Taking It Off: Should My Resume Say “I’m Black?” Taking It Off: Should My Resume Say “I’m Black?”

Taking It Off: Should My Resume Say “I’m Black?”

With only 97 days, fourteen weeks and three months left until I graduate from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, I have been pruning my resume for weeks. After leaving the workforce for ten months, riding out the recession, my resume is the ticket into a plum job that hopefully will lead to an even better career.

Last week, when I was removing bullet points and adding indents, my best friend peered over my shoulder shocked to find that I had listed National Association of Black Journalists. She asked, “Why would you want to be black on your resume? They'll never hire you.”

Wait a minute! What? And here I thought newsrooms were looking to diversify. I had to investigate.

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.

Michelle is one of many black women who have decided to dial back their blackness in order to excel in corporate America. Whether the threat is real or conjured, black women feel that they must assimilate and appear agreeable in order to obtain a position or be promoted in competitive companies.

“When you’re a person of color, I feel like it’s even harder to get in the door,” Michelle said. “There’s already a lot of competition...and now, there’s the economy.”

The economy has had a dire impact on hiring for all Americans but especially for blacks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black men is twice as much as white men. And overall, 15.7 percent of blacks are unemployed, compared to 8 percent of whites. The bureau cites discrimination as the primary factor in the discrepancy.

After nearly fifty years since “affirmative action” entered our lexicons thanks to President John F. Kennedy’s executive order, blacks still navigate corporate America in a unique way. Unlike their white cohorts, black must strategize and decide if being black is an advantage or a disadvantage. While some may advise not to appear black on a resume, human resources professionals give alternative advice.

“Companies are looking for a diverse pool of top notch candidates,” said Nicole Williams, a former human resource assistant at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, Md. “It can only be seen as an asset in most industries.”

Despite the perceived adversity, most companies have invested in recruiting and hiring people of color. Many companies, large and small, recruit at historically black colleges and universities as well as within black professional organizations such as the Black Business Association and the National Society of Black Engineers. Still, at the end of the day a person’s skills are the ticket into any organization. If you’re skill set does not meet the needs of the company then you won’t get hired.

“What most recruiters are looking for is the right match up of experience, skill set and education when deciding which resumes to send to hiring managers,” explained Williams. “I have not seen a recruiter say, 'Oh, this applicant has all of the requirements for the job but is a member of a black sorority or fraternity so we can't interview them.’”

Despite Michelle’s experience, and the experience of many other prospective employees who are African-American, could it be that removing blackness from one’s resume to level the playing field is an old wives tale? And could it be that the more we’re concerned about discrimination based on race, the more susceptible we are to it?

There’s no doubt that blacks living in America are discriminated against. The statistics show it and the U.S. Bureau of Labor confirmed it. Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that if you’re not qualified, you won’t get the job. Instead of focusing on strategizing ways to fiddle with your resume, focus on building concrete skills that make you look more appealing to a company. Take a workshop in team building, social media or HTML to make your resume stand out. With skills like these, recruiters and companies will find it hard to keep your foot out of the door.

For the record, I kept National Association of Black Journalists on my resume.

* Name has been changed because this sister has a job and she plans to keep it.

- Joi Marie McKenzie

From the Web

More on Vibe

SZA Calls For Peace While Receiving 'Rule Breaker' Award At Billboard Women In Music

SZA called for peace and understanding at Billboard's Women In Music event Thursday (Dec. 6).

During her speech for the Rule Breaker award, singer-songwriter recalled today's climate, asking her peers and those watching at home for a little bit of peace.

"I'm sorry for the state of the world honestly, for everybody in this room and I pray that all of us just get through it a little bit easier and just try not to lash out at each other," she said.

The recurring theme of unity among women was also heard on the carpet from artists like Tierra Whack. In addition to her message of love, the "Broken Clocks" singer also thanked her TDE family for rocking with her creative process.

"I'm just so thankful for everybody having patience with me, " she said. Shouting out the key members of her family in attendance, the TDE affiliate gave praise to her mother, father, and grandma. In this brief speech centered around the artist's growth Solána Imani Rowe, known more commonly as her stage name, Rowe everyone for their trust in her.

"I'm grateful for everybody taking the time to have the patience to watch someone grow, it is painful and sometimes exciting but mostly boring. And I am thankful for Top (Top Dawg Entertainment's Anthony Tiffith) for not dropping me from that label. For Peter, who I change my ideas every day and he be like okay I like this," she continued.

Thanking the likes of musical powerhouses like Alicia Keys and Whack, "The Weekend" singer offered her appreciation and condolences to Ariana Grande.

Watch SZA accept the Rule Breaker award above.

READ MORE: Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

Continue Reading

Beyoncé, Rihanna, And J. Lo Make Forbes’ Highest-Paid Women In Music List

As November comes to a close, many publications will be crafting their year-end lists for all things pop culture. Forbes released a ranking of the world's highest-paid women in music on Monday (Nov. 19), with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna holding it down for women of color.

Beyoncé comes in at No. 3 on the list with an earning of $60 million as she made most of her money through her historical Coachella performance, the joint album with husband JAY-Z, Everything is Love, and the Carters' On The Run II Tour in support of its release.

Jennifer Lopez made No. 6 for earnings tallying of over $47 million thanks to her lucrative Las Vegas residency, endorsements, and shows including World of Dance where she serves as a judge.

Rihanna follows behind the "Love Don't Cost A Thing" diva at No. 7 with earnings of over $37.5 million. Although she hasn't toured since 2016—thanks to her cosmetics and lingerie lines, Fenty Beauty and Savage Lingerie—the Bajan pop star has been keeping herself busy.

Forbes' annual list (which factors in pretax earnings from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018) has placed Katy Perry at the top with over $83 million in profits due to her gig as an American Idol judge and her 80-date Witness: The Tour that brought in an estimated $1 million per night.

Scroll down to see Forbes' full list below.

Katy Perry ($83 million) Taylor Swift ($80 million) Beyoncé ($60 million) P!nk ($52 million) Lady Gaga ($50 million) Jennifer Lopez ($47 million) Rihanna ($37.5 million) Helene Fischer ($32 million) Celine Dion ($31 million) Britney Spears ($30 million)


READ MORE: Nas Makes Forbes’ List Of ‘Hip-Hop Cash Kings’ For The First Time

Continue Reading

Kelly Rowland Hops In Her Bag With New Single "Kelly"

Kelly Rowland has it all and isn't afraid to brag about it on her new single, "Kelly."

Released Thursday (Nov. 22), the singer goes the clubby, confident route while rightfully dropping her attributes like her relationship with God, smoldering looks (a.k.a the drip) among other things. With "Kelly" being the first single since her 2013's Talk a Good Game, the singer comes out swinging, reminding everyone of her power in the game.

The mother of one has promised that her new tunes will be edgier and most honest than her past work that included vulnerable tracks like "Dirty Laundry" and massive hits like "Motivation" and "Commander." Speaking with Vogue over the summer, Ms. Kelly disclosed a few details behind the album.

“It’s about love, loss, and gain and whether it’s professional or with family or whatever, it’s just honest," she said. "I had no choice but to be honest and authentic with this record: it’s about friendship and marriage.”

She also explained a drop in confidence caused her hiatus. “I was thinking about pulling back from recording, but I couldn’t help myself: I still wanted to record. I still felt like I was missing something. The third year just came and left so fast. The fourth year I said: ‘I have to get to work’ and now I’m ready to release some music! I felt like I wasted so much time, and it was my husband who actually called me out on it. He said: ‘Babe, as great as those records were, I think you were nervous, you got gun-shy’, and when he said that it was like boom, a gong went off.”

Glad to have you back, Ms. Kelly. Listen to the eponymous record up top.

READ MORE: Kelly Rowland Debuts Smoke x Mirrors Eyewear Collection At Barneys New York

Continue Reading

Top Stories