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What to Leave Out of Your Resume

Here's items you should leave out of your resume so your document avoids ending up in a hiring manager's "NO" stack.

Ho Lin Profile
By Ho Lin 3 minute read

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What Not to Include on Your Resume

For every one solid resume, there can be dozens that don’t work. If your resume doesn’t get a response from a hiring manager, it’s usually because the resume contained content that doesn’t align with a company’s vision of the perfect candidate.

It’s not unusual for hiring managers to dismiss a resume simply because it didn’t impress them. When you’re going through piles of resumes looking for one great candidate, and most recruiters spend about six seconds reviewing each resume to determine if you should be granted an interview, something as simple as a single typo or formatting error can blow it for you.

Avoid a similar fate with your resume with this list of 7 items you should leave out of your resume so you don’t end up on a hiring manager’s “NO” stack.

1. Get rid of irrelevant experiences.

Only complete newcomers should include early job experiences that don’t relate to the job you want (i.e., mentioning your food service or movie theater summer job when you’re applying for an unrelated position). Anyone with five or more years of experience should only feature experiences that connect with the job they’re applying for. Focus on roles that contribute to your desired career trajectory and involved experiences pertinent to the job you’re applying for. There’s a big difference between clutter and detail.

2. Keep it strictly professional.

While at one time it might have been standard to include religious preferences, marital status and other personal information, today you can save it for Facebook. None of that is relevant to pretty much any prospect and in a lot of cases it’s information no potential employer can legally ask about. Your age is not important to include on your resume either.

3. Use your Career Objective thoughtfully.

A resume objective statement can be a great way to introduce a resume, especially if it points out a common theme amid varied experiences or explains why your job history has prepared you to take a step up. But you should either say something relevant or leave it out of your resume. When you start out with Looking for a job/opportunity/experience …, you’re stating the obvious. Instead, summarize your long-term goals and what a new position would mean in that regard.

4. Skip the Hobbies and Interests sections.

While they are great conversation starters in interviews, no one really cares if their potential software developer likes to tend their garden. Instead, your resume may benefit from a Volunteer Positions section that demonstrates how you’ve used your interests to give back to your community.

5. Skip any inclusion or mention of references.

Your references won’t matter until later in the application process. Including them on your resume or even adding an “resume references available upon request” line is merely using up page space needlessly. Besides, it’s rare for any employer to investigate your background before they interview you. If your potential employer requests resume references, send them in a separate document.

6. Do not use personal pronouns of any kind.

Cover letters can be as personal as it gets, but typically the resume should not include I, my or me. It’s already understood the resume is about you. Instead, keep your language straightforward and brief: Oversaw five major accounts; brought in and average of ten new clients per month; boosted revenue by 10% year-over-year.

7. Create a professional email address.

MackLover@gmail.com might get you the ladies, but it will not get you a job. If needed, create a new email account with a sound name that lets hiring managers know you’re ready to get to work. For your personal safety, you also don’t want to put any current business contact info on your resume. The naive have done so and then had to explain to managers or HR why they’re getting calls from other employers at work. And a lot of systems are monitored, including email. Avoid the grief.

Knowing what to leave out of your resume is as important as knowing what to include. Follow these guidelines, and your resume will include only the most relevant information from your work history and experience—which is exactly what potential employers are looking or.

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Ho Lin Profile

Ho Lin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and editor with two decades of experience in content strategy, creation, and development. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and his background includes experience aiding military veterans as they transition to civilian careers.

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