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- Hiring managers glance at resumes for mere seconds before making decisions about moving a candidate forward.
- Extraneous information can bog down your resume and in some cases, it can hurt your chances of landing the job.
- Here are 32 things you should strike from your resume right now.
1. An objective
If you applied, it’s already obvious you want the job.
The exception: If you’re in a unique situation, such as changing industries completely, it may be useful to include a brief summary.
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2. Irrelevant work experiences
Yes, you might have been the “king of making milkshakes” at the restaurant you worked for in high school. But unless you plan on redeeming that title, it’s time to get rid of all that clutter.
But as Alyssa Gelbard, founder of career consulting firm Resume Strategists, points out: Past work experience that might not appear to be directly relevant to the job at hand might show another dimension, depth, ability, or skill that actually is relevant or applicable.
Only include this experience if it really showcases additional skills that can translate to the position you’re applying for.
3. Personal details
Don’t include your marital status, religious preference, or Social Security number.
Though it might have been the standard to include in the past, this information could lead to discrimination, so you shouldn’t include it anymore.
4. Your full mailing address
A full street address is the first thing that Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume, immediately looks to cut from a resume.
“Nobody needs to have that on their resume anymore, and, to be quite honest, it’s a security concern,” she previously told Business Insider.
5. More than one phone number
Augustine suggests including only one phone number on your resume, ideally your cell phone, so you have control over who answers your incoming phone calls, when, and what the voice mail sounds like.
“Also, you don’t want employers trying to contact you in five different places, because then you have to keep track of that,” she says.
6. Your hobbies
In many cases, nobody cares.
If it’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for, it could be wasting space for more valuable elements of a resume.
7. Blatant lies
A CareerBuilder survey from 2015 asked 2,000 hiring managers for memorable resume mistakes, and blatant lies were a popular choice. One candidate claimed to be the former CEO of the company to which he was applying, another claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner, and one more claimed he attended a college that didn’t exist.
Rosemary Haefner, former chief HR officer at CareerBuilder, says these lies may be “misguided attempts to compensate for lacking 100% of the qualifications specified in the job posting.”
But Haefner says candidates should concentrate on the skills they can offer, rather than the ones they can’t.
8. Too much text
If you’re using a 0.5-inch margin and eight-point font in an effort to get everything to fit on one page, consider it an “epic fail,” says J.T. O’Donnell, founder of career advice site Careerealism.com, and author of “Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career.”
She recommends lots of white space and no more than a 0.8 margin.
Augustine agrees, warning particularly against dense blocks of text.
“Let’s be honest: You’re looking this over quickly, you’re glancing through it, your eyes glaze over when you get to a big, long paragraph,” she says.
9. Too many bullets
In the same vein, you can also overload your resume with too many bullet points, which Augustine calls “death by bullets.”
“If absolutely everything is bulleted, it has the same effect as big dense blocks of text — your eyes just glaze over it,” she says.
Augustine explains that bullets are only to be used to draw attention to the most important information. “If you bullet everything, everything is important, which means really nothing stands out,” she says.
10. Time off
If you took time off to travel or raise a family, Gelbard doesn’t recommend including that information on your resume. “In some countries, it is acceptable to include this information, especially travel, but it is not appropriate to include that in the body of a resume in the US.”
11. Details that give away your age
Another surprising way your resume could give away your age: double spaces after a period.
If your employers want to speak to your references, they’ll ask you. Also, it’s better if you have a chance to tell your references ahead of time that a future employer might be calling.
If you write “references upon request” at the bottom of your resume, you’re merely wasting a valuable line, career coach Eli Amdur says.
13. Inconsistent formatting
The format of your resume is just as important as its content, Augustine says.
She says the best format is the format that will make it easiest for the hiring manager to scan your resume and still be able to pick out your key qualifications and career goals.
Once you pick a format, stick with it. If you write the day, month, and year for one date, then use that same format throughout the rest of the resume.
14. Short-term employment
Avoid including a job on your resume if you only held the position for a short period of time, Gelbard says. You should especially avoid including jobs you were let go from or didn’t like.
15. Present tense for a past job
Never describe past work experience using the present tense. Only your current job should be written in the present tense, Gelbard says.
16. A less-than-professional email address
If you still use an old email address like BeerLover123@gmail.com or CuteChick4Life@yahoo.com, it’s time to pick a new one.
It only takes a minute or two, and it’s free.
17. Any unnecessary, obvious words
For example, there’s no reason to put the word “phone” in front of the actual number.
“It’s pretty silly. They know it’s your phone number,” says Amdur. The same rule applies to your email address.
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18. Your contact info at your current job
Amdur writes at NorthJersey.com:
“This is not only dangerous; it’s stupid. Do you really want employers calling you at work? How are you going to handle that? Oh, and by the way, your current employer can monitor your emails and phone calls. So if you’re not in the mood to get fired, or potentially charged with theft of services (really), then leave the business info off.”
19. Headers, footers, tables, images, charts
While a well-formatted header and footer may look professional, and some cool tables, images, or charts may boost your credibility, they also confuse the applicant-tracking systems that companies use nowadays, Augustine previously told Business Insider.
The system will react by scrambling up your resume and spitting out a poorly formatted one that may no longer include your header or charts. Even if you were an ideal candidate for the position, now the hiring manager has no way of contacting you for an interview.
20. Your boss’ name
Don’t include your boss’ name on your resume unless you’re okay with your potential employer contacting the person. Even then, Gelbard says the only reason your boss’ name should be on your resume is if the person is someone noteworthy or very impressive.
21. Company-specific jargon
“Companies often have their own internal names for things like customized software, technologies, and processes that are only known within that organization and not by those who work outside of it,” Gelbard says. “Be sure to exclude terms on your resume that are known only to one specific organization.”
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22. Social media URLs that are not related to the position
A link to your Instagram account has no business taking up prime resume real estate. “Candidates who tend to think their personal social media sites are valuable are putting themselves at risk of landing in the ‘no’ pile,” says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink.
“But you should list relevant URLs, such as your LinkedIn page or any others that are professional and directly related to the position you are trying to acquire,” she says.
23. More than 15 years of experience
When you start including jobs from before 2005, you start losing the hiring manager’s interest.
Your most relevant experience should be from the past 15 years, so hiring managers only need to see that, Augustine says.
On the same note, don’t include dates on degrees and certifications that are more than 15 years old.
24. Salary information
“Some people include past hourly rates for jobs they held in college,” Nicolai says. This information is unnecessary, and the employer could use it against you in salary negotiations.
Speaking of which, you also shouldn’t list your desired salary in a resume. “This document is intended to showcase your professional experience and skills. Salary comes later in the interview process,” says Amy Hoover, former president of Talent Zoo.
25. Fancy fonts
Curly-tailed fonts are a no, according to O’Donnell. “People try to make their resume look classier with a fancy font, but studies show they are harder to read and the recruiter absorbs less about you.”
26. Annoying buzzwords
Stay away from words and phrases like “best of breed,” “go-getter,” “think outside the box,” “synergy,” and “people pleaser.”
Instead, try “achieved,” “managed,” “resolved,” and “launched.”
27. Reasons you left a company or position
Candidates often think, “If I explain why I left the position on my resume, maybe my chances will improve.”
In reality, doing so is “irrelevant,” Nicolai says: “It’s not the time or place to bring up transitions from one company to the next.”
Instead, use your interview to address this.
28. Your GPA
Once you’re out of school, your grades aren’t nearly as relevant anymore.
If you’re a new college graduate and your GPA was a 3.8 or higher, it’s okay to leave it. But, if you’re more than three years out of school, or if your GPA was lower than a 3.8, ditch it.
29. A photo of yourself
Even a small photo can take up considerable space on a resume, and it usually doesn’t add much anyway.
30. An explanation of why you want the job
That’s what the cover letter and interviews are for!
Your resume is not the place to start explaining why you’d be a great fit or why you want the job. Your skills and qualifications should be able to do that for you.
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31. Opinions, not facts
Don’t try to sell yourself by using all sorts of subjective words to describe yourself, O’Donnell says. “I’m an excellent communicator” or “highly organized and motivated” are opinions of yourself and not necessarily the truth. “Recruiters want facts only. They’ll decide if you are those things after they meet you,” she says.
32. Generic explanations of accomplishments
Don’t just say you accomplished X, Y, or Z — show it by quantifying the facts.
For instance, instead of saying, “Grew revenues,” try saying, “X project resulted in an Y% increase in revenues.”
Vivian Giang and Natalie Walters contributed to earlier versions of this article.