Using a Personal Data section has become outdated. During the 1970s and ’80s resumes moved from almost always having a Personal Data section, which included such information as age, marital status, height and weight, and health status, to the almost total extinction of such a section. Women began excluding it from their resumes about 30 years ago and men followed suit. Equal Employment Opportunity legislation also helped hasten the trend. It was never a very helpful section, but it was traditional to include it.
In the 1930s and ’40s it was traditional to include religion and the national origin of parents in a Personal Data section. It was assumed that employers wanted to know and therefore it should be included. Actually, including this information merely gave employers greater opportunity to discriminate.
Our recommendation is to exclude it as a section. Sometimes, however, it is useful to use a section called “Personal.” It can be used to cover bonding, security clearances, citizenship, willingness to relocate or travel, and any other aspects that might not fit in other categories of a resume.
Include personal information only if you believe the points covered will help sell you.
With that in mind, do not include the older types of personal data information such as age, height, weight, marital status, and health status. Also, do not include information that reveals age, religion, political affiliation, or ethnicity.
Mention you are bondable if your type of work requires it. Essentially, anyone who does not have a prison record is bondable. Bonding is a type of insurance employers take out on employees who handle large amounts of money. If an employee heads to Mexico with thousands of dollars, the employer collects from the bonding company.
Many people in the military, and civilians working on military projects, have been given security clearances, typically “Secret” or “Top Secret.” After leaving the military, these quickly lapse and a new investigation is conducted before reestablishing a security clearance. By including your security clearance, however, you’re really saying, “My honesty and integrity were verified by a very thorough investigation; you, too, can trust me.” If you held a security clearance within the last ten years, it may be helpful to mention it. Indicate the years it was active. An alternative is to mention your security clearance in your military job description.
Include this information only if you believe an employer might question your citizenship, or if you especially want to let an employer know that you are a
U.S. or Canadian citizen. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may want to state “Permanent Resident” or indicate your status. There is no need to specify “Naturalized U.S. Citizen;” simply say “U.S. Citizen,” or possibly “U.S. Citizen since 1988.” Other terms could be “Canadian Citizen since 1979,” or “Valid Green Card.”
We suggest not listing your health status. Everyone always states “Excellent Health” anyway, so it really has no purpose.
If you are willing to relocate and you are contacting national or regional firms, state this in the Personal section or merely state at the bottom of the resume, “Willing to relocate.” Do not include a statement in the resume or cover letter that you are unwilling to relocate. Save that for the interview or after you get the job offer.
If the job is likely to require extensive overnight travel, and you’re willing to do so, consider stating that in a Personal section, or in the cover letter. If you are unwilling or unable to travel, or if you could travel only one night a month, say nothing in the resume or cover letter about travel. Be prepared to discuss it in the interview, however.
If you want to sell your language skills you can create a category called foriegn Languages, or you can include it within a Personal section. It would typically look like this:
Fluent in reading and writing French Conversational in Spanish Able to translate and interpret in Russian
See below how languages can be incorporated into a personal section.
List only those activities that you are heavily involved in and knowledgeable about. More than one person has lost a job opportunity because an employer who truly was active in that endeavor simply asked a few questions to compare experiences, only to discover the person knew almost nothing about it. As small as it seems, none of those people were able to recover in the interview. All credibility had simply been lost.
Languages: French (12 years of study); Spanish (2 years of study) Hobbies: Reading literature and business subjects, piano, horseback riding Willing to relocate
Whether you should include activities or interests is open to debate. Some insist that anything not demonstrating work-related skills or background should be excluded. Others feel a discussion of activities can become an interesting topic of conversation and helps the candidate to be remembered. Both sides make good points. We sometimes include activities because it can make a person seem more real. Select your interests and activities carefully; use only those in which you really are active. Jogging is an excellent activity to include, but don’t list it if you run only occasionally. Physical activities can help indicate high energy and excellent health.
With each activity you select, ask yourself what impact it will have on an
employer. Unless you believe most employers will view it positively, do not
include the activity.
Give a consistent picture of yourself. Decide what image you want to convey and then select the appropriate activities. Office workers are wise to state interests that indicate a highly energetic personality.
Strong involvement in marathon running, skiing, and scuba diving.
Actively involved in golf, jogging, and camping.
Enjoy making exotic breads, creating stained glass windows, and dance exercise activities.