A question I proposed on LinkedIn for a client: I have a candidate interested in putting her church volunteer work on her LinkedIn profile, but is wondering how to do it without being taboo or offending others?

Others’ Responses:

– I would suggest being more descriptive of the duties, rather than the vessel for her charitable work. For instance, saying “Participate weekly in distribution for local food pantry, 2008 to present”

– I agree with Laurie. I would also list that she worked for a non-profit organization. If someone uses “non-profit” as a search criteria, she would display in their search. I think this give her the opportunity to be creative. Food for thought – if her working in a Christian environment offends someone…would she be comfortable working for that organization?

– I don’t see why the fact that someone spends their spare time supporting their church should be considered offensive or taboo by anyone. Surely it shows her in a good light? It’s certainly not something that your candidate should feel in any way embarrassed about. Now, if we’re talking about her being discriminated against by others who really should know better, then I would say that she doesn’t need those people involved in her life so putting it on her LinkedIn profile is a good way to keep them away. I’m not a religious person but we live in a seriously mad/sad world when helping out at your local church is seen as something to be hidden away and not talked about for fear of what others may think.

– All the more reason, Matt, why we shouldn’t give others the power to make us compromise our own values and beliefs. It’s not about trying to impress our principles on others, just about being true to ourselves. Tolerance I believe it’s called, and it’s supposed to work both ways. My advice to your candidate would include that of Laurie & Paula in respect of focusing on what she actually does for the church and mentioning ‘non-profit’ for search reasons but if her support for her church is important to her – and I assume that it is – then she should be proud of it and not be afraid to include it.

– Personally if someone volunteers at a church it should never be an issue. That is why we have so many problems in the USA today because of someones stupid idea of political correctness. What happened to honesty, integrity, moral values in society. Today most people are selfish, greedy, will step on people to get ahead – volunteering at a church should be looked upon as a person giving the most precious elemanet they have which is TIME!!  If they volunteer at a church, nursing home, breast cancer walk it should not matter what the cause is at all.

– I agree – it is a shame, but I have unfortunately heard terms such as “crazy church lady” flung around by hiring managers and HR people alike. While I personally may think to myself, “Hey what a wonderful person, to give of their time so selflessly!” others may be fearful of walking in on an impromptu sermon in the cafeteria. That is, unfortunately, the world we live in where everyone is afraid to offend and walks on eggshells around every little thing that makes people individuals instead of robots.

– In a word relevance. If it relates to a specific job she is applying for then yes, include it on her resume, be proud of what she did and why and no one should take offence.On the flip side, whilst I support individualism everyone needs to be sensitive to the diverse community in which they choose to work, the championing of any cause, may not always be suitable for the workplace, unless that workplace is “cause specific” you run the risk of upsetting somebody, somewhere.If the church volunteering on her resume is as far as it goes, I cannot see why anybody would get upset (though you know somebody will). If she is appointed and brings the church volunteering into the work environment where it is not welcome on a regular basis, and someone gets offended this would not be acceptable.I could share many horrible stories where non relevant championed causes were brought into the workplace and cause a tidal wave of unnecessary upset.Good luck to the applicant.

– Thank you Matt for asking the question and I appreciate all the responses. I actually had a colleague of mine asking me the same question two days ago. I was quite surprised when she asked the questions. To me, it was quite obvious that if her experience is relevant to the position she is seeking, why not putting it in her resume or profile?! besides churches are considered non-profit organizations as many of you already mentioned. It’s too bad that some recruiters or individuals would focus so much on the place rather than what he/she actually did! not that we should oversee companies one works for but he/she may have a special skill for instance. I guess different people, different organization’s cultures and values and as Jo said maybe she/he shouldn’t bother with those people that dislike her “church experience” their companies are probably not a good fit for him/her!

– Even though this display of religious beliefs or faith may not be viewed as inappropriate by some, you will be surprised by those in both public and private sector companies that will see this as a plus—they cannot legally ask unless a BOQ, but it will be factored in as a significant factor ( ) off the record for a lot of different reasons. For those that disagree—sorry. Richard B. Russell, SPHRConsultant

– Quick thought: We are always looking for well grounded and rounded employees to hire. Someone who has their act together enough to volunteer at their church says a lot to me. As an employer, we look at all the aspects of the employee we are going to hire. Those ethics, values, and morals (both work-related and personal) that may preclude this person could be good for our team, along with having the skill set required, is important to evaluate .. If all those specifics are covered then I want to at the least talk/interview with this person.

– Agreed. Any volunteer work that’s job related should be added to the resume. If compromising your character and second guessing your beliefs to gain employment is needed, then that’s definitely not an organization you would want to be part of.

– Definately put the volunteer work on the resume if the experience is job related. She could simply put the title of her volunteer position (secretary of board of trustees for a local organization serving <location and size>) The interviewer will ask and she can disclose the location then if her concern is being branded a religious zealot. Honestly I think people worry too much about stuff like that. I look at what a person did and the experience they gained and how it fits in with the job description. I think most other proffessional HR people do.

My Take:

– It’s a shame how truly “PC” related items can sometimes backfire into a mess. If it relates to what you’re trying to do, keep it on there!

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