University of Pittsburgh

Career Services Job Searching Guide: To Include or Not to Include?

About the following matters, the diversity of opinion is overwhelming. You will hear anecdotal accounts similar to "a person I knew in law school who got a great job because he listed spelunking as a hobby, and the senior partner just happened to be a fellow cave explorer.” Remember what you've learned about hearsay and consider the following advice:

  • "Objective" or "Goal" Statements

    These are statements generally printed at the top of the resume (following name, address and telephone number) which express the applicant's goal, e.g., "Objective: to use my legal education and health care experience within a corporation to evaluate and manage workers' compensation claims and benefits." They are unnecessary for most positions and may work to your detriment because some employers use these statements to screen out applicants. Use them carefully, if at all, and only if you believe that your application is ambiguous without it.

  • Personal Interests/Hobbies

    If your outside interests complement your professional skills, it is appropriate to list them, e.g., you are an aviation lawyer and your avocation is flying. Otherwise, use your best judgment. If you list too many, employers may conclude that your real passions (golf, tennis, softball, sailing, running and channeling) will interfere with your work, or that your true passion is stamp collecting, not law. If your hobbies sound boring (reading and walking), a negative impression may be formed. If they are too exciting (e.g., mountain climbing, sky diving), employers will see their health insurance premiums skyrocketing.

  • Military Service

    Military service can be a positive addition to your resume, but only if the service has been recent (within four or five years), and if you had a position of leadership or authority, or received awards or commendations. Unfortunately, a continuing military obligation may not be regarded favorably by some employers.

  • Earnings

    Do not include salary demands or salary history.

  • Political Affiliations, Religious Organizations, Controversial Groups

    Remember your goal: not to be excluded from the initial selection process. How the organization reacts to your political, social and religious affiliations may be important, since it might have an effect on your "fit" with the organization, but you do not want the initial resume screened making the determination that you do not fit. You want to make that decision during the interview process.

  • Relocation

    Do not indicate relocation preferences on the resume. The employer will assume that if you are applying for the job in Paris (make sure that you know whether it's France or Texas. There is a difference.), that you are willing to move there. Use the cover letter to draw a connection between the job's location and you.

  • Gaps and Omissions

    A resume is not a securities registration statement, a bar application, or a federal Form SF-171: you are not required to disclose in it those things which you would rather not discuss in an initial interview. A resume is a marketing tool, and although you will not choose to include in it all of your warts, the positive, impressive information you do reveal must be truthful.

  • References

    Use a separate sheet (same paper as your resume) with the same contact information that is on the top of your resume.  Put "References" (centered) underneath, followed by a list of your references (include name, title, company, address, phone number, email, of each person). You will hand this sheet to employers when they ask for your references. Do not state the obvious -- "References Available Upon Request" -- on your resume. Employers know that.

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Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC