6 Things Never to Put on a Resume

June 3, 2016

Some things are inappropriate for a resume, or simply better not to include. Here are some rules of thumb about what to avoid when writing your resume.

1. Personal Information

Don't include personal information like your marital status, religion, race, etc. Employers aren't allowed to ask questions about these things, and including them on your resume might cause you to be discriminated against, but you would never know for sure. The only exception is if you're applying for international jobs, in which case some of this information is considered standard. Consult a professional or a manual on international resumes to determine standard practices for the country in question. More and more, however, resumes are leaning toward a standard U.S. style approach. 

In addition, don't include a photograph with your resume or a URL for your personal website that tells visitors all about your hobbies, summer vacation, and your dog. The only people likely to use a photograph with their resumes are those in the entertainment business, such as actors. Similarly, unless your website is a professional site that includes additional information not included on the resume, don't direct visitors to the site. (Employers might search your name online and find information about you anyway, so consider if you need to take steps to "clean up" your online image.) 

2. A Specific Salary

Generally, avoid including your current or desired salary. Oftentimes a job posting will request that you include such information. If possible, include a range, rather than a specific figure. (You never know if the starting rate is higher than what you imagine, and you risk a lower starting salary in that situation.) Similarly, don't list concrete salary figures on your resume. If you have to address the salary question, aim to address the issue in your cover letter, where again you can note a range, and focus the letter on other information, such as what you bring to the position. 

3. A Creation Date

Don't list a creation date on your resume, even if you're posting it online. Often, online resume databanks have a system that denotes when your resume was posted. Similarly, in Word, it can be helpful to go into "Properties" and remove (or add) certain types of information, such as editing time, the document author, etc. 

4. References

Don't list references on your resume. At the most, you could include "references available on request" or something similar for visual appeal, but even this is debatable. It's an outdated practice. It's assumed that you'll provide references at the appropriate time if requested by the employer. 

5. Buzzwords, Outdated Phrases, and Clichés

Some phrases are certainly overused, as are some descriptions. For example, almost everyone is a "team player" with "strong communication skills." Also note that several outdated phrases should be avoided. Multiple sources of research have noted that "multitasking" is an ineffective work practice, so avoid including that on the resume. Also, watch for other outdated phrases, such as being an "out of the box" thinker and creating products or processes that are "user friendly." And avoid kitschy descriptions, such as "domestic engineer." 

6. Anything That Can Work Against You

Have you been fired? Have you received unfavorable reviews? Is your GPA only a 2.0? Don't include anything on your resume that can automatically disqualify you from the running. Your resume is not the place to explain why something went wrong in your past. It's the place to highlight your best-selling qualities. If you do have something unfavorable in your past, be prepared to talk about it (in the best possible light) at the interview, but don't shoot yourself in the foot by putting it on your resume. 

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