You hear a lot about everything you should include when you are writing your resume, but not much about what you shouldn’t. That’s a bit strange. Obviously, not all resumes are successful competitors with any job application. They must have some defects.
They do. Employers and job screening may not be infallible, but they do pick up on “iffy” resume contents. The problem is that most people never know what it was that sabotaged their job applications. Quite a lot of the time, it’s something on the resume.
The usual suspects in resume clangers
There are a few very common “what not to include in your resume” mistakes. You definitely won’t like some of them, because they’re information which most people think they’re supposed to provide.
- Dates which risk age discrimination: You’d think the date of your graduation and award of your degree was useful information. Experts are now advising not to include “age evidence” on your resume, because it risks age discrimination. Age discrimination is illegal, but it’s very common.
- Gaps in employment: Another “error” is truthfully showing your employment history. Everybody has gaps in their employment history. The only real difference is the size of those gaps. The new wisdom for managing gaps is to include a brief period under a neutral heading like “sabbatical”.
- Irrelevant information and ancient history: This is a common problem, usually caused by using the same resume without modifying it for way too long. Get rid of the prehistoric stuff, and remove any information which doesn’t have a direct relevance to the position you’re seeking. It’s that simple.
- Personal information: This is a grab bag of information which used to be common on resumes, but is now considered “discriminatory”, like marital status and religion. It’s now actually illegal to collect that information, so leave it out.
- “Controversial” information: If you’re a member of a community activist group, or similar organization, particularly a political party, that information should not be on your resume. It’s your business, not the employer’s, but the employer may or may not respond well to your associations.
- Photos: Photos can be own goals. You may have a very nice written resume with good presentation and a nice photo, but employment industry experts are dubious about the value of photos. The general view is that your professional image should be absolutely flawless and not a subject of possible criticism. Some experts even say that you should even remove pictures on social media when applying for a job.
As you can see, the answer on the question “what should you not include in a resume?” includes some highly debatable elements.
The bottom line here is that information you don’t include on a resume can’t cause you any problems.