In the midst of the recent Supreme Court nomination calamity, I can’t be the only American who is tired of hearing about other people’s sex lives. When did the intimate activities of every citizen, below or above the age of majority, become reasonable fodder for public discussion?
I imagine this situation will only become worse as the social media generation comes of age. Discovering what went on behind closed doors is difficult when there were only five people in the room decades ago. Allowing hundreds of social media followers into the room will no doubt bite some in the behind, if not sooner, certainly later.
Communication is the solution to all problems, I believe, but more is not always better. An aptitude for controlling the message and managing information is quickly rising to the top of the list of soft-skills. Employers want to know about you, but how much do they really want to know?
I learned to dress professionally for my trips to the grocery and always buy my liquor out of town.
Very early in my career, I was teaching in a public school in a Southern state and living in a dry county. By my mother’s example, I knew that it was best to live outside of the district where you taught, so a quick trip to the grocery in your sweatpants did not turn into an embarrassing impromptu parent-teacher conference. When you are in public service, everyone is your boss. Innocently adding beer to my grocery list became the basis of an off-handed comment by my principal. I learned to dress professionally for my trips to the grocery and always buy my liquor out of town. Let the school administration make assumptions about my humanity, but I was not going to give them actual evidence.
Sharing information with your employer is a balancing act that begins with your resume. Employers need information, so they can connect with you and find you to be the right fit for their organization. But how much information is too much?
Here are some resume guidelines for sharing information:
- Contact Information: A prospective employer needs to be able to reach you, not stalk you. A cell phone number and email address cover this need without exposing too much, like your home address.
- Work History: Employers want to see a timeline of employment that shows you regularly and consistently hold down a job. The amount of time you spent at each job is becoming less important as hiring managers realize the 25-year career at one company is pre-historic.
- Education and Training: Whether you have a college degree, on the job training, or completed some online courses, this information increases your value to a potential employer. The year you completed your training is relevant. The number of years you spent pursuing that degree, not so important.
- Extra-Curricular Activities: Volunteer work or participation in trade associations or civic organizations is relevant. Unless you are applying for a fitness professional position, your college athletic history is not important. Save that real estate on your resume for something your potential employer needs to know.
- Personal Information: How many children you have, your pet’s name, and where you spend summer vacations are not relevant. Your favorite color and your strange-but-not-quite-creepy affection for unicorns are not, either.
There is a fine line between exhibiting some personality in your resume and oversharing. An excellent wordsmith can infuse the details of your professional life with just enough individuality to intrigue potential employers without creeping them out. (No sex talk, please! ) For the sake of hiring managers everywhere, I recommend erring on the side of caution.
Use your resume to communicate all the details of your professional life with potential employers. Stick to the facts that are relevant and demonstrative. Never make a claim that you cannot back up because you may be asked to do just that in an interview.