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I'd like to list Orthodox Christianity as an activity on my resume. This is not a not-so-subtle evangelism tool but an actual activity. I spend (what I think) is a considerable amount of time attending services, reading books, and doing other things involved with being an Orthodox Christian. It is a major part of my life, much more so than the other things I have listed under activities. What effect is listing this on my resume likely to produce?

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In the US, this is a big no-no unless you are trying to get a religious oriented job (like a church affiliated school). This opens up the potential employer to discrimination lawsuits (age/sexual orientation/religion) are usually things you want to avoid listing on your resume. What country/region is this for? You could frame it as volunteer work without specifying religious orientation... – Ron Beyer Feb 24 at 16:24
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Interviewers and other staff are going to be worried that they're going to end up hearing more about your religion than they are looking for, which is generally not at all. – Mark Rogers Feb 24 at 18:58
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Are you a member your congregation's board of directors (or whatever it's called in Orthodox Christianity)? Do you engage in church work that demonstrates your skill at working with people, managing finances, or other such things? Please update your question to clarify. It's hard, but possible, to make a habit of theological reflection a relevant qualification for a workplace job in the 21st-century west. – user987654 Feb 26 at 14:09

You should not list any outside of work activities on your resume unless they directly pertain to the job being applied for. Those are inappropriate whether they are religious in nature or sky diving. It would almost never be a positive in the eyes of a hiring official because it shows you lack a fundamental understanding of how to present yourself. The exception to this would be if you were applying to be employed by an Orthodox Christian Church or organization that promotes Christianity such as a religious school. Then the belief is fundamental to the qualification for the job, after all you wouldn't hire an atheist to be the minister at a church would you?

And further putting this on the resume indicates to the many people who do not share your faith that you might be someone who will not fit into the secular culture of their workplace. If they are multi-cultural and include people of many faiths, they may be even more concerned about your presentation. My current workplace employees several different types of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists and those are just the ones I personally know about. We would be concerned about hiring someone who felt it necessary to parade his beliefs in his resume. People are hired based on fit as well as technical skills. Companies like this would be likely to weed you out without an interview unless you are head and shoulders more qualified than the people they do choose to interview.

The bottom line is that you are making it harder to get hired by including this and that is just bad for you unless you are unwilling to work anywhere except a place full of other people of your same beliefs. In that case, go for it, it will help weed out the companies you won't be happy with anyway. It may take longer to find a job though.

Note there are countries in the world where hobbies and the like can be listed. If you are not in the US, I would suggest checking with some other people in your country about what is appropriate on a resume. Thanks to @Adnan for pointing this out.

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Important note: This is highly country-dependent. For example, in the Nordics, it's generally viewed quite positively to list some of your hobbies somewhere in your CV. It shows you're generally a balanced person with an interesting personality. – Adi Feb 24 at 18:12
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@HLGEM: to expand on the cultural part of this answer, a classical French CV has 4 parts "work experience", "education", "skills", and "centers of interest". Not mentioning any center of interest in a CV would actually be unexpected here (but still acceptable). – Étienne Feb 24 at 21:40
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Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Feb 25 at 15:56
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@Adnan it's somewhat acceptable in the US to list hobbies - especially if they are impressive and apply towards the field of work (such as built my own OS from scratch to learn how it works - when applying for a technical engineering position). Also life accomplishments fit, such as major awards. The problem with religion on a resume is it paints a picture that the individual cannot keep it to themselves. To some folks, it will cause fear of having the religion thrust around the office, which will make others uncomfortable. – SnakeDoc Feb 25 at 18:59

There is a list of topics that should never be discussed on the job:

  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Personal Finances
  • Problems with your health and/or hardships outside of work

These are very broadly agreed upon and will depend largely on company culture, and I think that for most of them, they should not translate into your resume. There is other paperwork you will have to list health issues in case of accommodations if they intend to hire you, but that's about the only caveat I can imagine.

Being said, I would probably look at a resume with a religion on it and say that it's rather unprofessional and move forward with other candidates.

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You could probably add "Recreational Drug Use" to that list. – Myles Feb 24 at 17:28
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All five of your points are correct and should be avoided during the interview, but one of them is wrong once you're "on the job". That's health. Once your health is impacting or might impact your work, you must inform your employer. – CPerkins Feb 24 at 17:48
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In the US at least, it's probably OK to say you do "voluntary church activities", and this will typically be understood as meaning you help out at the biggest local community group, which happens to be the church, rather than that you go door to door evangelizing. Probably.

Being specific about the denomination of the church ("Orthodox Christianity") is definitely too much information unless it's job-relevant, and makes it sound like your main task may be leafleting.

In other countries you might want to be even more generic ("I do voluntary work in the community") but that's starting to verge on being too coy and generic to even bother including on the resume, unless you can be more specific about the "work" part of it, which isn't a bad idea anyway if it's relevant to the job.

At that point you can completely remove the "where" since it stops being the focus, and instead describe the what/why: "I do volunteer house-rewiring for the poor", or "I play the spoons at charity fundraisers".

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There is a real gem hiding in this answer: By being unspecific about what kind of church, you tell them you are doing voluntary charitable work and at the same time signal that you aren't radical about it and don't feel the urge to flaunt your faith. Plus, your prospective employer gets the chance to do just the same: Perhaps engage in a conversation about what it is you're doing, without inquiring into details of your faith. – DevSolar Feb 26 at 12:41
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While this doesn't apply to the OP, it is indeed good advice for those who volunteer in their community, religious or otherwise. I'd personally leave off any mention to religion at all and simply list it as "community volunteer" work with details about the responsibilities and accomplishments, dropping any kind of reference to a church, but in the US this is probably fine. – Lilienthal Feb 26 at 14:06
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Good point, @Lilienthal: edited to cover that. – Dewi Morgan Feb 26 at 15:43

The issue with putting it on your resume is that it becomes possible for an HR department to exclude you for your religion without creating a paper trail that they're doing so. A person looking over your resume can review it and just say "nope, this person is not qualified' and place it into the circular file no matter what; if you stick your religion or race or creed or anything else like that on there, they could plausibly state that there are 50 other reasons why you never got to the interview stage, even if they are actually discriminating against your religion. In fact, they could even say that they felt that the fact that you included in belies an unprofessional resume, regardless of what the religion is.

The converse is not something that necessarily benefits you either. A lot of larger companies just don't care what religion you are above and beyond the fact that they'd rather avoid lawsuits (although I will say that the other advice that you shouldn't include it directly because of the threat of a lawsuit are blowing things a bit out of proportion). Even a place that you know is run by religious people might prefer not to see that. And if the other party doesn't share your religion, people of different faiths will often not see your religious activism as a positive reason to hire you.

On the other hand, if you're applying to be a church organist, of course you're going to want to list all the churches you've played at (although in that specific case I have an atheist friend who played the organ at a couple of local churches for several years - work experience does not necessarily mean religious experience). If you've done a lot of volunteer work that's pertinent to the job, there's probably not a lot of point to hiding the fact that the volunteering was for a religious organization. What you're describing, though, are just normal aspects of attending church. If you feel that this hobby uniquely qualifies you for the position you're submitting your resume for, I guess you could list it as a "job"; just adding it in because it's a thing that you do, however, is kind of pointless.

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Lawrence Aiello's answer notwithstanding, maybe you WANT discriminatory companies to not interview you. It's better than wasting your time interviewing only to not be hired, or getting hired only to be left out of the clique later. – stannius Feb 25 at 17:04
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@stannius Point taken, but it might be just the one individual at the company that's discriminatory, rather than the whole company. – DCShannon Feb 26 at 3:37

It's likely to produce the effects of nobody hiring you. To an employer, all they see is a potential discrimination lawsuit if they decide to go with someone else during the hiring process.

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You mean, because they are frightened of a lawsuit if they don't hire you, they don't hire you? – DJClayworth Feb 24 at 16:45
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This is more comment than answer. Could you expand it to explain why it is a potential lawsuit. – Chad Feb 24 at 16:52
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@DJClayworth: the father into the hiring process he gets, the better his chances in a lawsuit. If you decline him immediately he would have no chance to prove it was because of his religion, if he was in the last 3 candidates this gets a lot easier. – kat0r Feb 24 at 17:39
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@DJClayworth I think, as kat0r said, more like because they are frightened of a lawsuit if they don't hire you, they don't interview you – Carson63000 Feb 24 at 23:07

If you've been involved in a large number of community activities as a result of your religion, and those community activities take up a significant enough amount of time to be counted as a job, and you are not currently going to be obligated to your religious activities to the level where it would interfere with taking on the job you're seeking, then and only then would it make any sense to include it on your resume, if, and only if those activities somehow relate to the job you're applying for.

If you don't feel comfortable including it as a job, or you feel that those activities are not relevant to the position you're applying for, you should probably not be including it on a document stating your job qualifications in the first place.

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If those activities do take up a significant enough amount of time to be counted as a job, that gives the employer a valid reason not to hire the person. Religious discrimination is illegal, but most employers will think twice about hiring an outside employee that has an avocation outside of work that requires the same amount of effort as a second job. – Johnny Feb 24 at 18:21

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