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Study explores religion in resumes

Researchers say noting involvement in religious groups can affect landing a job

Posted: June 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Religious job-seekers and college applicants may have some revising to do on their resumes and applications, according to recent studies from a group of University of Connecticut students. 

Researchers correctly predicted the results of field experiments on the relationship between religious affiliation and hiring discrimination, which showed that mentioning involvement in religious groups on a resume hurts an applicant’s chances of hearing back from potential employers.

Wally Caddow, managing director at Trinity Classical Academy, says that his students could be feeling some religious discrimination in the college application process. The Academy has around 500 Christian students and about 110 Christian employees.

“We have had students who have been interviewed by Harvard and Yale multiple times, and their scores are well in their range,” Caddow said. “I don’t know what goes on in admissions rooms, but whether or not coming from a Christian school has an effect, one will never know.”

University researchers were aware during their studies that religious discrimination in schools and in the American workplace is on the rise.

“In the last 20 years, religious-based complaints filed by employees with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased from 1,388 in 1992 to 3,790 in 2010,” UConn researchers reported.

The trend

Although the results varied, studies supported the researchers’ hypothesis: employers resist the entrance of religion into the workplace.

An applicant involved in a religious-named group was 24 percent less likely than a control group to receive a phone call from an employer, according to researcher’s first study on New England employers. The control group was composed of those resumes that mentioned a generic student organization like “The Student Alliance.”
Caddow’s opinion on this issue varies from case to case.

“I am a big proponent of businesses running their business as they see fit,” Caddow said. “If you want to hire someone of faith, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s fine as well.”

However, he believes that some employers tend to paint religious experiences with a broad brush.

“I think that there are some people who have a natural aversion to it because of some experiences that they have had in the past,” said Caddow. “There’s not a lot of tolerance for diversity of thought, and quite frankly, I think that affects things a lot.”

By region

Michael Wallace, a professor of sociology and the director of graduate studies at UConn, said the strength of the researcher’s studies is they show religious discrimination in two regions with very different religious climates.

“(New England) is cited as being most religiously tolerant and not as deeply passionate about religion,” Wallace said.

Southerners, however, are the most passionate about religious practice, according to a U.S. religious landscape survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Caddow too believes that geographical region can play a part in religious discrimination in schools and in the workplace. For example, based on his visits to Texas, he pointed out that there were “Christian schools on every corner,” while there are not as many in the Santa Clarita Valley.

However, Caddow believes that SCV is fairly open-minded in religious cases.

“I think our valley is religious and tolerant,” said Caddow. “Our community seems to have a lot of churches and religious activity here in town.”

He believes that where people go wrong is in discriminating and overlooking potential students and employees because of what they believe, and that Christians in general are just attempting to be considered as everyone else.


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