The conversation around mental illness has come a long way in the last couple of decades. Bit by bit stigmatization is being removed and people are coming around to the fact that the brain is a part of the body, and like any other part, it can malfunction. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. Best to recognize and deal with that, not shame each other, or ourselves.
But even for those of us with progressive outlooks on this subject, questions of what to be transparent about when in terms of mental illness do come up.
One Reddit user on r/AITA (Am I The as$hole) tells a tale of good intentions toward his bipolar friend:
AITA for telling my friend to remove his Mental Illness from his resume, to boost his chances of getting an interview? from AmItheAsshole
Usually in these threads, there’s a fair mix of opinions, or one prevailing opinion with a few dissenters.
This is the first AITA thread we’ve ever come across where we couldn’t find a single comment telling OP they’d done the wrong thing. We didn’t read them all of course, as there are over 1,000, but still.
Take a peek…
1. Some took a rather stark view of “embracing” mental illness.
NTA. [“Not the as$hole”]
There’s nothing to “embrace” about bipolar disorder. I have it.
His girlfriend needs to rethink her wording. Bipolar disorder is not something to be proud of and it’s not something that needs to be announced to the world.
I’m also bisexual and that’s a part of me, but that doesn’t mean my employer needs to know.
I also have hemorrhoids and it’s a part of me, but that doesn’t mean I’m putting in on my resume.
2. Others sought to define what “embrace” should and shouldn’t mean.
He “embraced it” by recognizing it, getting professional help and is treating the disorder. Great for him, but it really shouldn’t be on a resume.
His girlfriend might have bought into the “everything-acceptance” movement a bit too much.
3. People on the other side of the interview table agreed; it should go.
I’m partially responsible for the hiring of people on my team – I wouldn’t interview this person.
We’ll get 100 applicants for any open position. When you’re that inundated, everyone gets reduced to the few pluses and minuses we can see on your resume. Being bipolar sounds like it could be a complication, so we’re going to throw in in the bin with 39 other resumes and look at the 10 that don’t look like there are headaches.
I have a weaker immune system than normal and regularly blow through all my sick leave. It’s part of me, but I don’t go advertising it to the world and I certainly don’t advertise it to prospective employers.
A lot of people don’t get that a resume isn’t a holy Bible, filled with what must be your divine and irrevocable truth. It’s a tailored sale pitch that shows how you align with a particular job. It needs to sell you in the first 10 seconds too, because that’s how much time you’re getting on the first pass.
4. Many wondered why his girlfriend would be so insistent about this against prevailing wisdom.
She sounds like a new university grad who hasn’t yet realized that the university bubble isn’t how the rest of the world works yet.
5. It’s important to talk about what a resume is, and isn’t.
A CV is simply details of your work and experience to show how you fit a role. It doesn’t want to have anything about you as a person, your social life, beliefs or in this case personal information.
The time for disclosing details of health issues is later on, when they ask about it. The gf is actually advocating putting companies in a difficult position as there is legislation on discrimination, so disclosing it so early will mean that they are reluctant to go forward with him, not because of his mental illness, but they are now aware of it when they are not supposed to be and it makes the recruitment process more difficult.
6. It’s not fair, of course.
Maybe in a perfect world that would work. But there is still a major stigma attached to mental illnesses. It doesn’t add to his resume at all and it isn’t necessary to leave it in.
Having a mental illness doesn’t inherently define who you are.
Let your friend know that he’s got nothing to lose by dropping it off the resume for a few weeks and see if that changes the number of calls.
Or suggest having someone with resumes look it over from a bonafide professional or HR person.
7. Work is work.
Has his girlfriend ever had any job? My depressed ass is telling potential employers everything they want to hear.
I even dress nicer than I normally do and think about what I say more than usual.
And if they ask what I do in my free time you can bet I won’t answer writing bullsh^t on reddit.
8. Most advised to stay focused.
I’ve always been told not to include anything that doesn’t directly pertain to the job on your resume, so even hobbies or extracurriculars shouldn’t be included unless they’re relevant to the position somehow.
9. If it’s not on any resume template, you should probably have a very good reason for including it.
Who in the world puts that they have bipolar on their resume?
Did the person even bother looking at how to write a resume or looking at resume examples?
I’ve never seen a section entitled “Mental Illnesses”
10. Bottom line: even empathetic people can misunderstand.
As a hiring manager, I have been confused by why several interviewees were talking about being bipolar.
To me, it was a red flag (because who talks about mental health at an interview unless it is a current problem?)
TIL, it is them embracing and taking ownership of the diagnoses and indicates they’re on top of it?
Still. Leave it off the resume, and out of the interview!
It would be interesting to see what a mental health professional thought of this. The job hunt is hard for everybody, it’s no fun having a complication. We wish that guy the best of luck!
What do you think about this?
Let us know in the comments.