If it’s time to update your resume, you’re probably thinking about everything you need to include. But it’s just as important to consider what to leave out. Resumes are designed to be succinct, quick snapshots of your experience and achievements. Your resume needs to communicate your work history and education in a concise, easy-to-read way. Too much information not only makes reading your resume a chore, but also can reflect on your professionalism and judgment.
Here are 8 things to leave off your resume:
1. Excruciating detail. For each job you’ve held, the best approach is to list your title, the name of the company you’ve worked for, the dates you were there (month and year is enough detail here) and your chief duties in the role. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while and have sufficient experience to show your chops, there’s no need to mention the job you had in high school. Keep in mind that most experts recommend keeping a resume to one page.
2. Anything that should go in the cover letter. The resume is a brief timeline of experience and accomplishments. For anything beyond that, let the cover letter do the work of adding enthusiasm, personality and further explanation where needed.
3. Explanations for gaps in your employment history. Maybe you left the workforce to care for children. Maybe you were unemployed for several months after a layoff. Maybe you took a couple of months off between jobs to travel. List your employment history as it is and be prepared to explain the situation during the interview.
(If you took time off to go back to school to get further education or a degree that is relevant to the job you’re seeking, add it to your resume.)
4. Temporary jobs of necessity. Maybe you delivered pizzas for a while after you were laid off from your last professional position. Leave off any jobs you took just to pay the bills unless they are relevant to the position you’re after now.
5. Personal details. The resume is not a place to go into your personal life – the HR director doesn’t need to know your age, your marital status and how many children you have.
6. Hobbies or “Interests”. Use your best judgment when including them. Some employers find that a quick line about your interests provides insight into the kind of person you are. For example, if you’re a runner and you know you are submitting your resume to another runner, listing that might get you noticed. For some positions, listing roles in community organizations can be helpful. Bottom line: if an interest or volunteer position contributes to the image of you as an ideal employee for the job you’re seeking, it may be worth including. The phrase “interests” sounds more professional than “hobbies,” and keep it to one line.
7. Your political affiliation or role as a Tea Party rally organizer. Leave off any references to religious or political group affiliations.
8. Fibs. Don’t fudge on duties, titles, dates, degrees, even GPAs. Not only is it the wrong thing to do, but many such “exaggerations” can be detected with a quick check of references. Be honest. But also remember that honesty doesn’t mean listing every detail about you. You don’t have to offer up the fact that it took you six years to get your 4-year degree or that your grades didn’t exactly land you on the dean’s list in college.
Finally, be sure to leave typos and spelling errors off your resume – do not rely solely on spell check. Hire a professional to do a quick “fluff” or ask a trusted friend to give your resume a once over. With some care and attention, every word on your resume will paint a picture of you as a viable candidate for the job you are hopeful to secure.