Your Resume Should Be Personal—But Not Too Personal

Monday, October 16th, 2017 - Resume

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Here’s a common question from jobseekers: How personal should a resume be?

Well, that depends on what you mean by personal.

Certainly a resume should reflect who you are as an individual job applicant and potential employee. It should be tailored to reflect your skills, your achievements, and the value you bring to an employer. The cookie-cutter, or one-size-fits-all approach, never really works in resume writing. Rather than writing an anonymous resume, you should aim to write a distinctive one—and that certainly involves some personalization.

At the same time, a resume is ultimately about the professional side of your life—and as such, there are some personal details that you should generally omit, not just from resumes but also from cover letters.

Personal Details to Omit from Your Resume

Here are just a few examples:

Headshots. There is simply no need to include a photo of yourself with your resume; it goes against established job search decorum, and anyway, the recruiter or hiring manager will see what you look like in your interview. Exceptions to this rule: Resumes for models or actors, and for certain overseas jobs that specifically request you include a photo.

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Hobbies. Generally speaking, your hobbies are not relevant to the job, or to the value you offer your employer—though by all means list any relevant volunteer experience.

Personal email addresses. You should have an email address that looks professional—your name and a recognizable email platform, such as Gmail or mac.com. An email handle like RunnerDude or YogaChick has no business on your resume. If you need to sign up for a new email account, just for your job search, by all means do so.

Personal details. Some additional information that’s not needed on your resume: Age, religion, political affiliation, race, marital status. Not only is this none of the employer’s business, but it could potentially make you the target of discrimination. An exception here: It is wise to note whether you need visa sponsorship from your next employer. This actually is relevant to the hiring process.

A Matter of Balance

So how personal should your resume be? Well, it should always be individualized—but not unprofessional.

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