25 Essentials to Exclude from Your Resume

Resume Faux Pas – Remove, Delete, Omit.

The first few things that come to mind when creating a resume usually revolve around what to include, the format to choose, how to structure the layout, and what to write about regarding duties, achievements, and competencies. This blog is not about those things.

Have you ever thought about what you should exclude from your resume?

Furthermore, do you know that there could be items in your current resume, that may jeopardize your chances instead of enhancing your odds for an interview?

25 Acts to Avoid on your Resume:

Before getting into the specifics of exclusionary resume items, we need to consider the different types of resume faux pas, that will guarantee a journey to the recycle bin.

1. Resume Overkill

  • 1st page, 2nd page, 3rd page, STOP! You are not writing an essay with multiple paragraphs and annotations. 
  • A resume should be no longer than three pages. Anything more than that and you run the risk of losing your impact factor.

2. Frills & Frippery

  • Think basics before graphics.
  • Elaborate use of color schemes, too much creativity in formatting or font types cause a distraction for the reader and makes a resume look busy and unorganized.

3. Hyperlink Overflow

  • Including links to your Linkedin Profile or portfolio on Dropbox is a fantastic idea to provide additional information, but use them sparingly (there is a reason for the term being named h-y-p-e-r-l-i-n-k).

4. Language Overboard

  • Adjectives and adverbs have the purpose of amplifying or emphasizing nouns and pronouns. However, not everything in your resume can be excellent, outstanding, or superior.
  • Keep tone and verbiage simple, but professional.
  • No need for Harvard, but remove any texting slang too.
  • Buzzwords are in order if used minimally to accentuate not dictate the tone of your entire document.

Definite No-No’s

While the jury is still out on including things like photographs and references, the majority of talent bloggers, career advisors and opinions expressed in mainstream business and HR publications agree on removing information from your resume such as:

1. Candidate Particulars

  • Personal information is well, personal. Apart from your location, email address and contact information, no additional information is needed. 
  • Leave out your age, date of birth, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, and the names and ages of your spouse and children.
  • With identity fraud escalating nowadays, your social security number, home address and drivers license should never be included in your resume.

2. Physical Characteristics

  • If you are not applying for a job where physical traits are relevant to the post, such as fighter pilots or professional models, no one cares about your height, weight or the color of your hair.

3. Obsolete or Assumed Skills

  • Windows XP, faxing technology or competent at creating back data packs onto CD and floppy disks will draw attention but not the kind you want.
  • Similarly, having worked on MS Office, familiar with email platforms or knowing how to Google should be a given (and not the reason to hire you).

4. Salary Information

  • A new labor law prohibiting employers and recruiters to ask past, current, or expected salary.
  • Salary negotiations should be a face to face conversation and last time I checked a resume is not a negotiation tool.

5. Pronouns & Tenses

  • Do not write your resume in the 1st or 3rd person or refer to yourself by name.
  • Your current job description should be written in the present tense: “Currently responsible for corporate sales in the east coast region.”
  • Previous experience must be described in past tense for example: “Led the project team who developed a new product for the retail market.”

6. Email Address

  • Sexysally@gmail.com, princeofprudence@hotmail.com or any similar antics provide a very unprofessional first impression of your candidacy (and they have not even opened your resume yet!)

7. Jargon

  • Steer clear of jargon like greenfields project or vanilla stocks, because the first responder to your resume may not be aware of these terms.
  • The same goes for acronyms and abbreviations unless you include the full terms in parentheses next to it.

8. Superfluous Materials

  • Avoid the extras your thesis, photos, diplomas, transcripts, product samples, newspaper articles, blueprints, designs, or letters of recommendation.
  • Spare these for the interview, or better yet add a hyperlink in your resume which directs the reader to a DropBox or drive folder should they wish to view further information about you.

9. Paragraphs

  • Lengthy paragraphs are tiresome.
  • A recruiter or hiring manager should be able to skim through your resume picking up on important keywords in 6 -10 seconds which is the average time a recruiter takes to form an impression regarding your resume.

10. Inflated and Narrated Experience

  • Shockingly, 75% of HR Managers have caught candidates either embellishing their experience or downright lying about the skills that have, according to a recent CareerBuilder Survey.
  • Write the truth and only the truth

Cautionary Inclusions

Your resume should be viewed as a unique showcase of your skills and abilities, closely aligned though to the job you are applying for. There is no one size fits all approach to follow.

The following items may be included in your resume, but act with caution and when in doubts, rather leave them out:

1. GPA Scores

  • If you did not hit the 3.7 mark or above, best to omit mediocre results.

2. High School Related

  • Have you left high school more than two years ago, remove those details from your resume.
  • Unless you made the Olympics or won the state championship in something (and no, being prom queen doesn’t count).

3. Hobbies

  • Your weekend talent as a wedding singer or party planner should only be mentioned if you are in fact quitting your day job to pursue your hobby as your new job.

4. References

  • Credible, high impact references can make all the difference and increase your chances of landing an interview.
  • The minister, your lawyer or a family member are not deemed as high impact references.
  • Also, under no circumstances include the phrase: “References will be provided on request.”

5. Objective

  • An objective statement is so old school; if you are applying for the role, it is assumed that your objective is to land the position.
  • Rather replace with a resume elevator pitch or professional bio (2-3 lines at most).

6. Unrelated Work Experience

  • Your holiday job flipping burgers at McDonald’s has no place in your resume unless you have just graduated and this forms part of your vocational job history.

7. Personal Social Media URL’s

  • Be careful with the social media links especially Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Everything you and your connections shared, liked, posted or commented on should be free of activism, politics, religious views….Yes, an impossible task.
  • Instead, include your Linkedin profile and ringfence your other social profiles. Just in case conduct a social media detox exercise.

8. Older than 15 Years

  • The sweet spot for career history recollection is between 10-15 years.
  • If you have longer tenure than that, those historical roles could be mentioned at the end of your resume in a short paragraph summary.

9. Reasons for leaving

  • Refrain from justifying your career moves; some explanations are better left for an interview conversation.

10. Crusades

  • Part of a Green Peace crusade or Save the Panda Foundation?
  • Good for you, but no need to include these in your resume. You do not want to create the impression that your extracurricular activism will interfere with your job.

11. Skills-Based Format

  • These types of resumes are perfectly fine in the world of tech, software development, AI and programming.
  • Not so much elsewhere so stick to the good old reverse chronological order.

What’s Next?

Perhaps it is time for a resume spring clean, right in the midst of a looming winter? You want to be ready to hit the lift-off (apply) button come January 2019 with a showcase document reflecting your unique individual brand to employers and recruiters out there.