There are few topics that are quite as controversial as politics and religion. Many people are firmly planted in their beliefs. Therefore, if your beliefs do not align with theirs, it could lead to some awkward situations. And when it comes to your resume, it could lend itself to potential discrimination, whether intentional or not. That means that you need to be strategic in what you do or do not include on your resume, and how it is presented.
When to Include Political, Religious, or Other Controversial Organizations
If your primary source of employment has been for a religious institution, political group, or other organization that people have strong beliefs about, it can be tough to simply leave it off of your resume. This may be the bulk of your work history or where you gained valuable experience. And you don’t necessarily have to or want to exclude it.
First and foremost, focus on your accomplishments and what you achieved. Regardless of what the organization was, show that you were able to go in there and deliver results. Keep any religious or political references as neutral as possible and instead highlight transferable skills such as leadership, project management, fundraising, client relations, or problem solving. Don’t forget to include metrics if you have them as well.
It may not be an issue at all if you are looking to stay in the same type of industry. A potential employer would actually appreciate it. Or, if you feel very passionate about your work and it is an important part of your life – such as LGBTQ+ advocacy, pro-choice organizations, social justice, or political activism – you may want to be upfront about it. But keep in mind that this may be a turnoff for some employers.
If you spent time volunteering for these groups, you may be able to speak about your work in a general sense without mentioning the specific political affiliation. If you were canvassing for a politician or working on their campaign, don’t put the emphasis on who it was, but rather on the work you were doing and skills you were using. For instance, listing it as simply working for a “[State] Senate Candidate/Campaign.”
When to Exclude Potentially Controversial Organizations
On the other hand, if you believe you will be unfairly judged from the start because of your involvement with certain groups, you may want to leave them off of your resume. If volunteering at your church or being part of a grassroots political initiative is not directly related to the job you are applying for, including it just takes up space and leaves you open to potential discrimination or bias. See if you can incorporate those skills elsewhere on your resume such as throughout other jobs you’ve held, or in your core competencies or summary.
You want a future employer to assess you based on your abilities and what you can bring to their organization. Think carefully about what you share and the value it brings, especially for positions not directly related to your professional career. Weigh the risks and benefits of including potentially controversial information.
If you need help updating your resume or making sure it presents you in the manner you desire, the team at Grammar Chic is here to help. We’ll work with you to highlight your strengths and what you bring to the table. Contact us today at (803) 831-7444 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.