There is an age-old adage advising us to avoid discussing politics and religion. But have you ever considered that your resume may be doing the talking for you?
Your resume speaks volumes to an HR representative or hiring manager. If it reflects your particular interests or involvement in political issues, you are definitely ‘talking politics’ with someone whose views are unknown to you but has a lot of power over whether you get considered for a job.
So what do you do when you are applying for jobs and have significant volunteer or paid employment experience in which you worked on behalf of certain candidates or partisan issues?
On one hand, you want the employer to see your full breadth of skills and experiences. But on the other hand, politics has become so partisan that it’s polarizing.
At first glance a person could love your skill set, and then upon further review see that you supported a candidate whom they worked to defeat. While we might like to think that everyone could just put politics aside and see your talents, recent TV reports, social media feuds and op-ed columns seem to highlight just how divisive the current climate can be.
If you are looking for a job in the political or think-tank world, that won’t be an issue because you will naturally self-select opportunities and apply for jobs where your political ideologies match the employer’s. But if you are looking for a job in which political involvement isn’t part of the job focus or responsibilities, you’ve got some strategic thinking and editing to do.
Since you don’t know who is reading your resume, the safest course is to de-politicize it. Remove specifics about volunteer experiences in support of candidates or partisan issues.
Should you learn through your pre-interview research that you and your interviewer (or the owner of the company) are supporters of the same politicians or causes, then those interests may be used in the same way you would with other commonalities you share (same alma mater, mutual friends, etc.). Otherwise, there seems to be little advantage to spelling it out.
Perhaps you can simply summarize your volunteer experiences, something along the lines of, “Significant history of volunteer activity in the public and non-profit sectors.” Of course, if you worked in politics as a paid job, omitting that information would create a gap in your work history. It goes without saying that you need to include it.
The key here is to summarize your responsibilities and achievements in the least partisan terms possible. Highlight the skills you employed, not the issues you tackled (i.e., analyzed regional economic data, assisted in developing a jobs creation plan, prepared briefings on constituent concerns).
The bottom line is that when looking for a job, you need to submit materials that reflect who you are as a professional, not whether you identify as a donkey or an elephant.
The JCS Career Center provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.