In this highly contentious election year, politics are everywhere. Surf the web, flip the channels, or tune your radio and right before your very eyes or ears talking heads everywhere are dissecting and opining on politics in the U.S. and the 2012 Presidential Election.
According to the Pew Research Center, the political climate in the U.S. is the most polarized it has been in 25 years. To get at this, Pew has been conducting and tracking surveys since 1987 measuring 48 political values among US voters. The results? The gap in values between Democrats and Republicans has doubled and for the first time ever is greater than any other demographic – gender, race, class, etc.1
So what does all this mean for your personal brand and your job search?
We all fall somewhere on the political spectrum; some of us are passionate about our beliefs, which often translate in to action: from desktop politicking by promoting candidates and positions through social media tools to campaign volunteering and activism.
You may feel compelled to list your blogging with the Obama campaign, or your phone banking with the Romney campaign on your resume. And why not? You gained valuable real world experience doing these things that can easily transfer to the working world; but with the country being so polarized, there is a high likelihood that you will encounter people in your job search who think differently than you when it comes to politics. Being so open about your leanings can leave you open to discrimination.
You need to be cautious as to how, or if, you demonstrate your political allegiances.
If you are compelled to politick – play nice – don’t get personal, hit below-the-belt, or call names. Make educated arguments to support your points, and always stay professional. Be extra careful about how you communicate any views which may be considered to be extreme by some.
Personally, the path I have chosen is to almost completely limit my politicking to my personal social circles (Facebook), and to minimize reference to my political beliefs on my public social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn) allowing little insight into my political persuasions to potential employers.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. What is the right ratio for you between freedom of expression and the personal brand you want to portray to the professional community?
1 – Pew Research Center, Partisan Polarization Surges in Bush, Obama Years, June 4, 2012 http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2277/republicans-democrats-partisanship-partisan-divide-polarization-social-safety-net-environmental-protection-government-regulation-independents
Mike Spinale is a corporate Human Resources leader at a healthcare information technology company located outside of Boston, Massachusetts and is an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University. He has over eight years of experience in HR and management including career counseling, recruitment, staffing, employment branding, and talent management. Mike has dedicated his HR career to modern views on the field – HR is not about the personnel files – it’s about bringing on the best talent, ensuring they’re in the right seat, and keeping them motivated and growing in their careers. In addition, Mike is the author of the CareerSpin blog where he offers advice and opinion on job search, personal & employment branding, recruiting, and HR. Mike is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Babson College. He is also a board member of the Metro-North Regional Employment Board, a board which sets workforce development policy for Boston’s Metro-North region, and an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Northeast Human Resources Association.