What not to include on your resume: Advice from a professional resume writer

By Bobby Sisk
Charlotte Observer
Posted: Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011

Certified professional resume writer Nathan Adams is moving right along in the alphabet. On his blog, he’s outlining the ABC’s of resume writing.He’s up to “N,” but “I” got my attention based on recent questions from readers. I’m often asked what to include and, more importantly, not include in a resume. Some of Adams’ advice may come as common sense to you, but we can all use a refresher. And I found what he says about references particularly interesting.First, leave the reasons you left your last job for the interview.Adams has seen these explanations on resumes usually somewhere after the company name and location. He says including this information on your resume is premature and may prevent you from getting the interview at all. Once there, if asked, explain why you and your former employer parted ways.

When it comes to job history, Adams thinks there are limits. If your resume turns into multiple pages as you list all your previous jobs, then scale back.

“Employers want to know what you’ve been doing for the last 10 to 15 years and what you accomplished during the same time frame,” he said.

For jobs more than 15 years back, think about whether that experience is still relevant. I know my first or second job out of college probably wouldn’t sway a prospective employer now. But if there are specific skills you want to highlight, Adams recommends summarizing those and leaving out dates of employment. An example: “Additional professional experience with ABC Sales Company as a territory sales representative.”

Next, watch dating yourself when listing technical skills. “Make sure to list only those skills that are relevant in today’s marketplace and more specifically, to the position for which you are applying,” Adams added.
Now to references and what Adams says should not be included. Leave off the line, “References available upon request.”

“This information is normally asked for when you complete the employment application. There is no reason to add that statement to your resume. It wastes valuable space and does not provide any extra value,” he said.

Finally, there is no place on the resume for extensive personal information. Yes, use name and contact information, but Adams says no one needs to know your age, marital status or see a picture of you.

“One of the core strategies in resume writing is to never give an employer a reason not to consider you for an interview,” he said. And if you think folks don’t send resumes with these items on them, think again. I’ve seen a few.

Good luck and keep in mind your resume is only part of the process. Get out there, shake hands, reach out to everyone you know and make sure they’re aware you’re looking for work.

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