CxO Job Transitions: Overcoming Unconscious Bias in the Hiring Process

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Unconscious Bias. Vanderbilt University defines unconscious bias as “prejudice or unsupported judgments in favor of or against one thing, person, or group as compared to another, in a way that is usually considered unfair.”*

As humans, our brains are constantly creating associations outside of our conscious awareness and control. These associations are generated automatically and unconsciously when our brain quickly judges and assesses our environment, experience, and interactions to create categories of good/easy or bad/difficult.

Historically, the practice of categorizing people into different groups and pre-judging others could literally be a lifesaving survival technique. However, when applied to current corporate hiring practices, it can be detrimental to employee engagement, innovation, and business success. Unconscious bias has a lamentable tendency to run rampant on selection committees, resulting in the unfortunate truth that Sanjath and Heba get fewer callbacks than Michael and Amanda.

Many CEOs, COOs, CDOs, CFOs, CMOs, CIOs, CTOs, CHROs, and other CxO executives are aware of the problems of unconscious bias and have taken some of the following actions on removing it from their hiring processes and decisions.

How Companies Eliminate Bias from the Hiring Process

  • Training and educating leaders and employees about unconscious bias and building empathetic corporate cultures.
  • Standardizing interviews, so all candidates are asked the same questions, allowing interviewers to collect comparable information from each individual.
  • Implementing blind resume reviewing practices where candidates’ names aren’t known, emphasizing specific qualifications and avoiding demographic assumptions.

As a CxO in a job transition, here are some ways you can address common forms of unconscious bias.

How to Overcome Unconscious Bias in a CxO Interview

  • Don’t provide unnecessary demographic information or information that could lead to assumptions about your age, ethnicity, or gender.
  • Only use gender-neutral language. Use terms like Chair, Chairperson, or Workforce instead of chairman or manpower in your CxO resume.
  • Find common ground with your interviewers. Do some research ahead of time; look them up on LinkedIn, see what kinds of things they post about, and identify things you have in common.

To find out how we can help you overcome unconscious bias in your career transition, book a complimentary and confidential call with us here.

*Unconscious Bias, Vanderbilt University

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.