Wanted: Hard-working individual with job experience, demonstrated leadership and a minimum of two references — those with faith need not apply.
Most of the country might consider itself religious, but according to two recently released studies, admitting one’s faith on a resume can cut the chances for a callback by more than 25 percent.
Scholars with the “Religious Affiliation and Hiring Discrimination” field experiments, conducted in the South and New England, found that “applicants who expressed a religious identity were 26 percent less likely to receive a response from employers.”
“These studies do tend to show there will be factors in resumes that will lead to bias,” said David Lewin, head of Berkeley Research Group’s Labor and Employment practice and a professor of organizational behavior at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. “Religion could well be one of them.”
The New England study was conducted between July and October 2009, and involved submitting 6,400 resumes for 1,600 job postings within 150 miles of Hartford, Connecticut.
The study in the South was conducted between March and May 2010, and involved 3,200 resumes sent to 800 jobs posted online within a 150 miles of two “major Southern cities.”
The jobs included positions in customer service, hospitality, media, retail, real estate, shipping and clerical duties. The postings only required an emailed resume.
Both studies submitted resumes to jobs where a resume could be emailed, and for each posting, several resumes were submitted with similar templates but a variety of faith-based information.
“We randomly assigned to each resume one of seven experimental conditions,” the studies explained, listing atheist, Catholic, evangelical Christian, Jewish, pagan, Muslim, a made up “Wallonian” faith, and a control group for which no religious affiliation was mentioned.
The scholars used a template of a candidate who had graduated in 2008 or 2009 with a 3.7 or higher grade point average and participation in extracurricular activities. The religious identification was made through a membership in a university-related religious organization.
“Including such religious information on resumes is realistic for college graduates because they generally lack extensive work histories and tend to compensate by listing involvement in extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences,” the study stated. “These activities include participation in political, community, or identity-based organizations.”
In the New England study, 8.5 percent of the control group received a phone call or email from a potential employer, compared to the 7.5 percent average of the seven religions included in the survey. The fictitious “Wallonian” applicants had an 8.2 percent rate of return, compared to the 6.5 percent for Muslims.
For the American South, 18.2 percent of the control group received a call or email, while the religious candidates averaged 15.7 percent.
Jewish candidates had the highest rate of return, at 16.5 percent, while Muslims again were the lowest, at 10.7 percent.
In the “art of resume preparation,” one rule of advice is “unless you have a good reason to put it on, don’t put it on,” Mr. Lewin said.
Candidates need to consider the value of what is going on their resume, Mr. Lewin said, so that something they add is not “something that stands out to an employer as irrelevant or negative.”
On the job hunting website Monster.com, experts advise applicants to consider only including information that will “get your foot in the door.”
“Every bit of information on it should be selling your value to potential employers,” the site says. ” You may leave out organization names that disclose your cultural background, religious affiliation, sexual orientation and other possible targets of discrimination.”