Faith

Should You Put Your Faith on Your Resume? It Depends.

There are certain things that should always go on your resume if you’re trying to impress an employer. But putting your faith on your resume may not be one of them.

Should you put your faith on your resume? I’d say there are two ways to look at this very simple question, and one of them involves basic common sense.

A while back, I had the crazy idea to apply to a certain well-known company based in the Silicon Valley. I went through the job listing carefully and made sure everything on my resume spoke to my experience and the skills said employer was looking for.

Then I heard from a friend of a friend who worked for this company, and who told me that the biggest problem with my resume was — get this — I hadn’t listed my volunteerism.

Say what?

Volunteerism?

That told me right there everything I wanted to know about that company: if they want to hire someone for a specific task, and you demonstrate you have the precise skills they’re looking for, but don’t have enough unrelated volunteer activities in the free time you’re likely not to get much of working for them in the first place, that’s a mark against you before you ever get a call back.

And that ended that little idea.

On my resume, however, faith did sometimes make an appearance, depending on the position I was applying for. But then that’s what happens when you find yourself on parttime staff of your church.

I would list that position if the work and the skillset required to do the work had relevance to the job I was applying for. If there was no relevance, I wouldn’t even bother listing that sideline position at all.

That’s common sense in action: if your faith isn’t related to the work you’re doing, that’s an excellent argument against listing it.

There may be an even better reason for not listing your faith on your resume.

I read about a new study in which researchers in New England and the South (otherwise known as the Bible Belt) sent out a batch of resumes for different fake candidates. Different resumes listed had one of seven possible religious options assigned: atheist, Catholic, evangelical Christian, Jewish, pagan, Muslim, “Wallonian,” a faith made up for the purpose of the experiment or a control group in which no religious affiliation was mentioned.

Guess what!

Applicants who expressed a religious identity — any — were 26% less likely to receive a response from employers.

Have you applied for a job lately? When I was in school, we were told to always find out the name of the hiring manager and address everything to that person. Nowadays, everything is submitted with a few clicks of a few buttons and you never even know if the hiring manager you find (assuming you can even find one) ever receives the application. Your chances of getting a response nowadays sometimes seems almost non-existent as it is. If I know listing my religion (in a non-applicable manner) could lower it by 26% on top of that, I’ll keep my faith to myself when it comes to my resume, thank you very much.

The study also found that Muslims are the most discriminated against, scoring the lowest amount of responses among all of the various religion options and the control group. Even in the largely-Christian Bible Belt South, of the religious mentions, Jewish applicants received the highest response rate.

The overall finding, however, does go right back to common sense: In the “art of resume preparation,” one rule of advice is “unless you have a good reason to put it on, don’t put it on,” a researcher said.

Your Turn:

Have you ever listed your religion on a resume? If so, why did you choose to? Do you think it helped or hurt your candidacy for the position?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.