Whether you’re married or in a civil partnership, you may be wondering whether you need to mention your marital status on your CV. In the olden days, it was fashionable and even mandatory to do so; however, this is no longer the case. In fact, most employers won’t care about your marital status.
The reason for this decline is that your marital status has no bearing on most job applications. Including this information or other such personal details in your CV could also leave you open to discrimination.
What’s your marital status?
Marital status falls into the following categories:
- Single, never married or civil partnered
- Married, including separated
- Civil partnered, including separated
- Divorced, including legally dissolved civil partners
- Widowed, including surviving civil partners
- Civil Partner
- Judicially Separated
- Former Civil Partner
- Surviving Civil Partner
- Civil union
- Never married and never in a civil union
- Never partnered
- Partner deceased
- Permanently ended de facto
- Surviving civil union partner
If you are single or have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you fall into the ‘unmarried’ category. Your marital status is also ‘unmarried’ if you live with your boyfriend or girlfriend and are not in a civil union or registered partnership. The fact that you are in a relationship does not change your marital status if your relationship has not been officially recognised.
It’s also worth noting that ‘single’ is not an official category.
Where would you mention your marital status on your CV?
If you’re considering mentioning your marital status, this information would go in the personal details section of your CV below your name, address and contact information.
Other information which you can include in this section are for example gender, nationality and date of birth. Some people go as far to mention the number of children they have, but volunteering this information is unnecessary unless it truly adds value to your CV.
Mentioning your marital status is not mandatory
It used to be very common to mention your marital status on your CV, but now not so much.
In practice, you’ll find virtually no vacancies asking if you are unmarried, cohabiting, married or divorced as this is private information and does not affect your ability to perform in a job.
Mentioning your marital status in your CV is usually unnecessary, except where country conventions dictate otherwise. For instance, in many European countries, such personal information is expected.
In the UK and Ireland, however, the practice of including personal information related to your marital status, the number of children or anything else that may leave candidates open to discrimination is discouraged. The same applies in New Zealand.
In South Africa, opinions are divided as to whether your marital status or similar personal information belongs in your CV. As a rule of thumb, if it is relevant to the application, feel free to disclose your marital status, otherwise, leave it off your CV to protect yourself from discrimination.
Employers are not allowed to ask about your marital status
According to anti-discrimination laws, an employer is not allowed to ask you about your marital or relationship status. The same applies to questions about your plans to have children, your sexual orientation, religion, creed, race or nationality. An employer may only ask questions about topics relevant to assessing your suitability for the position. In this way, the law protects applicants from discrimination.
How your marital status may influence employer perceptions
If you do mention your marital status on your CV, it’s important to note that this may encourage discrimination. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, an employer may reject you as a candidate based on a set of assumptions which no longer hold true for women today.
For instance, some employers assume that if you are of childbearing age that you will eventually want children in which case they would have to spend time and money hiring your replacement. There is also the fear that a woman may not return to work after having a child.
On the other hand, being divorced or separated can be seen as indications of failure, however unfair that might seem. As your CV should focus on your successes and achievements, anything that represents failure is best left off of your CV.
What if an employer asks you about your marital status, possible child’s wish, orientation, religion, belief, race or nationality in a job interview? Legally speaking, you don’t have to provide an honest answer to such questions.
It’s fine to be evasive or follow up with questions to ask why the employer is interested in this particular piece of information.
When can your marital status work in your favour?
In most cases, your marital status or any other personal information won’t add value to your CV.
However, there are some exceptions. For instance, if you’re applying for a teaching position and you have children of your own, you could refer to the skills and experience gained while raising your own children. Another role where your marital status could be useful if you’re applying for a role in relationship counselling; however, it’s worth noting that you’ll also need years of extensive study and other qualifications to be a relationship counsellor.
Lastly, if you’re single and the role requires you to work a lot of unsociable hours or a substantial amount of travelling, mentioning this fact on your CV may give you the edge over married candidates who may not be able to commit to an inflexible schedule.
In most cases, you don’t need to mention your marital status or any other personal information unless the employer requires it (as could be the case in South Africa).
Otherwise, feel free to leave the information off your CV and focus on making your CV shine through your skills, work experience and accomplishments.