There are 20 things that you should never put on your resume. A resume is meant to be your best, first-impression and you should only include the most important and pertinent information. When writing your resume, be sure to remove anything that is unnecessary or unneeded. This will help you to conform to the one-page rule for a resume length.
We all hear of things that you should include on your resume, but almost never hear of things you should not put on your resume. These mistakes can easily cost you a job opportunity and you may end up applying to hundreds of jobs with no call for an interview. However, taking care from the beginning to remove these novice mistakes should help with the application process.
They say that first impressions matter and you have to treat your resume as a first impression. As such, you need to ensure that the information provided in your resume is not only relevant and timely, but it speaks to who you are and what you can provide.
Your resume is a living document. It speaks to who you are as an applicant and what your experience and education levels are. As you only have a limited amount of space on your resume, you need to be mindful to only include important and necessary information. Anything that is not needed should be removed, allowing for more space to include information the recruiter and hiring manager will find useful.
A headshot or picture
This may get me in some trouble with my readers but placing a headshot on a resume distracts away from your accomplishments.
It opens up a potential can of worms if the picture is not professionally done and/or if the picture is a little on the goofy end. Moreover, a headshot or picture of yourself really takes away from the gist of the text on your resume.
Your resume should be a reflection of your personal and professional experience, experience that has been gained through years and years of hard work and effort, experience that a picture honestly does not convey.
In addition, most headshots will simply be removed by the recruiter or human resources professional.
Unless you are in an industry, such as modeling or acting, in which a headshot is expected, you should leave one off your resume and focus solely on the text of the document.
Wait, I thought that including your education was one of the most important things I could add to a resume, you may say. And you are correct, however you should never include educational accomplishments below a bachelor’s degree, assuming you have a degree from a college or university. Your potential employer does not care where you went to high school if you have any educational achievements past it.
The most important metric from an educational perspective is always your latest and most up to date one and if you have a degree after high school, then that is the only one you should include. If your highest level of education is high school, then you should include that. I would also advise to supplement that degree with additional certifications and qualifications which may help you to stand out and show a potential employer that you are both hard working and motivated in bettering your skills.
This one is a doozy, but you should never include your grade point average (GPA) in your resume unless it is above a 3.5 on a 4.0 rating scale. If you have a GPA less than 3.5 you risk conveying the message that you were not a studious student and did not take your education seriously.
In-fact, including your GPA on your resume has a higher likelihood of harming your chances than improving them and most employers don’t really care to ask for it, especially once you’ve gotten a few years of experience under your belt.
Dependent on the professional stage you are in and the amount of experience you have, your GPA begins to hold less and less weight and worth. What was pertinent when you first began looking to enter the workforce may now be outdated or simply unnecessary. Rather, focus on your professional accomplishments and have those stand out from the rest. You want to sell yourself as a professional, someone who is good at what they do and has the experience to prove it. By including your GPA, you are only detracting from your more substantial accomplishments.
Poor Grammar and Spelling
This one may seem obvious but is one that is often overlooked. As your resume conveys your potential to a prospective employer, you want to begin with the best foot forward. Having a resume filled with poor grammar, misspellings, and overall sloppy formatting will frighten away the hiring manager.
Employers are looking for someone who is serious and capable when filling a role and poor grammar and spelling signal the opposite of serious. In-fact, not fixing those errors shows employers that you are careless and do not take pride in your own accomplishments. Even in a role where there won’t be much writing needed, you want to show that you are methodical and proofread everything that you do.
If you have trouble or difficulty composing a resume, feel free to reach out to family and friends who can review and provide some tips and tricks. Alternatively, you could look into resume services which I discuss at length here.
Short Term Employment
Employers are looking to fill roles with people they believe will be there for the long haul. They want to have some expectation of loyalty, or at least know that you will stick around for more than two months before moving to other pastures.
From an employer’s perspective, they have business processes that need to be handled and completed and need to know that the potential hire they make will be able to execute on those processes for the long term. As-such, including short term employment stints on your resume may be a potential red flag to employers. They begin to question your loyalty and the disruption that may be caused if you quit within a few months.
We consider short-term employment to mean anything less than 6 months. Any positions held for six-months or more should be okay to place on your resume.
Let’s face it, though many of us enjoy being at work and what we do, we have our own lives and hobbies that are done outside of work hours. And while those hobbies and activities were once great for college applications, they are completely unnecessary for a professional resume.
Employers are looking for your capacity to complete tasks, projects, and requirements in the office. Placing a list of hobbies on your resume does not add any value to your pitch and only takes away space for more pertinent and relevant information. Hobbies though, are useful to build rapport with your hiring manager and your potential employer. When interviewing, you could drop in some activities you enjoy outside of work when asked about yourself.
Never, under any circumstances, should you include references on your resume. Your resume is a statement to your experience, qualifications, and professional accomplishments.
References, called out by name and contact information, is simply a distraction from your qualifications. If references are needed to further the interview and application process, you will be contacted by Human Resources (HR) to provide.
Salary and Salary Expectations
An even greater mistake than including references on your resume, is including your current salary or your salary expectations. Money, pay, and salary is almost always a sensitive subject and one that should be approached delicately.
By including current salary and expected salary, you risk alienating a potential employer with a salary expectation that they deem unreasonable. Furthermore, by including salary and salary expectation, you reduce your own overall leverage in salary negotiations when the time comes to discuss.
When it comes to salary, research the position thoroughly to have a good understanding of the salary range. Utilize this information on top of your experience to make the case that you deserve the higher end of the range. Again, this is useful information to have and to supplement with your experience, but be prepared to only make this case when the question is brought up to you, typically by HR.
Your resume is your own platform and document for stating your professional achievements and accomplishments, it is not a forum to air your grievances or misgivings with former employers, colleagues, or managers.
You should never badmouth any previous employers to a new employer. Remember, always keep it professional.
I can’t believe I have to include this one, but unfortunately, I have seen a number of recent resumes with emojis scattered throughout. Thankfully there have only been a handful that I have seen, but it is a worrying trend.
Emojis, though fun and useful amongst family and friends, are the absolute worst thing you can include in a resume. They are not meant in a professional setting and should be left for personal communication alone.
This one is a bit tricky but will make sense shortly. When writing your resume, you want to provide a list of accomplishments which show an actual, real improvement.
Stating that you “increased overall departmental revenue” is a good statement, but rewriting that to state, “reduced vendor turnover by 11% within the first three months” provides a more accurate and quantifiable level of accomplishment. You don’t just want to state the facts but get into the nitty-gritty of those facts.
When writing out your list of accomplishments, don’t be afraid to get into the details. You should provide real results, with real numbers, showcasing your direct impact to your previous employer.
When saving your resume, you want to save in a PDF format, as that will allow it to save its intended structure and composition. In addition, when saving your resume, name it something along the lines of FirstInitial.LastName. NEVER save your resume as “Resume” or “New Resume”.
Your resume should be composed of information related to your experience and your education. It should include bullet points of your accomplishments and achievements. Any personal information should be excluded. This includes physical characteristics, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, drivers license number, and social security number.
This information is personal and does not lend any advantage to your ability to complete the job requirements. Though illegal to discriminate against, you don’t want to provide information which a recruiter or hiring manager may be biased against.
Unrelated Work Experience
Generally, your resume should only include work experience that is relevant and recent. If your resume has experiences over a 10-year span, look through the work experiences and see if they all lend themselves towards where your career has taken you. If-not, then feel free to remove. You do not need to include all work experiences, particularly if they are not important to your overall career goals and trajectory.
Skills which aren’t related to your current position or career trajectory are unnecessary to include in your resume. Keep the skill section relevant and up to date. Don’t list skills which are obsolete or no longer related to your work role and responsibilities.
Don’t place yourself at a disadvantage before you have a chance to prove your abilities. If a background check is a requirement of the position, you can speak to the offense at that time.
Your salary history is personal information which you are not required to disclose. Keep it off of your resume and only discuss salary if asked an expected range or when an offer is made to you.
It’s easy to assume that acronyms are understood, specifically within an industry role. However, you do not want to use an acronym that is not understood and could potentially mislead or confuse the recruiter or hiring manager.
Anything negative, whether about a former employer, your current outlook, or a previous position, should be left off of your resume. Negativity on a resume only shows resentment and potential difficulty. Keep a clean, professional resume, that is upbeat and optimistic.
Health Issues or Concerns
Health issues and concerns are private matters. Never disclose them or discuss them with a recruiter or hiring manager.
An Unprofessional Email Address
Your email address is one of the first things a recruiter or hiring manager sees when they open your resume. Having an unprofessional, obscene, or offensive email address can disqualify you from a position. Be sure to have a dedicated professional email address, one that is clean and straightforward with your first and last name only.
Resumes are always a difficult document to approach however you should have the mindset of keeping it clean, professional, concise, and accurate. By focusing on your professional accomplishments and completed projects, you should be set for some pretty easy writing. In addition, always be sure to proofread and double-check your work to ensure correct grammar and spelling. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for assistance. Lastly, invest in some high-quality, durable resume paper which can help you appear more professional and make your resume stand out from the pool of other candidates.
What do you think? Do you think resumes are a good barometer of your professional accomplishments or is there a better way?