What Not to Include When You're Writing a Resume
Information That Should Be Removed From a Resume
What shouldn't you include in your resume? Because resumes are typically only one to two pages long, your resume should contain only information that relates to the job for which you are applying. There is some information that should be included on 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.
In fact, it often makes sense not to include information on your resume that could hinder your chance of getting an interview. The rule of thumb is, when in doubt, leave it out! Here is a list of items that should not be on your resume.
What Not to Include in Your Resume
The Word "Resume"
Do not label your resume "resume." One look at your resume, and the employer should know exactly what type of document it is. Also don't simply name your resume "resume" when you save the file. Use your name, so the hiring manager will know whose resume it is at a glance. Here's how to name your resume.
The Date You Wrote the Resume
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 include.
Any Personal Data Beyond Your Contact Information
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 a CV, it should be left out of a resume.
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.
In some cases, you may wish to leave your address off your resume or only include part of it.
While many companies outside of the United States require a photograph with each resume, those within the US do not. In fact, most companies prefer you not to include a photograph so they can safely adhere to the Equal Employment Opportunity legislation (which prohibits companies from making hiring decisions for discriminatory reasons). An exception would be if you were applying for a modeling or acting job, where appearances inform hiring decisions.
Physical Characteristics (height, weight, etc.)
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.
Grammar School and High School
Grammar school is never included on a resume. If you are still in high school, are in your first couple of years of college, or if a high school diploma is your highest degree, you can certainly 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 Work Experience
You don't need to list every job you have held on your resume. Generally, you only want to include positions you have held 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 it 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 job in sales, you can include your earlier job as a cashier if you explain that the job helped you develop your customer service skills.
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. For example, if you are applying to work at a sporting goods store, you could list your interest in particular outdoor activities.
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.
Names and Contact Information for Former Employers
Because you will have a separate list of references, you do not need to include any contact information for your former employers on your resume.
Salary is an issue you can discuss with the employer during an interview or once you have been offered the job; you do not want to establish a salary range before you have even been offered an interview. So, don't list your current salary or the salary you expect to earn at a new job.
If you get hired, the company will likely conduct a search of your criminal record. However, there is no need to include this information on your resume.
"References Available Upon Request"
Generally, it is assumed 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 you are asked to provide them.
Negative Words / Ideas
Avoid saying what you did not do or have not yet accomplished; focus 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 in which you will graduate. If you didn't graduate, simply list the dates you attended.
Instead of saying that you have "limited experience" in administrative work, simply provide examples of your previous experience.
An Objective That Says What You Want
Rather than writing a resume objective that says what you are seeking in a job, write a career summary, profile or branding statement that highlights what you can offer the employer. Here's how:
More Things Not to Include on a Resume
- Personal pronouns
- Statements about your health
- Long descriptions
- Street addresses for schools and employers
- Spelling and grammatical errors
- Exaggerations or mistruths
- Anything negative about you or an employer
Write a Resume the Quick and Easy Way
One of the easiest ways to write a resume is to think of it as a step-by-step process, including only the information you need, and leaving off the extraneous details. Here's how to build a resume in seven simple steps.
Read More:Top 10 Resume Writing Tips | What to Include in a Cover Letter | Top 15 Things Not to Include on a Resume
To offer up references, or not to offer up references? This is a very common resume-writing dilemma.
Many job seekers decide to include resume references and their contact information (with their permission, of course!) at the bottom of the document, or a line that says, “References available upon request.” They often do this in anticipation of the hiring manager asking for the names of professional colleagues or acquaintances who can speak to their character and/or skills. It can also be your subtle way of saying, “I promise I’m as great as I claim to be! These people can back up everything and anything I wrote on this resume!”
But the truth is, it’s not always necessary to include reference information in your resume. In fact, sometimes it’s a bad idea to include resume references. Here’s how to figure out when you should or shouldn’t do it.
When to Include References in Your Resume
As a rule of thumb, you don’t need to include this information in your resume. The truth is, every inch of your resume is valuable real estate, so you’d be better off using that space to highlight your skills or achievements. However, if the employer explicitly says within the job listing that they’ll want to speak with your references, it would be appropriate to include them on your resume.
You don’t have to—you can include a supplemental document or email with the names and contact information of your references—but if you think they’d prefer for it to be in a very easy-to-find place, including it directly on your resume isn’t a bad idea. Another situation in which you may include resume references: when highlighting testimonials.
In certain types of jobs or industries, it is common for applicants to include testimonials from past clients or employers in their resume. If you fall into that group, it makes sense to include the name (and contact information) under each one for verification and credibility.
Finally, if you have references who are very well-known, respected thought leaders or executives, by whom the hiring manager might be impressed, you may consider including their names under a “References” section on your resume. You don’t want to come off as a name-dropper, though, so be careful and strategic!
When to Exclude References in Your Resume
Again, you typically won’t want to include resume references, aside from the few scenarios above. But there are a few situations in which you’ll definitely want to exclude them.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to use every inch of your resume wisely. If you’re already tight on space or it feels too long, you absolutely should not waste another centimeter on this information. Also, if the employer explicitly says they don’t need resume references, don’t include them. Seriously! Ignoring that information by adding references to your resume will make the hiring manager think you can’t follow simple instructions, or that you didn’t read the job posting closely.
Finally, if you included that supplemental document or email with your references, or mentioned that they’re available upon your request in your cover letter, or elsewhere in the application, there is no need to be redundant and include them in your resume.
References are a good way for others to vouch for your credibility, competency, and professionalism. Hiring managers want to hear how you work with other people and if you’re recommended for the job. However, due to the lack of detail they provide, references have limited value in terms of your resume. In general, unless asked, don’t put references on your resume.
PS: If you’re still struggling with writing your resume, LiveCareer can help. Put our resume builder or resume examples to use and craft a top-notch resume in no time at all. And if you’re having a tough time with writing cover letters, check out our cover letter builder as well!