What personal information is appropriate on USA-oriented CVs?20 Feb 2019
What is EEO?
EEO stands for Equal Employment Opportunity, established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You can get more information from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commisson, the U.S. government entity in charge of interpreting it over time. As well, check out Wikipedia for a short summary; as society charges, so do key parts of this law.
EEO is a big topic; there are lawyers who only specialize in EEO. I am not one, so do not take this as legal advice.
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How does EEO affect what I may want to put on my CV?
Prospective employers do not want to see personal information when they evaluate candidates. They don’t want to see your birth date, or a photo, or if you are married (or not), or if you are a parent (or not). They do not want to see this information because of EEO’s specifications on hiring practices.
At this point in time, “It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. For example, an employer may not refuse to give employment applications to people of a certain race.”
Check the link above, because this statement is certain to change over time. Also, birth dates in the USA have been used as a security password for certain services. Thankfully, this practice has mostly been phased out, but posting this information publicly is not standard.
Okay, now how do I evaluate my activities?
You may think: many of my activities reveal me with regard to the above criteria. That’s true for many people (I attended an all-women’s undergrad, for instance). The trick is to include information that is relevant to your professional identity and/or a particular position. Did you have a service role in an organization concerned with, say computer vision, and women? Community-building is hard, and if the community is relevant to your professional work (as computer vision would be for me), I personally would include this information in the service category. I consider the ability to speak other languages a superpower, and listing languages is standard and may be relevant (particularly in some machine-learning fields); U.S. government security clearance is another personal detail that may be very relevant in certain fields.
Not so relevant: hobbies that cannot be linked to your work, or positions in religious organizations for the above reasons. You may also choose not to list certain things for your own reasons. It is your CV – there is no obligation to list everything.
Specific examples, and how I choose.
For instance, I have a lot of experience with farm life, and animals. I won some awards for judging dairy cattle at the national and state level, of all things. This experience has little to nothing to do with my professional identity at the moment, so I leave it off of my CV. Additionally, I taught piano and played recitals when I was studying music. Same thing – these experiences are not so relevant to my current professional identity, so I leave them off. However, if I were in veterinary science, I might include the first set of experiences, and if I were still in music, I would include the second set of experiences. Like I mentioned, these choices are up to the individual.