Posts belonging to Category Job Attainment Skills for Black Sales Professionals

Race and Your Resume Part II – The Three P’s

We began to delve into this important issue in the post last week, and you can access it below this post.  We took a look at your most important job hunting tool and how you might want to “frame” yourself in your quest for a job.  This post will look at the forces that make a difference during the job search.


The Ever-present 3Ps (Racial Perceptions, Racial Preferences, and Racial Prejudices) and Your Job Search!

These three influences define the environment for all sales professionals, and even more so for Black sales professionals as it represents the theater that must succeed in before getting gainful employment.

During the job search, everything revolves around your ability to get an interview.  Your job search can be difficult, made so by the large number of candidates that are applying and the fact that the resume reviewers (whether hiring managers or human resource professionals) have to make some quick decisions about who makes it to the next level because of the volume of applicants. In the last post we called the categories the A, B, C, & D (Discard) stacks, which is relevant whether it is paper or electronic applications through and applicant management system.

I call these imposing factors The 3Ps: Racial Perceptions, Racial Preferences, and Racial Prejudices! They make a sales job difficult.  Knowledge of them will serve you well.  Success and the reduction of frustration in your job hunt is dependent on an understanding these.

The 3Ps can have an effect, and sometimes an insidious effect, on the hiring process.  It can happen without the perpetrator even really thinking about it.

A brief definition of the 3Ps is as follows:

Racial Perceptions - are hard to change, and deep rooted.  They can come from many sources.  A person’s life experiences, the media, parents, friends, and the knowledge and ignorance of interaction or lack of interaction all form perceptions.  Perceptions are prevalent in all racial and ethnic groups.  We all have them; it is what we do with them that make all of the difference.

Racial Preferences - These are powerful.  They are not always meant to be deleterious to a particular racial group, yet have that effect when they are applied as the opportunity for fairness and equity can be  missed.  The hiring manager’s desire of whom they want to work with may be directly related to their personal relationship comfort.  Some preference may come from perceptions, and some from prejudice, but the net result is the same:  The sales professional who is capable may not be interviewed because they don’t quickly meet the preference of the selector.  Often it is because of a reluctance to do business with someone who is decidedly different than they are. It is no difference for any professional. Do you have any preferences? I will bet you do!

Racial Prejudice - renders any hiring situation difficult, if not impossible.  Racial prejudice does change the landscape.  You probably won’t change this attitude as you can do with racial perceptions and racial preference, and you may be able to spend your time better elsewhere.  If a buyer is prejudiced, the narrow-mindedness and patent unfairness will reduce, or destroy your chances of having a successful employment relationship, or keep it very short lived.

Back to These Stacks of Resumes as Discussed in Part I

Now, the simple fact is that any one of the 3Ps can change which stack your resume ends up in.  So at the risk of sounding over simplistic when it is to your advantage you should willingly disclose your race.  When you are in doubt, you should give consideration to ‘scrubbing’ your resume of racial indicators.  An employer will very possibly not be checking “LinkedIn” in the first stages, as there are too many candidates.

There are some points that you should note about resumes whether in stacks, or filed electronically in Applicant Management Systems that are important.  You can be the beneficiary in either of the following situations:

  • Many organizations have matured to the point that professional HR representatives do the things necessary to assure that there is diversity in the candidate pool. They are your assets in this situation.
  • Many employers purposely attempt to correct deficiencies in their workforce and sales force diversity with proactive hiring procedures in which they look for qualified minority candidates.

Make your resume the “teaser” that it should be. It will get you past the door, and into the mix. Most larger or more sophisticated organizations have human resource professionals who help to assure fairness.

Consider the next couple of points as a suggestion:

  • Include a tastefully done “head and shoulder” shot in your LinkedIn profile.  No screen shots form your computer, pay a few dollars if you don’t have one already.
  • Be judicious in your inclusion of information, but you may not need to “scrub” your resume.
  • Include positions of leadership for social organizations, but you might consider avoiding any controversial ones.  Include activities that have a leadership or business angle.  All else is just information.

My Personal Opinion

I think that you might already have a good idea that I have confidence in HR professionals.  For the most part they are serious minded about inclusion, diversity, and fairness in the process.  Often in the hiring process they are the “neck that turns the head” for the manager so the process does work.  They present diverse candidate pools and do their best to “watch” the process.

I believe that many managers have some preferences because they are human.  They constantly need to “true-up” these preferences with requisite fairness. When you exercise preferences and don’t balance it with fairness, you discriminate.  Exercising Racial Preference is discrimination.  Fairness and equity is what managment should be striving for.

As managers we have to avoid thinking of stereotypical sales professionals and sales personalities.  We need to be open to interviewing candidates of all races and backgrounds.  In the end, the decision on a candidate in good organizations is a decision process that includes HR, a hiring manager, and at the very least, that hiring manager’s manager.

Let me know what you think write me at

Race and Your Resume: “Race Neutral” or “Resume Whitening”!

I read an article which caught my eye about a week ago. The topic was one that I have approached here in Black Sales Journal. Should a Black professional alter, or racially cleanse their resume to get an interview? The answer to me is simple…. it is an unadulterated YES! Is it unfortunate that this practice might be necessary, but even in organizations that indicate that they are promoting diversity and equal opportunity, racial preference and racial prejudice happen.

This is a solid and interesting study. This is a study credited to Sonia King, Katy DeCelles, Andras Tilcsik, and Sora Jun for the Administrative Science Quarterly, January 22, 2016

Here is the link to the study:


I am going to rerun the Black Sales Journal article which was originally done in 2011, and published again each year. You will see why it is less effective to “whiten” the resume now, but still important to “scrub” this tool.

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If you are like many sales professionals you may be looking for a new position for any number of reasons.  If so, you undoubtedly recognize that the resume’ is the window to your qualifications, and even though it has it’s good and bad points as a tool, it is necessary.

That brings us to the notion that the resume is the ‘crow bar’ that opens a crack in the door to give you consideration and, hopefully an interview. Without the resume’ a hiring manager or human resource representative will have no idea of your talents, or your ability to display them.  Which prompts the question ‘du jour’, should your resume’ be ‘race neutral’?

What is Race Neutral?

‘Race neutral’ is a term used frequently in education to describe the basis for educational policy that supposedly ignores race as a determining factor.  In this case, I am going to use ‘race neutral’ to indicate that your race is not disclosed or detectable.  This might mean the ‘scrubbing’ the resume’ or other correspondence of determinants of race.

I know you are not going to ask why ‘race neutral’, but for those who might wonder I point again to the primary objective: Getting in front of the manager for an interview.  Once there you will at least be able to begin to showcase your values, your abilities, and the fact that you can work in the employer’s workplace, or any other environment.

I believe that the having a race neutral resume was something that helped me early in my career and has helped many a Black professional.  Assuring racial anonymity by means of avoiding references to race, racial affiliations of non-work groups, or activities, was the norm for many professionals of color, but… the world has changed to a large degree.  The primary catalyst for this change is the business-networking site LinkedIn.

The “LinkedIn” Effect

LinkedIn is a major force in the job theater globally boasting over 259 million users in more than 200 countries, as of the end of 2014.  The networking site has grown exponentially over the last ten years, although it is might be pressed to make money, its impact on the job scene for members is undeniable.  Also, once y0u have your coveted sales job, its use as a tool to help you gather information to build relationships is undeniable.

A well-constructed LinkedIn profile is a basic necessity in the sales world, and maybe in most of the business world now.  You can find out pertinent information about your future employer, your coveted clients, as well as your competition.  You can use it to apply for professional jobs as well as take advantage of its reach to keep in touch with colleagues, follow companies that you admire, and be involved in business interest groups.

The pertinent question is whether you should elect to put a picture in your profile to be viewed by associates, potential customers, potential employers, and anyone else curious about “what the heck” you look like.

If you don’t have a picture in LinkedIn, you stir the question of “why not”?  Is it a fair question?  No!  Fair or not, this question that is probable!  Here is why:  As with social media, even though LinkedIn is not considered social media, there are always people out there who don’t mean others well.  When someone withholds a “simple” picture there may be something amiss.  In LinkedIn, without a picture, if you ever ask someone to “link” with you and they are not totally familiar with your name, they may avoid approval, as they may believe you not to be who you are.  Should you build a profile on this wonderful tool if you are going to generate suspicion and potential credibility issues by not including a picture?  You will have to answer that.

I believe in the power of a properly constructed LinkedIn profile, and in the usefulness of this tool.  Racial anonymity can play in your favor, or can play against you if they are looking for a Black sales professional.  I think LinkedIn as a tool provides enough benefit and exposure that your will still be an ultimate beneficiary.

As a matter of fact, for many technical, technical sales, as well as other selected professional positions, Black professionals (especially Black females) who have solid credentials are sought out, and even coveted.  In those situations, the pictures are “appetizers”.  As you guess, this situation is controversial, but deserves discussion.  The next couple of topics will show you why.

The Applicant Selection Process – A, B, C, and D (Discard)

Let’s revisit the hiring process. A hiring manager or human resource representative potentially sees hundreds of resume’s to fill one position.  Remember the first goal, which is to get in for a personal face-to-face interview.  Your charm, skills, and ability to respond to questions and situations will be your tools, but you have to be able to showcase them.

If you follow some simple logic, many of these resumes are going into the ‘D’ stack, as they lack the basic qualifications that were advertised.  Some are going into the ‘B’ and ‘C’ stack as they have many of the qualifications, but are unlikely to be contacted, as there appears to be better candidates available.

Then there is the ‘A’ stack.  This stack has candidates who meet the basic qualifications, and have some points that create attraction to the reviewer.  As a reviewer you start at the top of the ‘A’ Stack and work downward.

Remember, the process of separating into stacks (A, B, C, and D) includes personal input on the part of the manager or HR representative.  This area of discretion is a “wild card” for the manager or HR rep.  You must end up in the ‘A’ stack, and hopefully at the top of it to get a strong opportunity to be interviewed.  I hope you recognize that almost anything can put you in the wrong stack, so don’t give anyone the excuse to put you there.

Something that might influence the stack your resume ends up populating might be affected by some things that are out of your control.

Don’t Miss Part II –  Your Resume and Racial Perceptions, Racial Preference, and Racial Prejudice!

In the next post we will examine the effects of the 3Ps, racial perceptions, racial preference, and racial prejudice on the acceptance of your resume.  This post will give you valuable information about your resume and how it is accepted. Don’t miss it.

Your comments are always welcome. Feel free to write me at