Political Discrimination in the Hiring Process: Getting Past Your Own Biases

by Susan Mullin

Given today’s politically-charged climate, how can hiring managers make sure that political discrimination and bias doesn’t affect their hiring decisions?

"fight today for a better tomorrow" protest sign fighting political discrimination

When each campaign season is over, the DC job market is flooded with hardworking and talented professionals looking for their next opportunity. In a time where our country is politically divided, how do you get past political affiliations on a resume?

1. Think not about who the candidate worked for, but what they learned.

Political teams now must employ sophisticated digital marketers, skilled message-makers and social media gurus just to compete. These professionals are often deadline-driven, open to trying new tactics, and exceedingly loyal. These are qualities that many companies would pay a high premium for in today’s market. Candidates with these skill sets should be taken very seriously regardless of political party. Political discrimination based on past experience could screen out viable talent.

2. Look at personality and work style.

Beyond skills, political staffers are typically hard workers and able to work in high-pressure environments. That kind of intensity can either be a real asset or something that could be radically out of place. Before falling in love with a candidate because they worked for an organization or politician you admire, make sure they are a good culture fit. Else facilitate political discrimination.

3. Consider diversity.

Modern employers have learned that they gain a great deal when they employ diverse teams. Teams that feature people of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, abilities, ages, veteran status, sexual orientation and gender identity–and many others. You can think of differing political beliefs the same way. Diversity of thought can bring new perspectives to organizations. Also, it can take us outside of our comfort zones and allow us to solve problems in new ways.

It’s not always easy to be politically neutral when hiring, even for those of us who don’t work on the Hill or for special interest groups. If you aren’t careful, political discrimination and can bias can result in missing out on great candidates. But if you commit to opening your mind to people with different perspectives, you could very well enrich your organization.

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Posted in , Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Hiring Managers