Three reasons not to post your resume online

Amy Potthast served as Idealist’s Director of Service and Graduate Education Programs until 2011. Read more of her work at

“Can I post my resume on Idealist? How do I post my resume on Idealist? Why can’t I post my resume on Idealist?””

In my five years working here—chatting, writing and teaching about nonprofit careers—countless community members have asked these questions. Here’s why we don’t host resumes on our site:

1. Resumes should reflect position descriptions.

We don’t host your resume because employers should never see a generic resume from you.

Your resumes (plural) should each be almost mirror images of the positions you’re applying for. They should reflect your experiences with the roles, qualifications and job duties the hiring organizations seek, and the issues they champion. See Chapter Eight of the Idealist Guides to Nonprofit Careers for tips (p. 142 if you’re reading the guide for first time job seekers and p. 146 in the guide for sector switchers).

As a hiring manager, I love it best when an applicant’s resume tells me that they were born for this job or internship. A generic resume will never do that.

2. Resumes should not open you to identity theft.

We don’t host your resume because we don’t want to encourage identity theft.

Professional, non-financial identity theft involves using the details of another person’s professional and educational background to gain employment. Perpetrators can access your personal information in plenty of ways – including information you post about yourself online.

Listing specific details of your current and past employment online (including your contact information, accomplishments, references, awards and professional memberships) opens the door to professional identity theft.


From Flickr user Yasuhiro (Creative Commons)

3. Resumes should not invite spam.

We don’t host your resume because while we want to promote connections among our community members, we dislike spammers.

In the current job market, it’s unclear how many worthy organizations are browsing online resumes in search of people who haven’t bothered to apply for the organization’s openings.

However, it’s very clear that spammers are always on the look out for people to pester.


Posting your resume online may seem like hedging your bets: you can’t possibly know about all the openings out there, so maybe it makes sense to post a generic resume, just in case your dream employer discovers you that way. The risks of such passivity are professional identity theft on one end of the spectrum, and spam on the other.

In fact, worthy employers who post job openings in the current job market are inundated with worthy applicants. The best way to get their attention is to send your perfectly-tailored resume directly to the hiring manager. Read more about presenting yourself on paper.

And take note: if you have a crush on an organization that’s not currently hiring, connect with them in the meantime through social networks. For example, on the newly relaunched Idealist, you can connect with an organization as a fan of their page. Then you won’t miss out if and when they do post a new job listing.

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Comments (2)

  1. […] also don’t think it’s a good idea to post your resume on a job board for a several other reasons, a big one being that your resume should reflect the job you are […]

  2. […] also don’t think it’s a good idea to post your resume on a job board for a several other reasons, a big one being that your resume should reflect the job you are […]

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