Why Personal Data On Resumes Is a Risky Business

A somewhat new resume trend has been surfacing lately. It’s something that not only takes up valuable real estate on your resume but also is not at all essential for recruiters to see. Today, we’re talking about personal data and photos.

Personal Data

What types are we referring to?

We’re seeing date of birth, gender, nationality, marital status, and even social security number (sometimes the whole thing!). Throughout this blog, we’re using a specific rule of thumb: Include only the information pertaining to your skills and experience (except contact information, of course). None of those things really helps the recruiter or resume reviewer assess your credentials and matchability for the job. That being the case, you can (and should) leave that information off and use the space for something else. Save that level of detail for paperwork with HR.

Why including Social Security numbers is dangerous

This is most certainly non-essential information. The inclusion of part or all of the social security number on the resume is most troubling from a security standpoint. Think back to a moment where you called as a customer to somewhere you do business. What do they often ask for in order to confirm your identity? Typically, it’s last four digits of your social security number, zip code, and date of birth. If you include this information on the resume, someone could possibly pretend to be you. Do you see where I’m going with this? For the security of your identity, this information is best kept private.


The reason I advise against photos goes back to the rule of thumb. Focus on things that showcase your skills and experience. With the exception of acting and modeling gigs, a photo will not be useful in assessing your skills. Instead, they are a distraction from your resume’s focus. Also, one never knows how a photo could strike someone. Even something as simple as a hairstyle or a shirt color could provoke an odd reaction in the resume review. I wouldn’t want to miss out on a job because the resume reviewer didn’t like the shade of lavender I was wearing. In any event, that space on the resume is much more effectively used for something that showcases skills and experience.

Written by: Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist