Piggybacking off my post from yesterday about Grant Hill and Jalen Rose, I came across this article on the Clutch Magazine website. Peep this scenario:

Michelle* graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from an esteemed university in New York City four years ago. After sending out over forty resumes to prospective employers, she only received two calls for interviews. Michelle was smart. She was the President of the school’s Black Student Union, a member of a historically black sorority and had graduated cum laude.

Perplexed by the lack of calls (mind you, this is pre-recession), Michelle sat in front of her computer screen. A friend suggested she make a few changes: get rid of any organizations that scream, “I’m black”. Delete “Black Student Union” and delete “Delta Sigma Theta.” So she did. And after another round of emailing resumes to prospective employers, Michelle was pleased with the response: 12 interviews and a number of immediate job offers.

I have to say that the further along I’ve gotten in my career I’ve removed some indicators of my race but mainly because I’ve simply run out of room on my resume. It wouldn’t take much to figure out I’m black, since I went to an HBCU.

Have you had to downplay your ethnicity in order to get an interview???


22 thoughts on “Whitewashed

  1. I use to interview candidates for open positions at a previous company. Typically the more generic names got called; because I was on the committee I made a point of saying we should also interview this person.
    My name is generic – alot of times folks think I’m a white male until I get to the interview at which point I wow them.
    Because I have great command of the english language when sending out corporate emails, when folks finally met me – I would always get “You’re _____” with such shock in their voice.
    I can only smile; I never internalized these events.

  2. I have, but in reverse. I live in a bilingual home and speak a foreign language on the university level. In the past I have applied for jobs seeking that skill specifically and had great success with the phone interviews in the desired language only to be met with surprised faces and down right confusion when I have arrived for the face to face interview when they can’t connect the real with the imagined ethnicity. I get “I just assumed that with your name you’d be—-” a lot from both sides- some think it’s JAYme others think its HIGHme and I have used that depending on on the job being applied for. (oh yeah, I haven’t always been a chef:))

  3. I graduated from an HBCU so it’s pretty evident. Those that don’t know A&T is an HBCU may think otherwise because my name is pretty neutral. At one job, some of my black coworkers thought I was white based on my name (my name was on my office a few days before I started). These are the same coworkers that used to say I was a house Negro…. Hmmm that was one ignorant bunch, LOL

  4. I’m thankful to the parents for my gender neutral, racially ambiguous name. My resume is what it is, there is nothing on it that would identify my race unless I listed my sorority and community activities. To do that now would just be “fluff” as it has no bearing on field of work.

    I, too, embraced the time when diversity was celebrated and would put in for jobs that encouraged minorities to apply. Now I live in Atlanta and finding minority candidates are dime a dozen. I know that my gender/race neutral name has helped keep my resume at the top at the pile at times. People discriminate, not necessarily companies, and I would have to be overlooked for a job based on the personal feelings of one bigoted person, get that foot in the door the best way you know how, ethically of course. We’ve got bills to pay.

  5. My first and last names are pretty ethnic, though most people can’t quite place my last name, they just know its one they’ve never heard of. The misconception many people make is that I’m a guy. I did go to an HBCU but I think most of the European persuasion have never heard of it.

  6. I don’t think my ethnicity factors into my resume. It’s when I get to the interview that folks are taken aback…locs, tiny nose ring, blinding smile (lol). Then I get “you’re so well spoken.” I did remove my sorority from my resume, because it’s African and it really has nothing to do with my work experience.

  7. Wow. I guess I never thought about it. I live in the DMV and went to an HBCU undergrad. My name is pretty generic, but I do know a few friends who will not wear their wedding rings to interviews(!). The assumption is that if you are single sans kids you’re “more available”. In my field, there is travel and late nights (interviewers can’t ask about maritial status and kids outright, of course)

  8. Actually, no, it’s never been an issue. My name is gender and race neutral. And, in all of my professional jobs (4?), I’ve been 1 of only 1-3 blacks, so I’m pretty sure I’ve met some diversity quotas.

  9. I haven’t had to downplay my race…my name doesn’t really say black white or anything, I don’t think.

  10. I’ve never downplayed my race but I get all the time that my name doesn’t match me.. I know several of the job interviews I received and then later the jobs after I wowed them in the interview were based off of my name.

    a more recent experience when I was looking for a job 18 mos ago, I wore my hair natural usually pulled back into a bun or twist out but tamed not wild.. while they were impressed I didn’t get any of the offers.. the next round of interviews I went on I pressed my hair and I had 5 offers within the week.. I had talked about this on twitter & FB and all of my friends felt that it made a difference.. which really bothered me but I’m no longer unemployed so I’m glad I did what I had to do. since being hired I wear my hair in natural styles and haven’t received any flack

  11. When I was looking for a job, I actually played up my race. I know my field is white-washed so I was looking to play the diversity card. I believe it worked. I got the job and I was the first black professional they had hired.

  12. I have a “Black” name, so no amount of whitewashing will help me, unless I start going by FirstInitial MiddleName LastName professionally. I have a couple of leadership positions in minority professional orgs on my resume, but that’s as far as I go.

    In my field, which is very white-male dominated, I think standing out as a minority sometimes helps. At least it can help get my foot in the door & an interview, and that’s all I need to dazzle them.

  13. I dunno if my government name yells “black” (does it?) but in my growing corner of my industry it has been a plus for me to be brown because there just aren’t a lot of us with experience doing this work.

  14. Nope, I’ve actually experiences the opposite. I entered the job market when companies first began embracing diversity so it seems my former employer, current employer, as well as other companies I interviewed with were trying to net minorities, etc.
    You know who I work for and they pride themselves on being as diverse as Sesame Street when it comes to the workforce.

  15. You know my first and last name, and if you knew my middle name you would think that I must be White. LOL

    Actually going to Howard has been a BIG advantage living in the DMV. When I came out of undergrad nepotism was running amuck in DC Gov’t and Federal Gov’t. There are alot of us HU grads in some powerful positions.

    I think in my professional life I’ve had more altercations because of being female than being Black.

  16. There’s nothing about my resume that screams any particular race, though I think my bachelor’s makes people assume I’m white (there’s no great rush of black people majoring in Russian). When I had my daughter, I didn’t think about whether or not her name was too “ethnic” to land a job interview in the future, but I did give her a unisex name thinking that it could give her an edge if future resume readers thought she was a guy.

  17. Interesting. The only thing on my resume that hints at my ethnicity is the fact I used to work at an HBCU. I’d love to go back to one at some point, so hopefully it works in my favor.

    I’m currently at a top 20 school but was referred by someone so I dont know how difficult it would’ve been to get in otherwise.

  18. No I haven’t. Thankfully that’s an issue I had a problem with. It is unfortunate that “some” companies operate in this manner.

  19. No but only because of where I live–the DC area. So many of the companies receive federal funds (even if they supply the toilet tissue to the company that cleans government offices) they have to show they’ve taken affirmative steps to recruit and hire minorities and women.

  20. LOL! You know my government name – there’s no way I could downplay that joker unless I started using first initial, last name on resumes/applications. And when I was single? No ma’am. My maiden name is even “more” African than my first if that’s possible.

    Add to that that I went to not one, but two HBCUs…nah, I’ve never tried to downplay the blackness that is I.

    Now I have downplayed my education to get my foot in the door…

  21. I don’t include the fact that I’m a member of AKA on my resume because it has nothing to do with my professional life. That’s my reason. The spelling of my name makes it pretty obvious that I’m AA so there’s no point in my downplaying my ethnicity.

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