“Race on resume”

When my African American client asked me if she should put accomplishments and activities that will identify her race on her resume, like a lot of things, I didn’t have a black and white answer. It depends, I told her.
In a perfect world, it shouldn’t matter. The employer on the receiving end of her resume should be interested in her purely because of her experience, knowledge, potential and education. In other words, her qualifications to do the technical aspects of the job should tell the story of whether she was potentially right for the position.
But since not all employers see things that way she didn’t want to be–possibly–weeded out or considered because of her race. She wanted to get the job because she was the most qualified candidate for the position. So, why would she offer the information by putting it on her resume?
In her case, though, she had some pretty incredible experience that speaks volumes about her. She established several diversity training programs that became the benchmark for diversity training in other companies. She created and delivered training programs that acclimated minority employees into the corporate culture. She initiated African American employee groups within her company that became the model for other employee organizations. These achievements demonstrated her ability as a leader, a trainer and her success in working on diversity as a corporate initiative.
So as to whether or not she–or others–should put race-related information on a resume, well, it depends on:
How you want to be seen
I had a client who was targeting black-owned businesses and he wanted to keep race-related activities on his resume to make sure the firms knew he was African American.
If, though, you’re like another one of my African American clients who wanted to be considered for a position strictly on his technical knowledge and experience as a scientist, you’d leave off race-related information. There’s no telling whether the information would be used to discriminate against him and he didn’t want to take any chances by offering the information. The same goes for reference to religious affiliations.
What the company is looking for
Diversity is important to many companies. So being a minority or person of color and letting that be known in your resume helps them see that you may be someone they’re looking for.
With that in mind you could tailor your resume to the companies you know are looking for a diverse workforce. That’s what my client who was wondering whether to give clues about her race did by creating two versions of her resume. Version A included information about her diversity experiences. Version B made no mention of race.
All of this could be moot, though. If you’ve been building relationships throughout your career you wouldn’t be spending much time just sending out resumes when you’re looking for a new position. You’d rely on these strong relationships to speak on your behalf and refer you to decision-makers. And with their word as an endorsement, it won’t matter what the color of your skin is since your reputation precedes you.

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Talking about workin’ for a living with WGRR hosts Janeen Coyle and Chris O’Brien.