Feb 032016

Resumes should be written like an autobiographical professional stat sheet. Education, skills, work experiences, these are the things resumes should contain in order to accurately convey information and ultimately land a qualified applicant. However, given that the “human factor” is inseparable from “Human Resources” there are bound to be resumes and applications that include information outside of the essentials.

Some places where applicants are given a bit of freedom to share like cover letters, career objectives, associations and affiliations, and additional skills are all potential minefields of sensitive information. Applicants who use poor judgment and include divisive or controversial details in their applications are often not even qualified for the position being applied to so the issue can often be ignored.


However, what is an HR to do with a perfectly qualified candidate that lists potentially controversial political or religious affiliations on his or her resume? If there is a continuous supply of highly qualified candidates a company can probably afford to reject or at least table suspect resumes in favor of more tame varieties.


That said, not all employers will have this luxury, and some may even prefer a political philosophy themselves, in which there are ways to broach the subject in a subtle yet informative manner.



  • Tackle the Matter Head On For Quick Answers



Directness is the best and quickest way to get to the root of your worries and determine whether or not an applicant is qualified for a position. Asking politely with a follow up email or phone call for an applicant to expand upon his or her experiences/affiliations is completely within the “normal” line of questioning a potential employer may ask.


Addressing your concerns before inviting the applicant for an interview saves both them and the employer the time and undue stress of potential face-to-face verbal conflicts around controversial topics. Alternatively, if an employer is uncomfortable broaching the subject for whatever reason on the phone or by email there are still other ways to investigate an applicant’s political or religious background and whether they are suitable for your organization.



  • Do Some Social Digging



If you’re worried about the stability of an applicant it’s often easiest to pop their names and/or email addresses in a quick Google search to find out a little more on the subject.


Resumes are often tidied up, along with Linkedin profiles, but Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the likes are often forgotten about. Unsurprisingly, SocialTalent reports that 93% of HR’s admit to searching candidates on social media in 2015.  This is for good reason.


For example, an applicant might list a conservative political group on their resume as an affiliation, which may directly conflict with a companies sustainability initiatives or green work culture. Conversely an extremely liberal candidate might have problems fitting in with the company culture at a weapons manufacturer.


Of course, not many applicants really want to work at companies they know conflict with their ideologies, so this isn’t exactly a hiring epidemic. Still, especially for entry-level and blue-collar work, applicants can be less discerning in their application process and thus taking the time to look for controversy before it finds you is well worth it.



  • Avoid Obvious Espionage



In today’s modern employment age companies are getting trickier and trickier in the tactics they devise to gain advantage over competitors. Using paid spies to work for other companies to either directly sabotage efforts or leak information has been reported in high tech, political and defense related industries.


In fact, the FBI has reported a sharp uptick in corporate espionage that is no doubt only going to grow in 2016. Whether from applicants under the payroll of foreign companies or governments or just agents from rival financial firms or tech companies looking for intellectual property, the risk of hiring a mole is real, but it can be combated.


By following the above advice on researching applicants online behavior and developing a profile on the individual companies can actively avoid hiring spies/ saboteurs because often times political and religious affiliations on the web can give them away beforehand.


In conclusion, there are many reasons why an employer ought to worry about an applicant who includes information on their resume that may hint to the extreme political or religious.  This alone doesn’t discount them as potential hires, and is by no means justification for ignorant discrimination but it can in some situations warrant extra caution.


Doing a little standard background research on an applicant and just asking them directly and matter-of-factly about topics you’re concerned about or have interest in is the best way to help ensure only the most qualified team players are welcomed into your company.



author bio: Joe Flanagan is the Senior Resume Consultant at the Velvet Jobs Resume Builder when he’s not helping people get the job they want you can find him learning new ways to cook Asian cuisine and running .. slowly .. in middle distance competitions.
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