Posted October 04, 2013 by

What Not to Put on Your Resume

Someone filling out a resume

Someone filling out a resume. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

You probably have an idea of what to include in your professional resume—job highlights, academic accomplishments, relevant skills, and more, depending on your field. But as you’re writing it up, are you thinking about what not to put on your resume? And making sure you avoid those things?

Leave personal matters at home

When adding items to your resume, ask yourself, “Is this something upon which I want them to make a hiring decision?” The employer can’t discriminate based on a lot of that personal information, so don’t put yourself or an employer in a position where they know too much about you. It’s not a good idea to write all about your personal life, such as how many children you have, your race or religion, your marital status, or your age. If it won’t affect your ability to do the job, keep it off your resume.

Besides those protected categories (depending on which state you live in), don’t include other irrelevant information. Each job you apply to will be different, and you should go through your resume each time to decide what’s relevant and what’s not. You should probably not mention your favorite food or list your vacations as “international experience.” Don’t use up space writing an anecdote that you think illustrates your commitment to excellence. Leave that for your cover letter, but still keep it short and sweet.

Bad formatting

Looks count for something in a resume—the look of the document, that is. Be consistent with your formatting: pick one font and stick with it throughout; if you make a bulleted list to describe one job, make a bulleted list for all your past jobs; if you use boldface to highlight a job title, use it for every job title. Nothing makes you look sloppier, at this stage in the job application process, than mismatched fonts and mangled formatting. The hiring manager will notice this before he or she even starts reading your resume.

So-called “white lies”

On a resume, there is no such thing as a lie that does no harm. Maybe it should go without saying, but everyone needs a reminder: don’t tell tall tales on your resume. If you are being seriously considered for a position, you can bet the hiring manager is going to call your references and past employers. If anything doesn’t check out, and some untruths come to light, you’ll be embarrassed and you’ll lose your chance of getting hired at that company.

Typos and other unfortunate accidents

Of course you’re not going to purposely put typos in your resume. But no one, not even a grammar fiend, is above this common slip-up. Proofreading is not something every applicant does, so proof your resume to make sure it’s that much better than the rest. Better yet—have a trusted acquaintance check it for you. Even strong writers can benefit from an editor, because it’s hard to see your own document from an outsider’s perspective. And while you are eagerly writing about your past accomplishments, make sure you’re not writing run-on sentences—while they might make sense to you, your proofreading friend will catch these overly long-winded statements, as well as grammar and spelling errors that are harmful to your image.

Use this as a checklist of things to avoid at all costs on your resume, but not as an all-encompassing list. What other common mistakes do applicants make on their resumes? Have you ever made a major resume blunder?

Author Bio:

Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Business Development Strategy and Analysis at Progressus Therapy ( Progressus Therapy is a leading provider of school-based therapy and early intervention services that helps candidates launch their careers in therapy.

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Posted in Advice for Candidates, Career Advice, Resumes | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,