Assuming your goal is increasing the likelihood of your resume making it to the top of the pile, setting an interview, and obtaining the job offer, which “extraneous” information has been shown from study data to make a positive difference when included on your resume? Which is better left off?
People commonly ask about whether to include on resumes additional information about their interests, background, and affinities. For example, should a resume include …
- extracurricular activities and outside interests
- social fraternity or sorority affiliation
- gender identifiers
- partially completed degrees or certifications
- grade point average
- “cool factors” such as holding a pilot certificate
- Stack Exchange reputation
As the conflicting answers to these questions show, folk wisdom, “best practices,” your brother-in-law’s advice, and the like go both directions, generally along lines of
- For: Including these details conveys who you are with more depth and may help you to “stand out” against the crowd of other applicants.
- Against: Leave off details that are irrelevant to the job or that may even subject you to conscious or unconscious bias.
It’s a complex question; every industry and culture is different. People are involved, so subjectivity is almost certainly at work. There can be no universal recipe for the “proper” way to write a resume.
Then again, people are people. It is reasonable to think that at least a few anecdotes and nuggets of truthiness concerning what to do and what not to do have some sort of non-anecdotal confirmation. For example, to go along with the suggestions above, we have
- For: Including Greek affiliation on your resume may make an interview more likely and even help during salary negotiation, cf. The Fraternity Paradox: Lower GPA, Higher Incomes.
- Against: Using your initials rather than your full name on your resume may help avoid gender or ethnicity bias, cf.
The popular press and academic researchers have looked at various facets of this question. Blogger Paul Butler borrowed a technique from analytics to conduct A/B tests in order to make empirical conclusions about how readers responded to the content of his resume.
There are two main things I learned from this experiment. First, I’m going to keep social network links off of my résumé. Although they increased the download rate, they decreased visits to my blog. Since the latter is my priority, I’m not going to start adding social networks to my résumé.
Second, the short résumé did better in every way. However, the improvement in blog views was not statistically significant. For now, I’m keeping my online résumé at two pages, but I will use the one-page version in print.
There are of course other variables, several noted above. So many confident assertions on both sides of the question may create a confusing situation for job seekers.
What scientific conclusions inform what to include and what to leave off resumes?