picture of resume and glasses what not to include on resume

Your resume is typically the first impression a potential employer has of you, and usually the basis by which they make the decision to offer you an interview.

It can be tempting to put as much information as possible in your resume, but there are some things that are better left for the interview.

Giving out too much information in your resume can distract from the important information, overwhelm the reader, and even increase the chance the reader will find something that raises a red flag for them.

Here are five things you should leave off of your resume:

Hobbies and interests

Your hobbies and interests are excellent bits of information to share during your interview, or even after starting the new job. However, they’re not necessary on a resume.

Chances are, your affinity for model rocketry or collecting Ninja Turtle action figures will not help you land a job. That is, unless you happen to be applying for a job selling model rockets and Ninja Turtle action figures.

Your non-professional hobbies and interests can be helpful during the interview. It’s common for interviewers to ask the interviewee for something about them they won’t find on their resume. This is where this information can absolutely come in handy, as long as your hobbies and interests aren’t a detriment to your chances at landing a job.

Unrelated jobs

You might be tempted to list every job you’ve had since you were in high school. Don’t do this, especially if you are applying for a position that isn’t related to prior roles.

You are submitting your resume because you believe that you are qualified for a specific position. Let’s say you’re applying for a job as a Web developer. The first question you should ask yourself before listing previous employment is, “Which jobs have I had that would demonstrate my qualifications for this position?”

Once you’ve done away with the unrelated jobs, you should further narrow down the list to include recent employment. A typical guideline is to include roles from the most recent 10 years.

This rule doesn’t count if you are new to the job market and have only worked at one or two places. In this case, feel free to list them all.

Try as hard as you can to keep your resume down to a single page. Your employment history is likely the single largest part of your resume.

Soft skills without context

Even the most sought-after soft skills are meaningless to employers if you simply list them alongside hard skills, such as proficiency in Photoshop or JavaScript programming expertise.  They are great skills to have, and you should relay these qualities in your resume, but doing so directly by listing them among hard skills can take away from your experience. A few examples of soft skills:

  • Effective communicator
  • Dependable
  • Detail-oriented
  • High-energy
  • Organized

Convey soft skills in your resume by framing them with specifics. Organization, for example, can be implied when you list your reorganization of the company’s database to improve efficiency in your work experience.

Make a list of your soft skills and, instead of putting the list on your resume, ask yourself what you have done to demonstrate that you possess these skills. List those accomplishments instead. An optimal resume features concrete accomplishments, not just a list of job duties.

Soft skills are different from hard skills because they generally can’t be taught. A resume is a great place to share what you’ve done and what you know, but what you are is something that is best established during the interview.

Personal information

There are many anti-discrimination laws on the books that employers must abide by. In most places in the United States, an employer can’t discriminate against you based on your age, race, sex or gender, political affiliation, religion, marital status, or whether or not you have children.

By listing this information on your resume, or even including a picture on your resume, you open yourself up to discrimination (even subconsciously) by the employer.

Personal information that can be used for identity theft should also be left off. If you get the job, you will undoubtedly be given a mountain of paperwork to write your Social Security number on. Your resume is not the place for it.

Here are some personal details that should be on a resume:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • City and state
  • Website URL
  • LinkedIn profile URL

Objective or summary

There was a time when writing a resume objective was all the rage in the employment world. It gave you the opportunity to express what you wanted to get out of your next job, and where you wanted to go in your career.

However, those days are behind us. Space on your resume is precious, so don’t fill it up with this. Instead, cover letters are a great opportunity to express your desire to work for a particular team.

If you have limited job experience, and your resume seems a bit bare, adding an objective can be tempting.

There are other ways to make your resume seem more complete. For example, a profile which gives at-a-glance information about you as a professional is a great modern replacement for an objective.

Profiles take advantage of the fact that most hiring managers spend only a few seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether or not to read it in its entirety.

A profile includes a list of skills and keywords which make your case for being the right fit for the job. Additionally, a profile can make your resume more likely to get past an applicant tracking system (ATS).

An ATS is a software application used by employers to filter through resumes and find candidates. Keyword frequency and relevance are both critical to getting past an ATS. To see whether your resume keyword usage is targeted well, try Jobscan’s resume analysis tool.

Your resume is a snapshot of you as a professional. It has to be compelling, yet concise. At the end of the day, what makes an optimal resume can come down to what you choose to leave off of it.

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