When you are writing a resume, you are not writing your autobiography. It is simply unnecessary to include every small detail of your work history. What the resume should be is a marketing tool – a “sales brochure” on you. Its role is to get you a job interview. It is therefore important that you are careful regarding the inclusions in your resume as well as what you choose to leave out.
The following things should never be included in the vast majority of resumes:
1. Dates that indicate your age. Age discrimination is all too apparent and can work against you. You can avoid showing your age by omitting the year of graduation and by not listing your entire work experience. Instead, include only the most recent and most relevant to the position. If the position calls for a substantial amount of experience, it may be appropriate to reveal your age, but if you are unsure, avoid this issue.
2. Hobbies. The only time that listing hobbies may be relevant is if they relate specifically to your career choice. If you indicate that you have many interests it may suggest that you can be distracted from your work. This space is better suited to showcase your skills. There may be time at the interview to discuss hobbies: this is the better forum to show how well rounded a person you are.
3. “References available upon request.” This is a waste of time as most job application forms will include a section where you can list your references. A better use of the space would be to discuss information that is specific to the position.
4. Generic, vague objectives. Objectives such as, “…to obtain a challenging position in (name of company)” do not tell the recruiter anything. Instead, you should be tailoring the objective statement to the particular position, perhaps using a skills summary or professional summary.
5. Short term jobs. Most employers will shy away from prospective employees who have had many short term jobs as they want someone that will last long enough in the position to recoup any money spent on training. Do not include jobs that you have only held for a few months. If you have completed several assignments with an agency, list the agency as the employer for each assignment. You will hopefully have the opportunity to list all of your employers when you fill out the job application and any problems can be addressed at the interview stage.
6. GPA. After a few years, the GPA loses its relevance. The exception to this is positions where education is emphasized. Even in this instance, if you did not achieve a high GPA, don’t include it.
7. Leave out any reference to your religion, gender, sexual preference, political party, or anything else that could be construed as remotely controversial.
8. More experience than the job dictates. Should the job require 5 years of experience, ensure that the resume indicates 5 years of experience. It would be a waste of space to list 20 years of experience, especially if most of it is irrelevant to the position. You can list additional experience, but only after you have listed the most relevant experience. In the event that your resume is getting lengthy, get rid of “extra” employment information that does not relate to the specific position.
9. High School Information. If you have college qualifications your high school qualifications are not necessary. The only exception to this rule is if you attended a well-known or highly respected high school and where mention of your attendance could give you extra credence. Be careful that this doesn’t cause problems with the recruiter, who may not have attended the same school and may not share your positive experiences. If you have not attended college, then refer to this section as “Training” and list any job training or post school qualifications you have gained.
10. Anything negative. This is an obvious issue. Never, under any circumstances, include anything in your resume that may be construed as negative. Remember, the aim of a resume is to gain a job interview, not to prevent you from reaching that milestone.