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7 Surprising Things You Can Put on Your Resume

Can you put your citizenship on a resume? Testimonials? Hobbies? Independent study? You’d be surprised what information can look good on a resume if it’s handled right.

Some experts may suggest restricting information like the following to cover letters only. The problem with that is that cover letters aren’t always read. If you really want the employer to see it, it needs to be on your resume.

Can you put an out-of-state address on your resume, or mention that you’re willing to relocate?

If you’re looking for a  job in a different city or state than where you live, it’s a good idea to add the city, state and zip code of your desired location to your resume. To keep it honest, you can write “Ready to relocate to San Jose, CA 95134.” That way a recruiter searching for a (preferably local) candidate to fill a Silicon Valley job has a better chance of seeing your resume, even though you’re not falsely claiming you live there.

Can you put testimonials on your resume?

Yes, and a resume with testimonials is a brilliant way to show evidence for hard-to-prove soft skills like building relationships or inspiring your team. You can quote from various sources such as customer kudos, letters of recommendation or performance reviews. You may want to ask for permission before using the writer’s name.

My favorite testimonials to quote from are LinkedIn recommendations, and they’re already published so no permission should be needed.

What about volunteer work or side projects on a resume?

Consider including volunteer work if it demonstrates relevant skills such as leadership or technical expertise, or to illustrate personal qualities that might sway your target employers.

You can put it under Volunteer Experience, Additional Experience or even in the Experience section. Just don’t use the words “Professional Experience” to describe unpaid work.

You can include side projects or free-lance work. If you’re free-lancing, the more seriously you take your business the better it looks. Consider naming your business, if you haven’t. Identify your client(s), either by name or at least a bit of summary language like “Several retail and hospitality businesses in the Austin area.”

What can you include in the Education section of a resume?

Any relevant study or training can be included. For example, you could mention “50+ hours independent study of real estate through attending open houses, talking with agents and reading industry periodicals.” You can even include travel or living abroad under Education, or under some other heading such as International Experience.

It’s also fine to include college education that didn’t result in a degree: “Bachelor of Arts in Business program (40+ units completed),” or “Bachelor of Science in Biology (year you expect to complete the degree).”

You can also list courses in your resume to make up for lack of work experience, although this can sometimes add more clutter than value. If you do this, be selective and look for relevant keywords and advanced courses.

If you have graduated from a program that qualifies you for licensing, you can include the words “License Eligible.”

Should you put your visa status or US citizenship on your resume?

If you are eligible to work permanently in the US but are worried that your overseas work experience, education or address might cause concerns about sponsorship, consider adding language such as: “Permanent resident of the US” or “Fully authorized to work in the US. No visa sponsorship required.”

As for including “US Citizen” on a resume, there is some disagreement. One writer at CBSNews.com wrote: “Putting citizenship on your resume might be a bit off-putting to some recruiters. (Although definitely not all recruiters would be bothered.)” Since employers are not legally allowed to discriminate against a non-citizen who doesn’t need visa sponsorship, including your citizenship might be taken to imply that you don’t trust them to do the right thing.

Many other experts disagree. MIT Career Center, for example, advises job seekers to include their US citizenship “if readers might have reason to think otherwise.”

Can you explain experience gaps or why you’re applying for a lower position than you’ve previously held?

Yes. For example, a resume gap can be addressed with an entry stating that you were caring for a family member or taking a sabbatical to ride your bicycle across the country. Don’t make anything up, just find the most positive explanation that’s true.

Many people seek a less demanding position, especially as retirement age comes closer. A line or two about “seeking a rewarding encore career” can help clarify that you are consciously choosing a less all-consuming level of responsibility in order to enjoy a more fulfilling occupation and/or lifestyle. Emphasize the positive. (You might head this section “Profile” rather than “Objective,” as the latter has gone out of style.)

What about putting hobbies and interests on a resume?

If your hobbies/interests have given you knowledge or skills relevant to your target job, it may be useful to include them in a section with a heading like “Interests,” “Relevant Interests” or “Additional Information.”

It can also be effective to include interests that, while not directly relevant, are intriguing or contribute to a highly positive image. Do you climb mountains? The employer may see you as energetic and driven. Enter photography contests? You’re creative and enterprising.

Should you go hog wild including all of the above? Of course not. Unconventional elements should be used with care, and the best resumes are clear, concise and focused. But I hope I’ve freed you from a few resume taboos that may have kept you from conveying your value, standing out and getting an interview.

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