If you're applying for a job right now, you should know there's one very important thing you might want to keep off your résumés. According to new research, employers are probably biased against applicants' political beliefs when it comes time to hire new people. In fact, it might be an even bigger deal breaker than race or religion. Wow.
The research, which was conducted at Stanford, involved several smaller studies. In one, participants looked at résumés of fictional applicants for a scholarship. Some résumés included items that indicated the applicant's race such as "President of the African American Students Association" while others indicated political affiliation, such as "President of the Young Republicans." Though race did play a part in the participants' decisions, the researchers found that political affiliation was a much stronger influence. Both Democrats and Republicans selected someone with their own political affiliation about 80 percent of the time. The trend held true even when the applicant from the opposite party had stronger academic credentials.
Obviously, this doesn't bode well for someone who wants to keep their "President of the Young Republicans" position on their résumés, unless I guess, they're applying to a conservative think tank or FoxNews. But even though it's not exactly surprising that political affiliation would influence a person's perception of a candidate, the fact that it seems to be an even stronger influence than race is surprising.
It's not secret that things like race and gender and religion and sexual orientation play a big part in the hiring process. Study after study after study after study have shown that. But given what we know about how big an impact those things do have it's surprising and a little concerning that political affiliation could be an even bigger source of discrimination. Given that America is becoming more and more polarized when it comes to politics, this sort of discrimination makes sense, but it doesn't bode well for our chances of becoming less polarized if both sides of the political divide are actively discriminating even in professional settings.
For the record, employers are not allowed to ask you about your political affiliation; that, along with lots of other questions, is legally off limits. But if you're applying for a scholarship, fellowship, or job it might be best to also purge all indication of you political affiliation from your résumés and not even allude to it in the interview. Because if your future employer doesn't happen to share your political allegiance, you're pretty screwed.
Of course, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, we're all dealing with the same sluggish economy right now. So best of luck to you all!