” recruiters, an author has claimed in a new book.

Yasin Kakande, a Ugandan born migration expert and Reuters journalist, said some black applicants are digitally modifying their profile images to give the appearance of lighter skin to avoid a “colour cull” from discriminatory employers in the UK.

Mr Kakande, 39, also revealed that traditional African names are being replaced with anglicised versions, including Dafari for David and Salama for Sarah, as jobseekers suggest they are of dual-heritage to try and improve their recruitment prospects.

For his latest book ‘Why We Are Coming’, he interviewed 1006 academically qualified African job applicants aged between 21 and 50 over three years and found that 90 percent changed their resumes to conceal ethnic features.

A third of the applicants, who were from Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast, used a false UK residential address to mask their true nationality, while others underwent elocution lessons to sound more “British”.

Many of the respondents also said they avoid profile photographs in order to hide their skin colour “for as long as possible”.

Despite the alterations, only five percent of the applicants were offered a position in the UK corporate job market- even though some had applied for up to 100- over the course of the study.

Many had to to accept minimum wage jobs in the manual labour or care sectors instead.

Mr Kakande, whose latest book probes the historic and contemporary reasons behind why African people migrate to the West, says Britain’s largest companies are thought to be “anti-Africa”.

He explained: “There is an attitude hanging over from the colonial era that is prevalent among British employers that Africans should stay where they are until needed.

“In any event, a ‘whitened’ CV is not in itself a ticket to employment because an applicant cannot continue to conceal his or her identity at interview.

“In my experience, many African professionals were on course for a job until the interview stage when they noticed a distinct cooling in enthusiasm from their potential new employer – something that I attribute to an unconscious bias against Africans.”

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