A Shidduch Resume is Your First Impression
Your shidduch resume might be your only chance to be remembered by a shadchan, to be found by a guy/girl in whom you’d be interested, or to be noticed and set up by a stranger. There is no more important document in your dating life than that resume!
Quick Note: We’ll be using the terms shidduch resume, dating resume, and shidduch profile interchangeably. It’s all the same thing.
Why Do I Even Need a Shidduch Resume?
“Am I just a piece of paper”. “Is this a job I’m applying for”. Good questions, I’m happy you asked.
For all those that feel in some way dehumanized or reduced down to 12 point type by putting a dating resume out into the world, here’s the brief history of The Shidduch Resume.
Once Upon a Time
People used to scribble information about each single they met on index cards, post it notes, the backs of receipts, and used pizza boxes. Lots of recyclable paper accumulated in the homes of shadchanim, parents, and friends. Sometimes the information was retrieved, sometimes it was confused for somebody else, and often it ended up in ladfills (for tree huggers this era was a sad stain on shidduch history.)
One sunny day a shadchan heard about the “e” mail. Excitedly they asked for all the information about a single to be put in one electronic record. The resume was born.
While singles may have seen this as one small step for man, most others saw this as one giant leap for shidduchkind.
My advice: don’t hate on the resume. It’s just a tool for passing information along. Like the pony express, the telegraph, the rotary phone, you get the point.
On to the resume!
Here’s a detailed description of what needs to be on your resume, how to write it, and how to present it.
- Keep it to a page, nobody’s reading more.
- Don’t go into too much detail on any component. The shidduch resume is intended to get people interested and have them want for more. Save the full megillah for an in-person meeting or a date.
- Please don’t hate on me for this, I’m just the messenger: Get comfortable with sharing your resume! It’s a good thing to be exposed to the world. There’s some straightforward math here. The more people that know you or know of you the more chances you have of being set up. 100% of people who don’t know you will not set you up on a date. I completely respect your privacy, but first let’s get you married.
The 5 Critical Elements
- Profile Picture
- Kind of Person You’d Like to Marry
- Shidduch References
While you want to make sure the entire resume is solid, the absolutely key areas to optimize are the picture, the demographics, and your bio. Many, if not most, people that see your resume won’t go beyond those. If these aren’t solid, readers are not likely to read the rest.
The Shidduch Resume Picture
There’s a lot of debate about whether you need to include a picture or not on your profile. I know how much looks and weight can be a source of anxiety for many. That said, my recommendation is always: Share it!
It won’t take long for a date to find out what you look like. If you don’t share a carefully chosen photo on your profile, chances are that prospective dates will find one anyways. One that likely won’t reflect as well on you as the photo you choose. The only person I know in the age of Google, social media, and WhatsApp who has no mention online works in military intelligence.
If somebody won’t date you after seeing your well crafted photo, they’re not for you. Feel lucky that you don’t have to waste time that could be spent on a person that will find you attractive both inside and out.
Finally, shadchanim and well intentioned community members – the people most likely to connect you with singles outside of your social network – typically have hundreds of resumes. At least. If your profile doesn’t have a picture, you’re virtually guaranteed that your profile will end up at the bottom of their pile.
Quick Historical Note
Let’s not romanticize the good old days when there were no shidduch resumes, no photos, and everybody lived happily ever after their first date. Before the resume picture, there were yearbooks, leaked travel photos, and yes – there were also stalking prospective mother-in-laws. Let’s not pretend that looks were of no priority before the shidduch resume came and crashed the party.
No worries though, there’s a lot you can do to make sure the picture presents you in the best possible light (pun intended):
- Get professional photos: Not a must, but highly recommended. Photographers are paid to make people look good. They’ve studied and can apply the lighting, poses, and Photoshopping that’ll bring out the best in you.
- Prepare for your photoshoot: Hair, grooming, makeup, etc. It’s worth the time for a photo that may be seen by hundreds of potential spouses and mother-in-laws.
- Smile: Very attractive.
- Don’t use a group shot: It looks careless. A couple of other things that happen with group shots is that in trying to crop your friend’s/sibling’s/parent’s hands and head out of your shot you’ll either take out too much of yourself or leave in too much of them. In a worst case scenario, and this has happened, the guy/girl looking at the resume will want to date somebody else in your picture. Avoid it.
- Two photos is ideal: One more formal and one more fun/casual.
- Shoulders up is fine: If somebody’s asking for full body shots and that feels creepy, I’d tend to agree with you.
- Your face should be easy to see: That awesome vacation picture, with the mountains in the background and wind in your hair. Sure. Just make sure it’s not 80% mountains and 20% you.
- Keep it recent: Within 3 years is a good rule of thumb. You probably looked younger in your high school yearbook photos. Most of us did. If you use a photo that doesn’t represent what you look like now, you’re setting yourself up for a potentially frustrated and disappointed date.
There are five bits of information that should always be included:
- Age: In my experience there’s plenty of fudging and justification for fudging this statistic. My advice: don’t do it. People who have received your resume will start doing arithmetic sooner or later and dishonesty looks a lot worse than advanced age.
- Height: Same as above, not a good idea to get creative with this number. The purpose of a resume is to get you on an in-person date. Integrity is more attractive than a few inches of height on paper.
- Profession: You can keep it brief. You’re an attorney whether you’re a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell or a junior associate at a two person outfit down the block. You can choose how much you want to make your profession part of your identity once you’re on a date.
- Hashkafah: There are general conventions here. Feel free to get creative, but the options below (listed alphabetically) will cover upwards of 98%:
- Modern Orthodox
- Modern Orthodox Machmir
- Modern Orthdox Liberal
- Shomer Mitzvot
- Yeshivish Modern
- Contact Phone/Email: If you prefer not to share your personal information it’s fine to share that of a designated shidduch contact. You may also consider creating an email account just for dating. You stand to gain from impulse matchmaking, make it as easy as possible for the impulsive matchmaker.
Here are some other bits of data that people tend to include:
- The Schools You’ve Attended
- Parents and Parent’s Profession
- Details of Siblings (names, spouses, children, professions)
These tend to show up on resumes in more yeshivish circles, but not exclusively. If all your friends’ resumes and/or most resumes you receive include these stats, you’re in Rome. Do as the Romans do. Otherwise you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth using precious space on your one page document for these factoids. When working on resumes with clients, I rarely include anything beyond the big 5 listed above.
Your Dating Biography
Who Are You?
Like applications for in-demand jobs, shidduch resumes easily pile up. Shadchanim have thousands. Singles have dozens or even hundreds. You need to make your resume float to the top.
One of the best ways to do this is to describe who you are (this section) and what you’re looking for (next section) in unique terms. One of the worst things you can do is describe yourself in language that covers virtually every Orthodox single of your gender.
Keep It Short
The goal of your shidduch resume is to snag a first date. On that date you’ll have plenty of time to share your story, and a story shared in person always has a deeper impact than the same story in print.
Additionally, many people skim rather than read resumes. You therefore want to make your resume skimmable in both length and formatting.
To both show personality/uniqueness while staying brief, your goal should be writing that is both colorful and to the point. Use descriptive adjectives and your authentic voice without throwing too many words into the mix.
In this section you’ll want to cover:
- Goals and values
- Short personal history
- Professional and personal interests (hint: dating is not a personal interest)
I’m serious about life but also like to have a good time. My friends describe me as caring and helpful. Middos and a Torah home and are very important to me.
Reading this I’d know you have a pulse but not much more.
Born but only partially bred in Phoenix, AZ. My family moved to Ceaderhurst in my mid teens. I’m happy to have had the experience of small townJewish life. I don’t take the many opportunities for Torah growth in the Tri-State area for granted. I work hard to bring the Western easygoing attitude by which I was raised to every community in which I find myself.
I’m a CPA, but as a person much more interesting than spreadsheets and numbers. I do like the professional opportunities available to those that can tell a good financial story in numbers and love my work at a mid-sized strategic consulting firm. What I love even more is spending time with my small but close knit family, snowboarding, and photography.
What You Are Looking For
Know What Will Balance You
You don’t want this section to be a carbon copy of the previous section. While there are areas in which you’ll be looking for somebody that’s similar to you, there are areas in which you’ll appreciate complimentary balance.
This section is the most tricky on your shidduch resume. It has nothing to do with the resume. It has everything to do with your dating preparedness. If you’re looking for a life partner, you should have a working knowledge of:
- Who you are
- What’s good and healthy in your makeup and what needs help/support
- The kind of person that will appreciate your strengths and can serve as a compliment to the rest of you
If you’re an introvert, it doesn’t automatically follow that you’ll hit it off with an extrovert. They might annoy you with all that peopley shtick. Then again, two introverts on a date can play out like an awkward round of the quiet game.
The perfect balance doesn’t exist, but the more you’ve thought this through, the better prepared you’ll be to date the right people and gain traction in your dating. It can be very helpful to have a friend, mentor, or dating coach reflect on this with you and help you continue to refine this understanding as you make your way through dating.
Separate Your Needs from Wants
We all have preferences for a spouse. Some of these are absolute, and some would be nice but not critical. Part of the process of preparing to date is clarifying which of the qualities you’re looking for in a date/spouse are the needs and which are the wants.
In a vacuum, most people would prefer to date someone that is more rather than less attractive and more rather than less financially secure. A better rather than a worse sense of humor and more rather than less athletic.
It’s not only elementary physics that dating can’t happen in a vacuum, it’s also a reality of life. There will always be tradeoffs. “The full package” is like a lottery jackpot. Some will probably win it, they may or may not appreciate it and keep it, but it’s not something normal people plan for.
“The full package” is even more of a myth, once you start reflecting on the absolute uniqueness of each person – yourself included. To reduce anybody to a bunch of stats is to make them unrecognizable as the unique experience of life they are. Horse breeders think in terms of statistics. Those looking for a lifelong partner are best served thinking in terms of the deep and unique experience of human connection.
I say all this to suggest that when describing “what you’re looking for”, you carefully separate between what you need and what you want. A laundry list of mixed needs and wants may communicate that you are indecisive, sloppy in dating or hold unrealistic expectations.
My recommendation is to focus on the few needs that are most important. The examples below are all important to some and non issues to others.
- Learning/Working or some combination
- Daily learning/davening with a minyan
- Healthy food choices and /or regular exercise
- No movies or TV/some movies and TV
If There Are Lines in The Sand, Let ‘Em Know
If there are any deal stoppers, you might as well let people know now. Some examples of non-negotiables I’ve seen on resumes are:
- Plan to have an open home with guests virtually every Shabbos
- Open to somebody married before, but not with children
- Don’t intend to relocate
- Are 5’ 10” and won’t date a guy shorter than you
It’s not for me to judge anybody’s absolute priorities. Even if it was, your pretending to be open to something you don’t want will end in heartbreak one way or the other.
The Goal of References
The bottom line question for all shidduch resume readers is “What is the deal with this guy/girl?” They know they’re getting a biased view when they read about you by you. You want them to make sure they have a true three dimensional view of you:
- 1st Dimension: The facts about you. Important but flat.
- 2nd Dimension: The color, texture, and shape you add to the resume by adding the detail, personality, and authenticity we’ve discussed.
- 3rd Dimension: The outside perspective of others through your references.
The references are certainly valuable to readers for the information they should be able to provide. Perhaps as importantly, the people you choose to put forward and the experience callers have with them will itself shed critical light.
Your Shidduch References are a Reflection on You
On virtually all things I’m an anti fan of Comrade Lenin, but he did have a well placed insight about friends:
“Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you what you are.”
~ Vladimir Lenin
The people you’ve selected to act as your references will inevitably reflect on you. Here are some all too common reference no-nos:
- The Close but Inarticulate Friend that loves to rave on and on. Callers are going to need more detail than “awesome”, “amazing”, or my favorite “all the verys”. If the caller has any level of reflectiveness they’re going to want to walk away with a three dimensional portrait of a real human being..
- The Politician that answers questions without answering them, and has a single goal of giving the caller what they want to hear. Nobody’s perfect. An attempt to portray you that way will leave the caller frustrated rather than impressed.
- The Clueless Talker that may like you but also likes everybody else and doesn’t have the interest, ability, or discipline to present you, warts and all, in the best light. You’d be surprised how many references I’ve called that either claimed not to know the person I was calling about or left me with an overall negative impression.
- The Longest Rabbinical Beard that remotely knows you. The name dropped doesn’t land well when the caller discovers that they’ve hit a dead end and wasted valuable time of a respected community leader.
The Right Mix of Shidduch References
What’s best for references is a small number of different types of people:
- Small Number: 3 is the sweet spot, never try more than 5. Enough to give people confidence they’ve done their due diligence, not too many to complicate or overburden.
- Variety in Connection: A trio of mentor, friend, and family member is great. You can play with this (co-worker, community connection, etc.) but the basic idea is to make sure they’re getting a more colorful and full picture.
- Variety in Profile: It’s helpful to have the perspective of both older and younger people, and if possible both men and women. That way, no matter who’s calling they’re likely to be able connect naturally with the reference.
Final Advice on Your Shidduch Resume
OlOnlyYour dating resume is the front door to your front door.
Almost always, before somebody shows up to your front door for a date they will first see your resume. This is not an issue of first impressions that will be lasting impressions. It’s much more critical than that.
If your shidduch resume isn’t well crafted there will be no first date.
While that does crank up pressure on you to have a great resume, it is also true that there’s a high leverage in crafting an excellent resume. Most resumes are mediocre. With a bit more effort your resume rises. With even more effort, it rises to the top!
A Shidduch Resume is Only Half the Prep for Great Dating
At its very best, your dating profile tells a compelling story that for the right person presents an irresistible opportunity. The opportunity to meet that one special person that might be their lifetime partner.
What we’ve been talking about till now is that the story will only be irresistible if it’s compelling. That’s the easy part.
Much more important, and more challenging, is to be prepared for that connected lifelong relationship and to date in a way that demonstrates that.
As with most singles, you’ve probably never experienced that sort of relationship personally. Even if you’ve had the opportunity to see wonderful marriages up close, dating that leads to marriage is a very different game with its own unique rules.
You might struggle to write complete sections of your shidduch resume because you don’t yet know what kind of person might complement you best. You haven’t sorted out your needs, from your wants, from you “nice to haves”. You may be ambivalent about dating, marriage, men/women, emotional intimacy, and/or shared life goals.
If you need help with any of the above, please do reach out.
As a dating coach it is my passion to help singles:
- Identify dating goals and successful dating patterns
- Address relationship issues that might be standing in the way of your dating success
- Build out the components of a dating resume so that it is authentic, informative, and attractive
Thanks for investing time in your dating today. It’s this sort of time and attention up-front that can have a completely outsized impact on the likelihood and quality of your life’s most important relationship.
Written by: Rachel Burnham, expert dating coach. To contact Rachel please go to d8gr8.com or call: 347-623-6303