Top 15 Things You Can Leave Off Your Resume

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There are some things that 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 in order 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 take as little as thirty seconds to conduct 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 fifteen 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  1. General descriptions of duties without reference to how you added value. Employers don't want to see your job description; they 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.
  2. Phrases like Responsibilities or Duties Included. Make your resume about what you actually accomplished, not what you were supposed to do in the job. Here's how to include your accomplishments on your resume.
  1. 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 about showing the hiring manager you're qualified for the job.
  2. Irrelevant experiencesespecially from the distant past. 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.
  1. Empty or flowery language such as exquisite, outstanding, or interesting. Every phrase on your resume 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.
  2. 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.
  1. Personal information 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 may resent the fact 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.
  2. Hobbies or interests that 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.
  1. Weak assertions about academic achievements such as GPAs below 3.0 or mentions of making the dean's list for only a semester or two. Don't bring academic achievement to the recruiter's attention unless 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.
  2. Photographsunless you are applying for a modeling or acting job. 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.
  1. Reasons for leaving your previous employers.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.
  2. Names and contact information of former supervisors. Furnish a separate list of your references when requested. Give those individuals a heads up when they might be contacted by an employer, so they are prepared.
  3. Space fillers like References Available Upon Request. They take up precious space and may cause you to leave off more relevant information. It goes without saying that you will furnish references if requested. You don't need to advertise the fact.

    What Employers Do Want in a Resume

    What do employers want? According to a CareerBuilder survey, here’s what employers want 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%

    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.