Thirty years ago, nobody would have ever asked whether you should put your address on your resume – of course you should! But also, 30 years ago nobody knew what email was.
Yet the digital revolution, which developed at dizzying speeds in the 1990s, made the World Wide Web, online access and email available to virtually everyone. As part of this process, physical mailing addresses became less important, because suddenly you could send a letter (or a resume) without addressing an envelope.
Today the question of whether to include an address on a resume remains a somewhat contentious issue. In this blog we’ll explore the pros and cons and see what conclusions can be reached so that you can make an informed decision. Here’s what we’ll discuss:
- The purpose of an address on a resume
- The reasons why a hiring manager may prefer to see this information
- Situations where including address may not be the best choice
Pros of including an address on a resume
There are several arguments to be made that it’s a good idea to put your address on a resume:
1. It’s a traditional and expected part of a resume, so if it’s not there, employers may wonder why.
Did you just forget to include your address? Did you think it was unimportant? Are you trying to hide something? Are you applying for a job in Chicago, but you actually live in London, and you don’t want the employer to know this?
A missing address is likely to be noticed, potentially raising questions and doubts. What if you were that employer in Chicago, and you received two identical resumes, but one had a Chicago address and the other had no address? Wouldn’t you feel a bit more comfortable dealing with the Chicago applicant, with no unknowns about where the person lives?
2. If you live close to the company, this provides several reassurances.
If you’re applying for a job in Miami and you live in Seattle, you can’t just drop by for an interview. The employer may have to fly you to Miami to meet you in person – and if hired, possibly pay for your relocation costs.
It may take weeks or even months for you to pack up your home in Seattle, move across the country with your family and all your stuff, find a new place to live in Miami, move in, get settled in and find your way around.
But if you’re applying for a job in Miami and you already live in Miami, none of those concerns apply. So why not let the employer know?
Also, in many fields, a knowledge of the home base can be a big advantage. If you’re a sales rep, a hairdresser, a mechanic or a dog groomer, you may be able to bring some of your clients from the old company to the new one. If you’re a delivery driver, you already know your way around town. And if you’re a reporter, you’re already up to speed on all the local news.
3. The employer may need your address to create an applicant profile, to do a background check or for other reasons.
Eventually, most employers will need your mailing address anyway, so why not provide it up front? Maybe they’ll need to mail your W2 forms, benefits information, your first paycheck or even a Christmas card.
If you do make the cut and find yourself in the hiring pipeline, you’re bound to be asked at some point for your address. Why not save the employer the trouble of reaching out to you with this very basic question? They might have expected you to put it in your resume in the first place.
4. To avoid unwanted surprises.
What if the moment comes when your prospective employer in Dallas asks for your address, and it turns out you live in Paris?
“Paris, Texas?” “No, Paris, France.” “Wait, WHAT?!”
Or perhaps a New York company really likes your (address-free) resume, has done a video interview with you and is seriously thinking of hiring you and paying your relocation costs. But only late in the game does it emerge that you actually live in Singapore.
Isn’t that something they should have been told already, or were you deliberately obscuring that fact? You might not score many points for being up-front and transparent.
Cons of including an address on a resume
On the flip side, several reasons can be cited why you might not want to include your address on a resume.
1. Concerns about privacy or safety.
You may have reasons to keep your address private out of concerns for your personal security. You may be someone with a stalker ex, you may be a millionaire who doesn’t want people casing your mansion, you may fear identity theft or – you know? – you may be in the FBI’s Witness Protection Program!
Many people post their resumes on LinkedIn or other global job boards accessible by anyone. If you feel it’s nobody business where you live, it’s your right to keep that information private.
In such a case, one option is to create an address-free resume for posting publicly, while you use another resume with an address to contact a company privately.
Another option, to avoid the “unwanted surprises” mentioned above, is to provide only your city and state. An employer in Toronto, Canada, may be reassured to know that you live in Toronto, Canada, but you haven’t provided enough info for any unwanted guests to show up at your doorstep.
A third option is to rent a post office box. Nobody will know where you live, but you will have a mailing address on your resume for employers who want one.
2. If you live too far away, that may be a turnoff.
All the reasons cited in the second point above under “Pros” can cut both ways: If you DO live far from the employer, that can be a strike against you. Maybe they don’t want to fly you in for an interview, they don’t want the expense or lag time involved in a relocation, and they do want someone familiar with their area.
Without being deceptive, you can opt to exclude your address from your resume for these reasons. You want to be judged on your merits, not your location, and perhaps you’re confident that when managers see what a good fit you are for the job, they won’t care where you currently live.
3. You don’t want to fall victim to biases about where you live.
It’s illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race or national origin, but there are certain cities (and areas within those cities) that are known for having a certain ethnic or socioeconomic demographic.
If you live in Poortown, USA – and on “the wrong side of the tracks,” at that – you may have a legitimate reason to keep your address private until you have gotten employers’ attention for the right reasons.
4. You are a remote worker whose location doesn’t matter.
Remote work has been on the rise for many years, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the new normal. If you are a “digital nomad” who can work from anywhere, your mailing address is less relevant than ever.
The article you are reading now was written, illustrated, edited and put online by a team working across four different countries and multiple time zones – the addresses are irrelevant!
If that’s the case with you, there’s no need to provide a mailing address that will never be used to send mail. But we would still recommend providing at least a city, state and/or country – if only to keep track of time differences on all those Zoom calls.
Key takeaways: the bottom line
- We all like clear answers to simple questions – but sometimes the honest answer is “It depends.” And in this case, the answer really does depend on your personal situation.
- If for any reason you feel it’s not a good idea to include your address on your resume, leave it out. Most employers nowadays will not see this as a glaring omission or a deal-breaker.
- However, if you see no good reason to omit your address, then by all means put it out there.
- Ultimately, your resume will stand or fall for more important reasons than whether you include your address. For more guidance on resume preparation, see our comprehensive guide on “ How to write a resume.”
And whether you’re Mr. Transparent or Ms. Incognito, best of luck in your job hunt!