Tattoos on Your Resume... Isn't That Kinda Personal?

Why on earth would you ever mention anything about having (or not having) tattoos on your resume? Isn't it a "rule" not to include such personal info on your professional resume? Yes, that is the rule of thumb, and I usually stand by that rule, but when I reviewed Jane's resume, I saw a benefit to including personal information like this. Let me explain...

The Girl Without the Dragon Tattoo

Jane is a young woman in her early 20s who is applying for a job as Deck Officer on a cruise ship. She has everything required for the job:

Experience: Served as Second Officer in the ocean shipping industry.
Training: Graduated from a top nautical institute and has been trained in medical care.
Skills: Voyage planning, GMDSS operator, navigation, maintenance of lifesaving apparatus and firefighting appliances, ISM, mentoring and developing the education of junior officers.
Personality: Highly developed interpersonal skills; open-minded and perceptive; background working with culturally diverse populations.

Jane knows that appearance matters in the tourism business, and since her position as a Deck Officer would include passenger engagement, she wanted to address a few concerns her employer might have. At the very end of her resume, she wrote:

Non-smoker, no tattoos, drug-free, fit and in excellent health.


Why Mention Personal Stuff Like "No Tattoos" on a Resume?

As a rule, I advise not having a Personal Information section like this on your resume. But rules can be bent or broken when it serves a purpose, and in this case, it certainly does.

Some employers want to know the answers to questions about an applicant's personal habits, but in the U.S. they're not supposed to ask. By providing the answers upfront on her resume, Jane removes those question marks so the employer can focus on her job qualifications.

So, should you list personal info on your resume? Only if you think it will help you get the specific job you seek. For example, if you are applying for a job as a waitress at a formal restaurant where tattoos might not be appreciated, then consider including a "no tattoos" comment on your resume. However, if you have tattoos and you're applying for the same waitress job, don't say anything about your tatts.

Of course, the same logic applies to other personal info such as weight, health, race, sexual identity, political leaning, etc. Here's a simple guideline:

  • List personal info on your resume only if it helps get your foot in the door for a job interview.
  • Don't list personal info if it will hurt your chances of getting an interview.
  • Don't list personal info if it won't make any difference to the hiring manager.

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Susan Ireland Resume Author Susan Ireland is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume and creator of Susan Ireland's Ready-Made Resume Builder.