Many people – jobseekers and recruiters alike – will tell you that your CV’s employment history section is the hardest to put together. Others might tell you it’s the skills section or your career summary.
But while everyone’s heatedly debating on which is the most important part of a well-written CV (and, by extension, the most difficult to write), your attention is being diverted away from the simplest of things: the personal information you include on this all too important document.
So, what personal information should you include in (and exclude from) your CV? Should you add your date of birth, telephone number and national insurance number, or should you leave it all out?
Keep reading to find out!
Your name should take centre stage on your CV. (Use a slightly larger font size than the rest of the text to make it stand out more – 22 points is the general consensus).
Use the name you’re better known by (eg: John Smith) rather than your full birth certificate name (eg: Jonathan Cornelius Andrew Smith). But, it may be a good idea to present your name more formally if you’re applying for an academic job, for example. Whatever you do, though, do not use a nickname and make sure the name you use is consistent on all your marketing materials (including your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile).
Below your name, you should include the following information:
- Telephone number: As a general rule of thumb, you should provide a mobile phone number where potential employers can easily reach you on at any time of the day. Whatever you do, do not use your work number! It’s highly unprofessional, and it could spell disaster if the wrong person answers the call.
- Email address: Make sure that it’s a professional sounding one – in other words, not firstname.lastname@example.org! Like your telephone number, don’t use your work email address here.
- Postal address: This should be your current address of permanent residence or a PO Box address, if you prefer, but not – you guessed it! – your work address! If you feel that including your address may hamper your chances of landing a job, you could simply list your general location instead (e.g. London, England).
- Website: If you have a professional website, blog or online portfolio, make sure to include a link to it here.
- Social media links: Only add these if they are primarily used in a professional capacity. A LinkedIn profile should be the bare minimum.
On a side note, you don’t necessarily need to label this information by stating that the phone number you’ve include is a ‘Phone Number’, for example. Not only does this take up valuable space but it can also insult the reader’s intelligence.
Your CV isn’t a classified ad, and recruiters reading your CV don’t care about what you look like – well, they shouldn’t, anyway. Even if you think you’ve got what it takes to win the next season of Britain’s Next Top Model, you should avoid describing things like your height, weight, body build, and hair and eye colour.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule – for example, if you’re an actor, including information about your physical appearance is often essential to land roles.
There are times when disclosing certain information could expose you to all sorts of discrimination. Although being discriminated against one of the following nine protected characteristics is unlawful, it’s a good idea to avoid including them on your CV, anyway:
- Age (both younger and older jobseekers could be discriminated against)
- Disability (including physical and mental impairments, like a breathing condition or cancer)
- Gender reassignment (whether you have already completed or currently in the process of transitioning)
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity (whether you are pregnant, expecting a child or on maternity leave)
- Race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origin)
- Religion and belief (or lack of)
- Sex (do note that there are special circumstances where an employer can insist on employing someone of a particular sex)
- Sexual orientation
For example, mentioning that you’re ‘happily married with children’ adds no value whatsoever to your application. Sadly, it just may achieve the complete opposite and hamper your chances of landing a job altogether because you’re not considered ‘committed enough’ to your career.
There are special circumstances where including this information is acceptable: for example, when you’re applying for a job where you will be working with children.
For more information about your rights at work, check out our comprehensive handbook which includes details about equality and discrimination, as well as pay, annual leave and more.
Proof of Identity
Two words: identify theft.
If you want to avoid this ever happening to you, then disclosing your ID, passport or national insurance numbers so early on in the hiring process is a big no-no, lest it falls into the wrong hands. Generally speaking, you should only offer this information after you’ve formally accepted a job offer.
Another thing you should exclude from your CV is a photograph of yourself. Although adding a photo used to be standard protocol in days of yore, it is now generally frowned upon. It simply makes you look unprofessional and it risks potential discrimination. Also, this space could be better utilised by highlighting key skills and professional achievements – in other words, the things that employers actually care about.
It’s usually a good idea to provide details about your current visa status if you’re not from the country you are applying for a job in. This helps employers instantly determine your eligibility to work in the country. (Note that in some cases you may need to secure a job first and the employer will then sponsor your visa.)
If you have any licences that are relevant to the job you’re applying for (for example, a forklift driver licence), then including this information on your CV is essential. Normally, this kind of information is placed toward the end of the CV under a heading titled ‘Additional Information’.
Hobbies and Interests
Sharing your personal hobbies and interests on your CV is entirely optional.
If you’re just joining the workforce – and, therefore, have little to no valuable professional experience to speak off – it can be a great way to showcase your transferable skills. The key, however, is to target your hobbies to the job you’re applying for – after all, what use would a bank have for someone who collects stamps?
Now that you know what you should include on (and exclude from) your CV, here’s a sample personal information section to help you put yours together:
What personal information have you included in your CV? Did you ever include the wrong thing that ended up costing you a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity? Join the conversation down below and share your thoughts and experiences with us!