Religion and politics: two topics that you largely want to avoid during your next networking meeting, and especially during your next big family get dinner unless you like a side of side eye with your pot roast.

So avoiding these topics in conversation is usually easy, but what should we do when it comes to our resume? What if we have worked in politics or religion before, whether it be a job or volunteering?

In this video, we’ll unpack whether or not you should include political or religious work, affiliations, campaign or church volunteering on your resume.

So when it comes to making the decision whether or not to include political or religious work on our resumes, there’s really two schools of thought:

The first is trying to mitigate bias. We all have biases in some way, shape, or form. So let’s avoid further fueling these biases by not including political or religious affiliations.

And the second being take it or leave it, I’m bringing my whole self to work, and proudly showcasing your political or religious work on your resume.

There’s no right or wrong answer about whether to include or exclude this information from your resume, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In this video, I’m going to show you how I might work through these scenarios with my clients.

You Worked In Politics Or Religion

So let’s say you had a job in politics or religion. Perhaps you were an intern for a political campaign, or a missionary for a particular religion.

There’s a few different ways this can be approached, so let’s look at our options…

Include the Job

If you are applying for a target role where your previous work in politics or religion qualifies you, then you’ll definitely want to include this work experience and their accomplishments.

Also, if you’re all about bringing your whole self to work and unafraid of any bias you might face when it comes to your political or religious affiliations, then you might opt to keep it in.

If you are including the job on your resume, you want to make sure that any duties and accomplishments you share follow the 5Rs framework in order to make the experience make sense to your future employer in the context of your target job.

Cut The Job Completely

If you’re concerned about bias, or if your work in politics or religion doesn’t support your target role candidacy, cutting the job completely is an option. 

However cutting the job works so long as it doesn’t create a career gap for you. If it creates hole that must be filled, then we move onto other options.

Deemphasize Party Affiliations or Religion

You could also consider renaming the role so that it deemphasizes the party or politician you were affiliated with, or the religion in which you were working.

When going this route, you could consider anonymizing the political party or politician and instead include the name of the riding or electoral division. If you had a job title that is easily-identified as being religious, you might want to rename it to something that sounds more secular.

Give It A Single Line

This is an option if you want to be as discreet as possible about your political or religious job, and need the role to exist on your resume to fill the gap.

You Volunteered In Politics Or Religion

Volunteer work is a “nice to have” on your resume, it isn’t necessary.

It is how you spend your own personal time. So sharing that you volunteered for a political or religious organization can often reveal personal details about yourself. Do we want to open up our personal lives to bias? 

Let’s take a look at Angela Martin.

Angela married Robert Lipton the Republican Senator. State Senator.

And as a loving and devoted spouse, she volunteered much of her time to Robert’s political campaigning.

Angela was employed during this time, and her career track is that of an Accountant.

If she were to target a job outside of Dunder Mifflin in Accounting, I would recommend that she leave her campaign volunteering off her resume. It really adds no value in most instances.

That is unless she’s applying to become the accountant for a Republican political campaign office, where including this volunteering might help.

If you volunteer or volunteered for a political or religious organization, in most cases, I would also recommend you cut this experience.

That is unless you were doing work that qualifies you for your target direction, or work that fills a career gap.

In which case, you might want to treat this volunteering as work experience and consider the earlier strategies we just went over.

You Studied Politics or Religion In School Or Went To A Religious School

Studying politics in school is generally regarded neutrally in your job search. Many of us don’t work in the fields in which we studied, and political sciences is a very common specialty. My recommendation would be to leave your major of political sciences on your resume, especially if it supports your qualifications for your target job.

But what about religious education?

Before he worked in HR for Dunder Mifflin, Toby Flenderson was in the seminary and on his way to becoming a priest, only to drop out for the woman who would become his ex-wife.

Would Toby have needed to include his religious education on his resume?

Would his time in the seminary distract from his qualifications and play into bias? It’s quite possible.

My bigger concerns with keeping his time in seminary on this resume would be that it would call into question why he was moving into HR from religion. 

My recommendation to Toby: so long as it doesn’t create a career gap for him, to leave his time in the seminary off his resume.

What if Toby went to a university or college instead, and majored in something like theology? I would include his degree name, and leave off the major unless it directly relates to and qualifies him for his role in HR (which we already know it doesn’t).

What if Toby studied and graduated with a degree majoring in HR from a religious school? I would definitely include this schooling as it qualifies him for where he’s headed. The fact that he studied at a religious school isn’t particularly relevant, his degree is. 

You can’t control others’ biases, but you can control what you share in your resume. If you’ve ever been worried about how your political or religious work or affiliations are received, I hope that this video helped clarify a good course of action for you. 

Have you worked in politics or religion? Do you plan to share all the details on your resume, or will you aim more for discretion? Tell me in the comments below.

Kamara Toffolo

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