Job applicants in Germany usually send a “complete application dossier” to the prospective employer which includes their name and age or date of birth. Surveys show that foreign applicants or those with names that may not sound typically German, may be less likely to be invited to job interviews. In other cases, applicants who disclose their age may be rejected even if they have all the necessary qualifications, and female applicants may be discriminated against, especially if the employer suspects they are likely to have children.

The German Anti-Discrimination Board is running a pilot project to encourage job application dossiers that do not include names, ages and dates of birth. The pilot group includes three German DAX companies and two international companies. The project has received a mixed response, and even those supporting it have expressed concern that discrimination may simply be shifted to the job interview stage of the hiring process. However, it will be interesting to see whether the project will put pressure on German employers to adopt anonymous recruitment practices or encourage the German legislature to require this.

The French Parliament decided back in 2006 that job applications and, in particular, CVs of job candidates should be anonymous. To this effect, the law of March 31, 2006 “promoting equal chances” obliged companies with a headcount of at least 50 to delete from job applications certain information that could lead to discriminatory recruitment decisions, before such job applications can be passed along to the relevant decision makers within the company. The practicalities of this “anonymization” process were to be set forth by decree… but no decree was ever published. Therefore, this part of the law could not be applied.

Despite the absence of an effective legal obligation to use anonymous job applications, certain industry leaders voluntarily decided to promote their equal employment opportunities policy by publicly committing to the anonymous CV model. Among these are the insurance company AXA, the hotel group Accor and the car manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën, and others. Some consider that the employee’s home address, for example, if the employee lives in a poor suburban neighborhood, is a specific factor leading to discrimination, and so also delete address details.

A further pilot project was initiated at the end of 2009, by which companies in several French regions, including Paris and certain of its suburbs, voluntarily committed to delete information such as name, age, date and place of birth, citizenship, family situation, photograph and address from job applications/CVs. The conclusions of that pilot project are expected shortly.