There are countless articles, blogs, and advice out there on what you should include on your resume in order to portray yourself as the perfect candidate and hopefully land that new job; however, there is insufficient information out there on what NOT to include on your resume. Unfortunately, too many people are under the impression that by including these things they will stand out to an employer or they have been misguided into thinking that it is acceptable and the standard for resumes.
The most common bit of information that I see on resumes that is better left off is a section on interests, hobbies, or special skills. A resume should be kept strictly professional and if it’s not relevant to the position you are applying for it needs to be left off of your resume.
There is a funny episode of the sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother”, where three of the characters are debating whether or not they should update their resumes by removing some items that are outdated and irrelevant. On his resume, Marshall has included the fact that he was a slam dunk champ in college, regardless of the fact that he can no longer perform this feat, Ted still refers to his college radio job where he was known as Dr. Love, and Lily proudly promotes her ability to eat 28 hot dogs in 8 minutes. Funny? Yes. Appropriate for a resume? No.
Do not include your picture on your resume. I see this a lot with international resumes, and while it might be more common internationally, as a whole my advice would be to leave it off. Including your picture on your resume opens up an opportunity for discrimination. Discrimination is unfortunate and illegal but still done. You certainly do not want to be judged based on appearance so take it off the table by taking it off of your resume.
Additional personal information that you should not include on your resume includes height, weight, age, marital status, children, sexual orientation, religion, and political views. Some of these things are illegal for an employer to even ask for so don’t offer them up on your resume. You don’t want anything on your resume that could turn off an employer such as the fact that you support a different political party (always a hot topic) or have six kids (great, she’ll need to leave early, come in late, miss work).
Another thing that I advise clients to leave off of their resume is graduation dates. This can hamper your job search in two ways; if you graduated recently a hiring manager may assume you are young and inexperienced but on the other end of the spectrum if you graduated 30 years ago you may be viewed as too old. And of course I am talking about college graduation because you should not include your high school graduation on your resume. (Unless of course you are 18 and looking for a job). But as a rule, the typical job seeker will want to avoid listing high school graduation.
And last but not least, please remove your objective statement from your resume. Objective statements are outdated and redundant. Of course you want this position, you want to apply your skills to help the company reach their goals, you want the opportunity for growth, etc, etc. It’s not about what you want, it’s what you can do for the company to help them get what they want. Replace your objective with a summary that captures your unique value and highlights the strengths you would use to propel the organization further.
Increase your resume’s success by keeping it relevant and professional. However, if during an interview you notice a hot dog eating trophy on the hiring manager’s shelf then by all means mention your hot dog eating success as well. The key is to wait for the opportunity to form that common link instead of throwing it all out there on your resume.
by Megan Koehler