12 Things You Should Not Put on Your Résumé

What should not go on a resume?

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Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Mary Whitman. Mary Whitman, who has a master of arts degree, is a freelance writer and blogger based in Adelaide, South Australia. In her spare time, she enjoys talking about sustainable development and writing essays. We would like to thank her for her submission and credit her as the author of this blog post.

All of us want above-average jobs, above-average life partners, and an above-average lifestyle. However, few of us manage to develop this type of life. Due to external circumstances (e.g., cost-of-living, having a home, owning a car, and being fed), our first real need is to make some money. We trade our time, energy, and attention to receive the funds necessary to have a good life, and we do it on a consistent basis whether we see it or not.

One thing is clear: The more successful you are in your profession and the better your job is, the more money and freedom you’ll have. The question is, how do you manage to get an above-average job?

Above-average jobs are for above-average people. Are you such a person? To up your chances of landing a job, you should first improve your knowledge, skills, and mindset. Second, you should improve (or perfect!) the way you present yourself on paper. By focusing on the right skills and ensuring the quality of your résumé, you’ll set yourself apart from other potential hires.

Now let’s take a look at 12 things you should definitely not put on your résumé whenever you apply for a new job:

  1. An unprofessional email address: If you still use an email address like DarkAngel69@email.com or another weird, childish email address, you should immediately change it. The reason is obvious: It sounds extremely unprofessional. Create a new email address that incorporates your name. It’s free if you go through a company like Google, Outlook, or Yahoo, or you can opt to pay for a professional domain name that will offer you a distinctive email (like johnsmith@nameofyourcompany.com).
  1. A hard-to-read font: The font you choose can greatly influence the quality of your résumé. Some fonts, like Arial, Helvetica, are Times New Roman are easy to read, while others, including Comic Sans, Jokerman, and Toontime, are extremely hard to read. Stick with something simple.
  1. An unprofessional picture: Your photo may not be part of your résumé, but it’s often included on your LinkedIn page and sometimes employers will ask for photo submission when you’re applying for a job. When an employer reads your name, they can only read the letters, but when they look at your picture, they can see your personality. The picture you choose to include with your application or display with your LinkedIn should be professional and appropriate. It’s essentially your first impression, and we all know that first impressions are lasting. Bathing suits, funny faces, and costumes are wholly inappropriate.
  2. Your hobbies: Many employees add their hobbies to their professional résumés, believing that this action could somehow help them emphasize their “hidden” traits to an employer. Listing your hobbies on your résumé is a terrible mistake. There are so many other things (skills, awards, experiences) that can be added to your résumé instead of the things you do in your spare time, and choosing to include them implies that your professional accomplishments are few and far between.
  3. Grammar and spelling mistakes: If your résumé contains grammar or spelling mistakes, it can lose credibility entirely. Whenever you write something for an audience—especially your résumé—even the smallest mistakes can (and will) damage your reputation. If you lack confidence in your own abilities, you can always use a professional editor or a proofreading service to deal with this problem. However, if you pay close attention, you should be fine!
  4. Irrelevant references: Nobody cares if your neighbors and friends say that you are truly a good person. Employers don’t care about references unless they can share something about you that is relevant to the position to which you’re applying. For example, a former boss who knows about your computer programming abilities would be a useful reference if you’re applying for a coding position. Remember, though, not all employers ask for references. If they’re not requested, you should not waste space including them with your application materials.
  5. A lengthy description: The role of a résumé is to offer an employer information about your work history and abilities. Nevertheless, a lot of employees believe that their résumé is their only chance to “show the best they’ve got,” and they therefore include information that isn’t relevant to the job. Remember, there’s the cover letter and the interview, which offer better opportunities to showcase your personality and hidden talents. Don’t expand your résumé’s length beyond what’s absolutely necessary!
  6. Too many (and irrelevant) past experiences: Your past work experiences are important because they reflect your responsibilities, but delving too far into the past (more than 10 years) brings up work history that may not be relevant anymore. Including a past experience like “Camp Counselor” isn’t going to do much if you’re applying for a job as a software engineer. Remember, too, that many employers seek skills used and performance goals met rather than job titles, so keep that in mind when crafting your résumé and create a dynamic list of your accomplishments instead of a laundry list of your duties.
  7. Excessive use of buzzwords: Using one or two buzzwords in your résumé is fine, but when you use dozens, or even a handful, you become an irritating candidate and may even decrease your chances of getting called for an interview. Words like “action-driven,” “detail-oriented,” and “mission-critical” can be overused to the point that they become meaningless. Be honest about your drive and responsibilities, and use a variety of descriptors to explain them.
  8. Your religious and/or political affiliation: You should not mention your religious or political affiliation because it has no relevance to your abilities as an employee (unless, for instance, you worked in a church or for a political candidate). If you hold the same views as your prospective employer, you may have something in common, but it won’t change what your résumé says about what you can or cannot do. If you have differing views from your potential employer, listing your religious or political affiliation could backfire—it’s against federal to discriminate against employees on the basis of religion but not to discriminate on the basis of political beliefs, and neither will stop an employer from taking your opposing beliefs personally.
  9. The reason you’re currently without a job: You shouldn’t explain why you left your previous job or why you’ve been fired (if you were). Explanations like that have no place on a résumé or in a cover letter. Unless your potential employer asks in an interview, don’t mention it.
  10. Exaggerations and lies: Don’t lie or exaggerate! The moment you lie and get caught is the moment your professional reputation will be destroyed. Lying on your résumé simply translates to: “I am not capable of landing a good job without cheating, so I will cheat and try my luck to see if I get what I want.” Don’t be that employee, because trust me, you won’t be for long!

The Takeaway:

As a final tip, I’d suggest you modify and optimize your résumé every time you’re applying for a new job. The reason is obvious: Every employer expects something different from a potential employee and needs to hire someone that satisfies the needs of the company.

Next time you’re working on your résumé, pay attention to these mistakes and never repeat them again! Your success lies in your own hands. Good luck!

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