The influence of resume quality and ethnicity cues on employment decisions

    Ted Shore Affiliation
    ; Armen Tashchian Affiliation
    ; William R. Forrester Affiliation


This study examined the effects of resume writing quality and ethnicity cues on employment decisions. Prior research on resume quality is scant and no prior studies have examined the role of both resume quality and ethnicity on employment decisions. Participants reviewed a fictitious resume (error-laden or error-free) of a Black, Hispanic or White candidate for the job of Sales Manager. Applicants with error-laden resumes were less likely to be interviewed, hired, offered lower starting salaries and rated lower on job-related traits than applicants with error-free resumes. Although ethnicity did not affect the likelihood of getting interviewed or hired, White applicants were offered higher salaries and rated higher on several job-related traits than Black and Hispanic job applicants. Furthermore, Black applicants with error-free resumes received over 6% less in starting salary than White applicants with error-laden resumes. A practical implication of these findings is that applicants should ensure that their resume contains no spelling, grammatical or typographical errors. These results also suggest that non-White job applicants need job qualifications that exceed those of White applicants to achieve pay equity. This paper provides further evidence for and enhances understanding of implicit race bias toward non-White job applicants.

First published online 29 October 2020

Keyword : resume quality, ethnicity cues, implicit race bias, salary, discrimination, employment decisions

How to Cite
Shore, T., Tashchian, A., & Forrester, W. R. (2021). The influence of resume quality and ethnicity cues on employment decisions. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 22(1), 61-76.
Published in Issue
Jan 27, 2021
Abstract Views
PDF Downloads
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Bangerter, A., Roulin, N., & Konig, C. J. (2012). Personnel selection as a signaling game. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(4), 719–738.

Bendick, M. Jr., Jackson, C. W., Reinoso, V. A., & Hodges, L. E. (2006), Discrimination against Latino job applicants: A controlled experiment. Human Resource Management, 30(4), 469–484.

Berinsky, A. J., Huber, G. A., & Lenz, G. S. (2012). Evaluating online labor markets for experimental research:’s Mechanical Turk. Political Analysis, 20(3), 351–368.

Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination. American Economic Review, 94(4), 991–1013.

Booth, A., Leigh, A., & Varganova, E. (2012). Does ethnic discrimination vary across minority groups? Evidence from a field experiment. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 74(4), 547–573.

Carbonaro, W., & Schwarz, J. (2018). Opportunities and challenges in designing and conducting a labor market resume study. In S. Gaddis (Ed.), Audit studies: Behind the scenes with theory, method, and nuance. Methods series (Methodological prospects in the social sciences) (Vol. 14, pp. 143–158). Springer, Cham.

Carlsson, M., & Rooth, D. O. (2007). Evidence of ethnic discrimination in the Swedish labor market using experimental data. Labor Economics, 14(4), 716–729.

Carr, C. T., & Stephaniak, C. (2012). Sent from my iPhone: The medium and message as cues of sender professionalism in mobile telephony. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 40(4), 403–424.

Christensen, D. S., & Rees, D. (2002). An analysis of business communication skills needed by entrylevel accountants. Mountain Plains Journal of Business and Economics, 3(1), 3–13.

Coffelt, T. A., Grauman, D., & Smith, F. (2019). Employers’ perspectives on workplace communication skills: The meaning of communication skills. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 82(4), 418–439.

Crandall, C., & Eshleman, A. (2003). A justification-suppression model of the expression and experience of prejudice. Psychological Bulletin, 129(3), 414–446.

Crosby, F., Bromley, S., & Saxe, L. (1980). Recent unobtrusive studies of Black and White discrimination and prejudice: A literature review. Psychological Bulletin, 87(3), 546–563.

Cuddy, A. J. C., Fiske, S. T., & Glick, P. (2004). When professionals become mothers, warmth doesn’t cut the ice. Journal of Social Issues, 60(4), 701–718.

Derous, E., & Ryan, A. M. (2018). When your resume is (not) turning you down: Modelling ethnic bias in resume screening. Human Resource Management Journal, 29(2), 113–130.

Devine, P. G., & Elliot, A. J. (1995), Are racial stereotypes really fading? The Princeton trilogy revisited. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21(11), 1139–1150.

Dipboye, R. L., & Colella, A. (2005). The dilemmas of workplace prejudice, discrimination and racism. In R. Dipboye & A. Collela (Eds.), The psychological and organizational bases of discrimination at work. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dixon, J. C., & Rosenbaum, M. S. (2004). Nice to know you? Testing contact, cultural and group threat theories of anti-Black and anti-Hispanic stereotypes. Social Science Quarterly, 85(2), 257–280.

Edo, A., Jacquemet, N., & Yannelis, C. (2019). Language skills and homophilous hiring discrimination: Evidence from gender and racially differentiated applications. Review of Economic Household, 17, 349–376.

Figueredo, L., & Varnhagan, C. K. (2005). Didn’t you run the spell checker? Effects of type spelling error and use of s spell checker on perceptions of the author. Reading Psychology, 26(4–5), 441–458.

Goodman, J. K., Cryder, C. E., & Cheema, A. (2013). Data collection in a flat world: The strengths and weaknesses of Mechanical Turk samples. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 26(3), 213–224.

Guiliano, L., Levine, D., & Leonard, J. (2009). Manager race and the race of the new hires. Journal of Labor Economics, 27(4), 589–631.

Heilman, M. E., & Okimoto, T. G. (2008). Motherhood: A potential source of bias in employment decisions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(1), 189–198.

Hernandez, M., Avery, D. R., Volpone, S. D., & Kaiser, C. R. (2018). Bargaining while Black: The role of race in salary bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 104(4), 581–592.

Highhouse, S., & Gallo, A. (1997). Order effects in personnel decision making. Human Performance, 10(1), 31–46.

Holbrook, C., Fessler, D., & Navarrete, C. (2016). Looming large on others’ eyes: Racial stereotypes illuminate dual adaptations for representing threat versus prestige as physical size. Evolution and Human Behavior, 37(1), 67–78.

Howard, S., & Borgella, A. M. (2019). Are Adewale and Ngochi more employable than Jamal and Lakeisha? The influence of nationality and ethnicity cues on employment-related evaluations of Blacks in the United States. Journal of Social Psychology, 160(4), 509–519.

IPMA-HR Bulletin. (2006, September). Survey finds a single resume typo can ruin job prospects, 15, 1.

Jones, C. G. (2011). Written and computer-mediated accounting communication skills: An employer perspective. Business Communication Quarterly, 74(3), 247–271.

Jones, K. P., Peddie, C. I., Gilrane, V. L., King, E. B., & Gray, A. L. (2016). Not so subtle: A meta-analytic investigation of the correlates of subtle and overt discrimination. Journal of Management, 42(6), 1588–1613.

Jowett, J. (2018). The most popular Spanish baby names for 2019.

Kenney, G. M., & Wissoker, D. A. (1994). An analysis of the correlates of discrimination facing young Hispanic job-seekers. American Economic Review, 84, 674–684.

King, E. B., Hebl, M. R., George, J. M., & Matusik, S. F. (2010). Understanding tokenism: Antecedents and consequences of a psychological climate of gender inequity. Journal of Management, 36(2), 482–510.

King, E. B., Madera, J. M., Hebl, M. R., Knight, J. L., & Mendoza, S. A. (2006). What’s in a name? A multiracial investigation of the role of occupational stereotypes in selection decisions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36(5), 1145–1159.

Klink, A., & Wagner, U. (1999). Discrimination against ethnic minorities in Germany: Going back to the field. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29(2), 402–423.

Krouse, S. B., Rosenfeld, P., & Culbertson, A. L. (Eds.). (1992). Hispanics in the workplace. Sage.

Lepore, L., & Brown, R. (1997). Category and stereotype activation: Is prejudice inevitable? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(2), 275–287.

Martin-Lacroux, C., & Lacroux, A. (2017). Do employers forgive applicant’s bad spelling in resumes? Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 80(3), 321–335.

Matthes, K. (1992). Attracting and retaining Hispanic employees. HR Focus, 69, 7.

McCord, M. A., Joseph, D. L., Dhanani, L. Y., & Beus, J. M. (2018). A meta-analysis of sex and race differences in perceived workplace mistreatment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(2), 137–163.

McElroy, J. C., Summers, J. K., & Moore, K. (2014). The effect of facial piercing on perceptions of job applicants. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 125(1), 26–38.

Morgan, K. E., & Thompson, L. F. (2013, April). Attributions in mobile computer-mediated communication. [Conference presentation]. 28th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Houston, TX.

Nemanick, R. C., & Clark, E. M. (2002). The differential effects of extracurricular activities on attributions in resume evaluation. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 10(3), 206–217.

Noe, R. A., Hollenbeck, J. R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P. M. (2016). Fundamentals of human resource management (6 ed.). McGraw Hill.

Oreopoulos, P. (2011). Why do skilled immigrants struggle in the labor market? A field experiment with six thousand resumes. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 3(4), 148–171.

Pierne, G. (2018). Hiring discrimination, ethnic origin and employment status. International Journal of Manpower, 39(1), 152–165.

Quillian, L., Pager, D., Hexel, O., & Midtboen, A. H. (2017). Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(41), 10870–10875.

Saulter, P. S., & Haugen, A. D. (2017). Critical race studies in psychology. In G. Brendan (Ed.), The Palgrave handbook of critical social psychology (pp. 123–145). Palgrave Macmillan.

Stevens, A. C. (2006). Effects of altering grammar and spelling on perceived author credibility.

Tomkiewicz, J., Brenner, O. C., & Adeyemi-Bello, T. (1998). The impact of perceptions and stereotypes on the managerial mobility of African Americans. Journal of Social Psychology, 138(1), 88–92.

Vignovic, J. A., & Thompson, L. F. (2010). Computer-mediated cross-cultural collaboration: Attributing communication errors to the person versus the situation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(2), 265–276.

Whysall, Z. (2018). Cognitive biases in recruitment, selection, and promotion: The risk of subconscious discrimination. In V. Caven & S. Nachmias (Eds.), Hidden inequalities in the workplace. Palgrave explorations in workplace stigma (pp. 215–243). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Wilkin, C. L., & Connelly, C. E. (2012). Do I look like someone who cares? Recruiters’ rating of applicants’ paid and volunteer experience. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 20(3), 308–318.

Wilson, V., & Rogers, W. R. (2016). Black-white wage gaps expand with rising wage inequality. Economic policy institute. Washington, DC.