What Not to Include When You're Writing a Resume

Woman working from home using laptop computer
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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 related to the job for which you're applying. There is some information that should be included in every resume. There are also some things that don't need to be listed.

The hiring manager should be able to skim through your resume and see your qualifications without knowing everything about you. It often makes sense not to include information on your resume that could hinder your chances of getting an interview.

Here are some items that you should avoid including on your resume.

Words, Phrases, and Formatting

Do not label your resume with the word "resume." One look at your resume, and the employer should know what type of document it is. Also, don't use "resume" as the filename when you save the file. Use your name, so the hiring manager will know whose resume it is at a glance. For example, JaneDolanResume.docx or JaneDolanResume.pdf.

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 have.

The rule of thumb for what not to include is, “When in doubt, leave it out.”

Avoid saying what you did not do or have not yet accomplished; focus instead 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 you will graduate. If you didn't graduate, list the dates you attended.

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

You may hear that you should give an objective statement that states what you are seeking in a job. This is outdated advice: instead, write a career summary, profile or branding statement highlighting what you can offer the employer.

Personal Information, Photos, and Schools

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 children. While some of this information may be required in an international CV, you should leave it out of a resume. The reason is that it's illegal for employers to making hiring decisions based on this information.

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. You may wish to leave your address off your resume or only include part of it in some cases.

Your health is a personal issue, so there is no need to mention it on your resume. If you have health-related limitations they can be addressed during the hiring process.

If you get hired, the company will likely conduct a background check for a criminal record. However, there is no need to include this information on your resume. Also, there is no need to include personal pronouns as most employers will ask for your preferred pronouns.

Photographs

While many companies outside of the United States require a photograph with each resume, those within the US do not. Most companies prefer you not to include a photo so they can safely adhere to the Equal Employment Opportunity legislation (which prohibits companies from making hiring decisions for discriminatory reasons).

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. The only exception might be applying for a modeling or acting job, where appearances inform hiring decisions.

Schooling

Elementary school is never included on a resume. If you are still in high school, only have a high school diploma, or are in the first few years of college you can include your high school information. However, once you complete any other form of education, eliminate this information from your resume.

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 or Obsolete Skills and Experience

You don't need to list every job you have held on your resume. Generally, you only want to include positions you've had 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 this 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 sales job, you can include your earlier job as a cashier if you explain that the job helped you develop your customer service skills.

Make sure all the skills and attributes you list on your resume are current. If you list skills that are obsolete or not relevant to the position, it won't help you get an interview. Review this list of skills to exclude from your resume.

Former Supervisors, References, and Pay

Because you will have a separate list of references, you do not need to include any contact information for your former supervisors on your resume. The only exception to this is creating a resume for a federal job, where this information is required.

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.

Salary

Your salary history is an issue you can discuss with the employer during an interview or once you have been offered the job if you are in a location where it is legal for the company to ask about your prior salary. You do not want to establish a salary range before you have even been offered an interview.

References

Generally, employers assume 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 they ask for them.

Sample Resume

This is an example of a resume that focuses on the qualifications and experience that make the applicant a strong candidate for the job. Download the resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of a sample resume
 @ The Balance 2020

Sample Resume (Text Version)

Emily Employee
1234 Gold Rush Lane, Eureka, CA 95502 • 000-123-4567 • eemployee@email.com

Qualifications Summary

Customer Service-oriented professional dedicated to providing world-class casino experiences.

  • Six years’ experience in casino operations, including sales, cashiering and games management.
  • Frequent recipient of casino awards for exemplary customer service and cross-sales success.
  • Charismatic and proactive in identifying customer requirements and defusing potential issues.
  • Well-versed in complying with all local jurisdiction gaming laws and company policies.

Professional Experience

LUCKY STRIKE CASINO AND RESORT, Eureka, CA
Table Games Dealer, 10/2018-Present
Skillfully conduct casino table games including Blackjack, Poker, and Spanish 21, ensuring compliance with casino policies and procedures. Communicate with supervisor regarding player disputes; mediate and resolve issues in formative stages.

  •  Recognized by supervisors and peers for success in maintaining a dynamic, engaging, professional and courteous gaming environment for guests.
  • Educated guests regarding additional departmental and casino offerings and promotions.

RISING SUN CASINO AND RESORT, Las Vegas, NV
Cage Cashier, 07/2016-08/2018
Leveraged flawless cash-handling skills to redeem gaming checks, tokens and coins for resort guests. Meticulously tracked and reconciled cash drawer funds; transferred currency and coin to other cash-handling stations.

  • Conducted all cash-handling responsibilities with 100% accuracy and accountability.
  • Recognized by senior management with multiple customer service awards.

WINNER’S CASINO AND RESORT, Las Vegas, NV
Retail Shop Clerk, 06/2014-07/2016
Greeted and assisted casino guests in selecting and purchasing store merchandise. Accurately operated point-of-sale system to handle cash and credit transactions. Merchandised and restocked store displays.

  • Commended by supervisor for success in cross-selling casino services to customers.
  • Earned three “Employee of the Month” awards.

Education

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Casino Management
COLLEGE OF SOUTHERN NEVADA (CSN)
NORTH LAS VEGAS CAMPUS, Las Vegas, CA

If you're having trouble writing a resume, there are myriad companies you can hire to help you write it.