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Physical address on the resume

physical address on the resume

You really think that HR will write you back?

Physical address on the resume?

I have been in a number of discussions on the topic of whether or not job applicants should include a physical address on the resume. With unemployment rates where they are, applicants are applying for work farther away, and more candidates are willing to relocate. Before I go into any discussion, 20% of the company I currently work for has relocated to join our humble start-up so please know that it can be done. I post the below to give insight into how a lot of recruiters and hiring managers look at this game and how you can beat the odds.

Should you list your physical address on the resume? My opinion is to keep it off. My question to you is:

 Why are you including your physical address on the resume?  Is a recruiter going to send you something in the postal mail?

In this day and age of speed dating and cheap talk that includes colloquialisms like “I will call you” and “Let’s do lunch”, is anyone really going to send you a written response via the postal mail? Is any company going to spend the money to buy and lick a stamp to acknowledge your well-intentioned cover letter and resume? Is any company going to be gracious enough to say to you, a potential employee, customer, or fanboy “We just wanted to let you know we received your resume and appreciate your interest in Acme Publishing. We are reviewing your experience and will keep you updated.  In the meantime, enclosed is a formal job application”. Uhhh, probably not.  It may have happened 20 years ago, but no longer Dorthy. We aren’t in Kansas anymore.

There are opinions that say you should include your physical address on the resume. I think some of this comes from the following:

  1. This is the way our parents were taught to write their resumes. A generation ago, this is the format that hiring managers were used to and a format of an era pre-internet. This is after all the way we have written resume’s for the last 50 years!
  2. Federal and Government jobs require an address.
  3. If you put your address on the resume and live out of the local area of the hiring company some hiring managers will wonder if you live close enough to the company of interest. Your commute and possible relocation costs become concerns when you live out-of-state.

I can understand and live with the first 2 bullet points. 1. There are traditional old school companies with old-school managers so give these folks what they want.  2. Usually Federal and Government applications require an address. Here is my logic on the third and most important bullet.

If your resume is a PERFECT fit for the job description, I won’t just think about calling you, I WILL CALL YOU. If you look like a perfect match to our job description, I am going to call you whether your address is listed or not. If you are the perfect match, even without your address, I AM GOING TO CALL YOU!  A perfect match doesn’t mean that you the applicant think “Hey, I can do that job”.  A perfect match means:

you fulfill all the bullet points listed in the job description AND all the unlisted bullet points in the hiring managers mind.  If you live in the Continental United States, I am going to reach out.

Most resumes (99.5%) look like a decent (not a great and not a perfect) fit for the job. If you are ONLY a decent fit and your physical address says you are out of the local area, I am going to think twice about calling you. Although the hiring manager may want to go through the relocation/commute game, they aren’t going to have to do any of the work that comes with a relo. Relocation doesn’t fall on the hiring manager, it falls on HR.  In the case of any negative fall out from a relocation, HR will be the one donning the HazMat suit.  At the end of the day, an “average looking resume” is probably not going to go the distance on the interview loop and isn’t going to be a home run employee. Yes, you can probably do the job, but I can get people who can “do the job” locally. If I am going to worry about a long commute or a relocation, I want someone who will ROCK the job. My best shot with that is the perfect resume listed above.

On the other hand:

If you look like a decent (but not perfect) fit for the job, and there is no address, I am probably going to call. I may be thinking in the back of my mind “where does this person live?” but I am going to reach out. An address listing you outside of the local area will increase the odds of me hemming and hawing.  But if your OUT OF THE LOCAL AREA and your address is absent. . . I will probably reach out so I can find out. Emails are fast and cheap. Leaving a voice mail costs nothing. The long distance charges from Ma Bell of yesteryear do not come into question. This is a subtle difference, but it is enough to knock you out of the running and your goal is to get a call back so you can sell yourself. You don’t want to knock yourself out of the running before we get a chance to see if you are a fit. You want the opportunity to prove you are fit and we can worry about commute and relocation later.

In today’s online world, the lack of a physical address on the resume isn’t that odd. Because I don’t need your physical address to get ahold of you, I really don’t miss it. I will miss your email and phone number if they are not listed on your resume because I NEED these. I don’t need your physical address so if it isn’t there, I am not missing anything.

Here is my two cents on why you don’t need to put your physical address on the resume:

Your address will probably take up two separate lines on your resume, maybe three. Not only is this info taking up valuable space, that useless information is taking up valuable real estate “above the fold” on your resume. These valuable lines should be used to list your branding statement or accomplishments.

Your accomplishments are the triggers that are going to get you called back.  Your address will trigger a negative reaction, one that will NOT get you called back.  No one is going to call you just because you live next door to the office.

What is the big deal about living more than 20-30 miles away from your place of employment?  Here are some of the behind the scenes thinking on why out of the area is less than desirable. None of this is fair. In some areas, this is close to illegal. But it happens and I want to help you overcome these obstacles. 

  • More than 30 miles away: I don’t want to have to worry about you getting pissed off and frustrated about your long commute when the excitement of the new job wears off.
  • I don’t want to worry about you coming in late because of traffic. I don’t want to have to worry about you fighting the weather if there is snow on the ground.
  • As ugly as this sounds, there are zip codes that some companies / hiring managers will think twice about hiring from because of assumed income / socioeconomic stereotypes.  Yes, HR can profile just like any other group.
  • Out of state address: If I see an out of the city or out of the state address on a resume, this is a yellow flag. I am immediately thinking about relocation costs, (a family of 4 with a house can run $40K-$50K).
  • Do you understand the weather here (it rains a lot in Seattle, it’s really cold in Chicago, etc.).
  • Will your spouse make the adjustment when they do not have a job or friends in the new city?  (An unhappy spouse can affect your work at the new company.)

Instead of getting a hiring manager all worked up and excited most recruiters would rather find a path with less hassle to their personal success.

Again, we hire a lot of folks out of the local area. Personally, my last two positions have been more than 30 miles from where I live so I know it can be done.

Coming soon: How to convince a recruiter that they should hire you despite you living out of the local area and why relocation can be a good thing for the company.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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