6 seconds to impress — What not to put on a resume
Your resume has six seconds to impress busy hiring managers positively enough to say yes to the next step. A 2016 Career Builder survey found that 42 percent of hiring managers receive at least 50 resumes for each open position they are working to fill. Will yours make the cut? And do you know what not to put on a resume?
What you don’t put on your resume is just as important as what you include. A resume has limited real estate. To make the most positive impact with the space you have and present yourself in the best light, omit these eleven things.
11 tips for what not to put on a resume
There are 11 types of information that you should absolutely avoid including on your resume.
1. An objective
You are applying for their job, so your assumed assumption is to fill that type of role, for them. Since today’s resumes are tailored to each job applied for, objectives are passé.
2. Personal information
Do not include your age, marital status, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, or any disability on your resume. Because it is illegal for employers to discriminate based on these factors, hiring managers don’t want to know this information about you at the resume stage. To guard against age discrimination, leave off your college graduation date.
3. Private information
Your social security number and home address do not belong on your resume, either. We assume, of course, that potential employers are using best practices when it comes to protecting your privacy and identity, but once you send your resume, you have no control over whose eyes will fall on it or what happens to it when it is discarded. The best practice is to protect yourself.
4. Contact information at your current job
If you have two email addresses, one for your current business and that goofy one you set up in high school, it’s time to establish a new free account with Gmail or Outlook. Your personal email should be simple, a variation of your actual name, and appropriate to use everywhere in your job search. You’ll also want to use your own mobile number, not the one for work.
5. Hard-to-read text
Your resume needs to look clean, current, and easy to read. Use a basic sans-serif font such as Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica, and do not succumb to the temptation to use color in your text. Black type against white is proven to be the easiest to read. Also, white space matters, so don’t try to narrow your margins and crowd too much on the page with smaller than normal type. Edit your words instead.
6. Tired buzz phrases
The Career Builder survey asked hiring managers what wording they viewed as negative or positive. The biggest turn-offs were “best of breed” (you are not a dog), “go-getter,” “think outside the box,” and “go-to person.” Check the link to see the complete list, plus what words make a positive impact on hiring managers.
Do not include a photo of yourself on your resume and leave off graphs and charts. It might seem like they will help by illustrating an accomplishment, but this Business Insider article by Jacquelyn Smith and Rachel Gillett points out that they will confuse the applicant tracking systems used by most hiring managers, keeping your resume from reaching their eyes at all. This might change in the future, but for now it’s safest to make your resume image-free. For the same reason, it’s best not to use headers and footers either.
8. Anything irrelevant
Your hobbies don’t matter at this point unless they directly and obviously relate to a job skill required for the role. Work experience older than 15 years is not going to be considered, according to Smith and Gillett. Neither is your GPA in college unless you just graduated.
9. Sloppy writing
Misspellings, grammar gaffes, and other proofreading errors will sink your chances without question. Sloppy writing shows up in other ways, too. Every word needs to work on your resume, so eliminate verbosity. Keep it clear, to the point, and factual. Omit adjectives and adverbs that would come across as self-promotional opinion. Instead, choose specific, descriptive nouns and verbs. Do not use personal pronouns to refer to yourself, whether first person (I, we, etc.) or third person (he, she, they, etc.).
10. Misused bullet points
Bullet points need to walk in at least pairs, so if you have only one point, don’t bullet it. They also need parallel construction. For instance, start each one with an action verb, making sure that you use past tense for former jobs and present tense for your current job. For a quick tutorial, check out our recent article: The ultimate action guide to resume action verbs.
11. References and salary information
Both are premature on the resume. Salary expectations will be discussed and references requested, if needed, much closer to the decision to hire. Don’t even say, “References available upon request.” Hiring managers assume this.
For more information on creating a winning resume, see our Candidates Tools page.