Things NOT to Include on Your Resume

Q: What things should I NOT include on my resume?

A: A good resume needs to be crafted with great consideration, and should be a strong representation of the candidate that you are. YOU are the expert on YOU and a resume is your opportunity to highlight your professional strengths for a prospective employer. A strong resume is an enticing synopsis of the professional experience and related qualifications that you bring to the table. It should tell just enough to make the reader want to learn more and thus call you for an interview. There are several items, however, that your resume should NOT include:

(1) Personal details and photographs – Do not include any information about your height, weight, age, marital status, children or other detail that might elicit subconscious discrimination from the person reading your resume. Do not ever include a photograph of yourself unless it is a mandatory qualification for the job, like at a modeling agency.

(2) Hobbies – What you do for fun outside of work is your business. It should have no bearing on your perceived ability to do a job. Do not waste valuable space on your resume with this information.

(3) Clubs, organizations and volunteer work NOT related to your industry or profession – These activities, if not work-related, should have no bearing on your abilities to do the job, so don’t mention them. The only exception might be for very recent graduates who may have held leadership roles in college clubs or organizations. This information may be more applicable for them considering the absence of more extensive work experience. If you are more than a few years out of school, leave it off.

(4) Religious and Political affiliations – Although your religious and political involvement outside of work may be an enormously important part of your life, it has nothing to do with your ability to successfully fulfill the expectations of a job. It may not be fair, but if you share it on the resume, you are leaving yourself open to be prejudged and possibly eliminated from the candidate pool based on someone else’s bias. Unless you are applying for a job at a campaign headquarters or a religious organization, do not include this very personal information.

(5) Your “Objective” – It may seem counter-intuitive to leave this off, but the statement of a specific Objective can be very limiting. A better use of space is to write a 5-8 sentence “Summary of Qualifications” that highlights your professional assets. Summarize your best qualities as a candidate right at the top of the resume and entice the hiring manager to read on.

When in doubt, the best way to determine what information to share with a potential employer is to ask yourself this question, “Does this information have anything to do with my professional background or my ability to do this job?” If not, then leave it off and save the room for something that will distinguish you professionally from another candidate. After you get the job, based on the merits of your professional background, there will be plenty of time to get to know the people in your office and to share more about your interests outside of work. Let your resume sell why you are a great candidate you are for the position. Market only your professional strengths and leave the personal information out.

Hannah Morris is the owner of HBM Human Resources & Career Consulting based in Charleston, SC. She has 15 years of experience in Human Resources management, recruiting and career counseling. Additionally she is the owner of Pots & Petals, a gardening business that she has started while being a stay-at-home mom.


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