Avoid Identify Theft

I read a resume recently with a piece of information that should never be listed: the candidate’s Social Security number. A resume provides the job seeker’s career background and potential. In an active job search, a job seeker will often try to distribute their resume as widely as possible. You can’t do this with your social security number.

The resume I read was posted online in a resume database. The database was secure with only a limited number of people having access, probably less than a thousand. That’s still a thousand people with access to the resume and social security number. Even worse, this job seeker was obviously very active in his search. It is likely he made his resume accessible elsewhere.

If the resume was posted on one of the big job boards, the number of people with access could be in the hundreds of thousands. Any one of these people could have run a keyword search for “social security” and would have turned up this resume.  This poses a significant risk of identity theft. Your resume needs to have your name and contact information, but other identifying details should be omitted. Do not list your social security number or driver’s license number.

Why would a person put their social security number on their resume? At some point in a search, a company will need your social security number. The company needs this to do a background check and to complete the new hire paperwork (IRS and other filings for tax purposes). Some job seekers try to make the process easier for the company by providing this information on their resume. This is a mistake. Personal information should be collected when it is needed and the company should explain why they need the information.

There is one other time you might be asked for your social. Early in the process, you may be asked to complete an employment application. Often, the social security number will be part of this form.

These situations are normal. Companies have procedures for safeguarding personal information. The safeguards are not as rigorous for resumes. A resume could be distributed to a number of hiring managers and employees involved in the hiring decision. Personal data such as social security numbers is typically held in a secure area of the HR department. Placing your social security number on your resume will circumvent these procedures and allow this information to be accessible to a much wider audience.

Bottom line: Do not put your social security number on your resume.