The ABC’s of Resume Writing | “I” is for INCLUDE

I: Five things not to INCLUDE on your resume.

Last week, I covered three areas that you must include on your resume in an effort to land more interviews. You can read that blog post below. Today, I am writing about what not to include on your resume. Some of you may have heard this before, for others, this may be news to you. Whatever the case may be, keep these five things as far away from your resume as possible and you’ll be destined for more interviews.

Personal Information

If it has been more than 15 years or so since you last needed a resume, this may come as a bit of a surprise. In today’s resume game, and yes it is a game, there is no place for personal information. By personal information, I am referring to your height, weight, age, marital, status, religious affiliation, or even a picture. One of the core strategies in resume writing is to never give an employer a reason not to consider you for an interview. Including personal information is irrelevant at the least and risky at best and can do more harm than good to your well intentioned job search. This sort of personal information has no bearing on whether or not you can do the job and if included, will only influence the hiring manager to make ill-advised assumptions about your ability to do the job effectively.

Dated Technical Skills

When listing technical skills, make sure to list only those skills that are relevant in today’s marketplace and more specifically, to the position you are applying for. As an example, if you are in the information technology field, you know that software, hardware, applications, etc. change as fast as they are introduced. There are literally tons of IT technical skills that you could potentially list on your resume. However, listing FORTRAN on your resume tells the hiring manager two things, one, you are “old enough” to know that FORTRAN was a programming language and two, you do not realize that this programming language is no longer used. The same goes for an administrative assistant that lists shorthand on their resume. From the research that I have done, shorthand is a dying skill that is hardly even used today.

Reasons for Leaving Your Employer

Yes, I have actually seen this on a few resumes. It was usually right after the company name, city, and state information. Your resume is definitely not the place to include reasons for leaving your employer, especially if you were terminated, which is different, by the way, than being laid off or downsized. You will have an opportunity to provide this information when you complete the application for employment. Including this information on the resume is premature and could actually prevent you from getting the interview, where you would have the opportunity to sell yourself, express your value, and discuss your ability to solve the employer’s problems. If the question comes up in the interview, you have a better opportunity to answer the question and steer the conversation back to how you can meet the employer’s needs and solve their problems.

Every Single Job You Have Ever Had

Employers want to know what you have been doing for the last 10 to 15 years and what you accomplished during this same timeframe. Experience older than 15 years is typically irrelevant to your current career objectives and simply not a good indicator of your future performance. So what if you were the number one salesperson in your region back in 1980? Chances are, a job in sales is not your current career objective and if it is, hopefully you have progressed to a management position after more than 30 years. But what if you have had an extensive career in one field and the experience is still relevant? If this is the case, then I recommend that you summarize the experience and omit your dates of employment. The sentence below works well in this scenario:

“Additional professional experience with ABC Sales Company as a territory sales representative.”

By using this sentence, you let the employer know that you have additional sales experience without saying how many years exactly.

As another example, say you had a short term (less than 1 year) position with a company and you really didn’t like it or maybe you did like it but you don’t really have any relevant accomplishments to highlight. My recommendation is to omit this job entirely but only if it does not create an employment gap. If you read my early blog about dates, you know to list dates of employment in years only. If you can omit this job and still maintain a consistent employment history, by all means do so.

References Available Upon Request

Including this statement on your resume is as informative as the statement “Coffee is Hot!” that can be found on the coffee cups of most fast-food chains. Well, duh! Just like most intelligent people who drink coffee expect it to be hot when they get it, employers expect you to have references available. Again, this information is normally asked for when you complete the employment application. There is no reason to add this statement to your resume. It wastes valuable space and does not provide any extra value.

So now you know the five things that I recommend you not include on your resume. Keep this list in mind when writing your resume and you will open yourself up to more interviews by eliminating additional reasons for your resume not making it through the screening process.

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