If you’re getting ready to start your job search, you’ve probably been thinking about what to include in your resume to help you stand out from the pack. But knowing what you should not put in a resume is equally important in making a good impression, and giving yourself the best chance of landing a job interview.
With that in mind, here are seven things you can leave off your resume.
1. Personal details
Your resume doesn’t need to include personal details unless they’re work-related or relevant to the role.
For example, you can leave out:
- Your age and date of birth
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Full address
- Political leanings
- Star sign
Some argue that hobbies also don’t belong on a resume but if you have space for it, you may want to include a brief line of your interests to showcase some of your personality. For those applying for jobs in creative industries, it may also benefit you to include hobbies that align with the role.
2. Your academic transcript
Detailing your education should be restricted to your achievements – majors, diplomas, fellowships, key awards and any relevant extracurricular activities. Don’t get bogged down in the details of every subject or class you ever took – focus on the most impressive, important and relevant aspects to the job you are applying for.
Most employers aren’t interested in your grades but they are interested in the end result. List your academic achievements in reverse chronological order (the latest goes first and work backwards) and include a date for each one.
3. An unfavourable work history
Don’t include negative details on your resume – jobs you were fired from, leaving a role because of a difficult manager or misdemeanours from school or university. Your resume is there to sell you as an employee.
If there is something on your resume that could be a red flag for a hiring manager (such as a gap in employment), make a mention of it if you are comfortable doing so – i.e. took time off to care for a parent, time off to raise first child. Otherwise, be ready to explain it to the hiring manager or recruiter during any phone call or email opportunities in response to your application. You will likely need to mention it again during the job interview so expect that it will come up.
4. Poor grammar
While anyone can spell-check their resume before sending it off, there are some mistakes that are harder to catch, such as colloquialisms and unclear sentences. Whatever grammatical style you chose for your resume, keep it consistent. Also watch out for discrepancies, like using first person in one section and then third person in the next. Switching between tenses is also another common mistake, so ensure you refer to any current aspects in present tense and any previous events or achievements in past tense to avoid any confusion.
5. Too much text
Having long blocks of text on your resume can be overwhelming, as well as a turn-off. There is no way to know how many other applications a hiring manager might receive, but assume they’re going to be looking through hundreds of resumes.
Your task is to tell a potential employer as much as possible in as little time as possible, so use short sentences and bullet points where applicable. By making the text easier to read – that is, use a professional typeface and format – you make yourself easier to hire. Keywords are also great to replace lengthy sections in your resume because if your keywords are strongly matched to the job description, you can expand on your CV when you receive a phone call or during your first interview.
6. A list of references
You only have limited space to work with on your resume, which is better spent outlining your accomplishments and qualifications than detailing your references. If you have space at the end of your resume, you can include the phrase ‘References available on request’ instead.
If you end up interviewing for the role and it goes well, you’ll be given an opportunity to provide references at that point. In addition, it also gives you a chance to advise your references about the role you’ve interviewed for and prepare them with what could potentially be asked, in order to solidify your suitability and success in landing the job.
7. Why you want the job
Leave out statements about why you want the job or what you hope to gain from it. These are areas that can be covered in your cover letter, or during the interview if you are offered one. Instead, focus on selling yourself and what you can provide to the employer.
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