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Oct 10

Political Neutrality a Necessity in the Job Hunt

The 2016 presidential campaign has drawn many retired senior military leaders into the limelight who might, in a different campaign year, have been inclined to voice their opinions more privately. The somewhat sordid, tabloid-like quality to much of the news coverage can make it difficult to sit quietly on the sidelines. I have been quite impressed with those “undecideds” on the stage with the candidates who have remained poker-faced during recent political debates, while I stared at the television, hardly able to remain in my seat.

No matter how many retired admirals and generals line up publicly to lend their names to either candidate during this hotly contested race, there are many more within the retired military community who hold a wide range of perspectives on the candidates and the issues we face as a nation. Some will argue that individual political opinions, especially those of retired senior leaders, should remain undeclared even after separation from military service – an unspoken expectation that military leaders remain above the political fray.  In the end, it is up to each individual to determine how best to practice good citizenry and love of country once separated from military service.

That said, demonstrating restraint in voicing strongly-held political viewpoints is not an option if you are searching for your next career. Whether you are a former E-3 or a retired general, you will take yourself out of the running for your coveted position if you are unable to demonstrate an ability to work with civilian colleagues whose political, religious or personal views differ from your own.  During your job search, avoid commentary or political attacks on the other candidate. This guidance holds true whether you are online on your personal Facebook page, on LinkedIn or at a networking event. Vehement political declarations have no place in the workplace, nor in the job hunt. If you decide to provide personal commentary, be prepared to accept the potential professional consequences.

You never know who will provide entry to your next professional opportunity. The best way to keep your options open is to avoid alienating a prospective employer with your “well-reasoned” political commentary and analysis, no matter how thoughtful and worthwhile.

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