There are many things people will tell you you should include on your resume. But you’ll find far less advice telling you what you shouldn’t include. Unfortunately, people make these errors every day, adding these items to a document that will (or won’t) set you apart from other candidates.
1. Hobbies That Aren’t Relevant to the Position
Sure, you may love ice skating and watching old movies, but unless these hobbies are directly relevant to the position you’re applying for, the hiring manager is going to raise an eyebrow if you include them on your resume.
Instead, focus on interests that are relevant to the job.
Some hobbies and activities could be relevant to the role. For example, if you’re applying for a job in publishing and you have a book blog, that’s certainly something to include — in fact, it could even bolster your candidacy.
2. Jobs That Don’t Relate to Your Current Career Path or Are From a Long Time Ago
Not every work experience is relevant to your current career or the job you’re hoping to land. While you don’t want to show gaps in your work history, if you did change careers or otherwise took a detour, try to link the experience to the role in some way, and keep it brief.
Generally speaking, you should leave off outdated experiences. This usually means anything from more than 12-13 years ago, depending on how long you’ve been in the workforce unless it’s absolutely critical for the hiring manager to know about.
Instead, Highlight Positions That Demonstrate Expertise in Your Field. If You Don't Have Professional Experience in That Area, Highlight Volunteer Opportunities or Courses That Show Your Experience.
Again, highlight skills, experiences, and qualifications that are relevant to the position. Connect each one to the job at hand, demonstrating how it will make you excel.
3. Inaccurate Information
In other words, don’t lie. It’s tempting to hyperbolize to make yourself sound better, but this is dangerous. You could easily get caught, for one, and if you do, you certainly won’t get hired. If you’ve already landed the role, your manager may very well fire you when they find out that you falsified information on your application. Plus, if you’re called upon to perform responsibilities that depend on skills you don’t actually have, you’ll end up in hot water.
Instead, Make the Most of Your Real Qualifications.
The simple alternative (the better choice) is to highlight the qualities you do have. If the role demands a skill, certification, or other qualification you don’t have, then it’s not the role for you. Perhaps you should take the time to gain that qualification if you want a job like this.
This is not an exhaustive list of what you should leave off your resume, but these mistakes do represent some of the most common ones job seekers make. Take care to showcase your strengths, and leave off the information that will distract the hiring manager from those qualities.
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Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.