Learn from Me: The Pros and Cons of Including a Full Address on Your Resume
Based on the true student story of Andrew, Finance, Class of 2020
As students are formatting their resumes, its standard to include a full name and complete contact information at the top of the document, in what's called a header. For many years this included the expectation of a full mailing address in addition to phone number, email address and optional LinkedIn or website links. This information is used to contact candidates to schedule interviews, however employers typically use email or phone, not postage mail to communicate with job candidates. So in current times, is all that contact information still necessary? Is a full mailing address outdated and irrelevant? Consider my story where an address helped and hindered me during an interview process. Then consider for yourself, is an address necessary on your resume? Could it encourage employers to overstep privacy expectations or help you connect to an interviewer?
As I composed my resume, I wondered why I had to include my physical home address in the header. Few (if any) employers send me snail mail and I live away from home for over 75% of the year, so I saw few positives to including to my address in the header. But in sticking with formal resume guidelines, I included my address in the header of my resume. It wasn’t until I interviewed with a small consulting firm that I saw both the pros and cons to sharing my address with an employer.
In a first round interview, I discovered my interviewer was from the same home town and attended the same high school as me. This created was an immediate connection and much of the conversation was spent talking about local hot spots and stories rather than traditional interview questions. I was able to break the ice quickly, allowing me to more comfortably talk with him about our shared experiences, and later answer more focused interview questions. I advanced to a second round interview with a Managing Director and ultimately received an internship offer from the firm.
However, the internship offer was in a city 300 miles from my hometown, meaning housing was something I had to consider. During a follow up phone conversation with the Managing Director I voiced my concern of steep housing costs in an expensive market. I was shocked with the response of the Managing Director and how he has used my address to dig up financial and personal information about my family.
Me: While I appreciate this offer, one of the things that concerns me is the initial costs to relocate to the area, and I estimate about $2,000 a month in rent. Financially, that will be a challenge and it's one of the disadvantages of this offer and giving me pause to accept the position.
MD: Well, I took the liberty of using Zillow, and I can see the value of your home address. It's also no secret that tuition at Lehigh is expensive, and yet you manage. I am surprised to hear money is such a significant concern for you.
The Pros and Cons
In the early stages of my interview process with this company it served as an advantage to share my address and gave me a genuine connection to the interviewer who happened to be from my hometown. I believe that connection contributed to the decision to move me ahead in the hiring process and receiving an offer.
One the other side, I was completely appalled by the Managing Director’s unprofessional assumptions about my personal financial situation based on a Zillow estimate of my parents’ house. Sharing my address on my resume also led to snooping around my parents financial situation (which doesn’t translate to my situation by the way), and uncovering information that was easily accessible when he had a full mailing address. Google maps and other online sources reveal all sorts of information about job candidates if hiring managers are inclined to look. In this case, sharing my address led to an abuse of my personal information, and lumped my personal circumstances to that of my parents, which was not fair or ethical.
Blessing in disguise
To me, the incident really turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it showed me that the firm was not a place I could see myself working. I got the chance to evaluate the character of the Managing Director, and used it as a way to evaluate fit within a company’s culture.
Advice from the Career Center
In an effort to protect students’ personal information, and yet allow students to connect to employers geographically (and potentially personally), consider adding just your city and state to the resume header (see examples below). A full address may be requested later in order to perform a background check or complete Human Resource payroll processes and employee files, but an address doesn’t need to be on your resume with the initial application.
Need more help with your resume? Check out the resume resources on Handshake and bring your resume draft for review to Career Lab (weekdays, 11 am - 2 pm in 484 Rauch).