I served with a large Christian ministry for seven years before making a career change. I enjoyed my work at the ministry and feel that the skills I gained are transferable to a new position. I certainly don't want to leave it off my resume. On the other hand, I don't want to have my resume "screened out" by an employer who is looking for an excuse not to hire someone who is obviously a conservative Christian. I worked for a small division of this larger, well-known organization, and to date my resume reflects the name of the smaller organization -- which does not state that it is a Christian ministry.
What should I put on an employment application? Should I give out the name of the larger organization, which could probably only verify my title and the dates I was employed, or the personnel manager of the smaller one, who could speak authoritatively about my skills and responsibilities?
Let's face it: We live in a world where there are many people with personal positions that may conflict with those of people who work for groups with political, religious or philosophical agendas.
For that reason, Jacki Keagy, a senior consultant with the career-management services division of Personnel Decisions International in Minneapolis, agreed that the letter writer is right in being cautious about how she presents information in her resume and on her employment application. Keagy said there is a "segment of the population" that is nervous about hiring people with activist political or religious views, and that some harbor "negative stereotypes" that some conservative Christians might be inappropriately evangelical in the workplace or "rigid in their attitudes."
Keagy said the issues are the same for other religious organizations as well. She recently advised a job seeker who had been employed by the Jewish Federation to highlight on his resume the job skills he had developed and play down the organization where he worked. She said she also recommends that people exclude details about volunteer participation in their religious denomination or social causes such as Planned Parenthood or environmental groups. Even some hobbies can be overly controversial, she said.
"Personally, I have a daughter who worked in San Diego to free an orca whale from Sea World, and if she put that on her resume she wouldn't go anywhere," Keagy said.
She suggested the writer emphasize on her resume her career goals, and specify the smaller organization on her resume, not the larger one, as the place she had honed her job skills. Later, Keagy said, once the resume passes muster, the applicant could mention the larger affiliation in passing -- or her hobbies or religious involvement -- if it seems appropriate at the time and could help interviewers make the personal connection that leads to a decision to hire.
But don't worry too much, Keagy said. "If they would reject you based on that, it's not a place you want to work anyway," she said. "But it's better for you to make that judgment than for them to make that judgment."
I'm a project manager of a large government contract. I also have contract-writing skills. Next year our company is expected to graduate out of 8(a) (small-business preference) status, and the owners are trying to capture as many 8(a) contracts as they can. The company has asked current employees who possess contract-writing skills to pitch in and devote whatever time it takes to write, edit, rewrite, etc., to meet deadlines to gain other contracts. We are all being asked to do this in addition to managing our current contracts.
We are being asked to do this during regular work hours, at night and on the weekends, and we are not getting paid for the extra hours, or even a small bonus when we win an award. We are not happy campers.
Beyond that, I'm afraid I may get into trouble if the government agency where we are working realizes how much time is being spent getting other work for the company. I almost got caught recently during contract hours, writing another contract on their time. I could get fired from this job if they knew what I was doing. It's not fair to my current client.
I told my supervisor about my concerns, and he just passed it off.
"Management is engaging in misconduct," said Bert Concklin, president of the Arlington-based Professional Services Council, a trade association that represents companies that provide technical services under contract to the federal government. He said the crime is "time-charging fraud," which occurs when a company bills the government for work it is doing on behalf of other clients.
Concklin said many contractors find themselves under intense financial pressure when they reach the point where they must "graduate" from a government preference program and pass into open competition with larger, older firms.
But doing outside work while on the taxpayer dollar is "a profound no-no" that could lead to government sanctions against the firm and even criminal liability, he said.
"If the firm is forcing you to do it, you're working for the wrong firm," Concklin said. "He needs to think about how to extricate himself quietly."