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 michael.parker@blacksalesjournal.com.

Why Can’t I Get an Interview?

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You are back in the job market, or recently out of college, and you need to get hired as quickly as possible.  There are bills, potentially including college loans, to be paid, and you are having trouble even getting an interview.  There are some things that you might consider to put you on the radar screen and these things revolve around your resume.


What Do Employers Look At?

Recruiters and hiring managers look at a variety of inputs. The most important item you have what it comes to creating interest is your resume, so we will start there.  The resume can have a positive effect, but the other items can have a deleterious effect. The group is as follows:

  • Your resume
  • Your LinkedIn Profile
  • Your Social Media
  • Google, Bing, Yahoo Search
  • Public Records

Any of these items any of these items can harm your job search if you aren’t careful. It’s your job to construct them or police them, or at least be able to explain them.


Your resume is that fact-filled item which creates the interest in you, and hopefully gets you the opportunity for a phone or face-to-face interview.

I cannot stress the importance of having a superior resume, because your competition is honing his or her own resume, and someone will get the call. Recognize that this is an area that deserves as much of your time” cheesy”.

I note the following the following articles to help you get that resume looking as good as possible:

Constructing Your Resume? I Will Give You One!

6 Ways to Sharpen Up That Sales Resume’

Should You Hide a Termination?

Race and Your Resume – Part 1

Race and Your Resume Part 2 – The 3 Ps

The resume is something that you should be proud of it after it’s completed, and remembers, always lock your resume down by only sending PDF copies of it to prospective employers if you are forwarding it electronically.  As you will read in the articles I offer, bullet point your accomplishments, and quantify your results. Also, be prepared to back-up what you have with proof sources.

LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is nearly as important as your resume. It is a way for prospective hiring managers as well as HR professionals to check you without actually making contact using this business-networking site.

With that in mind, make sure that your profile is well done and professional.  It should mimic your resume.  Remember that it is a “tease” more than a complete “platter” of you and your accomplishments. With that in mind keep it reasonable in length, and it should accentuate the important things that you have done.

Below I’m going to attach an article that might help you with your LinkedIn profile. It is incumbent on you to have a solid, well done LinkedIn profile.  People will view it, and you will potentially be contacted without doing anything else.

Keeping in mind the fact that the LinkedIn profile can potentially include a picture, recognize that a picture on the LinkedIn profile obviously erases any possibilities of racial anonymity. In other words they will know you’re race and your gender by taking a look at the profile picture.   It is just the way it is now days. It can work to your advantage, or it can work against you in cases where people are being close-minded.  I suggest a well-done shot from the shoulder up.   No web cam shots and no shots of you at the party at the club.

This article can help you with the link in profile:

Are You LinkedIn? The Best Have Been For Years!

Social Media

If you have read BSJ before coming you know my feelings about social media, and your ability to get employed.

42% of hiring managers and human resource professionals indicate that they would reconsider an applicant after a visit to the applicant’s social media sites! Think about it.  This is a window to the type of person that you are.  Your actions and your likes and dislikes can be seen there.

Take a good look at the links below, and make your decisions consciously before you lose the chance to get a job.

Employers Checking Your Social Media Profile? Bet On It!

Social Media – Friend or Foe?

I see many individual’s social media sites and they often include pictures that may be funny and novel, but might make me reconsider whether I would consider them for a position.  Note the posts above and make the necessary changes.

Search Engines and Public Records

I will put these two topics together as they are similar.  This is important, and I cannot emphasize it enough:

Be the expert on yourself!

I have included one of my favorite posts on this subject, because too many job seekers forget to “investigate themselves”.  It is the very first act you need to take in preparing to seek employment.  If you neglect this step, you could get a rude surprise in the job search.  Know what is on-line which ties you to any problem activity.  Check your name, and all variations of your name, so that you can have explanations ready.

Remember this is your first step:

Investigate Yourself! The First Activity of Your Job Search!

You cannot get a job without getting the first interview, so please recognize that now is time to make the changes. Long before start looking at the want ads, get straight your online personality and investigate yourself!

I welcome your comments. Please write me at Michael.Parker@blacksalesjournal.com.