Writing Shidduch Resumes
The information provided here reflects the shidduchim system as it is practiced in American Orthodox social circles ranging from right-wing Modern Orthodox (YU Machmir) to somewhat Yeshivish. In other circles, the system may be different.
The Function of the Resume
The purpose of the shidduch resume or profile is to provide basic information about a single. This makes it easier for shadchanim to understand who the single is and for parents of a single to find out more about a shidduch prospect.
There are different opinions about the main function of the resume, and therefore, how to write a resume. One viewpoint is that the resume is not meant to advertise or fully describe the boy/girl. Rather, the parent or the person who presents the resume to the shadchan, the parents, or other representatives of the other party (or the single him/herself) also describes the single and advocates for him/her. From this perspective, the resume should be minimalist, presenting only the facts about the single’s background.
In this viewpoint, parents are expected to check with the shadchan regularly to see if s/he may have a shidduch prospect for their son/daughter. This advocacy makes resumes stand out and circulate, since Shadchanim often have a large collection of similar resumes.
Another opinion is that the resume is the single's "shop window" and must stand out from other resumes in order to attract attention. This applies especially for single women because of the gender imbalance in the Yeshivish shidduch market. Many shadchanim do not have the time to speak with parents regularly, and therefore, advocacy is done through the resume.
Please note that there is no “ideal” resume format. The sections outlined below may be ordered differently than stated here, and there are many variations.
Shidduch resumes begin with the single’s name, birthdate, and height. In more traditional circles, both the full Hebrew name of the single and the name s/he is known by, are spelled out, since some families do not allow children with the same name as a parent to marry into their family. The home address follows, with a line indicating the single’s current location if s/he is not living at home at present.
Where the parents are directing the single’s shidduchim, the involved parent’s contact information: cell phone, home phone, and/or email address is listed next. In less traditional circles, or where the single is directly involved in her shidduchim, the single’s phone number is included. Otherwise, the single’s contact information is left out, to be provided to a shidduch prospect if the parties agree to go out.
The resume usually continues with information about the parents: names, birth place, and occupation, along with their shul affiliation and the name of the family Rav. Including the name of the Rav is important since many parents perceive having an ongoing relationship with a Rav as a good indicator of the family’s commitment. If the Rav is hard to reach, it is helpful to add a preferred time to call.
In more Yeshivish circles, the grandparents’ names and birth places are also stated. It is useful, for those circles, to also include the Yeshiva where the father learned.
Parental information is followed by (or proceeded by) the single’s educational background, possibly camps (see below), and current position if s/he is working.
A list of the siblings follows: name, age, educational institution and/or occupation, and name of spouse if applicable.
Somewhere among these listings, there may be a more detailed description of the single, either in first person or written by an outsider. Alternatively, the single may list hobbies, chessed activities and the like.
At the end of the resume is a list of references and their contact information. References typically are family friends, personal friends, former Rebbeim/teachers/seminary principals, roommates, and colleagues. Where possible, it is more convenient to include cell phone numbers.
Formatting and Presentation
The format of the shidduch resume generally follows that of job resumes, with section headers followed by short statements or lists. Resumes make a better impression if they look neat and well-formatted with consistent headers and indentation; fonts should be easy to read. It is preferable to keep the content down to a single page. Having an outsider proofread for errors in spelling, grammar, or formatting is a good idea.
We have shells of two sample resumes at the end of this post. Below is more detailed guidance on writing the resume.
What to Include
Aside from the basic facts about the single, the information on the resume should be either relevant to understanding the single or helpful to make connections to facilitate investigation.
Grandparents, for example, might be included if their names may be recognized by people in the community, or to convey that the single prefers to marry someone with “background”.
Where applicable, the names of the siblings’ mechutanim (in-laws) are considered important, since this gives a better clue about the family and makes it easier to check them out.
Camp is more relevant for younger singles. After a few years, the camp defines the single less, unless the single has been keeping in touch with his/her old camp. Listing extra-curricular activities that are meaningful for the single is a method of signaling values and strengths.
Tips for Writing Resumes
Involve a Mentor!
The shidduch resume is often the only advocate the single has to the representative of a potential shidduch. It is important, therefore, to show it to someone who knows the single and is savvy and experienced with shidduchim. It may be better to delay giving out the resume until it has been “passed” by the mentor.
Focus on the Target Audience
Part of the preparation for shidduchim is to decide from which circles to seek one’s marriage partner. Resume styles vary across the frum spectrum. Therefore, it is wise for the single to use as models resumes from people who have recently married into the desired social circle. For example, the more right-wing set seems to be more comfortable with standard-looking resumes, that emphasize family connections, whereas singles from more “Modern” circles may be more attracted to out-of-the-box presentation emphasizing the single’s own experience.
Within the constraints of following the norms of their social circle, singles may tweak their resumes to highlight individual characteristics that define them. For example, a standard resume formatted with a little creativity may signal to the shadchan that this Yeshivish single is looking for a somewhat out-of-the-box partner.
Blending In vs Standing Out
. A shidduch resume can be made to stand out through:
- Presentation: Using creativity to present the material in an original, eye-catching format (but see below)
- Outstanding Achievement: The single may have a superior education or be very accomplished
- Unusual Background or Life Experience: The single may have a more interesting story to tell than many of his/her peers.
- A passion or life mission: The resume reflects the single’s commitment to a particular cause (e.g. kiruv), career or hobby.
However, while a superior resume is more likely to be effective, a resume that is too distinctive may seem extreme to the shadchan or other gatekeepers to potential shidduchim. This may lead to a single being rejected out of hand as “too brilliant” or “not mainstream”. Moreover, the resume may be limiting, by defining the single on only one dimension. The super-geek, for example, might be happy with someone non-technical, so why give an impression to the contrary?
On the other hand, if the single truly feels that this resume defines him/her as a person, a more extreme resume may act as a filter, reducing the number of prospects, but leading to more productive dating.
Revealing or Concealing Information?
Some of the information on the resume may be embarrassing or detrimental to the single’s prospects: e.g. advanced age, parents who are divorced or siblings who are not in mainstream Yeshivas. A general rule is to include information that is likely to be uncovered during the checking out process. Other family secrets could stay hidden until sometime during the dating process; see Disclosures in The Dating Process post.
A single might deliberately lay out more information in the resume than strictly needed in order to filter out shidduch prospects that are likely to reject him/her when they learn about a problem.
The references listed on the resume should be selected carefully. The best references are positive, outgoing people who are able to speak enthusiastically and articulately about the single.
While prestigious references may make the resume look good, it is more useful to list people who know the family or the single well, are accessible and have the time to talk. It is appropriate to consult references before putting their names and telephone numbers on a resume. This is also a good opportunity to update the reference about the single and what s/he is looking for, and to discuss how to explain potential problems that the other party may discover while investigating the prospect.
Include a Personal Statement?
Some singles include a statement about themselves or about what kind of person they seek to marry. Many shadchanim in Passaic recommend that the resume present only the basic facts. People are less likely to read through a long resume. In addition, resumes are sometimes examined very intensely. Parents of a shidduch prospect might reject a resume based on something they read into a harmless statement. Moreover, since a resume may circulate for years, it is best not to incorporate material that may change over time.
That said, it might be a good idea nevertheless for someone from a non-standard (e.g. Ba'al Teshuva, Ger, very out-of-town) background to include a sentence or two about themselves or about what they are looking for, to make it easier for Shadchanim and parents of a shidduch prospect to understand who they are. Such sentences are more useful when they avoid cliches.
Include A Photo?
There are different schools of thought about including a photo in the resume. It is a good practice to follow the norm in one’s social circle. If everyone else includes a photo in the resume, omitting the photo makes a shadchan or parent wonder what the single is trying to hide. A shadchan mentions that resumes that are accompanied by the girl’s photo are more likely to be taken up by the boy’s family.
On the other hand, including a photo is frowned upon in some Yeshivish circles as trying to “sell” the person on his/her looks. Another argument against including a photo is that it may give the other party a reason to reject a shidduch out of hand if they have preconceptions about their future spouse’s appearance. For example, a boy from a family of brunettes may not be used to blondes and therefore think that he cannot marry one. If he would meet the girl, he might see beyond the hair color. In addition, people are prone to forming misconceptions about the personality or the physical attractiveness of others based on photos of their face.
However, it is a good idea to send the shadchan a picture with the resume, since this helps keep the single in mind. If the parents do not want the picture to be sent to the other party, they should send the picture separately rather than together with the resume, and they should state their preference to the shadchan. Note: Rabbi Levi and Rabbi Lewenstein of Lakewood do not use pictures. Nonetheless, some parents of boys will only consider shidduch proposals after seeing the girl’s picture.
Important note: if the shadchan wants a photo, you need to send it. Otherwise, the shadchan will put your resume on the bottom of the pile.
Click here for more information about taking a shidduch photo.
Supplementing the Resume
Parents may supplement the resume by creating a “cheat sheet” with a more elaborate description of their child, to use when speaking with shadchanim and people who inquire about their single. This supplement is also very useful to help references describe the single when they are contacted.
Keeping the Resume Up-to-Date
Shidduch resumes should be updated regularly to reflect what is happening in the single’s life: the transition from career training to working or taking on new responsibilities. The list of educational institutions attended should be compressed and put further down in the resume as the single moves on.
It is a good idea to keep the reference list current. For example, if the single is not keeping up with a seminary roommate, this reference should be replace with the name of a co-worker. The single should also update the references with his/her activities. In addition, the single may have changed his/her ideas on what kind of spouse s/he is seeking; this, too, should be explained to the references.
If a single has been in shidduchim for many years, it may pay to rework the resume. The parent of a shidduch prospect might be willing to take a second look at the resume of a single they had previously rejected if the resume looks fresh.
Sample Shidduch Resume Form
Name of Boy/Girl
Parent’s Contact Information: telephone number(s)
Father’s name , birthplace, occupation
(optional) Grandparents: birthplace, current city
Mother’s name, maiden name, birthplace, occupation
(optional) Grandparents: birthplace, current city
Rav & telephone
High School / Mesivta
Seminary / Bais Medrash
Volunteer Chessed or Kiruv Activities
Name, age, where they are being educated, occupation , if married, to whom and where they are living
(Optional) Looking For
Names & telephone numbers
(optional) Mechutanim (parents of siblings’ spouses)
Personal References (friends, roommates, chavrusas)
Names & telephone numbers
Yeshiva Bochur's Shidduch Resume Form
Bachur's Full Hebrew Name
Home phone #
Cell phone #
Father's complete Hebrew name
Father's cell phone #
Mother's complete Hebrew name , mother's maiden name
Mother's Cell phone #
Family Rav (name and telephone)
Bachur's Rav - Moreh Derech (name & telephone)
Current Rosh Chabura (name & telephone)
Recent summer program:
Eretz Yisroel (how long- whose shiur):
Siblings (name, age, school, married to whom, from where and where currently living)
Family References (at least 2 - include cell no.)
Bachur's References (at least 1 roommate, 1 chavrusa, & 2 other friends - include cell #)