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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Politics and Your Resume

In a recent letter to the Ethicist in the New York Times, a hiring attorney asked if it was ethical to reject law student internship applications based solely on their membership to the Federalist Society. While the columnist responded that it is not ethical to reject a job candidate based solely on their politics, the attorney ultimately decided to remove the Federalist Society members from the pool of equally qualified job seekers. Organizations such as the Federalist Society, the National Lawyer's Guild, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) can cause extreme reactions in people. Hiring organizations may also judge a job seeker if they worked for a particular candidate on a political campaign. While one hopes that most employers would not reject a candidate based solely on politics, job seekers should always remember that there is that possibility when listing a political affiliation or membership to a potentially divisive organization on their resume.

The decision to include or omit certain political activities from a resume is ultimately up to the job seeker and there are valid arguments to each side. Many candidates decide to keep their political affiliations on their resume because they either prefer to work for an organization that supports their beliefs or would rather work for an employer that would not judge employees based on politics. Others decide to remove any hint of politics from their application because they would prefer politics not distract the employer from their other experience and skills. When deciding how to proceed, all candidates should ask themselves one question: Would I be comfortable discussing this activity during an interview? If you decide to include memberships to controversial organizations on your resume, be prepared for the possibility of having your beliefs challenged during an interview. If you are not comfortable discussing politics during a job interview, you may want to remove any political activities from your resume.

For further reading:
"How Public Should Your Politics Be?" Student Lawyer. February 2009, Vol. 37, No. 6
"The Ethicist: Taking on Unlikables." New York Times. 4 December. 2009
"Hiring Lawyer Rejects Federalist Society Members - and Columnist's Advice." ABA Journal. 7 December. 2009

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