What you should never put on your resume
Resume writing skills are critical to a strong job search, but experts warn of the all too common mistakes they see on the regular.
A professional resume is key to your job search—this you know. It must highlight your skills, experience, work history, and important accomplishments so that hiring managers can determine whether or not you’re qualified for a job.
What you might not know is that there are a few things that don’t belong on your resume—things that might not tank your chances at a job, but won’t do you any favors, either. Remember: Every millimeter of your resume is valuable real estate, says Kelly Marinelli, talent acquisition panelist at the Society for Human Resource Management and president at Solve HR, Inc.
So, what doesn’t belong on a resume today? We spoke to career coaches and resume writers to find the top things to remove from your resume now.
A career objective
Put simply: A career objective is largely obsolete. “It tells an employer what you want from them, when the focus should really be on the employer’s needs,” says Wendy Enelow, co-author of Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed...Get Hired.
Furthermore, by including a career objective, “you’re essentially pigeonholing yourself,” says Alyssa Gelbard, president at global career consulting firm Point Road Group. “If you’re applying for a job that doesn’t exactly meet your objective, you’re effectively telling the employer that this isn’t the right job for you, so it can really limit your opportunities.”
Instead of an objective, Enelow recommends beginning your resume with a career summary, where you highlight what you bring to the table and how you can add value to the company.
Your home address
Due to privacy issues and the potential for identity theft if your resume somehow ends up in the wrong person’s hands, Enelow doesn’t recommend including your home address on your resume.
If you’re applying for a local job, however, she advises including your city and state on your resume to show that you’re a local candidate. But it’s OK to leave off your location completely when applying for an out-of-town job, so that you don’t inadvertently exclude yourself from consideration for the position.
Soft skills in a skills section
If you’re going to have a skills section on your resume, it should be focused on hard skills and competencies—not soft skills, says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, executive resume writer and owner of Dallas-based coaching firm Career Trend. “Soft skills are important, but I would weave them into the work experience portion,” Barrett-Poindexter says. So where can you really lean in to your soft skills? Your cover letter.
Don’t waste real estate by writing implied information on your resume such as contact info for references, or “references available upon request,” says Scott Vedder, a Fortune 100 recruiter and author of Signs of a Great Resume. “You don’t write ‘interviews available upon request,’ so why would you write ‘references upon request’?” Hiring managers know you have references and will ask for them at the appropriate time.
Appearance counts, but so does readability. Skip any fancy or ultrastylized fonts and instead choose a font that is both professional and clean-looking. For example, Calibri and Verdana are standard fonts that will translate well from your computer to the receiver’s.
High school education
Your resume’s education section doesn’t need to reach too far back. For example, “if you have a college degree, it’s inferred that you graduated from high school,” Vedder says.
However, there are exceptions as to when you’d want to highlight something from your high school years. “Some job seekers had truly significant work experiences in high school,” says Marinelli. “If you started a business when you were in high school, that’s something you could put in work experience section.”
Having a photo of yourself on your resume can potentially lead to discrimination, Barrett-Poindexter warns. It’s better to post your photo on your social media profiles or personal website, where it’s expected by recruiters and hiring managers.
One caveat: “If you’re in an industry like broadcast journalism or performing arts, where your appearance is part of what you’re selling, I’d recommend including it on your resume,” Enelow says. (For these types of positions, consult the job description to see if you’re in fact required to submit a professional headshot or sizzle reel.)
Many job seekers make the common mistake of using terms, job titles, or acronyms that are specific to their previous employer but aren’t universal to the industry. This sort of jargon can be confusing, says Marinelli, even for skilled recruiters.
An unprofessional or outdated email address
Your resume is your first opportunity to present yourself to an employer as a professional, so you better have a professional email address. If you’re still using a high-school email address like KegStandChamp@whatever.com or OneDirectionLovr@whatever.com, it’s time to create a new one.
Put your resume into action
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your resume is not getting it any exposure. Having a resume is no use to you unless it’s being circulated to hiring managers. Need some help getting out there? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you.