Resume writing isn’t easy. You know that you need to make a good impression to earn that interview invite, and it’s so tempting to just dump every positive thing about yourself into the document. And many people do. The result? A bloated document that impresses no one and doesn’t help your job search. If you’re unsure of what to include, or if you’re just having a hard time keeping it down to the one-page document that most recruiters prefer, let me help you out by telling you what not to include on a resume.
As you learn how to build a resume, know that what not to include in the document is just as important as what you should include. Read on for eight examples of what not to include on your resume.
Anything that could introduce bias
The law says that employers aren’t allowed to discriminate based on gender, age, race, religion and so on in the hiring process, so why make it easier for them to do so? Even recruiters who are diligent about fair hiring practices are only human, and human beings are susceptible to unconscious bias.
For that reason, leave out anything that could trigger bias or discrimination unless it’s entirely relevant, such as mentioning your religion when applying to a faith-based institution.
Too much personal information
Most resumes begin with your name and contact information: one phone number, one email address, and your physical location (city, state).
Listing your full address is fine, but it’s also ok to leave it off. Not including an address protects your privacy and isn’t critical since you’re rarely going to receive any snail mail from recruiters.
Don’t mention your age, marital status, whether or not you have children, or any health conditions. Also, never mention a criminal record unless you are required to by law.
On the one hand, don’t provide sensitive data such as your social security or driver’s license numbers.
On the other hand, don’t talk about trade secrets or other proprietary information that a previous employer hasn’t explicitly allowed you to publicize. Sometimes, this can be as simple as internal statistics about your achievements, something you would definitely want to include, so get permission when needed.
Leave out anything that could trigger bias or discrimination unless it’s entirely relevant, such as mentioning your religion when applying to a faith-based institution.
A resume objective
The objective of a resume is to get you an interview invite, but the resume objective is a section, usually near the top of the resume, about what kind of position you’re looking to move into. It’s wasted space. The kind of position you’re looking for is the one to which you have applied. No explanation is required.
Never include any kind of salary information on your resume — not what you made in previous jobs nor what you want to make in your next job.
Salary and salary negotiations belong in the interview process, although some employers may ask for salary information to be included in your cover letter or application. In this case, stick to discussing your salary requirements, not your salary history. In some states, questions about salary history are now illegal, so do your research.
Recruiters don’t like seeing the phrase, "references available upon request." If a recruiter wants to see your references, they will ask. Don’t waste space by including this line.
Also, avoid listing references on your resume. Instead, create a list on a separate page and have it ready for when a recruiter requests them. Use the same header that is on your resume and list each reference in detail, including their name, title, email address, telephone number, and your relationship to them. Be sure to get permission from your references first so that they are prepared for a call or email from the recruiter.
Inaccurate or embellished information
Marketers often hype and exaggerate products to get us to buy them, and it often works. You may be tempted to do the same thing on the personal marketing document that is your resume, but you need to be careful how far you take it.
You should obviously never lie on your resume, but even exaggerating your achievements can get you in trouble with references or when it comes time to discuss your accomplishments in detail in an interview.
This may be the most important point of them all. Too many amazing candidates have been shot down by having a single, ugly typo stand out on their resume. In fact, one study found that 58 percent of recruiters say they would automatically reject a candidate whose resume contained a typo.
Typos give the impression that an application doesn’t pay attention to detail, or that they don’t think they need anyone else’s help (e.g., proofreaders), or that they’re just too lazy to ask.
Before sending off your resume to a hiring manager, read it aloud to yourself and get at least one other person to do the same. It’s also a good idea to run your resume and cover letter through a free online grammar checker, which will catch both typos and grammatical errors.
Check out LiveCareer's additional resume (and cover letter) resources, and make sure your documents stack up!