Mailing Addresses on Résumés: Include or Not?

mailing addressesMailing addresses – who’d thunk? I think I just stepped into a veritable cow pie.

The Society of Human Resources Management has a LinkedIn group where HR pros discuss a variety of topics.

One recent post caught my attention:  “Why you must include mailing addresses on the resume.”

Human resource professionals and recruiters weighed in with their opinions. Here’s a short overview of some of the perspectives that were offered:

Pros of listing mailing addresses:

  • Allows employers to mail important documents to applicant.
  • If the employer is going to screen you out based on where you live, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you list it or not.
  • Missing information is a red flag to employers – not including mailing addresses comes across as being incomplete.
  • Not including it begs the question: What are you hiding? Are you homeless?
  • If asked by the employer to fill one out, you are going to have to provide your address on an application anyway.
  • If you are the right fit for the company, a true HR professional will care more about getting you on board than whether you included your address on the résumé or not.
  • Makes background checks easier after you’ve been through an interview and are being seriously considered for a position.

Cons of listing mailing addresses:

  • Applicants are discriminated against economically due to where their residence is located. Mailing addresses that include a lower-income zip code can indicate that the candidate lives in a less-than-desirable location and therefore is (illegally) assumed to be a less-than-desirable potential hire.
  • If you are not local, the employers might weed you out so they won’t have to pay for relocation expenses (even if the applicant is willing to foot that bill themselves).
  • Lazy résumé reviewers may decide you live too far away from the office – they make their own judgments about what you are / aren’t willing to do for the job based on mailing addresses.
  • Can conflict with applicant’s phone number (which might be from a different area code/location).
  • In the wrong hands, mailing addresses can be the target of enterprising thieves entering your home while you are on an “interview.”
  • Another con: Identity thieves are trolling job websites trying to capture applicant data, and by providing mailing addresses, you have just helped them.

This discussion has been of extreme interest on my end as a professional resume writer.

In general, candidates are frustrated by the “strikes” that go against them based on the socio-economic status of the location of their residence, or for being discarded from consideration due to the fact they aren’t in the red-zone of what an employer deems as acceptable commuting distance… or whether the applicant is willing to relocate of their own volition.

Add on unscrupulous recipients of candidate data and numerous instances of homes being robbed while applicants are traveling to an “interview,” and this is the perfect storm.

At the end of the day, isn’t the best candidate who has the best skills, best experience, and best culture fit the one to hire, regardless of where they live? And that they are at work on-time?

So what is a person to do over this seemingly trivial aspect of a résumé?

Options for listing mailing addresses:

  • Include city and state only.
  • Tweak the document per application – sometimes include it, sometimes not based on what you know about the company and who might be looking at your résumé.
  • Don’t include any address information to any jobs where you are asked to submit your résumé to a blind box with no identifying employer information.
  • Use a PO Box, friend/family member’s address, or Postal Annex box as a local “placeholder” if you are trying to relocate.
  • If you are planning on commuting, understand that this can be a big burden in terms of potential delays into the office. Don’t expect employers to create a “flex job” for you if that isn’t part of the original offer.  Be realistic, and don’t demand that the employer accommodate your needs.

Understanding what works best for you and your intended audience (since everyone has their own preferences) is your best bet.

But staying informed about the discussion going on behind the scenes is equally important so you understand how those potential employers may interpret the information you provide.