I find it irrelevant to specify personal information on my CV, and frankly I do not see why they should be listed in academic applications. What is the advantage for the hiring committing to know if I am 18 or I have 17 children, aside from creating a chance to bias the hiring process with personal beliefs. Is it because they want to know that I am a prodigy child who got his/her PhD at 18 years old, or because if I am a 28 years old female married without children I will want children soon and so I will have to take maternity leave? Is this just an influence of the age/status discrimination in Europe where I see at times that job offers are only open to certain categories of people (i.e.,younger than 30 years old) ?

If I omit this information will my CV be frowned upon? Or will they think I am hiding something? I do not know what I would be hiding because age can probably be guessed from the CV anyway.

  • 2
    I believe that this has to with how one defines the word "personal".
    – linuxick
    Sep 5 '17 at 11:30
  • 3
    @user4050: Please have a look at my answer. The information retrieved from including certain items is that the candidate knows about the general convention of including those items, and being aware of general conventions is relevant to the candidate's professional profile and skills. Please do note that I am not in favour of divulging so much personal information to prospective employers. On the other hand, in my place, where providing all this personal information is customary, the paranoia about getting discriminated against based ... Sep 6 '17 at 12:41
  • 3
    ... upon these personal details is not widespread. Being shocked at the idea of sending a photo along with an application and fearing to be discriminated against because of it is something I only know from international forums (and I do not classify myself as particularly handsome, so it's not like I could draw a benefit from my photo). It seems what people are (not) used to strongly distorts the perceived risk when it comes to local conventions in job applications. Sep 6 '17 at 12:44
  • 1
    @user4050 Please note that many hiring processes require an interview, so things like age, gender and appearance would become evident anyway at some point, and if the selection committee really wants to discriminate, they can do it after the interview. Note also that many people who are used to putting these bits of information in their CV, because of local tradition, usually find this natural. For instance, when I tell to students of mine that if they want to apply in the US they shouldn't put a photograph (something I've learnt here), they look astonished.
    – Massimo Ortolano
    Sep 6 '17 at 19:34
  • 2
    @user4050: Note that date of birth is often used as a means to legally establish identity. In formal procedures, you usually have to confirm both your name and your date of birth. Of course, there is still a certain likeliness two persons of the same name were born on the same day, but it serves as a certain obstacle against the attempt to e.g. draw back retroactively by claiming "someone else with the same name made that declaration". This brings us back to linuxick's initial comment, in that in such places, the date of birth is not very "personal", but almost as public as one's name. Sep 8 '17 at 11:11

Despite differences in the different EU member states, there were attempts to create a kind of EU standard for CVs. This is called "Europass" and was created together with social partners and national training authorities. According to their website the main scope is:

  • Ηelp citizens communicate their skills and qualifications effectively when looking for a job or training.
  • Ηelp employers understand the skills and qualifications of the workforce.
  • Ηelp education and training authorities define and communicate the content of curricula.

While there might be differences in different industries, in my experience it serves well as a guideline in academia (since you ask on academia SE, I assume this might be your main interest). According to their examples (1, 2) it is perfectly fine to keep personal information like date of birth and sex (and/or gender) out of your CV. Discrimination by age, race and sex/gender is not allowed in the application process. Especially public institutions, such as universities and research institutes have strict rules against discrimination. You shouldn't face any disadvantages by not stating personal information, such as DOB, number of children (...). Besides in most cases it's clearly irrelevant.

Both a friend of mine and I applied in academia in a EU country which wasn't our homecountry relying on the Europass guidelines and both of us got hired. So those guidelines don't appear to be frowned upon.

However: Some years ago it was at least in Germany considered as a standard to include personal information (as already mentioned in another answer*). I think especially people working as a professor for a couple of years simply haven't adapted their CVs to today's standards.

Good luck!

*) On a side note: In school I was thaught, that information, which can give hints on your personality must be included in every case. Especially profession of parents, siblings, age, hobbies. Apparently this was supposed to help HR to find the most fitting person for the job and the company. This was outdated at the time I was at school (and sometimes even considered unprofessional, as I was told during an internship to which I applied using those guidelines), but the curriculum hadn't been updated.


Marital status is completely irrelevant: leave it out. Discrimination based on "Oh, I think you're about to have kids and take a bunch of maternity leave" is illegal.

In practice, date of birth can be inferred from the dates at which you got your degrees and what jobs you've had. OK, you might be a prodigy who got their BA at 14 and their PhD at 17, but the overwhelming majority of people aren't. Or you might be a total bum who was unemployed until the age of 40 and then got a BA at 43 and a PhD at 48 but, again, the overwhelming majority of people aren't that, either. So including your date of birth doesn't really say anything that the recruiter couldn't guess.

Age discrimination is illegal in the UK, and I'd assumed it would be EU-wide. The usual form would be to require somebody to be within so many years of their PhD, though even that's not-really-so-indirect age discrimination.

  • 6
    Note that sadly, there is a difference in some places between "illegal" and "not done (not even in a hidden way)".
    – Dirk
    Sep 5 '17 at 9:25
  • 3
    @user4050 Sure but large employers, such as universities, tend to follow this kind of law. There's a much higher chance of an organization with thousands of employees being sued over something like this than some small company who can argue "We rejected that one person for legitimate reason X and, look, we've only hired three people in the last five years so there's no pattern." Sep 5 '17 at 10:36
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby: Not to mention that large employers are more likely to have procedures to educate staff about these rules and review hiring decisions to rule out any such bias in the first place. (I'm not saying that this is 100% effective at preventing any abuse, but it creates some obstacles for certain kind of abuse that are simply not there with small employers - where hiring decisions may even be totally in the hand of just one person.) Sep 5 '17 at 10:39
  • 5
    @SSimon I can see nothing in the Erasmus Mundus Programme Guide saying that married people are ineligible. Various ineligibilities are listed in Section 3.2 (e.g., bankruptcy, "grave professional misconduct", etc.) but searching the PDF for words such as "married", "wed" or "dependant" gave nothing. Sep 5 '17 at 12:11
  • 6
    @SSimon: I cannot find any documentation that married students are not eligible for Erasmus Mundus. Here is one that mentions special services for married students: eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus_mundus/results_compendia/documents/…. And here is one saying married students need to bring their marriage certificate to register: cs.nuim.ie/courses/desem/erasmus/students. Sep 5 '17 at 12:24

I suppose items such as marital status, children, professions of parents, place of birth, etc., are not so much there for providing any information as such, but rather form a part of what "belongs" to a complete CV.

You can leave some of them away, but skipping too many of them (without filling your CV in another way) may send a signal like "This person has never bothered to learn what a 'properly done' CV should look like. They are uneducated and/or not diligent about what they do."

Now, this is based upon what I learned back in school, may be country-dependent (I'm in Germany), and - at least here - should probably rather apply to small companies (whose HR people might rather expect adherence to traditional form than the most modern trends in recruitment processes when evaluating CVs) than to academic departments.

  • 10
    Professions of parents?!?!!! Sep 5 '17 at 10:48
  • 4
    @DavidRicherby: Yes. I still learned at school (around 2000) that among the personal information, it is customary to list the names and professions of your parents. I never did, and it never seemed to be a problem that I skipped that bit of information. On the other hand, I never found anything strange about it; I always felt it is reminscent of descriptions of historical/public persons - for instance, look at the articles of a couple of actors/actresses on Wikipedia, and you'll find that most of them will briefly mention who their parents are, even if the parents themselves are not actors. Sep 5 '17 at 11:09
  • 11
    @DavidRicherby: Germany is bizarrely conservative with respect to the hiring process. On top, some people are almost hysterically afraid of breaking some unwritten rule and schools are very slow at updating what they are teaching, which slows down progress in this area. Nonetheless progress is happening and all modern advice I found recommends against listing such information on your CV – even though it was the norm some decades ago.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 5 '17 at 12:39
  • 4
    This is bizarre. How does a bunch of information which is (1) no one else's business and (2) completely irrelevant to your ability to do a job, "belong" on a CV? A CV is not a Wikipedia biography, it's supposed to be a summary of your academic qualifications. Sep 5 '17 at 17:20
  • 7
    @ElizabethHenning: For better or worse, there are certain conventions as to how a CV should be written. These can be arbitrary (as in, based upon developments and fashions in the course of many decades or even centuries) and will vary between countries (cf. e.g. customs about including photos and certificates in applications). Whatever the conventions are, as an applicant, you are expected to know and adhere to them. If you don't, that's a first red flag that you could be unaware of other norms, or a troublemaker who breaks them on purpose. Sep 5 '17 at 17:27

Since a month, I have been applying to jobs in multiple European countries. In Germany, I had to have a professional help from a German to create "lebenslauf" for private industry and academic jobs. As personal datawise, it includes my birthplace, birthdate, nationality (as I require work permit/job sponsorship) plus I had to have a photo, where you can identify my race, and my gender. As a person living in the US, and keeping the US as a priority, I find this many information, irrelevant to the position and my qualifications, kind of unnecessary and makes me prone to be discriminated, but it is what it is. Moreover, I have also been applying to jobs in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, and I had friends living/working there and so they know the work ethic and the expectations from a CV or resume. In those countries, I straight out use my "American" CV, which does not include any personal info. Clearly, there is no standard in European countries, I concluded based on four countries I have had experience with.

Also, I have friends who used "just the qualifications - no personal info" regular CV in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Denmark academic jobs and got hired. So I assume you should check each country if you know someone who is acquainted with the work environment and ethic.

If you don't know anyone, I suggest you couple things before you decide to include certain personal info. If you require work permit, and not a citizen or permanent residency in the country you're applying, including your nationality may be useful. Yet no more than that, because gender, age, marital status are irrelevant; and they make you prone to be discriminated. To further make sure, you may skim the available CVs of professors, postdocs etc. which are available on the university or research lab pages. I think most people have them available in university pages as attachment (at least I have seen most put them), and you can decide whether to include certain personal info or not.

All in all, I don't think in the end it really affects the decision on you being hired as where I was born or whenever I was born or whether I am married with kids or not does not imply how good I am in machine learning, or comparative literature or whatever.

  • 1
    Maybe it should be noted that, at least in Germany, gender is almost never a secret once the name is known. That may not be true for some foreign names. Yet, it may explain why the vast majority of people subject to the convention wouldn't see an issue with it, and may rather consider it professional to tidily list "gender: ..." explicitly in a brief list of personal information, rather than leave HR people guessing whether to start the response letter with "Sehr geehrter Herr ..." or "Sehr geehrte Frau ..." (Mr./Ms. at the beginning of the letter) and thereby call attention to the omission. Sep 8 '17 at 6:12
  • 1
    @O.R.Mapper Not to mention that certain names which are masculine in my country (e.g. Andrea) are feminine in Germany and in other countries, and viceversa. I can imagine that many people could prefer to explicitly declare their gender instead of being accidentally addressed the wrong way.
    – Massimo Ortolano
    Sep 8 '17 at 8:03
  • @O.R.Mapper For further need of declarations in response letters to clarify unisex name such as Andrea as pointed out, almost all universities, companies, research labs in private sector do it automatically with their own database that you have to fill out. At least for mass emails. Moreover, by the time you get individual email related to the job itself, it means you've met whomever the contact point is whether s/he is a HR employee, or the department chair. Therefore, they already know whether you are identified with Mr or Miss/Mrs. So, it really does not make sense to put gender, imho.
    – kukushkin
    Sep 8 '17 at 14:31
  • 2
    @kukushkin: "almost all universities, companies, research labs in private sector do it automatically with their own database that" - you mean all kinds of organizations have huge databases with names and gender of everyone who might possibly contact them at some point (like ... the entire population of Earth, or at least of the organization's country)? I find that rather unlikely. "you have to fill out" - the point of the question is why certain pieces of information should be provided at all. If you're only concerned about including them in the CV document rather than directly putting ... Sep 8 '17 at 15:44
  • ... them into a database, I think that is beside the OP's point. "whether s/he is a HR employee, or the department chair. Therefore, they already know whether you are identified with Mr or Miss/Mrs." - from the aforementioned database that, even if it exists, probably has no data about you at least upon your first attempt to establish contact? Sep 8 '17 at 15:46

At my university in Spain, it is required by the regulations that applicants to positions send a copy of their ID card or passport. This implies revealing DOB, gender and photo. I think it would be better not to require that, to avoid bias, but it's how it currently works and I think most if not all Spanish public universities do the same.

On the other hand, CVs here typically don't feature marital status or number of children. Requiring that would be frowned upon, and probably illegal. And the same applies to other European countries as far as I know.


The question seems to be stating that current affairs oblige candidates to specify their marital status and age. However this statement is factually false. For the UK for example, there is no need for a candidate to specify marital status, date of birth or even nationality. It is many times illegal to even request this information. It is also usual, from my experience, that committees do not address this information. For other continental countries the rules may be different.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.