Curriculum Vitae (CV): tips for jobseekers and employers

It is common to think that a CV should reflect education, work experience, courses and character traits. However, it is often forgotten that an employer does not need to know everything about a candidate, especially things related to his/her age, marital status, views or beliefs.

Laima Vengalė-Dits, a lawyer at the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, has been working for many years on investigating complaints of discrimination in the labor market and making recommendations on this issue. In order to avoid potential discrimination, the employer should remove all subjective factors that contribute to unconscious bias (i.e. a subjective assessment of a person’s appearance, character or lifestyle based on prejudices, assumptions or interpretations without realizing it). The candidate can also help the employer by providing only information that is relevant to the professional competence.

What you don’t have to disclose to an employer on your CV:

  • All work history. It is recommended that you provide a work history relevant to the post for which you are applying, together with any experience that you consider to be an advantage.
  • Appearances. A candidate’s appearance has no bearing on their skills and abilities. An employer should avoid subjective selection based on a photograph. This can lead to the employee giving it up altogether. For example, most companies in the US will even reject an application if a photo is uploaded on a CV. This approach is designed to avoid a possible shadow of discrimination. The photo requirement is justified in the case of applications for modelling or acting positions.
  • Specific age. Employers can predict an applicant’s age based on education and work experience. An understanding employer should not ask this, as it may prevent an objective assessment of the candidate, regardless of his/her abilities and skills. For example, a young worker may not be appointed to a managerial position because the employer and his/her colleagues feel he/she lacks experience. However, some posts are subject to age restrictions, so you will need to specify your age. For example, as a judge, civil servant, etc.
  • Marital status. Under the Labour Code, employers must respect an employee’s family commitments. It should not ask if the candidate is married, has children or plans to have children. Knowing a candidate’s marital status can make you reluctantly start to doubt them when you think about the likelihood of childbirth and maternity/paternity leave, and the worries of caring for young children. If an employer wants to know whether, for example, a candidate will be able to undertake regular business trips, the missions must be specified in the job description. It is also recommended that you do not include any information about your marital status in your CV.
  • Nationalities. An employer cannot require you to disclose your nationality. Possible cultural differences or perceived negative reactions of other staff members to a candidate’s nationality cannot be a justifiable reason for not recruiting a person. Employers should avoid any prejudice, so it is better not to know the nationality. If the job requires you to speak more than one language, the job advert should specify these languages, not your preferred origin or nationality.
  • Information on hobbies and leisure activities. Political views and religion, which may be relevant to a candidate’s leisure time, are personal information and do not affect his/her competence. The employer has no right to judge or criticize the candidate’s choices. If the applicant’s interests are the same as the job you are applying for, they can choose whether or not to mention it.

The Law on Equal Opportunities obliges employers to apply the same selection criteria to candidates in the recruitment process, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, citizenship, language, origin, social status, religion, beliefs or opinions, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin and religion. Although this list is exhaustive and does not cover all the identity characteristics, the employer should take a broader view and focus only on the applicant’s working qualities.