Can being an outspoken atheist hurt your job search?

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Last year for the first time in my life I had a separation from employment that was not by my own free will. I had been working for the company for close to 14 years. I had to then start a job search knowing that the market was weak and the horror stories of people taking years to find employment weighing on my mind. My father decided to choose alcohol over supporting the family at about my age. Was I about to follow in the same footsteps as a provider minus the booze? Until then the fear of failure was nothing more than a ghostly specter in my mind. Was it about to gain form like a Freddy Krueger film with each passing week of being on the outside looking in the inside?

I have been a representative of the non-religious community for years. I have written books, blogs, a few videos, radio interviews, podcasts and maintained a Facebook page. Would this expression play into the job hunt? How much of a risk does it pose relative to expressing strong political views or engaging in other controversial issues? For the job opportunities that suddenly went dead, was this the reason? After phone and in-person interviews the communication abruptly stops and the e-mails and voice messages aren’t returned. Were my employment bids submarined by a Google search?

Fortunately I wasn’t unemployed for long, and getting the sack has worked out quite well. Many theists would thank god for bringing them a timely job position. I make no such claim as I don’t believe that’s the case and I think it’s arrogant to claim that an all mighty god chose to help me while so many are struggling on the unemployment line. I thank my skills, education, connections, friends and luck. Hopefully those assets will hold out until my eventual retirement many decades from now.

So being an outspoken atheist does not cut you out of the job market. I cannot say it could never be a factor in an employment search and the risk could vary by location. It’s important when communicating about anything online to be professional. Remember, it’s the internet, not Lord of the Flies. You should also do a Google search for your own name and see what comes up.

It’s always a risk to open our mouths. Doing so could make us a hero, a fool, or ignored. In order to learn and grow we must express ourselves. There’s plenty of time to remain silent in the grave. In our modern world of mass communication and storage there are few who haven’t said something online they’d like to take back out of concern it could haunt them later. Fortunately because of the sheer mass of information the past can quickly become buried and searching on your name could bring up thousands of people with the same name into the results list.

So be aware of exposure, but at the same time do not be silent on subjects you have a passion for.

-James Kirk Wall

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