Don't bother: 5 things you shouldn't include on your resume
Assembling a resume can be tricky. You want to list your accomplishments and credentials, but you’re also looking for ways to include that little bit extra that might help you get the job. Well, according to many recruiters, stop. “I don’t understand some of the things I see on resumes today,” says Irene Rodzen, a career coach and former recruiter for BFGoodrich in Akron, Ohio. “Pictures, motivational quotes, drawings — I don’t get it. It’s your resume, not a scrapbook. Stick to the basics.”
With the help of Rodzen and several other recruiters, we’ve compiled a brief list of things to keep off of your resume.
1. Ancient history: Those accomplishments from last century? They’re so last century. Wait, what? You helped organize your fraternity’s hunger drive and helped bring in $6,000 in donations? In 1999? You’re hired! Not to diminish anything you’ve done, but all of our accomplishments have a shelf life. Unless you’ve done something like cure polio or broker a Mideast peace accord, the things you try to hang your hat on should be fresh and relevant if you’re going to include them on your resume.
It’s great that you were the captain of your high school football team, but putting something like that on a resume when you’re looking for anything beyond your first job makes you look like Al Bundy. And referencing a dated TV character like Al Bundy makes me look as relevant as Al Bundy, so thanks. We both lose.
2. Degree and certification overkill: While you should certainly list the schools where you’ve earned your degrees, some people feel it necessary to mention every nook and cranny they frequented while on campus. I’ve seen resumes with school logos. From job seekers in the 40s. Not good. Again, we get it. You went to Michigan State. And you love their football team. But Sparty’s not helping you get past the all-knowing resume-bot that will be assessing your credentials based on keywords, not clipart of helmets. And that MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is fantastic. We just don’t need to know about your favorite professors and — unless it’s applicable to the open job — your research work.
This directive especially goes for certifications. If you’ve amassed a large collection of skill-related certificates that indicate your preparedness for a certain job, just list the certificates. Much of what you’re including on your resume is expected from recruiters, so they aren’t really looking to differentiate the online credentials you received from Certification Farm A from another candidate’s credentials from Certification Farm B. The point is that you’re prepared to do the job. No need to take up valuable space with unnecessary information.
3. Additional interests: While this one seems surprisingly up for debate with many people, most HR recruiters I’ve spoken to have told me that listing interests on a resume no longer holds much weight because your resume is rarely seen by someone who would stop and say something like, “Oh, great! This person loves salsa dancing too!” Instead, your resume is being initially judged by the aforementioned resume program, which is looking for keywords and credentials. Unless someone programs “salsa dancing” into the Resumetor 2000, mentioning it won’t do you much good.
4. Jobs that did not end well: If you worked somewhere for a few months but left because you thought the boss was picking on you, just keep it off of your resume. You never know if one of your interviewers might know someone from your evil former employer. Why give up information that might result in you defending yourself about a job when you can simply leave it off your resume? You can explain the gap in your employment timeline if it comes up. Most recruiters today are interested in what you’ve done, not where you’ve done it.
5. Unnecessary information: I’ve talked to recruiters who’ve seen resume inclusions like salary ranges and benefit expectations As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s pretty simple to visualize a statement at the top of one’s resume that says something like, “Seeking a position that pays $120,000 to $150,000, running the marketing department of a small firm.” Or something like that. There will be a time and place to discuss salary, and it won’t be within the confines of your resume.
Also, there’s a reason the phrase “references upon request” is a cliche. If a company wants to do some research on you and talk to people you’ve hand-picked to tout your qualifications, that’s their prerogative. It’s not the worst thing in the world if you put a few names at the bottom of your resume, but hopefully you have more important things to use in that space that could help you receive a call for an interview.
Remember, your resume is the document you’ll use to get your foot in the door, not the document that will earn you the job.
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