I am a graduate student actively looking for post graduate work. One of the qualifications for a job that I am considering applying for is excellent communication and exemplary leadership ability. I have demonstrated both of the the aforementioned qualities as the president of a student organization while in school. However, this organization is politically oriented and party specific. I know it is ill advised to mention politics / religion in a resume as it detracts from professionalism and calls in disrepute ones judgement. On the other hand however, I was the president for two years and obtained some of my best experience in this position, such as collaborating with school administration, coordinating with external speakers and bringing them to campus, as well as organization events for the whole school. I truly have demonstrated the skills that the employer is looking for.

Therefore I ask, is it advisable that I list this in my resume and discuss in my cover letter as demonstrated , relevant ability? I appreciate any feedback you all may provide.

  • 1
    Definitely a gamble. In this particular case, assuming your description is accurate, it sounds like it's more likely to help you than to hurt you, on average... unless the organization is viewed as being toward one of the extremes and/or the company thinks it might affect your work or how the company is perceived. To some extent you've already made the bet by deciding that was the student organization you wanted to get involved in... – keshlam Nov 30 '14 at 4:11
  • @keshlam I have no way of knowing the personal politics of the interviewer and do not want to offend him / her in any way. I joined as it aligns with my personal convictions and viewed it as a method to expand my interpersonal skills – Anthony Nov 30 '14 at 4:18
  • 1
    If you aren't willing to take the risk of offending, then don't... but that means giving up the possible positive reactions too. In general companies are interested in what you can do for them, not what your politics are -- UNLESS, as I said, those politics will be a problem for the business in some way, interfere with your work (or your ability to work with others) in some way, or something of that sort. Since you haven't given us specifics, that's the best I can tell you -- you have a choice, either is defensible, without more research there's no firm answer possible. – keshlam Nov 30 '14 at 4:28

If you try to avoid naming the student organization, the obvious question will be on every bodies mind. It may occur to the interviewers that they might not want to know the answer, but for most companies it doesn't make a difference. Once you provide the name of the organization they will move on to the detail of what kills you have not what rallies you organized.

In a large organization it can be guaranteed that people all across the political spectrum work for the company. On a college campus the same is true. Some people join a club because they want to be active in something; others want to meet girls; some actually care passionately about the cause. Once they join their activity level is guided by others circumstances.

Your choice of political viewpoint, unless it is the most extreme and hardcore, means little to me because in about half the case I was never going to end up working with you. Interviews are performed by people because the represent HR, the technical skills, or have a hole in their schedule that day. Yes some are on the team that has the job opportunity, but not always.

There is one note you should remember. Just like cover letters, a resume can be tailored to the company. If you want to demonstrate that your didn't sit in the dorm for 4 years, you stress some things. If you want to show you could be passionate about a single topic for a sustained period, stress other things. And if naming this student organization would eliminate you from consideration then maybe the company is too political for you.

| improve this answer | |

Whether you like it or not, you are bringing your politics to the table. Bringing your politics to the table breaks an implicit society-wide agreement to keep politics out of the workplace. At which point, I am free to bring my own politics to the workplace and send your job candidacy into the trash pile if I am from the other party and I hate your politics. You don't put in your religious activities in your resume for the same reason.

To get an offer, you must demonstrate two things: 1. you are qualified; 2. you fit in.

You have not demonstrated that you have paid any attention to fitting in. People in the workplace avoid discussing politics and religion for a reason.

If you are applying for a position with a political organization whose mission espouses views similar to yours, then mentioning your political activities will be well received. Otherwise, you take your chances.

If you choose to mention your politics, then you are blatant about your politics. That can bring you support where you least expect it. Or it could deep six you. You are rolling the dice.

You could try to mitigate the potential negative impact by stating that you are mentioning your political activities only to show that you have organizational skills and that you will otherwise keep your politics well away from the workplace - it might work. Or it might not.

| improve this answer | |
  • I understand. However I have held the role of president, a position of leadership for two years during which the organization flourished. I was praised for my leadership ability and decisiveness by the director of student organizations. This I feel makes me a very strong candidate regard to this point. – Anthony Nov 30 '14 at 5:30

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .