I recently relocated, solidifying my fate as one of the drone commuters in rush hour traffic on one of the worst freeways in Southern California. Good thing I love my job. Since I’m not one of those book-on -tape people, I don’t even own an iPod and some days I’m just not in the mood for Ryan Seacrest – I find great entertainment in trying to figure out the people in the cars next to me. What kind of job are they headed off to? Why did they feel compelled to put all those Disney family stickers on their back window (you know, the ones portraying each of the family members in Mickey Mouse ears just so that everyone knows that they enjoy going to Disneyland). I find it fascinating that people feel so comfortable advertising their political affiliations, family unit data (how many kids in Mickey Mouse ears, or even how many pets), and even religion on the backs of their cars.
Last week, one personalized license plate stuck out to me as being a little over the top in terms of “too much information.” It read “WEDNOMOR”. The woman driving the gray Honda Accord looked normal, but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her as I stared from my window to hers. “Wow,” I thought. Something horrible must have happened in that marriage for her to feel compelled to advertise her disdain for the institution and her commitment from it on the back of her car for everyone to see.
It made me remember some of the inappropriate advertisements people sometimes offer up on resumes.
I have seen everything from listing your husband’s name in your objective, to describing a two year break in work history as “Served 19 months in jail for DUI offense.”
I have read resumes whose introductions explain how many children they have, how old they are and what God they worship.
This is not the time in our relationship that I need to know this information. Just like in the case of the Honda Accord lady last week – why should I know that you had an unfortunate marriage? Why do you want people to feel sorry for you without even knowing you? When you disclose on your resume that a 3 year break in work history is due to jail time, do you expect to get an interview? When I read things like “Took 1 year off to relocate to west coast to get out of a bad marriage” – is that putting your best foot forward to a potential employer?
My point here is, keep the personal information personal. I’m not sure there is ever an appropriate time for me (as a hiring manager or recruiter) to know what your husband’s name is, what church you go to or that you are divorced. That certainly won’t disqualify you from any job, but it muddies the water with “fluff” that has nothing to do with your career or my company. My advice is to be focused on your skills, experience and whether your core values match with a company’s mission and vision. Don’t give me information that I won’t be able to separate from in my decision process. Don’t allow anything to come between you and my perception of your ability to do a job better than anyone else.
I think there might even be a psychological implication with those who feel the need for attention from people revolving around somewhat negative personal events. It could make an employer feel that drama follows you everywhere. It may make us assume that you are the type of employee whose work gets impacted by personal/home related issues. Or that you are the type that freely and openly discusses your family problems which can lead to discomfort of colleagues in the work place or frequent tardiness (taking care of family emergencies, etc…). I cannot say this enough – You should seek to convey a stable, professional image in an interview process. Nobody wants to represent themselves as an “HR nightmare” so don’t give us any cause to label you one. Control the image, leave out the personal, focus on your accomplishments and speak only to what you can bring to the table.
If you have a statement on your resume that you feel is questionable or may be the exception to this standard, feel free to post it comments and I will give an honest opinion.