12 Things to Never Put on a Resume


6 seconds. That’s the average amount of time a hiring manager takes to scan your resume and sort it into either the possibility pile or the trash bin. 

6 seconds. 

Hiring managers receive a average of 75 resumes for each position. For some jobs, the number is 100-200 or more resumes for each position. You’ve got 6 seconds to make sure your resume makes the first cut and doesn’t end up in the trash.

a quick list of 12 things to never put on a resume

a quick list of 12 things to never put on a resume

The key is a clean, easy to scan resume. Don’t clutter up your resume with a bunch of unnecessary stuff! Keep it clean, readable and absolutely no more than 2 pages in length. Use a modern sans serif font like Arial or Helvetica and keep the formatting consistent throughout. Use past tense except for your current job. 

Here are the dirty dozen - a quick list of 12 things you should never put on a resume. You want to land in the possibility pile and stay out of the trash!

  1. Personal stuff. I don’t know how many resumes I’ve received for editing that include a listing of marital status, the spouse’s career, the kids and their ages, religious affiliation, social security number, favorite hobbies, etc. First of all, it’s illegal for employers to ask for much of that information. Second, NOBODY CARES! You’re wasting valuable resume space that could be used to highlight your actual accomplishments and offering potential reasons for that employer to cross you off the list. If you share your social security number or drivers license number, you're also setting yourself up for identity theft.

  2. A photograph of yourself. Unless you are an actor or a model, your resume should focus on your skills and achievements - not your good looks! A photograph could also open the employer to possible accusations of discrimination based on race, gender, weight, attractiveness, etc so most companies in the US prefer you to NOT include a photo. However, some companies outside the US require a photo so check carefully. If you think your appearance will help you get this particular job, an option is to include the URL to your LinkedIn profile. Many companies routinely search LinkedIn to check up on job candidates, so make sure your profile is up to date and complete.

  3. An objective. What used to be considered an important part of the resume is now outdated. Obviously, your objective is the job you are applying for. Unless you are willing to rewrite the objective for every job you apply for, leave it off. Use that prime real estate at the top of the resume to list a summary of your qualifications which highlights your skills and accomplishments.

  4. Personal pronouns. Don’t write your resume in the first or third person. Your resume should not include the words “I,” “me,” “she,” “he,” or “my.” Obviously, the resume is about you. Duh.

  5. Irrelevant work experience. You don’t need to list every job you have ever held. You might have been the fastest pizza delivery girl in the state but if it’s not relevant to your new career path, get rid of it. Only include less relevant jobs if they highlight an additional skill that is transferable to your soon to be new job. One exception to this rule: If you are a new grad and have limited job experience, you can include these earlier jobs and highlight the customer service skills you learned in pizza land.

  6. Anything that is NOT TRUE. Enough said. Don’t lie, exaggerate or make false claims. It won’t end well. Trust me.

  7. Your age. Don’t include your age or date of birth. Some experts recommend removing your graduation date from college or not including over 15 years of work experience if you don’t want to discriminated against in terms of age. Another surprising tip off that can give away your age: double spaces after a period. It’s time to unlearn that rule.

  8. A cute or unprofessional email address. If your email address is still chugabeerchamp07 or hotbikerchick23, get yourself a nice, boring, professional email address to use for job applications. The absolute best practice is to use some form of your actual name as an email address. For example: joe.smith or smithjb. Using your name can keep your email from getting lost in the hiring manager’s inbox. Do it now, sexyyogapants.

  9. Salary information. Don’t list your current or desired salary. This information is completely unnecessary and may send the wrong message. The purpose of a resume is to land an interview. Salary discussions come later.

  10. Your GPA. If you’re a new college grad (less than 3 years out) and your GPA is greater than 3.8, it’s okay to leave it. Otherwise, just don’t. Only grad schools care about GPAs.

  11. References. If you make it through the initial screening, employers will ask for references. This gives you a chance to alert your references that a future employer will be calling them. Adding a line that says “references available upon request” is redundant and simply wastes valuable resume space. Extra tip: Don’t list the name of your current boss as a reference, unless that person knows about and supports your career change.

  12. Spelling errors or bad grammar. I know one hiring manager who says the minute he sees a misspelled word or grammatical error, the resume goes in the trash. It doesn't matter how qualified or appealing the applicant is. He reasons, if you’re not careful with the details of a resume, you won’t be careful with the details of a job. Proofread several times. Proofread each word starting at the end and working your way back to the beginning. Ask that friend who always spots typos to check it for you. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. If you ignore the rest of this advice, make sure you listen to this. This mistake is fatal.

Still need help with your resume? Check out the resume services at Blue Sage Career Strategies here.