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Should I put political work and outside activities in my CV? At least in my country (Germany), it is quite common to put outside activities (e.g. being on a sports team or activities) onto your CV.

However, I do a lot of political work. On the one hand I think it shows some leadership qualities and communication skills, but on the other hand I fear potential employers are skeptical, because what I do is considered mostly left-wing politics. I was involved in development aid and and am involved in human rights activities and rights for refugees.

My activities are also one of the reasons I took quite a bit longer to finish my studies, so I also fear that if I leave this information out potential employers will simply think I was too lazy/not good enough to finish earlier.

  • Is it possible to list the experience without going into details about which party you were supporting? – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 24 '14 at 21:29
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner I am not supporting a party and I am also not a party member, but am involved in other organizations. Not naming the organizations would be rather strange to me, as I would normally write "Board member at X" (X being the organization), writing "Board member at some development aid organization" looks rather weird to me. – dirkk Jun 24 '14 at 22:01
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    Do you care enough about the cause that you wouldn't want to work for a company that wouldn't have hired you if they'd known? And do you have enough marketable skill to have the luxury of making that choice? If yes to both, then put the info on the resume. If not, don't. – PurpleVermont Jun 25 '14 at 3:03
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    I am confused about why people are voting to close this as off topic. It is a focused question about a topic that is acceptable here. It is not asking what to do generically, rather if and how to do a specific thing. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 25 '14 at 13:50
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    @Chad I share your confusion. I'd like to add that I am happy to improve the questions, if there is something wrong with it. Simply close-voting to a not obviously unfitting question is rather pointless in my opinion. – dirkk Jun 25 '14 at 15:24
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No.

There is very little upside, and big downside risk. Unless you are sending resume to to apply for a position where you know for sure your political activity is a bonus, just don't mention it at all.

For hiring manager, first round of reading resumes is to eliminate as many CVs as possible as quickly as possible, to focus on important ones. All information in your CV should have the only goal: increase your chance to get an in-person interview, to be able to sell your skills.

When interviewing for specific position, you can research the company and decide if your politic principles are compatible with theirs, or if no compromise can be made.

Don't even mention any negative info like delay in graduation because of political activity. Goal of CV is not to explain glitches: it is to get you in-person interview. Instead, be prepared to deal with any glitches in personal interview by rehearsed phrases like "it took more time for certain personal reason, which were resolved and will not repeat". Done.

You want to be hired to solve work-related problems. If you are not talking about how your skills can solve problems for company, you are wasting time. Generic positive activity which you do in your free time is OK as icebreaker, but it will not get you hired. As I said, it has no upside.

Another take: put it in CV ONLY if you want to talk about it in interview. Valid for skills you have but don't want to develop more, or political activities.

Edit2: In comments below, OP answered his own question: he is aware that even for people who are not his political opponents, just the level of his dedication for a political cause might be a reason to toss his resume, even if hiring manager does not selected a side in that political issue. Which was my point all the way.

  • And being involved in human rights activities is an elimination reason? As you say the CV should list only stuff which increases my chances to get an in-person interview, isn't political work/human rights work also a positive thing? That's actually the reason why I would like to put it on, because I think it actually shows some skills. – dirkk Jun 24 '14 at 22:15
  • Being involved in human rights is positive, and can be included as minor point. Unless you are involved in something like Free Tibet and position is in China. See my point now? – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jun 24 '14 at 22:18
  • I see your point, however that is the actual core I'd really want to know. Yes, no-one can really (at least openly) be against human rights, so it is plus - Is this also the case for development aid, which is much more controversial? Or will it just show up as a potential trouble-maker instead of being involved and actually caring about stuff? – dirkk Jun 24 '14 at 22:26
  • @dirkk I think you answered this in your original question. If what you're doing can be seen as associated with a political opinion: some people will and some of them will see "outspoken in support of something I/most of my team disagree with" as indicating a higher than normal likelihood of creating conflict and use that as an excuse to toss your resume. OTOH filtering works both directions do you really want to work for someone who disapproves of something you consider very important? – Dan Neely Jun 25 '14 at 15:44
  • @DanNeely No, I certainly don't want that. However, I fear that also people which are simply uninterested in politics or don't have a strong opinion on political issues could also throw away my resume. While I don't want hostility to my political views, I also don't need political support from my co-workers. Of course it is nice if they think what I do is useful, but if they simply don't care I am also fine with that. – dirkk Jun 25 '14 at 16:08
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+1 to @Dunk's comment. Keep in mind that politics can be divisive. If your CV is all about politics, potential bosses might worry whether you will bring your politics into the office and reduce everyone's productivity by long arguments.

Be careful with "I took longer to graduate because of my political activity". Everyone likes engaged people, but managers may wonder about your priorities if they read something like this.

So: by all means include your political work in your CV, just don't overemphasize it. And you probably don't want to point out the connection between your political work and your possible longer time to graduate.

  • Your comment makes very much sense to me. It is just a simply bullet point, the much more prominent parts are obviously my previous experiences and employers. I also don't intend to point out the connection between my political activities and longer time to graduate in my CV, I am just guessing hiring managers will probably do this themselves if they see the overlapping times. But I guess the question will come up at the interview, where I will explain it with this strategy (simply because it is true). – dirkk Jun 24 '14 at 22:09
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Unless you're trying to find work in an industry that is very strongly "right-wing"...go right ahead and put it on your resume. It's experience that you gained. It's initiative, it's communications and planning.

Added bonus: if these things were important enough to you to take on these activities, and an employer really is strongly leery about hiring someone who supported those causes, then that's a hint that that probably isn't the company you want to work with. It wouldn't be the best interpersonal fit, if that's enough to make them prejudiced against hiring you.

  • While it is certainly true that I also do not want to work for a company where e.g. racism is tolerated, I should also add that it did work for a very big company and obviously they don't really care about that stuff. I am also not completely against working for a large corporation once again. – dirkk Jun 24 '14 at 21:10
  • Big corporations don't automatically all discriminate against ppl who have political activities on their resume. And if a particular big corporation does have problems with someone working for/supporting human rights...well, there are other companies to work for. – user22432 Jun 24 '14 at 21:28
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    Big companies are still made up of individual people. So it is not a question of a big corporation having a problem with any particular activity. All it takes is an individual person. However, it seems like the OP is a new grad, so I would think that even die hard conservatives would not hold it against them for being involved in liberal activities. Just don't be demeaning and say some back-handed put down, like Leigh has done twice now' if asked in the interview. A conservative won't hold your liberal activities against you but a self-righteous attitude would certainly be held against you. – Dunk Jun 24 '14 at 21:45
  • @Leigh I guess my wording was a bit misleading. I never meant that big corporations discriminate anyone. With "they don't really care about that stuff" I was just referring that big corporation normally don't care about what I do in my free time. – dirkk Jun 24 '14 at 22:03
  • @dirkk They certainly do care what you do in your free time, if your activity, and the fact you are employed by company, will end up in evening news for bad reason. Usually your activity is not on news, and they don't care. They will start care the moment you are in the news. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jun 24 '14 at 22:13

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