Resume Basics: What Not to Include in Your Resume

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Resumes used to include all sorts of information about applicants so that hiring managers could learn as much as possible about who they were potentially bringing on board. These days, all you need to include in your resume is information relevant to the job you’re applying for. Under almost no circumstances should your resume be longer than two pages—one page is preferable. (There are some cases where your resume can be longer, but this only applies to specific fields.) 

Every word that makes it onto the page should be there for a reason. If you’re not sure what information to include, ask a resume expert for help

Here’s a quick look at things that have no place on your resume.

Fancy designs

There are many resume templates out there featuring fancy fonts and unconventional formatting. Ignore them and go with simple fonts and formatting. The information on your resume is important, so if it’s overshadowed by a weird design, your message may get lost. 

In fact, if you use a funky font and a creative design, your resume likely won’t be legible to the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that most companies use to filter out unsuitable applications. If, by some miracle, your resume does make its way to the recruiter’s desk, they will probably take a dim view of your misplaced creativity.

Overly complicated sentences

The way you present information in your resume is also critical. Don’t obscure it by using overly complicated sentences: You want your writing to be as clear, concise, and engaging as possible. One way to achieve this is by using the active voice instead of the passive voice. 

For example, you could say, “Was assigned as a supervisor of a medical office,” but this is long and clunky.  You could just say, “Supervised a medical office,” which both saves space and makes you sound more like a leader. Basically, aim to eliminate any word that doesn’t add value to your resume. 

An unprofessional email address

Your resume should exude an air of professionalism, and if you still cling to the email address you created as a teenager, you’re probably not giving off a professional vibe. If you don’t have a professional email address, create one that simply includes your name. In case you have a common name, it likely won’t be available to use as part of an email address, but you can include your middle name, job title, or other information. In general, the more basic your email address, the better.

Unnecessary information

It’s not always easy to determine what information needs to go into your resume, but depending on your situation, there are some things you definitely shouldn’t add—such as your age, if you’re older. Revealing your age could lead to age discrimination. Also, leave out any experience or education older than ten years. You can still highlight important accomplishments, just don’t attach them to a dated entry in your employment history.

Additionally, don’t include every college activity you were ever involved in. Provide details about your education (such as your GPA), any awards, and any internships that enhance your current career, but don’t list every class you took or every project you completed. Be selective in what you share—if you list everything, it may overshadow the important bits and take up space that would be better used for more relevant information.

Resume writing is as much about what not to include as it is about what to include. Steer clear of anything that distracts from the important information or clutters your resume. Learn to leave out unnecessary details, and make sure everything on your resume—both the information and the words used to convey it—is there for a reason. Before you send out your resume, get an expert to review it to maximize your chances of landing your dream job! 

Improve Your Resume or CV