Posts belonging to Category Solving Racial Preference



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:

http://www-2.rotman.utoronto.ca/facbios/file/Whitening%20MS%20R2%20Accepted.pdf

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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 michael.parker@blacksalesjournal.com.

In the Face of Prejudice…Will Your Employer Stand Behind You?

Sales will continue to be a difficult, but rewarding position.  We have had an opportunity to cover issues regarding the Black sales professional, the customer, and the employer, and their interactions in the course of business.  This is a complex relationship.

The effects of the 3Ps often have a role in the relationship.  For a refresher, the 3Ps play into the relationship in varying degrees; sometimes just below the surface, and sometimes playing a much more prominent role.  Today we will cover the reaction of the employer when prejudice rears its ugly head in the customer relationship, and how you might be affected.

The 3Ps Revisited

The 3Ps represent the untold in the workplace, beliefs, attitudes, and practices that can make it more difficult to succeed.  I will draw from the Inaugural Post of Black Sales Journal 11/2010, when they were first discussed.  Specifically, I termed it the “X” factor.

The 3Ps are:

  • Perceptions
  • Preferences
  • Prejudices

Perceptions are hard to change, yet they are based on ones background, mindset, and their seat in the arena of life.

Preferences, quite simply, are what a person leans toward in their relationships, where their comfort level lies.

Prejudices are deep, often fueled by perceptions and one’s past, are deep enough to be actionable and problematic.

We went on to talk about the effect of these on your customer in Black Sales Journal – Preference, Prejudice, Perceptions and Your Customer) .  This post covered how you can work with your customer when one or all of the 3Ps are evident.

The most striking statement in the post was that of the elements of the 3Ps, the most insidious is Prejudice. It is the most problematic of the 3Ps, mainly because there is little that can be done about it. Take a moment to review The Inaugural Post of Black Sales Journal and you will see that when it comes to the customer and the 3Ps, prejudice has little or no solutions.

When Prejudice Rears Its Ugly Head

There is always a possibility that a new sales relationship can go south because of Prejudice and its effects.  When and if things go wrong, you will be faced with being in a ‘sandwich’ between an employer who wants to satisfy a customer, continue to reap revenue, and hopefully, wants to support their sales professional.

Your employer’s reactions will obviously be affected by his or her own 3Ps, and you should expect that will be a factor (Black Sales Journal 12/30/2011 Preference, Perceptions, Prejudice, and Your Employer).  As a matter of fact, Prejudice sometimes is unmasked when customers and prospects are handed out to a Black sales professional.  No one has an idea of how receptive the customer will be to the new relationship unless the customer has made statements or taken actions that reveal it.  I would rather see this distribution of business to the Black sales representative than have the employer avoid giving them the best prospects to others in anticipation of a negative response.

When the customer reacts unfavorably, you will get an education, as you will get an opportunity to see whether your employer stands behind you.

An Real Example

I was a Black sales representative in B2B sales who was assigned an account to service and hopefully sell additional business.  I was more than willing to accept, and take a chance on, any reassigned account, as it was a way to increase sales revenue.  I needed the account badly.

The account was medium in size, and although complicated, well within my capabilities as a sales representative.  After much preparation I made my first visit to the account to make my introduction and discuss a change in pricing on the account.  My sales manager accompanied me on the call as making changing pricing at that time was a touchy issue.

After the introduction it was obvious that the call was not going to be warm and fuzzy.  The customer, who was an older individual, sat motionless with a foul expression even before the increase in price was discussed. Once pricing was discussed, the customer slammed his hand down on the desk “This is bull _ _ _ _ , you are trying to put me out of business!”.  “I will not accept this!  Get the hell out of my office!” he ranted.  We made a feeble attempt to explain the pricing but were told again to “Get out now!”

We gathered our materials and made a hasty retreat.  The buyer followed us through the open office, full of his employees, ranting at us.

On our drive back to the office, my manager and I discussed the call and it was obvious that neither of us expected the reaction, price increases were happening everywhere and ours was modest compared to others.

Upon arriving at the office the Regional Sales Manager (my sales managers boss) called me to discuss.  The customer had called him and advised that he was ticked  and that they were going to move their business if a change was not made.   I told the Regional Sales Manager that I had done everything possible on the pricing.  He said to me “It is not the pricing that he wants to change, he wants you off of the account.  He advised that he was not going to work with you based on your race.”  I knew from the conversation that he was sparing me the actual comments made.

Then came a statement that changed my life.  He indicated that he told the account that if that is the way you feel, “He is our sales representative, and if you work with us, you will work with Michael.  If not, we will, at your suggestion, terminate your account.”  The account ‘fired us’ later that day he indicated that he was moving his business and never would return.

It was a modest loss of business for my company but a huge boost in my confidence.  My company had stood behind me!  Quite frankly, I appreciate what the sales manager did and I will never forget it.  There is no greater endorsement of a professional than to have the support of their employer.

Conclusion

I know that this example is unlike others, yet in backing a business resource, a devoted employee, I tend to think that the employer made out well.

Every situation and every company are different.  When I managed sales professionals, my actions had a sympathy to the sales professional involved as well as the customer.

Lesson learned:  Customers are always important, but the customer is not always right!

We appreciate your responses. You can reach me at Michael.Parker@Blacksalesjournal.com.