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Is it "legal" to not include certain elements on a résumé?

Career Exploration The Hiring Process

Question:

What elements legally need to be on my résumé? Can I leave off an advanced degree, for instance, if it won’t help me get the lower-level job I need for now?

Answer:

There are no laws in the United States that govern the writing of résumés. As long as the information provided is true, you’re safe from the long arm of the law. So take a deep breath and get on with your résumé.

If you want to leave off your Ph.D., for instance, when you apply to be a waiter in a restaurant, that’s fine. Having your degree on your résumé will only invite questions as to why someone with a doctorate wants to deliver food and bus tables. The most likely answer is that you’re trying to avoid starvation between jobs that would require that Ph.D., and that you’ll probably leave the restaurant as soon as you were trained. That’s a prescription for not getting the job.

Whatever job you apply for, make your résumé match the job lead. Whatever the job lead lists first is the most important element, so be sure you list it first too. Use the wording right out of the job lead; don’t feel that you need to re-invent the wheel. This may mean that you need to tweak your résumé each time you send it out. Yes, it’s extra effort; but job search is not the place to save time and energy.

Tailor your résumé and customize your cover letter to give the employer the information he needs. Your goal is to make him excited enough about you to call you for an interview.

If you want more information about résumés, come to the FCWS seminar, “Résumé Express.” Check the Seminar and Events calendar for the next day and time it will be offered.