Posted by Brian McCullough
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Reader David from New Hampshire writes:
“I’m a recent college grad. I took a year off before looking for work to volunteer on a Presidential campaign. This has turned into an paid gig, and actually a quite impressive position. I don’t think my candidate will be around 3 months from now (so I can’t divulge the candidate’s name or party affiliation). Seeing as how I’ll need to start looking for work around New Year’s I’ve been testing the waters with my resume. My problem is the industry I’m looking for work in. Let’s just say it’s well known they don’t like the party I’m working for. So my question is: since this is a one-off thing, should I leave my campaign work off the resume entirely? On the one hand, it’s pretty impressive that I’ve risen from volunteer to the position I hold. Especially given my age. I’m doing some impressive stuff and it is directly applicable to my future career. If I had this job title at any corporation or company, an employer couldn’t help but be impressed. But what if my employer sees my candidate’s name on my resume and won’t consider me because he/she hates my candidate’s politics?”
Brian answers after the break…
This is a very interesting question.
I think you have to put the campaign stuff on your resume and hope for the best. First of all, you say it’s directly applicable to your career and would be an impressive accomplishment, all other things being equal. How could you leave something off of your resume that could make such a big impression? I mean, you’re playing the odds here. I think the vast majority of employers, even if they turn their nose up at your given candidate or politics, could not help but be impressed if your experience is as special as you say. I mean, for a young person to be involved in a campaign at all shows some real get-up-and-go initiative. Do you know how many young people have the same sort of resume: school experience, menial minimum-wage work, maybe a greek affiliation, some volunteer work, and maybe an internship. That’s it. It’s all the same. And you have something that makes you stand out from the crowd! If I was interviewing someone and they said they’d been on a campaign, I’d be intrigued just to hear the story of the experience, no matter who or what the politics. It’s something that most people can’t put on their resume. It’s akin to someone saying, “Oh yeah, remember the Transformers movie last summer? I interned on that shoot.” That person would stand out to me just because it’s a unique thing to see. And I HATED that movie.
I think the odds are that having that unique experience on your resume (especially since you say the title is so impressive) will do more good than harm to your chances. And what are you going to do if you don’t put it on your resume? Say you flipped burgers all year? Boring.
And then there’s this thought… if an employer is so petty that they wouldn’t hire someone because of a disagreement over politics… would you really want to work for that person? And if you DID get hired, what would you do then? Go into the closet and hope no one ever discovered your true political allegiances? You’d be setting yourself up to live an uncomfortable lie.
Put it on your resume. Odds are a unique experience like that would be a boon more than a barrier.