Religion on a CV

Sunday, October 25th, 2009 - career management, CV Tips, CV Writing


Religion on a CV

Oude Kerk

Sarah, a PMP, asks: I was asked to check over an acquaintance’s CV, and one thing stuck out and I want to get other opinions before I say anything more to her about it. She is a PMP with significant experience in the Project Management industry. She has a Doctor of Divinity Degree from a non-accredited, religious university listed in her education area in addition to her three other degrees, BS, BS and MS. She doesn’t call herself Doctor or Reverend, at least not outside the church/religious setting. I checked the University and it is real and not a diploma mill, but does not seek accreditation because as stated on their website, they are religious in nature, and beyond the US Department of Education‘s secular realm of education which teaches things like Advanced Calculus, Micro-Biology, or Bio-Chemistry. They only offer religious degrees, Bachelors, Masters and DDs. Should she leave this on the CV since she is open about it being a religious degree from an otherwise non-accredited, religious university or should she drop it to avoid confusion? She is duly proud of her work to get the degree. The website lists a rather rigorous curriculum for each of the degrees, and the University has been around for about 30 or so years.

In answer:
Normally with any non-related to that job application information I would say exclude it. However, on this occasion, I think it is better on balance to include over exclude it.

Firstly, pull the PMP up front – don’t leave it dangling around in the educations section on Page2. She’s applying as a Project manager, and I see too many Prince2/PMP qualified people leaving that go/no-go decision to the depths of the CV/resume.

Re the non-accredited Religious doctorate, I would put it into her education section. Why? Well, as you say, it is an important part of her life, its a one-line entry, and HR people actually quite like people who are religious but not too devoted to it – they pay you to work, not preach!

Normally, unless previous skills, qualifications or experiences are wholly relevant to that job application, then they should be left out. Hence, if she had a PhD in History, it has no relevance to an employer. Secondly, it takes away focus from answering the question “why me for this job?” Thirdly, the employer may wonder why the individual has such SQE and hence whether that person will stick with what they are applying for, or will soon be looking for a seminary position.

Religion can be a dividing issue for many, let alone employers. So as long as its left in context (ie – I am applying for a job as a PMP, and not a priest), and placed as a qualification over a distinct skill or experience, and resultantly not dominating the CV/resume, leave it in.

Good Luck!

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