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Religion On a Resume

  • 1.  Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-07-2018 10:24

    Hello Everyone,
    I have a student that after repeated resume reviews has chosen to leave a couple of statements on her Professional Resume that I am afraid might hurt her chances for interviews.  We have discussed the potential consequences.
    The statements are under Leadership and end with "bringing others closer to God"  I am not sure what to do, but I have advised her to be more generic and try to refer too much to religious affiliation.  Any ideas, or should I let nature take its course?

    Trisha DuCote
    Undergraduate Career Coach
    University of Arkansas - Fayetteville - Sam M. Walton College of Business

  • 2.  RE: Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-07-2018 11:39
    Edited by Jeffrey Moss 02-07-2018 11:41
    One of the biggest pieces of advice we provide to students is not to do anything that could "opt out" a potential employer and, while religion should not be one of those things, coming across as preachy on a resume could make a potential employer question judgement. Furthermore, the goal of a resume is to fill the buckets of job requirements with demonstrable examples of one's ability to execute upon these (eg writing, research, grit, etc.) - anything beyond that wastes valuable real estate.

    While I worry that in the example you shared the student is violating both, maybe you focus on the second (ie the resume real estate). That said, if the student is actively involved in a religious organization or club, that can (and should) be included as it does help fill the buckets.

    Jeffrey Moss
    Founder and CEO
    Parker Dewey

  • 3.  RE: Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-08-2018 08:53

    I tell our students do not refer to any "bar" talk on the resume.  I then explain to them that with bar talk, I'm talking about items that tend to cause conflict when people have had a few too many and start with their stances on politics, religion, race, orientation, etc.  I said it is their prerogative to include those items on their resume, but my advice is to not give anyone a reason to not at least give you an interview and if someone has a totally different view than you it could harm those chances.


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  • 4.  RE: Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-08-2018 08:00
    I do agree, but it sounds like she's adamant...and probably wouldn't be interested in working for an organization that doesn't align with her values/that would discriminate against her based on that.  Thus, as long as you've shared your concerns, I'd say it's her decision.  You can rest confidently, knowing you've done your due diligence.

    Patricia Simpson
    Director, School of Chemical Sciences Career Services & Academic Advising
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • 5.  RE: Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-08-2018 10:35
    I recently moved to the Deep South, and even though I work at a public state school, I hear more faith talk and see more faith-oriented activities here than I did when I worked at a Jesuit school.  I always point out the risk of bias or EEOC concerns the employer might have and, if they feel strongly about keeping it on there, we discuss ways to focus on the transferable skills, not the actual religious duties, for example her statement about bringing people to God could be postured through verbal communication skills, persuasion, or initiative.  I also have them consider where they are sending their resumes, both geographic and culture/mission of the organization.  Down here, many employers don't bat an eye about that stuff; however, when I was in Philly it was a huge red flag.

    I'm often reminded of a student I worked with the year after 9/11 (I was at the Jesuit school).  He was one of the founder/charter members of the Muslim Student Association, his name was very Americanized, and his goal was to work on Wall Street.  Emotions were high and bias was deep.  We discussed the strategies/value of including this role on his resume.  In the end, we decided the demonstration of initiative, leadership, and planning with the organization were critical to his application of transferable skills.  He also decided that if an employer was prejudiced about his faith, he'd rather know it from the start, because he is very open about his faith.  I respected his strategies and beliefs, and with some very targeted tools, thoughtful word-smithing, and networking, he got on Wall Street.

    Jan Moppert
    Director, Office of Professional and Career Development
    Auburn University - Harbert College of Business

  • 6.  RE: Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-08-2018 12:17
    ​I work at a university where faith is intentionally woven into our culture, so I have dealt with this question myself. I tell students that their faith is ultimately the most important thing in their lives, but a resume is a business document that encapsulates their experience and qualifications that are relevant to their target occupation. I would tell her it's her choice, but explain that some personal aspects do not relate to her professional objectives. If she were targeting a faith-based organization, her statement would likely be relevant, but how does it fit her current objective? By the same token I would leave out skiing experience if it has no connection to the job. Relevance dictates what you include on a resume.

    The student's guard may be up because she wants to hold to her convictions, so bringing up "red flags" may only embolden her. If I were advising her, I would explain that I would never want her to compromise her faith, but she is not writing a statement of faith. There has to be a rationale for what she includes on her resume. I might even ask her if she thinks she should include political statements on her resume. If not, why not? Obviously it is not relevant--regardless of whether these things raise a red flag, they are just not relevant to consideration for a position.

    Gary Swisher
    Director of Career Development
    Mount Vernon Nazarene University

  • 7.  RE: Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-09-2018 17:32

    As a Career Professional at a Christian university I agree with you!!!  I advise individuals to tone down language. Those who led Bible studies, change their language to "book study."  I thought it might be helpful to share with you what I say to our students in a way that might help her to see that she is not forsaking her faith by choosing to change her language. This happens frequently with our students, so I understand your frustration.

    Daniel, Esther, and Joseph were all living in countries where God was not the only god worshiped. In order to have influence within the land each of them adapted, without compromising their beliefs, to the traditions of the land. For example:
    • Daniel and his 3 friends all received new Babylonian names. He served the pagan king with excellence and that was what got him promoted.
    • Esther was in exile in Babylon. She was taken into the pagan king's court and provided choice food (probably against her religion's dietary standards) and provided beauty treatments, jewelry, and clothing (also different than her religious upbringing which emphasized modesty and humility). We are fooled if we didn't also know that part of being in the king's court and being summoned by him was for sexual purposes. Again, this would go against her faith, but "for such a time as this" it was necessary. 
    • Joseph shaved before going before an Egyptian king (Genesis 41:14). Why? Because facial hair was not common and even repulsive so some in Egyptian culture. Despite the Levitical law (Leviticus 19:27) to not shave, Joseph did so to make himself presentable to pagan king. This and his dream interpretation ability earned him new status and favor. 

    I would urge her if she would like to have influence and help others to grow closer to God, it is best done by following the example of her own faith beliefs. Generally our students understand and take out religious language after seeing that is okay and not compromising their belief system. I hope this helps!

    Jennifer Fonseca
    Destiny Activator & Assistant Director of Career Development
    Palm Beach Atlantic University

  • 8.  RE: Religion On a Resume

    Posted 02-14-2019 09:44

    I would agree that indicating work with a tie to a particular faith could be setting one's self up for potential discrimination, however, it sounds as if this student is seeking opportunities in a faith based organization - who would actually be looking for that boldness in their resume statements.  Utilizing the word "faith" might also be a more neutral manner to describe the nature of the work.  I am employed at a faith-based university and make no attempts to hide that  - should I market myself or my work to secular employers.  Obviously, it is a risk I am willing to take.  That is a good discussion to have with the student as they may be emerging from the "bubble" of Christian Higher Education.

    Carol Brown

    Carol Brown
    Associate Dean of Life Calling and Career Development
    Indiana Wesleyan University