Palestine demonstration
Just over 20 per cent of businesses are concerned about hiring graduates who are Palestine supporters. Alfo Medeiros/Pexels

As recent graduates navigate a challenging job market, a new obstacle has emerged: employers' hesitancy to hire those who have shown support for Palestine. Amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza and Israel, many young people, including university students, have voiced their support for Palestine. This activism has often manifested in protests, including at prominent U.S. universities such as Columbia University, the University of Michigan, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Virginia.

A recent survey by revealed that employers are increasingly cautious about hiring pro-Palestinian supporters. The survey, which gathered opinions from 1,268 business leaders, highlights a general apprehension among employers about integrating recent graduates into their workforce. Over 60 per cent of respondents expressed concerns about hiring new graduates.

One of the survey's key findings is that 22 per cent of business leaders are specifically reluctant to hire graduates who have participated in pro-Palestine demonstrations. These employers often perceive such graduates as too confrontational or politically charged. Additional concerns include the potential discomfort these individuals might cause other employees, as well as the belief that they could be liabilities, possibly dangerous, or lacking education. Political differences between employers and these graduates further exacerbate these hesitations.

Huy Nguyen, Chief Education and Career Development Advisor at, argues that it is fundamentally wrong for employers to evaluate candidates based on their political beliefs. In an interview with CNBC Make It, he stated, "Exercising free speech and sharing personal opinions on social issues is a fundamental right, and employers should prioritise a candidate's skills, experience, and other job-related qualifications over any political biases." Nguyen emphasised that such biases are not only unethical but also irrelevant to a candidate's ability to perform job responsibilities.

Nguyen also pointed out the legal risks organisations might face if found to be discriminating against candidates based on their political views. Discriminatory hiring practices could lead to significant legal repercussions, potentially damaging a company's reputation and financial standing.

Despite some employers' reluctance, the survey also revealed that 21 per cent of respondents are open to hiring graduates who support Palestine. These employers appreciate the graduates' willingness to speak up and their strong values. Additionally, some business leaders whose political beliefs align with those of the pro-Palestine graduates are more inclined to hire them, recognising their commitment to a cause.

Prospective employers are likely to enquire about candidates' participation in protests during job interviews. According to the survey, about 60 per cent of business leaders indicated that they might ask about this topic, with 31 per cent stating they frequently or always discuss it during interviews. This creates a challenging environment for pro-Palestine graduates, who must balance their activism with their professional aspirations.

Nguyen advises that while graduates should not hide their activism, they should be aware of the potential biases they might face. He recommends that job seekers focus on showcasing their qualifications and suitability for the job, ensuring that their skills and experience are at the forefront of their applications.

The survey's findings underscore the complex dynamics between political activism and employment prospects, highlighting the need for balanced and fair hiring practices. As recent graduates continue to navigate the job market, they must remain mindful of these challenges while striving to present themselves as qualified and competent candidates.