10 Things Savvy Job-Seekers Always Leave Off Their Resume

By Miriam Salpeter

Miriam Salpeter

Miriam Salpeter

Resume norms shift. Your resume needs to be up-to-date if you want to appear highly qualified. And one rule never changes: Don’t include information that doesn’t pertain to landing the job.

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Here are 10 other things you should never include:

  1. A title. Don’t put the word “Resume” or “CV” at the top. Everyone knows what it is, and you can use that space to include keywords that connect your experience to the hiring manager’s needs.
  2. Personal information and a photo. If you’re applying for a job in theUnited States, you don’t need to include your age, social security number, marital or family status. (The employer does not need to know your children’s names and ages.) Descriptions about your physical characteristics are irrelevant unless you are applying for a job that relies on your appearance (such as an actor, television anchor, or model).
  3. Stock templates. Don’t rely on the templates that accompany your word processing software to create your resume. It’s unlikely a hiring manager or resume writer helped create the templates. If you use these stock designs, your resume will appear dated at best and out-of-touch at worst.
    [See How to Avoid Errors in Your Resume.]
  4. An objective. Job-seekers used to learn to include an objective describing what they wanted in a job. (For example, “Seeking growth opportunity with progressive company” or “Looking for a job with flexible organization where I can advance.”) Today, employers don’t care what you want—it’s all about their needs. Use headlines including the job title you want and key phrases pulled from the job description.
  5. Months of employment. Typically, if you worked at a job at least a year, it’s not necessary to include the months you were employed. For example, “May 2001 – July 2006.” For most positions, it would be perfectly acceptable to list your employment as “2001-2006.” If you were employed for less than a year, you’ll need to include specific months.
  6. Irrelevant content. Avoid words, phrases, or jargon in your descriptions that don’t specifically relate to the employer’s needs. If you include information focused on another field or position, it may confuse the reader and make him think you would prefer a different job. If you want to convince your targeted employer that you’re a perfect fit, delete language that the recruiter or employer might misinterpret.
  7. Infographics. You’re taking a risk if you apply for a job using an infographic resume. These visually stimulating documents are all the rage online. There are even businesses popping up to make it easy for people who have no graphic design experience to create a visually focused explanation of their careers. But unless you’re applying for a job requiring graphic design skills and can create your own infographic resume without a template or tool, it is unlikely this visual depiction will help you land a job. In fact, most online application systems cannot digest or interpret a visual resume.
    [In Pictures: 6 Creative Ways to Showcase Your Resume Online.]
  8. Hobbies. These don’t belong on your resume, unless you can make a direct connection between the activity and the job. For example, if you apply for a sales position at a running shoe company, and you’re an avid runner—you’d obviously include the hobby. Another exception to the rule: If you want to head human resources at a yarn company and you love to knit.
  9. Potentially polarizing political views. Unless you’re applying for a job with a political campaign or with an organization you know shares your opinions, it’s best to eliminate references to memberships in highly charged political groups.
  10. “References upon request.” This phrase is a throwback to a time when references were part of the resume. When people started leaving them off years ago, this phrase filled the gap. It’s clear you will provide references (otherwise you wouldn’t apply for the job). Saying so just wastes precious space at the bottom of the resume.

Focus on what makes you qualified for the job and fill your resume with those details. When you pay careful attention to every word you include and make sure you don’t waste space with unnecessary content, you will have a better chance of landing an interview.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.