6 Things Never to Include on Your Resume

Published: Jan 27, 2022

 Career Readiness       Job Search       Resumes & Cover Letters       
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Hiring managers typically look at your resume for just a few seconds to determine whether you’re a suitable candidate or not. While this might sound a bit unfair, it's more than understandable considering the competitiveness of today's job market and the number of applications for each opening. So, if you want to get a callback, you need to figure out a way to make your resume stand out. And to help you do that, here are six things never to include on your resume.

1. Irrelevant work experience

If you don't have much work experience, especially in the field you're interested in, it might be tempting to enrich your resume with whatever you can. And while you certainly should be proud of every job you've had, there’s no need to list every single position. The main point of your resume is to show the potential employer that you’re the most suitable candidate for the job. So, they likely won't be interested in your previous jobs if they’re unrelated to what you're applying for.

2. Details about your personal life

Although you want to get across, in some way, who you are in your resume, you don’t want to include every little personal detail. Employers don't (and shouldn't) care about your place of birth, weight, height, political views, if you've gone through an especially taxing job relocation to try your luck in NYC, etc. If this kind of information is, for whatever reason, relevant, you’ll be able to discuss it in the interview. Avoiding private information on your resume will help keep things to the point, which means there will be less chance for the person examining it to get bored and put it in the "no" pile.

Of course, this doesn't apply if the company you’re interested in explicitly asks for personal information. But even then, think twice whether it’s genuinely important or if you're dealing with potential discrimination.

3. What you like to do in your free time

The fact that you’re passionate about traveling, fitness, or cooking is great. Everyone needs a hobby to have fun and relax when off work. But does your employer care about what you do in your free time? Not really. Your resume should be reserved for more important information.

However, feel free to ignore this rule if your hobbies can help you score the job. If you want to be a designer, your painting skills or interest in photography could get you one step closer to your goal. Hobbies and interests that are relevant for the job will help you stand out in a sea of candidates and make you more memorable in the eyes of hiring managers

4. The reasons that led you to quit your previous job

The reasoning behind why you quit (or were fired from) your previous job is one of the top things you shouldn't include on your resume. This kind of information will make it seem like you’re justifying yourself, which is certainly not something you should do, as it won't demonstrate why you’re suitable for the job. This also applies to any other detail about your past jobs, including your salary, relationship with your boss, etc.

Again, if the employer wants to know anything about your work history, they’ll surely ask you about it when you meet face to face (or screen to screen). If it comes to this, make sure not to talk about your previous employer in a bad light, no matter how much they deserve it. Remember, you want to present yourself as professional, not bitter.

5. Worn-out words and phrases

Many people use flowery language on their resumes in an attempt to sound more eloquent or simply fill up space. However, this is a big mistake. Recruiters usually read a bunch of resumes every day, many of which contain buzzwords such as problem-solving, detail-oriented, hardworking, etc. While these might sound harmless, they certainly won't make you seem special or more qualified in the eyes of the employer. Instead, try to keep things simple and natural. Uniqueness is a fantastic trait, but only if you don't have to try too hard to express it.

6. Anything that isn’t true

Lastly, you should never include anything on your resume that’s untrue. Even if you think something is bulletproof and just a little white lie, you could still get busted, which is not easy to recover from. If your employer found out you were dishonest, not only would you have to deal with major embarrassment, but you would also likely lose your job, or at least the opportunity to get it.

So, try to keep it real when it comes to your education, grades, work experience, achievements, dates, etc. Keep in mind that there are many better ways to address the things you’re not proud of than lie.

Olivia Moss is an HR specialist with over a decade of experience. She is passionate about educating others on the best practices of job hunting, resume writing, and everything career-related, which is why she likes sharing her insights as a blogger.