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Man Asks If He's In The Wrong For Advising His Friend To Remove His Mental Illness From His Resume After He Struggled To Land Interviews

Man Asks If He's In The Wrong For Advising His Friend To Remove His Mental Illness From His Resume After He Struggled To Land Interviews
Pattanaphong Khuankaew / EyeEm / Getty Images

It's not uncommon to go to a friend for advice on a resume if a job search is going poorly. Not everyone can afford a professional resume consultant, and friends are more likely to know the person well enough to give good advice.

One such friend found himself facing the ire of his buddy's girlfriend after providing some good-natured advice, though.

After being confronted just for giving advice he'd been asked for, Alanbesodope asked the denizens of Reddit's r/AmITheA**hole for some advice.

"AITA for telling my friend to remove his Mental Illness from his resume, to boost his chances of getting an interview?"

Alanbesodope started out with some important background about his friend.

"A close friend of mine has bipolar disorder, and he is religiously committed to his treatment - he takes his meds on time, never misses out on any of his therapy sessions. He also has an incredibly supportive family and a wonderful, accepting girlfriend. I think he's thriving in his personal life and his diagnosis is being taken care of very well."

Seems like his buddy is doing everything he can to manage his illness.

"Anyway, he lost his job a while ago and has been applying ever since. He approached me with his resume so I could help him out because he was not scoring any interviews. At first I thought he was being hyperbolic but he actually applied to more than 95 places over a span of 2 weeks and got no calls."

You can probably see where this is going.

"He has plenty of experience, excellent reviews and is more than qualified. So it was quite puzzling to me that he couldn't get any calls out of this massive exercise, but when I went through his resume I found out that he had mentioned in it that he has bipolar disorder and depression and that he is in treatment for it. That would explain his failure rates, because of the stigma attached to mental health."

Just because that stigma is blatantly wrong doesn't mean it isn't alive and well in the business world.

"So I told him that he should consider removing it from his Resume. First of all, his mental health is his business alone. Second, he is being responsible enough by treating the condition for what it is - a health related condition. He wouldn't be writing that he has Asthma in his resume, for instance. He didn't have any objections, just that his Girlfriend told him that he should embrace his disorder and not shy away from it."

Embracing a major part of yourself is one thing; announcing it up front to prospective employers is quite another.

"Later that night his gf texted me and politely told me that it wasn't right that I told him to remove it. It's a part of him and he shouldn't be hiding such things from potential employers. If they reject him for his diagnosis, they weren't fit to work at anyway. I put across my perspective and she just asked me to stay out of it."

He finished with a final plea for Redditors' perspectives.

"So, honestly I'm not sure if what I said was correct. AITA?"

Redditors resoundingly responded that he was not the a-hole. Many agreed that the idea of putting medical information on a resume is simply unheard of in the business world.

"NTA. Your analogy to putting asthma on the resume is apt. It's not only unnecessary, it's so outside of resume norms that it will give the impression your friend does not understand other professional norms as well." -bugsdoingthings
"NTA. 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." -Jambomo
"NTA. Why on earth would anyone have their medical history on their resume? The only way this is even remotely advisable is if he's applying for a job that specifically asks for lived experience of mental health issues and this should only be addressed in the covering letter or selection criteria, not the resume."
"Firstly, employers are only interested in skills and qualifications alongside WORK experience. Secondly, the resume is a way to sell yourself - it's great that he's doing well, but I guarantee that every potential employer will wonder how much time off he'll need if he stops taking his meds/stops therapy. Thirdly, what experience in Human Resources does the GF have?"
"I promise that if you write about this to Alison Green of Ask A Manager she would be absolutely horrified. This is such a no-no. You should ask the GF how much of her medical history is on her resume. There's a difference between owning your illness and shooting yourself in the foot with TMI." -h2oc3por2d2
"Even in a perfect world, a private issue put into a resume shows poor judgment. I don't mention that I'm married, atheist, love science fiction, nor anything else non work related in my resume, no matter how important they may be to me." -Susan-stoHelit
"It's not necessarily the mental health issue itself that is putting hiring managers off. It could be:"
"1. Mentioning it is so far away from standard professional norms that the manager wonders if you're friend doesn't understand how to operate in the work world."
"2. Knowing about it opens the employer up to discrimination claims should they progress your friend to interview and intimately choose another candidate (in the same way we don't typically add martial status, religion etc. to resumes)."
"I have managed and would hire people with mental health diagnoses, and I would have serious reservations putting your friend through to interview for both the above reasons." -littleloucc

Others took issue with the idea of "embracing" a medical diagnosis at all, but especially in this context.

"NTA. 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." -Jerkforbreakingup
"NTA. His girlfriend is kinda the a**hole here, even if her heart is in the right place. It is possible for your friend to accept who he is, in a manner that does not actively diminish his chances of finding employment." -Pufflekun
"NTA. His girlfriend is actively harming him for this. Yes it's important to embrace ones mental illness because acceptance is an important part of treatment. However it's not something that you just say all the time. Like you said, it's not like people put diabetes or any other chronic illness/condition on resumes." -Xam_xar

Following the norms for resume writing is an essential part of any job search, and disclosing a medical condition is definitely not a part of those norms.

Advising his buddy to take his diagnosis out of his resume seems like pretty sound advice.

Looking for resume tips? Try these resources.