Wednesday, November 12, 2014

from Jose to Joe = job search success

The following post was contributed by Laurie Gleason, student in my Fall, 2014 Social Stratification class.                                               
With the ongoing concern over illegal immigration, Hispanics still find themselves routinely overlooked for decent jobs, regardless of their citizenship status. Many Americans feel immigrants serve a "worthwhile" purpose by taking unskilled labor positions like field work or housekeeping--backbreaking, under-compensated work which most Americans feel is beneath them.

Cate Matthews in a recent Huffington Post article describes José Zamora's futile attempts to obtain gainful employment until he Americanized his name. As José, he claims he did not receive a single inquiry, despite placing as many as 100 applications per day. However, "Joe," sporting the same résumé, received job offers from the exact same companies shortly after he applied. 

In this modern age, where applications are submitted online, does a person's name become the simple key for unlocking the door to a decent job? The video "Jose vs. Joe" clearly relates to the larger question of the continuing role of status ascription as critical for achievement in societies, such as ours, that purport to be meritocracies. 

Students interested in exploring this issue further should address research that has been done in this area, such as the Bertrand and Mullainathan study conducted over a decade ago that is now a classic.   

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