POLITICAL POLARITY: How is it affecting your recruiting?

by Nanci Lamborn – BrightMove Recruiting Software

When I decided to actually venture into the shark infested political waters and write this post, the results of my online search for recent articles or news stories related to this topic turned up absolutely nil. And it’s certainly no wonder. Our nation is becoming perhaps the most politically polarized group of citizens that we have ever seen in our history. And we all know the two things they say never to discuss in mixed company, right?

I’ll be breaking that rule of etiquette for now. So, how is the current political climate of polarity affecting your recruiting desk decisions?

Picture this: a beautiful resume comes across your desk for a hard-to-fill role. The candidate is perfect – excellent skill set, great educational background, stable work history… but then, you see it. There on the very last line of the resume.
“COLLEGIATE ACTIVITIES: (Fill-in-your-unfavorite-political-party-here) Student Association President.”

A very interesting thought process begins here, at least for some based upon my informal inquiries. The recruiting hat may be removed and replaced by the hat of the individual recruiter’s preferred political party. So why does it matter? I asked around for some opinions, and the feedback is most certainly worthy of further analysis.

When some individuals who personally claim a staunch allegiance to a specific political party step outside of their often politically sterile work environs, there can occasionally be a personal tendency to assign traits of intelligence, reason, and analytical mental process to a specific political party. How many times have you heard, “That (blankety-blank-political-party-member) is a complete idiot!” We have all heard this at least once recently, perhaps even more depending upon your particular circles. It seems that some have crossed from simply disagreeing with the political viewpoints of others to assigning broadbrush cognitive ranking assumptions based upon those very views. So when a recruiter sees what appears to be a very strong political affiliation claimed, perhaps even aggrandized, within a candidate’s resume, do recruiters have the ability to turn off their personal political measuring rods?

Perhaps the candidates deserve to be chastised here regardless of their party choices, not for the choices particularly but for the disclosure. Is it not the same when candidates list activities within a specifically religious or ethnic organization which by their affiliation clearly reveal race, religion or national origin? Is political affiliation beginning to carry the same weight as other protected classes might carry? Candidates have been receiving advice for years about what to include or exclude from their resumes, from the hilarious (http://tinyurl.com/eebgp) to the straight and narrow (http://tinyurl.com/ykcs6aa). But interestingly enough, very little of this advice gives consideration to mentioning political activities.

It also seems that the politically passionate candidates may find them selves in a catch-22. If they exclude their politically affiliated activities from their resume so as not to disclose political viewpoints, this could eliminate some valuable and much-needed experience from their resume and make them appear less well-rounded as other more involved individuals. But if they do include it, might some candidates actually risk deselection? One also may wonder what the candidates themselves feel or believe about the weight of the political views of a potential employer. Would this same candidate even choose to apply to a firm if the majority of management held staunchly opposing political views from their own? Or are these candidates also guilty of measuring with that same broadbrush assumption rod? Is this not the very definition of stereotyping?

There is a third alternative from these that is perhaps worse than the other options combined, and this alternative is uninformed apathy. Would a successful organization prefer that their candidate be apolitical in entirety, paying absolutely no heed nor attention to the state of politics in our nation and making no stand in the way of their vote or their voice? I heartily question this perspective as a legitimate choice, as I must agree with the French baron Charles de Montesquieu who around the 17th century stated that, “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. ”

Apart from pursuing the formation of a single united American political party, perhaps the best response to this situation can be derived from our very own Teddy Roosevelt, as he stated near the turn of the last century. “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. ”

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I would love to hear other perceptions and opinions.

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