The Anonymous Application - the Supreme Discipline in Diversity Recruiting

The Anonymous Application - the Supreme Discipline in Diversity Recruiting

The anonymous application creates equal opportunities for all applicants and ensures more fairness in recruiting. Some companies have realised this already. Others do not yet dare to address the issue or do not see its necessity. We want to clarify the benefits and drawbacks of anonymous applications.

The anonymous application is becoming increasingly popular as it offers a way to bypass prejudice and discrimination in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and other personal characteristics. In countries like the US, Canada or Belgium, partially anonymous applications are now considered standard. Many German organisations are still reluctant to adopt it.

Potential perceived disadvantages of anonymous applications are related to fear and convenience

There seems to be widespread concern that it is no longer possible to select the "right" person. This is, of course, nonsense. After all, the name, gender or origin says nothing about whether the applicant is suitable or not. On the contrary, it is about their qualifications and how valuable they will be to the company. To focus solely on qualifications, anonymisation is indeed extremely helpful, as all "disturbing factors" are eliminated.  

Other concerns include that it is a considerable amount of work to switch from traditional to anonymous applications. This is like any other change process. Change is unpleasant at first and involves an increased amount of work. In the long run, however, it is always worthwhile to initiate a change for the better. Professional support and the use of standardised application forms are beneficial in this respect. This makes the recruiting process more effective and easier.

Downsides for applicants?

Not only employers, but also applicants have concerns about anonymous applications. Applicants do not seem to have the opportunity to make a personal impression, and making contact seems to be more difficult. In addition, there may be less meaningful feedback for applicants. However, with clever technical and psychological solutions, these concerns can easily be remedied and are therefore no disadvantages. But be careful: of course, this only applies if the employer is open to anonymised applications and communicates this clearly.

Pilot project shows advantages of anonymous application

The fact that the anonymous application is successful is shown by a pilot project of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency conducted in 2012. A total of 8,550 applications from eight different organisations were reviewed anonymously. The findings were as follows:

The anonymised application procedure could be implemented in almost all employment sectors and the vacancies were successfully filled.

Anonymisation with a standardised application form also seemed to work well for applicants:

31 per cent spent less time on the application, 44 per cent spent the same amount of time, and only 25 per cent said they needed more time. Additionally, 41 per cent of respondents rated their chances of being invited for an interview higher with the anonymous application than with the traditional process.

The anonymous application creates equal opportunities - especially for women and applicants with a migration background.

By using an anonymous application, there are equal opportunities for all applicant groups. This means that everyone is given the same chance of being interviewed - regardless of whether they are affected by discrimination or not. Especially women and applicants with a migration background tend to have better chances of being invited for an interview when compared to the traditional procedure.

At the same time, the anonymous application also has positive immaterial effects in the area of employer branding. Applicants are signalled that information on gender, age and origin does not play a role in the recruitment process. This demonstrates that the company's diversity strategy is actually being implemented instead of just being talked about. This image gain sets companies apart from others and automatically attracts better candidates.

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