What Not to Include in Your Resume

What Not to Include in Your Resume

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    What shouldn’t you include in your resume? Because resumes are typically only one to two pages long, your resume should contain only information that relates to the job for which you are applying.

    The hiring manager should be able to skim through your resume and see your qualifications without knowing everything about you.

    In fact, it often makes sense to not include information on your resume that could hinder your chance of getting an interview.

    The rule of thumb is, when in doubt, leave it out! Here is a list of items that should not be on your resume.

    What Not to Include in Your Resume

    The Word “Resume”
    Do not label your resume “resume.” One look at your resume, and the employer should know exactly what type of document it is. In addition, don’t simply name your resume “resume” when you save the file. Use your name so the hiring manager will know whose resume it is at a glance.

    The Date You Wrote the Resume
    Some people make the mistake of dating their resumes. The employer does not need to know when you wrote your resume; the dates you include regarding past education and employment are the only dates you need to include.

    Any Personal Data Beyond Your Contact Information
    Do not include any personal information beyond your address, email, and phone number. Leave out your age, date of birth, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, and the names and ages of your spouse and/or children.

    While some of this information may be required in a CV, it should be left out of a resume.

    You should also leave out important numbers that could allow someone to steal your identity, such as your social security number, driver’s license number, and any credit card information.

    While many companies outside of the United States require a photograph with each resume, those within the US do not. In fact, most companies prefer you not to include a photograph so they can safely adhere to the Equal Employment Opportunity legislation (which prohibits companies from making hiring decisions for discriminatory reasons). An exception would be if you were applying for a modeling or acting job, where appearances inform hiring decisions.

    Physical Characteristics (height, weight, etc.)
    Like a photograph, including your physical characteristics on a resume opens the door to possible accusations of discrimination against the company. Companies therefore prefer that you do not include any physical descriptors.

    Grammar School and High School
    Grammar school is never included on a resume. If you are still in high school, are in your first couple of years of college, or if a high school diploma is your highest degree, you can certainly include your high school information. However, once you complete any other form of education, eliminate this information from your resume.

    Low GPAs
    College students and recent graduates often include their GPA in their resume. However, if you are worried about a low GPA, simply leave it off your resume. You can still include your school, graduation date, and any awards received.

    Unrelated Work Experience
    You don’t need to list every job you have held on your resume. Generally, you only want to include positions you have held in the past 10 to 15 years, unless an earlier job strongly demonstrates your qualifications. Leave out any positions that are unrelated to the job for which you are applying unless it will leave gaps on your resume.

    However, if you have limited job experience, you can include slightly unrelated positions as long as you demonstrate how they prepared you for a job in your new field. For example, if you are applying for a job in sales, you can include your earlier job as a cashier if you explain that the job helped you develop your customer service skills.

    Unrelated Hobbies
    Most companies do not want to see your hobbies on your resume. However, if you have a hobby that relates to the company, you may include it. For example, if you are applying to work at a sporting goods store, you could list your interest in particular outdoor activities.

    Names and Contact Information for Former Employers
    Because you will have a separate list of references, you do not need to include any contact information for your former employers on your resume.

    Salary History
    Salary is an issue you can discuss with the employer during an interview or once you have been offered the job; you do not want to establish a salary range before you have even been offered an interview. So, don’t list your current salary or the salary you expect to earn at a new job.

    Criminal Record
    If you get hired, the company will likely conduct a search of your criminal record. However, there is no need to include this information on your resume.

    “References Available Upon Request”
    Generally it is assumed that a job applicant will have references. Instead of including the references on your resume or saying “references available upon request,” you can send the hiring manager a separate sheet of references or wait until you are asked to provide them.

    Negative Words / Ideas
    Avoid saying what you did not do or have not yet accomplished; focus on what you have done or are in the process of achieving. For example, if you are still in college, do not say “not yet graduated,” but instead list the year in which you will graduate. If you didn’t graduate, simply list the dates you attended.

    Instead of saying that you have “limited experience” in administrative work, simply provide examples of your previous experience.

    An Objective That Says What You Want
    Rather than writing a resume objective that says what you are seeking in a job, write a career summary, profile or branding statement that highlights what you can offer the employer. Here’s how:

    • Career Summary
    • Branding Statement
    • Resume Profile

    More Things Not to Include on a Resume

    • Personal pronouns
    • Statements about your health
    • Long descriptions
    • Acronyms
    • Street addresses for schools and employers
    • Spelling and grammatical errors
    • Exaggerations or mistruths
    • Anything negative about you or an employer


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