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What Not to Put on Your Resume

Author: Frederick Exekiel Pasco

Resumes are a tricky thing. A good resume should be both a summary of your professional background and a timeline of your experiences, and when you achieve the perfect balance of both your resume acts as a passport to new opportunities. But be wary. While you certainly want your resume to provide an accurate assessment of who you are and what you've accomplished, you don't want to try to cram your entire life into the one or two pages of your resume.

I have had a lot of trial and error experience working with resumes, and from that I have learned that certain items are best left off your resume.

1. Your Photo

I get it. You want to show off your confidence via your powerful outfit, and the professional headshots you had taken. Your resume is not the best place for that, however. You want your experience to stand out and speak for itself. Save the power suit for the interview itself, that’s the best time to dress up to display your professionalism. Photos on a resume simply take up valuable real estate that you can use to show off your experience and accomplishments. Odds are, a prospective employer will visit your LinkedIn, so that's a great place to post those wonderful professional headshots.

Note that if including a headshot is standard in the industry you are in, such as acting, you should disregard this item.

2. Objective

Placing your objective at the top of your resume is outmoded and redundant. If you’re applying for a position, the recruiter already knows your objective. Consider using the space you might use for an objective for a brief professional bio instead. This should be a summary and introduction of the experiences you'll be detailing throughout the resume. Mention the length of time you've been a professional in the industry you're applying to, some key skills, and your professional accomplishments. Remember that brevity is always appreciated.

3. Your Address

This is a bit controversial, as it was standard practice for a long time to include your address on your resume. But in the modern era, where you applying rapidly and digitally to many positions, for your safety I would suggest that you only indicate your city and state. The last thing you want is for a scammer on Indeed or your preferred job posting site to end up with your address.

4. "References Available on Asking"

Recruiters and the hiring managers already know that they can get these if they want them. Generally, on a resume, it's not a good idea to assume the recruiter knows something without actively including it, but in this case an exception can be made.

Also, it's worth remembering that you want to give your references a heads up that someone might be calling them. They can say yes to you today but they might forget 3-6 months from now. Have a separate file with all your references at hand, so you can keep them easily organized, but it doesn't need to be included in your application.

5. Your college or high school organization activities.

Unless your intention is to create a curriculum vitae or you are applying for your first position or two out of college, you don't need to include the details of your academic career. Resumes are meant to be short and to the point and your listed experience should be in a constant state of evolution. This means that some old experiences will end up being irrelevant to the position you are currently pursuing. I get it. It's hard to let go of the things you invested time and effort into. I didn’t want to let go of my collegiate pursuit of writing, but it was taking up too much space on my resume. Take a minute, take a breath, and hit delete.

6. Your personal life

It's important not to blur the lines between your professional life and your personal life when it comes to your resume. Recruiters go through hundreds of resumes a day looking for the right person for any given position, and they only look at an individual resume for an average of 6.7 seconds. For those few seconds, they are scanning for key words and phrases that indicate to them you will be a great fit. It's best not to reduce the chances of them catching those words and phrases by drowning them in details irrelevant to the position. The exception to this is volunteering experience you may have that has provided you with a valuable perspective or experience that may be relevant to the position for which you're applying.

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