Is a mailing address on a resumé just a vestigial reminder of the 1980s?
May 17, 2011 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Does a resumé really need my home mailing address?

In my own specific situation: I am a silicon valley software engineer and I'm unlikely to give this resumé to anyone who hasn't specifically asked me for it, always via e-mail (or through LinkedIn). There is absolutely zero chance they will ever want to send me anything via postal mail (at least before hiring me), and even if they did, there is zero chance that someone would withhold a job offer instead of calling or emailing me with a request for my mailing address.

I know that when I have interviewed people, this has never been important in any way, but I have only ever been a technical interviewer, I don't know what else HR might care about.

Is the only reason to include a mailing address on a resumé simply that nobody has updated this advice since the internet came into common usage?

Unless someone really convinces me otherwise, I think I will leave it off.
posted by tylerkaraszewski to Work & Money (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's because they want to know where you live, generally. If you're interviewing for a job in Chicago, they'll certainly care that you live in California.
posted by The Lamplighter at 10:08 AM on May 17, 2011

It's common practice, is all. Also, if they do a background check, having the address I think is necessary. and they may use address to pin down locations that would be appropriate (California as opposed to knowing they'd need to ask you about relocation if it's in New York) (on preview, see that part was brought up)

the question I would ask is why would you leave it off. It may just put the question in an HR person's mind 'is he trying to hide something?'
posted by rich at 10:10 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The standard I have been used to (Seattle-area software engineer) is to leave off the mailing address. It is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on perception of where the applicant lives. If you get as far as needing a background check, you put your address on the background check form.
posted by matildaben at 10:18 AM on May 17, 2011

the question I would ask is why would you leave it off.

While I can't speak for the OP, in my experience it's because when you're trying to make one. perfect. page. with everything on it, that little tiny smushy bundle of address, a whole section of its own and therefore needing a blank space after it, seems to waste an awful lot of paper. My current iteration has got the 'contact details' section down to three lines by going to two columns, with the five-line address written as Flat #, Block Name // Streetname, Town // County, Postcode. It would probably be possible to write it as # Block Name // Town // Postcode, but most people expect the county name at least if you're not in a big city (only applies to UK addresses, but hey). I've got two phone numbers and an email address in the other column.
posted by Lebannen at 10:21 AM on May 17, 2011

It is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on perception of where the applicant lives

Not to derail but do you have a cite for this? Because it certainly seems to be a common practice to say "local candidates only," even as far as where someone lives in a certain city.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:21 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

They're definitely not going to mail you anything; if they need it for a background check or whatever that happens during hiring, not when you send a resume!

If you do want to communicate you're not far far away, you could just write "Seattle, WA" or whatever and leave off the street address.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:23 AM on May 17, 2011

Barring background checks or similar quick search an employer may do before setting up an interview, I can't see a good reason for this. Also, I can say that every job I've had that has done in depth background checks has a separate form where you put your info, and I've had to fill out a packet after I was hired and submit it to HR for payroll and other purposes separately. So no, I can't really think of an informational reason to include a physical address on a resume, as long as your phone and email are correct.

However, the fact that your resume may be chucked immediately for failure to be able to adhere to a simple, standardized format, is probably a big reason TO include it.

My boss used to personally read the first 100 or so resumes that came in for a job ad, lose interest, and then hand off the culling process to me. She'd give me a 10 point checklist like: 1. No misspellings. 2. We stated in the ad that "must love x industry!" so if they don't mention a like/love of x inidustry in the cover letter, chuck it 3. Resumes with no formatting or bad formatting, "cutesy" pictures. etc. etc. Granted, that was her style, but I don't think it
was too far off from the paring down process when you get 1,000 resumes for a single ad.

In summary, YMMV, and it does depend on the job and the industry you are interviewing in, but the address being omitted could easily be misunderstood for ineptitude or carelessness if the other 99.9% of resumes have this information on them.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:25 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's useful because it tells people that you are a local resident, and it isn't going to be a big hassle to get you relocated. (Even if you know the people you're sending it too, there's a good chance that your resume will get circulated to other decision makers who don't know you at all.)

While there's a good chance that listing your address doesn't have a specific purpose, there's no reason to leave it off when the risk is that potential employers may be reluctant to hire a non-local.
posted by Kololo at 10:26 AM on May 17, 2011

I guess the potential advantage I can see would be the possibility that someone screening your resume might have some personal knowledge of the location, which could make you more salient to them and ultimately become a talking point in an interview.
posted by staggernation at 10:33 AM on May 17, 2011

I never put my address on. Phone and email, but I'm not in your business.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:37 AM on May 17, 2011

It is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on perception of where the applicant lives.

No, it isn't. The main protected classes are race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Other acts have added age and disability status. But location is definitely something an employer can use to screen applicants, provided they aren't obviously using it as a proxy for something which is a protected class, e.g. not hiring people from a particular neighborhood because the neighborhood is mostly minority/immigrant, etc.
posted by valkyryn at 10:41 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

You're a software engineer. Do an A/B test. Prepare a resume with your address on it, in case the recruiter is confused. Tally the number of times people ask about it. If the percentage is high, make the address-laden resume your default. If nobody asks, nobody notices.

Besides, my address is on my resume and it doesn't stop recruiters from pitching me about positions in Providence, Chicago, Charlotte, or Boston (I live in Santa Clara County, California).
posted by phoebus at 10:42 AM on May 17, 2011

You make it sound like job offers are the only thing they'll contact you about. Rejection letters are usually mailed. I've also gotten "we've received your application and expect to start scheduling interviews in 2 weeks" letters.

Do you wear sneakers to a job interview? Probably not, because that wouldn't look right, because it deviates from custom. The sneakers would serve the same function as dress shoes. You might care only about functions, but many interviewers care about appearance and custom.
posted by John Cohen at 11:04 AM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

The only time someone has used the address on my resume was when a couple from Boston was considering moving into the same apartment complex in Seattle where I was currently, found my resume online with my home address/telno, and called me up to ask about the apartment and neighborhood. It was a rather surreal call,

Female voice> "Hi, this is Patty"
Male voice> "..and this is George"
together> "we're the Griswolds!"
posted by nomisxid at 11:05 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree, as a HR person I always like to know where a person is so I know if we have to talk relocation AT THE BEGINNING. Nothing would be more annoying than figuring that out far into the process.

And we mail rejection letters if you are interviewed by phone or in person. (usually just emailed if we never actually talked at all)

It is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on perception of where the applicant lives.
hahaha, sorry these sorts of things always make me laugh, very few things are actually protected classes. Even California, which protects a LOT more than any other state has nothing protecting location.
posted by magnetsphere at 11:09 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're an engineer, most companies only care about your email as a point of contact. When I've applied to places I've only put my name and email and no one has said anything. If they wanted more information they will probably ask you to fill out an application which then you can go into specifics.
posted by xtine at 11:14 AM on May 17, 2011

I finally realized recently that I'm not comfortable with my address being plastered all over Dice, etc, and when I moved I changed all mine to just say City, State. Anybody who needs to know where I live exactly is welcome to ask me privately. (And anybody who thinks they need to background or credit check me without my consent or knowledge can kiss my ass.)

Depending on what I did, though, I wouldn't even put that on there. Name, email, secondary Google Voice number that I don't answer, just read voicemails from. I can put my "real" phone number in a cover email if I choose.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:22 AM on May 17, 2011

I've had employers who rejected my resume, mail me a physical postcard I was supposed to fill out to indicate my race/gender. I always felt vaguely annoyed and offended, so I just threw it away. I think I'll leave my home address off from now on, so they won't be able to send those idiotic postcards to me.
posted by parakeetdog at 11:31 AM on May 17, 2011

As a New Yorker who works in a creative field, I'm about 80% sure that employers want your address to make generalizations about the sort of person you must be. A resume with a downtown Manhattan or brownstone Brooklyn address paints a different picture than a Jersey City or Rego Park address.

It's not always "protected class" oriented, either. Someone who lives in Bushwick gives off the impression that they are bohemian, a creative type, and ambitious in a certain way. Whereas someone who is in the 'burbs implies that they are culturally conservative and more of a technician, and probably not as wild to move up quickly. From there you can jump to lots of less savory conclusions about social class, education level, and what kind of worker they will be. It's sort of gross, but honestly nine out of ten times you'd be right.

Then again, it's also practical in an era when a lot of people use their cell phone as their main contact number. I know a lot of people who have lived and worked here in New York for years but still have a phone number with an area code that implies they live across the country.
posted by Sara C. at 11:31 AM on May 17, 2011

Well, this is what I've got so far. As you can see, there's no address. I think I'll probably leave it like that unless there are complaints.

From what people have brought up, I can live with the possible problems here. I've never gotten a rejection letter before, although I can remember emails, and I can live without getting those letters anyway. I don't plan on relocating, so I doubt anyone is going to be unpleasantly surprised to find out that out late in the game. Some commenters also just don't understand this industry. That's understandable, but we do probably do some things differently here. Like show up to interviews wearing jeans and sneakers.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:35 AM on May 17, 2011

I don't plan on relocating, so I doubt anyone is going to be unpleasantly surprised to find out that out late in the game.

I don't understand. Since you're already local, and employers prefer this, why wouldn't you want to assure them of this fact?
posted by John Cohen at 11:37 AM on May 17, 2011

Of course, my sneakers example was just an example. If sneakers are standard for interviews and dress shoes would look out of place, you can obviously just rework the example to make the same point. I'm saying: follow the standard format because it is the standard format. True, I don't know your industry, but I assume that what's standard is standard everywhere, unless I have a specific reason to think otherwise. If you're saying you know the industry and it's standard to leave off your mailing address from a resume, well, then you already know the answer to your question: leave out the address.
posted by John Cohen at 11:40 AM on May 17, 2011

I'd want to see your home address as an employer, to see if we're talking about re-location or if you're expecting to make an epic commute to the job.

I may not want to pay for re-location. That's one thing.

Moreover, I may not want to hire someone that expects to be able to drag themselves into the office and be first-thing fresh after a two-hour drive every day. I also don't want to deal with the hassle of an employee that needs to leave early, or gets antsy if they can't stay an extra five minutes, because of the two-hour commute home.

You may think this doesn't matter in your particular line of work, because it's creative, or it's engineering, something snowflaky. IMO ... bullshit. Epic commuters are always bringing their commute into the office.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:43 AM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

On the topic of what's the industry standard, one thing I have noticed is that we get a lot of regional variation. We hire people from all around the world, and see things that look strange here but must be standard somewhere else. For instance, I've seen plenty of resumes from eastern europe or India that have photos on them, but Americans never seem to do that. I'm pretty sure I've even seen Indian resumes that list the applicants parents names and the companies they work for.

Unfortunately I don't have a stack of old resumes that I've been sent handy to peruse through.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:49 AM on May 17, 2011

I also work in an industry where people show up to interviews in jeans and sneakers, and yet John Cohen is absolutely right. I have what I call my "Liz Lemon drag" look absolutely down pat for job interviews. This outfit is minutely calibrated to sell me on all the most important points for someone in my position, in addition to the fact that it's exactly on the correct notch in the dressy vs. casual contenuum of job interview outfits. I won't stand out as the weirdo in a suit, and nor will I be the sore thumb who wore shorts and a halter top. I look the part. I fit in already. It sends the message, "not only am I qualified, I already do it. Effortlessly, natch."

Most of the resume conventions, even if they vary from field to field, are constructed to send the same message. I know my way around. I'm one of you already.
posted by Sara C. at 11:55 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

To add to what Cool Papa Bell said, my company has locations world-wide but only offers to pay relocation expenses for a select few jobs. If I'm interviewing you, I'd like to know if this would be relevant so I can tell you whether or not we're willing to help you move. It wouldn't influence my decision to extend an offer but it certainly might impact your willingness to accept it.
posted by tommasz at 1:15 PM on May 17, 2011

If I read your resume I'd honestly assume that you were NOT local and left off the address to hide that fact. This would probably automatically qualify you for the "delete" button. At the very least put the city and state.
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:54 PM on May 17, 2011

I say leave it off!

If you want to have your general locality on there, you could have something like:

Tyler Karaszewski

Silicon Valley

Good luck!
posted by coffeepot at 3:43 PM on May 17, 2011

I added back the city and state (and made some other small changes). I think this is enough to satisfy pretty much everyone, and doesn't take up too much space or make me feel weird about posting it online.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:48 PM on May 17, 2011

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