I’ve changed my mind about something this week.  The germ of an idea had been growing in my mind about religion and recruitment.  In many countries there are constitutional laws enacted to keep religion and state separate, for many reasons, but largely to ensure that the governance of a country is neither swayed, nor (more importantly) seen to be swayed, by articles of faith held by a proportion of a population.

I still view a lot of CV’s, and note that a minority of candidates still declare their faith and religion of choice.  It seems like roughly the same proportion as it always has, in my experience (over 24 years).  I used to think it was either an arrogant or naive thing to do for several reasons.  Let’s say a CV contains the statement “I am a committed Christian” and I am a recruiter reading it.

  1. Why are you telling me this?
  2. Do you assume it will help you to get the interview?
  3. Do you assume the person reading it is also a Christian?
  4. Do you believe that it demonstrates that you are a good person?
  5. Would you state it if yours was a minority religion, say Jewish, Sikh or Muslim?


To me, it wouldn’t matter which religion you were, or even that you had one at all.  I would be only concerned that you thought that it was relevant to your job application.  Additionally, it is now commonplace to see a person’s religion stated in their social media profiles; in Twitter bios, LinkedIn statements etc.  In this new age of the Social CV, these details inevitably become public, and have the potential of becoming a factor in discreet discrimination.

Now this is where I have changed my mind.  Clearly a person’s religion is a very personal thing to them.  Some people choose to keep it private, and others are happy to “bear witness” by putting it out there.  They are, of course, not only entitled to do so, but also entitled to expect that this information is not used to discriminate.  Moreover, as the blurring of public and personal advances through social media, the authenticity of an individual is all the more important.  In recruitment at least, I can see that the old-fashioned etiquette in this regard is being challenged.


Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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