Top 15 Things You Can Leave Off Your Resume

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Some things simply don’t belong on your resume. Including them can get your resume knocked out of consideration for a job before it gets a thorough review.

You might think you’re giving the employer many reasons to hire you, but when it comes to resume writing, there is such a thing as too much information. Employers are looking for reasons to screen out applicants when reviewing a batch of resumes to produce a manageable group of candidates to interview. 

Make sure you don't include the wrong information, which is anything that might lead the company to conclude you are not motivated or qualified to do the job. Review information on how employers decide which applicant to hire before starting work on your resume. Then work on revamping your resume, so it includes information that will help you get noticed by the hiring manager.

30 Seconds to Make an Impression

Recruiters can spend 30 seconds or less conducting an initial review of your resume. That's not long. You should avoid cluttering your document with unnecessary information that might make it harder for employers to find the most qualifying elements of your background.

If the hiring manager can't quickly skim your resume to determine whether you've got the right qualifications, you may be out of contention for the job. The resume reader should immediately be drawn to skills and information relevant to the position they are seeking to fill.

Take the time to match your qualifications to the job when deciding what information to include on your resume. You'll be doing both the hiring manager and yourself a favor. Showing the reader you've got the right stuff will make it easier for the hiring manager to decide you're worth taking the time to interview.

Top 15 Things You Should Leave Off Your Resume

Here are the top 15 things that should not be included on a resume. Leave them off, and keep your resume sharply focused on the skills and qualifications necessary for the job for which you’re applying.

Long Paragraphs Without Bullets

Employers might gloss over sections of your resume and miss key evidence of your qualifications if paragraphs are too dense with text. A resume should be easy to read and decipher. Nobody wants to read lengthy descriptions of what you've done at every job you have had. Review these tips for writing a resume experience section.

What You Want From the Job

Leave out statements in your objective or summary that point to what you want to gain from the job. Your focus should be on what you can provide to the employer. Your goal is to sell the hiring manager on picking you for an interview. Here’s what to include in a resume summary statement.

Vague Descriptions

Don't be general; employers want to learn about the skills and assets you utilized to achieve real results. Take the time to quantify your achievements and show the reader, at a glance, what you have accomplished at each position you have held. Demonstrate your value in measurable terms.

A List of Job Duties

Make your resume about what you accomplished, not what you were supposed to do in the job. Here's how to include your accomplishments on your resume.

Starting Phrases With 'I'

Start your statements with skill, action, or accomplishment words, such as "analyzed," "created," or "reduced," to engage the reader instead of nouns or pronouns. Even though your resume is about you, it's more specifically about showing the hiring manager you're qualified for the job.

Irrelevant Experiences

Every statement on your resume should lead the employer to the conclusion that you have the right qualifications for the job. Your goal is for the recruiter to spend their time on your most significant relevant experiences. The same holds true for skills. Be sure the skills you include are current and relevant to the job, otherwise leave them off your resume.

Empty or Flowery Language

Words such as "exquisite," "outstanding," or "interesting" don't have a place on your resume. Every phrase you use should point to a specific skill or accomplishment. Otherwise, it is just a distraction. Stick to the facts, and keep your tone simple and focused.

Misspellings or Grammatical Errors

Your resume serves as a sample of your writing skills and evidence of whether or not you are detail-oriented. If you have a typo, someone will probably notice, and it could be held against you. Check out these proofreading tips before you use your resume to apply for jobs. Even better, ask someone to proofread it for you. It can be hard to catch your own mistakes.

Personal Information

Leave off details such as height, weight, birth date, age, sex, religion, political affiliation, or place of birth. Employers shouldn't make employment decisions based on these factors, and they may resent the fact that you are tempting them to do so. Keep your resume focused on the facts. The exception is if you are writing a curriculum vitae for a country where the practice is to include personal information.

Hobbies or Interests

Abandon these if they do not point to desirable workplace skills or bear any relevance to the job. Candidates, especially experienced individuals, should have more compelling information to share in the limited space of their resume. Instead, consider a resume skills section with your skills that are most closely related to the job.

Lackluster Academics

Don't bother with academic achievements such as GPAs below 3.0 or mentions of making the dean's list for only a semester or two. Only bring academic achievement to the recruiter's attention if it is an area of strength. There’s no point in trying to impress a hiring manager with something that’s not impressive. Here’s when to include a GPA on a resume.

Photographs

Unless you are applying for a modeling or acting job, there's no need for a photo. Employers don't want to be drawn into allegations of discrimination. Provide the URL of your LinkedIn profile if you think your appearance is an asset. Here's information on whether you should include a photo on your resume.

Reasons for Leaving Previous Jobs

This can seem like you are making excuses. There is no need to justify your career moves. This information isn't relevant to why you should be hired for the job for which you're applying.

Contact Info for Previous Supervisors

No need to put down all of the names and contact information for your previous supervisors on your resume. Provide a separate list of your references instead. Also, be sure to give those individuals a heads up when they might be contacted by a potential employer so they are prepared.

Space Fillers

Phrases like "References Available Upon Request" take up precious space and may cause you to leave off more relevant information. Of course you will furnish references if requested. You don't need to advertise this fact.

What Employers Want in a Resume

What do employers want? According to a CareerBuilder survey, here’s what employers want to see when they receive resumes:

  • Customized for their open position: 61%
  • Accompanied by a cover letter: 49%
  • Addressed to the hiring manager or recruiter by name: 26%
  • Links to the applicant’s online portfolio, blog, or website: 21%

You can best prepare your resume for an employer's eyes by taking the time to review a list of the top skills to put on your resume and guidelines for what should be included on a resume. Focusing on your most valuable assets will help you get an interview—and a job offer.