Delete These Distracting (and Potentially Detrimental) Things From Your Resume

Delete These Distracting (and Potentially Detrimental) Things From Your Resume
Photo: jamesteohart, Shutterstock

While it’s true that your resume should highlight your accomplishments and experience relevant to the job you’re applying for, recruiters usually only spend about 7 seconds looking at resumes, on average. At this stage of the application process, they’re looking for a reason to reject applicants, which is why you don’t want to waste a precious second of their time on unnecessary information. Here’s all the stuff recruiters say you don’t need to include on your CV.

Your mailing address

An employer really just needs your email address and a phone number to contact you (and maybe a LinkedIn URL, if it’s not part of their online application process). Otherwise, your mailing address is information that only the employer’s human resources department might need, and that can be provided later.

Photo or headshot

Unless you’re an actor or a model, your looks almost certainly have nothing to do with your ability to do the job. Including a photo in your resume only encourages discriminatory hiring practices and will probably annoy some recruiters for that reason. Don’t bother.

An overlong employment history

Unless the work is relevant to the job, you probably don’t need 15-20 years of employment history in your resume. As Indeed suggests, you can always summarize some of your experience in a separate, shorter “Earlier Employment” section on your CV. For example, I group my earlier journalism experience as a “freelance writing” entry that briefly lists the places I’ve worked for (if I were applying for a job outside of journalism, I wouldn’t include it at all).

Irrelevant experience

Recruiters are only looking for experience as it relates to the job posting. Ideally, you don’t want long unexplained gaps in your work history, but you also don’t want to dwell on irrelevant job experience, either. For less relevant job experience, keep it brief and try to highlight the skills that best match the role you’re applying for.

Employer descriptions

The point of a resume is to talk about your experience — not so much your previous employers. Even if your employer is an obscure company, avoid writing out summaries of what they do or where they’re based. Instead, incorporate relevant details in the bullet points that describe your role at the company.

Too many details about your education

Unless there’s specific training required for the role, relevant experience will be much more important to a recruiter than education. If you went to college, that’s great, but try to keep it short: you really only need to list the schools, degrees, and your GPA if you want, although that’s less relevant as you gain more experience. (To put it another way, it would be weird if an accomplished, middle-aged CFO was still bragging about the good marks they got when they were 22.) Also, if you’re an older applicant who is worried about age discrimination, you don’t have to specify the year you graduated, either.

References

Unless the job posting specifically requests references, don’t put your references’ contact information in your resume. And don’t bother with the “references available upon request” line, either — if an employer needs references, they’ll ask you later in the hiring process.

Hobbies or interests

Aside from volunteer work that is related to the job, the sad truth is that at this stage, the employer doesn’t really care about your hobbies or interests.

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