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Should You Include “Controversial” Volunteer Experiences On Your Resume?

A backlit person sits perplexed at their laptop.

You love volunteering. It allows you to give back to your community, get involved in a cause you’re passionate about, and strengthen key skills that could help you in your job. But what if the volunteer work you do is potentially controversial? In our LinkedIn Group for Job Seekers, a member asked the following question:

"I am very, very, oh-so very passionate about women’s health and rights, and I show this through volunteering for two pro-choice organizations. I’m proud of my work with these organizations, but I also recognize that not everybody shares my beliefs.

Following traditional job seeker advice, all of my volunteering experiences (pro-choice, political, environmental, refugee assistance, etc.) are listed on my resume to show that I am dedicated, committed, and passionate.

However, I’m concerned that in the non-profit world where so many non-profits are religiously rooted my work with pro-choice organizations or politically affiliated organizations will be seen negatively. Has anybody experienced negative reactions to their volunteer work? Should I leave it on my resume?"

When it comes to volunteer experiences around touchier subjects such as religion, politics, or sexual orientation, some career experts suggest leaving them off your resume. Others argue that if it is a cause that is important to you, would you want to work for an organization that would discriminate against you because of it?

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