9 Things You Should Never Include on a Professional Resume

Your resume is approximately 250 words of prime real estate. Sometimes it’s too easy to wonder whether you’re putting out the right content for employers to see. But make no mistake – there are several things you should never include on a professional resume.

As a freelancer, I apply to an average of a dozen jobs a week. I regularly have interviews with potential clients and I understand how a resume can make or break your standing from the get-go. Recruiters spend an average of six seconds on each resume that crosses their desks, so the words you use – and how you lay them out – make a world of difference.

Here are nine things you should never include on your resume:

1. A Photograph of Yourself

There’s been a trend of professional resumes that feature spaces for headshots. While it may seem like a way to personalize or differentiate your resume, you don’t want to include a photograph on your resume for several reasons.

First, and most importantly, are those six seconds I mentionedearlier on. A picture of you does not display the skills you have obtained orthe experience that qualifies you for a job. Include a picture, and the recruiteris likely spending more time staring at it than he or she is reading your resume. See the dilemma?

A second reason to skip the photograph is the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in the United States, which reads that employers are not permitted to make discriminatory hiring decisions. Because of this, many hiring professionals are unaccustomed to seeing headshots on resumes. It can come across as unprofessional or in poor taste.

Exceptions: If you are an actor or model, an image is usually required to attach with your resume.

2. Personal Information or Characteristics

Your phone number and email address are important to include so the recruiter knows how to contact you. Some candidates also choose to include the city and state they’re located in so employers know that they are already available where needed. Aside from that, keep all other personal information off your resume. This includes:

  • Age or birth date
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Relationship status
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Political affiliation
  • Social Security Number (It has been done)
  • Bank account or credit card information
  • Height and weight

Why? Well, much of this goes back to the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. Most employers do not want to be accused of making hiring decisions based on physical attributes.

The other part of this is common sense. Personal information like Social Security Numbers and bank account information won’t be necessary until you’re hired and filling out new employee paperwork.

3. Elementary School and (in Some Cases) High School Education

Some individuals make the mistake of documenting every detail about themselves on their resumes, including all levels of education. If your high school diploma is the highest level of education you’ve received, then you should keep it on your resume.

However, if you’re a college student or you have graduated from college, then that college education is all you should have listed on your resume.

4. A Low or Irrelevant GPA

If you’re a student or young professional, you may be wondering whether to include your collegiate GPA on your resume. Here’s a fool-proof method of determining if it’s worth adding:

For College Students

Anything below a 3.0 GPA can be a red flag for recruiters, so if you don’t have the best GPA, leave it off. Include your school name, the years you attended, and the degree earned without it.

If you happen to have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, that’s worth mentioningon your resume.

For Young Professionals

If you have 2+ years of experience in the workforce, you can drop the GPA from your resume. While having it on there can initially help you get a job out of college, your work experience now speaks for itself, and it doesn’t matter as much to have it listed.

5. Personal Hobbies

Your personal hobbies don’t have a place on your resume. Recruiters and employers want to know about your professional skills. They want to hear why they should hire you over someone else.

Your hobbies might come up in an interview, or provide an interesting story you can tell in your cover letter, but they shouldn’t take up valuable space on your one-page resume.

6. Irrelevant Skills

One mistake many job-seekers make is creating a stock resume that they send out to every job that minimally interests them. While that is certainly the easier route, I have to advise against it. Sixty-one percent of recruiters want to see resumes tailored for their job postings. Many applicants go skill-crazy, thinking it will help them nail down any semi-relevant position.

Don’t list out every skill you have. Tailor your list of skills to the job posting, and it makes an incredible difference between a recruiter seeing you as a prime candidate versus another serial job applicant.

7. Spelling or Grammatical Errors

If you’re applying for jobs looking for a detail-oriented individual and misspell a word in your professional summary, you’ve just disqualified yourself.

This isn’t just a big deal for job positions seeking organized or detail-oriented individuals. For some positions, employers receive hundreds of applicants, and they have to narrow down the list as efficiently as possible. Resumes with simple errors like this are cut out early on.

8. Every Job You’ve Ever Had

I like to introduce my work experience as “Selected Experience” on my resume so I can just include the work experience relevant to the job I’m applying for. I don’t usually include my high school babysitting career, or the fact that I worked in my college’s post office part-time.

I don’t want to throw everything I’ve ever done out there and hope for the best. I want to highlight experiences that show the employer that I have what it takes to do the job they need done.

9. More than One Page of Information

Your resume should be one-page long. If it’s longer than that, you’re including too many work experiences, too many skills, or other unnecessary information. Resumes should be succinct and highlight only the most valuable aspects of your professional experience.

Less is more when it comes to resumes. If you’re skeptical, compare the LinkedIn resume of a CEO to that of a recent college graduate. The CEO will almost always have very short, succinct bits of information about his or her past experience, while the college grad will go on (and on), thinking it will make him or her more desirable in the eyes of recruiters.

One page is all you need because it is likely all that will be looked at. Every word matters. There should be no fluff or fuss – just get straight to why you are the man or woman for the job.

Are you a current job-seeker? Which of these tips was new to you, or did I miss one you follow religiously? Share in the comments below!

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