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Should Your Political Engagements Be Part of Your Professional Brand?

Source | LinkedIn : By Russ Klettke

Partisan engagement and advocacy volunteering are excellent skills builders. But they can nix some career opportunities.

Irrespective of parties, candidates and rhetoric, the 2016 political scene offers something that is affirming about the future of the United States. It is that people are engaged, especially the young. But some important questions for anyone who needs to sell himself or herself should be: Can my politics be part of my brand? Do my ideologies or causes help or hurt my prospects for finding jobs or clients?

Media focus on the election tends to be about the polarization of the politically engaged on both the right and the left – and the oft-times ill consequences of their passionate support. But a lot of people are gaining experience in this election cycle. This may come in the form of volunteering or even working (for pay) on a campaign. Others may attend rallies, engage in social media discussions or make financial contributions (which, it bears noting, are part of the public record).

It really isn’t possible to hide all of these things, given the degree to which our digital footprints are hard to scrub. Conversely, you can highlight some of these experiences in your presentation – resume, website, blogs, etc. – if you think it would be beneficial.

But should you? The rule of thumb for “mixed company,” which includes any professional situation, is that three things should not be discussed: religion, sex and politics. That remains good advice. The obvious exceptions are if you work in fields directly related to these topics; If you want to be a political strategist you mostly likely will need to show loyalty to one party or another (the exception is advocacy work that takes a bipartisan approach and therefore experience on either side of the aisle might be valued).

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