What Really Happens When You Bring Politics To The Job Search And Office

The United States is weeks away from its 2020 presidential election. Animosity, anger, apprehension and anxiety are at an all-time fever pitch. The nation is divided into two warring factions and there is just no escape from all of the political fodder. Cable news, papers, social media and dinner conversations invariably turn toward the political hot topic of the day—accompanied by acrimony and arguments.

It’s even pervaded the office. While good-natured trash-talk about how poorly your co-worker’s football team fared on Sunday was accepted behavior, politics wasn’t a freely discussed topic of conversation. Things have dramatically changed and now talk about politics and social causes have become commonplace at work.  

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Silicon Valley-based cryptocurrency exchange and broker Coinbase, told his employees that he won’t stand for politics and the championing of social issues at the office. Armstrong bluntly said that he’d gladly offer severance packages to employees who aren’t comfortable with the new corporate policy of “political neutrality” in the workplace. The chief executive wrote in a letter to employees, “Life is too short to work at a company that you aren’t excited about. Hopefully, this package helps create a win-win outcome for those who choose to opt out.” About 60 Coinbase employees have accepted a buyout offer after Armstrong announced the controversial new policy curbing political activism inside the company.

Tech giants Facebook and Google had to enact policies and procedures to deal with heated conversations on their respective internal message boards.

Job seekers seem comfortable putting their political activities on their résumés and LinkedIn profiles. As a recruiter, I couldn’t care less about someone’s politics. I just want to place someone. The same may not hold true for a hiring manager, human resources professional or senior management.  

Job hunters have the right to campaign and vote for whomever they desire, but you must recognize the reality that at least half of the people you’ll interview with won’t share your political views. Of that half, a good percentage probably despise your candidate. You are taking a big risk of alienating people when you promote your political preferences. This even encompasses seemingly harmless activities, such as volunteering and knocking on doors for the reelection of President Donald Trump or to get out the vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. 

No matter how important the race is to you, it’s not worth blowing up your chances of getting a new job or promotion by alienating people. Admittedly, this is a sad commentary on our current toxic climate that people will automatically form negative opinions about you based on your political preferences. The “cancel culture” is real and many prominent professionals have lost their jobs and livelihoods over it.  

Potential hiring managers and those involved with the interview process will formulate stereotypes about you if you favor a certain candidate or politician. It’s not just Democrat versus Republican. You may be a Democrat, but not left leaning enough. You may be too centrist for a staunch, right-wing Republican. 

There is a time and place for everything. While seeking a new job or striving toward a promotion, the risks are far greater than the reward. You could luck out and meet with a hiring manager who shares your views, but it doesn’t mean they’ll hire you. Your prospective supervisor may fear that others in the office believe you’re playing favorites and it could reflect poorly on their judgement. 

Job seekers and workers have to be careful of their social media presence. Hiring managers and recruiters search Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other sites to conduct due diligence on a candidate before making a hiring decision. If a job seeker posts mean-spirited, angry and foul-language-laced comments and photos that could possibly be construed as suggesting violence against their political adversary, it will be viewed with disdain and disgust.  

Even if someone heartily agrees with your politics, the person may feel uncomfortable with your lack of discretion and self-control. No one wants to hire a person who could turn into a liability and potential human resources issue. They’ll question whether your politics or job is more important. They’ll worry that you’ll post on Twitter and Facebook during working hours and start arguments with co-workers that don’t share your ideologies. Again, both sides—the people agreeing with your political stance and those who don’t share your views—will not feel comfortable hiring someone who would rather preach their politics than do the work that they are getting paid to do.

This advice isn’t just for those on the job hunt. Managers, co-workers and human resources professionals may curiously check out your social media postings and make snap judgments about you. They may strongly disagree with your political stance and formulate a negative perception, which results in direct consequences. A manager with an alternative opinion may pass you up for a promotion, raise or bonus, as they feel some animosity against you. You might never know why this happened since the offended persons never brought the matter up to you directly. You’ll be going through your daily activities unaware of the rancor held against you by the professionals who have control over your future at the company.

It’s the American way to be passionate about politics and fight for your preferred political party. Sadly, in this day and age, it’s a poor decision to bring this fervor into the interview process and workplace. You’ll only set yourself up for failure. Save the political arguments for the dinner table or when you’re out with friends. You could also low-key continue doing what you’re doing under the radar that can’t be detected at work. 

When interviewing or advancing your career, focus on winning over the hiring managers, decision makers and bosses—based on your skills, background, academic achievements, personality, hard work and dedication—not on who you campaigned and voted for.

This content was originally published here.