20 Things Not to Include in a Resume: Part 1

What you don’t include on your resume can be as important as what you do include. There are a few things you should probably avoid in your resume:

  1. Vague goals. A resume without a target or a goal is like a map without identifying markers, which does not have any hope of a destination. Many people send in resumes stating, “Please accept my candidature for any suitable position in your organization”. If you believe that it is the responsibility of the hiring manager or potential employer to determine what role or position the person applying for the job will best fit in, you are mistaken.
  2. Too much information. In the process of sorting/short-listing résumés in the first pass, most employers give it just a passing glance—only 20 or 30 seconds on. If they don’t like what they see or don’t see the information they are looking for, they reject it and pass on to the next.  So in reality, excess information is instrumental in diluting the impact of the important information you have on your resume.Resumes are typically only one to two pages long—it should be for highlights, not extensive detail. Hence, your resume should contain information that relates to the job for which you are applying. The rule of thumb is, when in doubt, leave it out! If you need other (i.e., third) page to include everything, that’s okay. Also ensure that the key words are highlighted and easy to find/locate in the resume.
  3. A functional format. A resume which focuses on the skills and abilities without including a chronological job history is called a functional resume. Such resumes mask limited work experience and work gaps. It makes it difficult to understand your career progression. Most hiring managers realize that you might be hiding something. Hence, such resumes are widely hated by employers.
  4. A fancy design. It makes sense to use fancy designs if you are applying for a design job. Otherwise, don’t send out a colorful, arty resume—it gives an inappropriate emphasis on appearances over substance. It may also set the interviewer/recruiter think that you are trying hard to get their attention because your skills and achievements don’t speak for themselves.
  5. Wrong terminology: Most resumes receive an initial reading time of about 20 seconds or lesser. In such a situation, errors and wrong terminology makes you loose the chances of being shortlisted. You should also ensure to use the correct terminology for your position, responsibilities, and industry. Avoid using passive language, repetitive statements, change of tone or tense, and wrong terminology.

Repetitive terms, such as managed is probably the commonly used word in the resumes. After reading about 20 resumes, the person short listing the resume will get bored and frustrated with the term, which otherwise is very impressive. You may have managed many aspects of a project or the team. Even though manage is strong action word, it will loose its value if used repetitively throughout the resume. It can and should be varied with other action words which may be more accurate to the given situation. A little variation in terms keeps the pace of reading and makes it interesting.

Avoid: I managed the people, managed the project, and managed the team.

I mentored the new comers, lead the project, and supervised the team.

  1. Errors. Avoid mistakes in your resume, especially typos. If you are sloppy in what you send out from the start, the take-away for the reader is that you may be even more careless on the job.tips-error
  2. An objective. As a rule, include an objective only if you have worked out a clearly targeted job objective. If you don’t know what to write in an objective of a resume, don’t include it. Don’t write it for the sake of adding one to the resume. The objective should focus on what you have to offer rather than on what the job can offer you. Employers don’t hire you for your satisfaction; they hire you to fill their requirement. So, avoid making statements like, “Looking for an opportunity that will help me hone my editing skills.”

An objective for name sake does not add any value and a wrong objective can be a disaster. Hence, very often, objective is not of any help and often hurts. Instead, focus on showing your experience, skills, and accomplishments. Use a well written cover letter to describe about how the position offered is the perfect next step in your career.

  1. Confidential information: In many jobs, you will handle proprietary information. Having inside information from your positions at previous employers obviously make you feel important.  But never share such information even to show off that your previous employers trusted you as it will only show you in poor light.

Sharing confidential information like the names of your clients and in-house financial dealings, can backfire in two ways.

      • The prospective employer will know that you can’t be trusted with sensitive information.
      • Your present/former employer might find about it and it could be grounds for dismissal or even a lawsuit
  1. Short-term jobs. As a rule, avoid mentioning short-term jobs. It raises red flags for hiring managers—it sets them wondering if you were fired because you were incompetent, or couldn’t do your work properly, or did not get along with co-workers, or that you were in some kind of  trouble.

If the job was short-term because it was designed that way, like contract work or freelance work, you can mention it in your resume. If honesty is your forte, you can mention the short-term jobs during the interview because it will give you a chance to explain the reasons face-to-face and it may not reflect on you poorly.

  1. Personal statistics. Personal information such as height, weight, age, race, religion, medical condition, disability, marital status, passport number, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and the names and ages of your spouse and/or children are irrelevant. Most of the information makes it look like an application to a matrimonial request or an entry-form for a beauty pageant. The employers don’t take these information into consideration for making their hiring decisions. Nevertheless, many of them base their rejections on these factors.

In any case the aim of a resume is to highlight your accomplishments to show a potential employer that you are qualified for the work you want. The résumé should convey your potential to add value. It is not your biography or a document of everything you have done. In short, do not include any personal information beyond your address, email, and phone number.



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