How Should You React When You See a Vaccine Status on a Resume?

Knowing how to approach vaccine statuses on resumes will help you navigate current hiring trends and stay within legal boundaries.

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The pandemic has not only already changed our lives (including our working lives!) in all kinds of ways, but it continues to do so almost 2 years later.

One of the newest changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the working world is the phenomenon of applicants including vaccine statuses on resumes. Having you been seeing a flurry of applications with vaccination statuses included and aren’t sure how to respond? Maybe you’re getting ready for your first big hiring blitz since all of this started and you’re not sure how to navigate this new landscape.

Whatever situation you’re in, you’ll want to have a handle on what to make of vaccination statuses on applications and resumes. Not only will it help you navigate the current hiring culture, it’ll help make sure you’re not accidentally wading into legally murky water.

Understanding the trend: vaccine statuses on resumes

69% of hiring managers said they are more likely to hire someone who has already been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

As CNBC explains, “ResumeBuilder.com interviewed 1,250 hiring managers in August and found that 33% would automatically eliminate resumes that don’t include a COVID-19 vaccination status. On top of that, 69% of hiring managers said they are more likely to hire someone who has already been vaccinated against COVID-19,” the October article reads. Further, “63% said they prefer to see a job candidate’s vaccination status on their resume.”

No wonder why vaccination statuses are popping up everywhere from cover letters to resumes and CVs — applicants are getting a serious impression that it’s practically a requirement.

However, that’s far from the case in all businesses across the country. As everyone knows by now, COVID-19 and the vaccinations created for it have become immensely politicized.

What to do when you see a vaccine status on a resume

As Magalie René, the CEO of a professional coaching and training firm told CNBC, focusing too much on vaccination status can come at a cost to diversity and inclusion efforts.

“If we begin to tell job seekers, ‘Put your vaccination status on your resume,’ that potentially excludes people that haven’t taken the vaccine yet, but might consider doing so if it’s a job requirement,” René says. “It just creates another barrier to job entry, and what we need to be focusing on right now is how to foster inclusion, not driving polarization.”

Deciding whether or not to include a vaccination status on a resume can be a difficult choice for an applicant to make. Not only are they going through the whole traditional process of selling themselves and trying to find a place to work that’s a good match for them, they’re now having to navigate the politics of vaccination in the process.

That’s why it’s best to not react one way or the other when you see (or don’t see!) a vaccination status on a resume. Just because an applicant doesn’t list one doesn’t mean they didn’t get a vaccine. Plus, there are plenty of people who have legitimate medical reasons for not getting one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Just because someone lists a vaccination status on their resume doesn’t mean that they actually are vaccinated. This area is just like any other when it comes to needing to vet and verify some of the information applicants provide. As many leaders have experienced by now, documenting proof of vaccination is a whole thing in and of itself.

See it as a data point

The best thing to do when you see a vaccination status on a resume is to see it as nothing other than one data point, a starting point for a further conversation on your company’s vaccination policy.

However, how you go about having this conversation matters — a lot. You’ll need to proceed with caution to ensure that you’re not doing anything illegal in the process.

The difference between voluntary disclosures and asking for vaccine statuses

Ask about whether or not they have any concerns about your rule. If a candidate is unable to comply, then you’ll have to discuss and explore making reasonable accommodations.

There’s a major difference between asking an applicant about their vaccination status and receiving a voluntary disclosure — the latter is the applicant’s choice and the former isn’t.

It’s risky to ask applicants about their vaccination status. Doing so could easily be seen as a discriminatory question considering that there are legitimate medical and religious exemptions from the vaccine.

It’s not, however, illegal to include your company’s vaccination policy in a job description or bring it up in an interview. Even if your company mentions its policy in one place or another, don’t use it to ask about an applicant’s vaccination status.

Instead, ask about whether or not they have any concerns about your rule. If a candidate is unable to comply, then you’ll have to discuss and explore making reasonable accommodations.

Ultimately, as with many things in the small business world, how to handle vaccination statuses on a resume is entirely up to you and the needs of your business. If your company is public and client facing, you might enjoy seeing vaccination statuses on applications. However, if you’re struggling with diversity, you will want to make sure that your preferences aren’t unintentionally leaving anyone out.

It’s all about finding the approach and the balance that works for what you need. As long as you remember to stay within all legal boundaries when it comes to vaccine regulations, you’re golden.

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