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Personal Information and References
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There are very few times when personal information is appropriate on a resume. Usually such facts only take up valuable white space, especially details such as age, sex, race, health, or marital status, and other information that potential employers are not allowed to ask anyway. There are exceptions to every rule in the resume business, however! Here are some of them:

  • International resumes in almost all cases require date of birth, place of birth, citizenship, marital status, sex, and a photograph.
  • Students, or those who have recently graduated, often have a difficult time coming up with enough paid experience to demonstrate their qualifications. But, if they have held leadership positions in campus organizations or have supervised groups of people and organized activities on a volunteer basis, then an "Activities" section could strengthen those qualifications.
  • A list of sporting interests would be helpful for a person looking for a sports marketing position.
  • If you are looking for a job in sales where you would need to travel a great deal, or overseas where relocating an entire family becomes expensive, showing that you are unmarried and willing to travel could be helpful.
  • Submitting a resume to a U.S. company doing business in certain foreign countries could be another example. On such a resume, an "Interests" section would show a prospective employer that your hobbies are compatible with the host country.

And the list goes on. It is important to use your judgment, since only you know best what qualifications are important in your field. For instance, on the third example in this section, you will notice that the author was a minister. In his line of work, it is very important to list a great deal of personal information that most employers would not need to know or even be allowed by law to request. In his case, the information he provided related directly to bonafide occupational qualifications for the job he was seeking.


Photographs on a resume are required by foreign companies requesting a curriculum vita. However, in the United States, photographs are discouraged in all but a few industries. For instance, if you are trying for a job as an actor, model, newscaster, or in some other field where your appearance is, again, a bonafide occupational qualification, then a photograph is appropriate. Remember, there is an exception to every rule in the resume business, so use your judgment.


References are not usually presented on a resume since most employers will not take the time to check references until after an interview. By then, they will have your completed application with a list of references. You also don't want to impose on your friends, associates, or former employers unnecessarily or too frequently. There is nothing wrong with taking a nicely printed list of personal references with you to an interview, however. Here's one of those exceptions to the rule again. If an advertisement requests that a list of references be sent with the resume and cover, then by all means supply the list. You don't want to be accused of not following directions!

Another thing: Avoid that needless line at the bottom of the resume that says, "References available upon request". It takes up valuable white space that you need to define the sections of your resume in order to draw the reader's eyes logically down the page.

Pretend you are an interviewer. You ask, "Will you provide references?" The interviewee replies, "Sorry, no, I can't do that." Will you even think twice about continuing to consider this candidate? I think not. It is assumed that you will provide references when requested.

From Designing the Perfect Resume, by Pat Criscito.
Copyright 2000.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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