10 things to leave off your resume

Darcel Liron (center) of Deer Park speaks to

Darcel Liron (center) of Deer Park speaks to Don McKenna, a representative of Global Industrial. Job seekers attend a job fair at the Melville Marriott. (February 23, 2012) (Credit: Photo by Jeremy Bales)

Everybody knows that in most situations, less is more -- your accessories, eating habits and especially your résumé.

Job seekers do themselves a disservice when they send out résumés with too much information. Employers don't have the time or the patience to sift through irrelevant information like your hobbies, interests or how many grandchildren you have. Just stick to the basics and you're good to go.

Here are 10 things to leave off your résumé and why:

1. Your picture
Why to leave it off: Unless a job posting specifically asks for your picture (and very few jobs will), don't include it just for fun. Not only are your looks irrelevant to your potential as an employee, but you're putting employers in a bad spot. If they have a picture of you and choose not to hire you, it's possible that you could come back with a discrimination lawsuit. In most cases, they'll throw your résumé away without looking at it, to avoid the issue altogether.

2. Interest and hobbies
Why to leave them off: Unless your interests and hobbies have something to do with the job you're applying for, there's no reason to include them. If you want to show how your passion for art would be an asset to a graphic design position, that's one thing. But telling employers that you love to skydive on an actuary application is another. In general, make any applicable connections between your hobbies and the job in your cover letter. Better yet, save them for the interview when you're asked what you like to do outside of work.

3. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
Why to leave them off: Most employers assume that if you're OK with sending out a résumé littered with typos and mistakes, you'll have the same lack of concern for the work you do as an employee at their company. While spell check picks up most errors, it can miss something major -- did you work the late night shift? Or did you forget to include the "f" between "i" and "t"? -- so have several eyes look over your résumé before sending it out to employers.

4. Personal attributes
Why to leave them off: Similar to sending a picture with your résumé, your height, weight, age, race or religion are all unimportant to an employer. Though it's illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants because of any of these factors, some will do so, regardless. Keep everything on your résumé pertinent to the job, and you'll be fine.

5. References
Why to leave them off: Many job seekers still include references on their résumé or they include a line that says, "References available upon request." This tactic is not as effective as it used to be. Jack Harsh, adjunct professor at the University of Richmond Robins School of Business, says that when he receives a résumé with references attached, he gives them virtually no weight. "They seldom are specific to the role my company seeks and are not meaningful in considering qualifications or traits of successful candidates," he says. Wait to broach the topic of references until you're asked for them.

6. Minute details
Why to leave them off: Hiring managers don't need to know the details of every task you've ever done in every job you've ever had. It's just too much information, and usually half of that information isn't relevant. Employers want to be able to see at first glance that you're a great candidate, so pick out those details that are most relevant to the job for which you're applying and omit the rest.

7. False information
Why to leave it off: Plain and simple, no one wants to hire a liar. Don't say that you have a master's degree if you've only earned your bachelor's; don't say you're presently employed at a company if you've recently been fired; don't list your salary history as 20 percent higher than it was. Everything you tell an employer can be verified, so play it safe and be honest.

8. Flair
Why to leave it off: No one wants to look at a résumé on fluorescent paper, covered in crazy fonts and symbols. Similarly, links to personal Web sites, your photo-sharing site, or strange e-mail addresses can also be left off. Employers are less likely to respond to likes2party@email.com than just DMiller@email.com.

9. Negativity
Why to leave it off: Never put anything negative on your résumé. Don't include your reasons for leaving. If you left the position due to a layoff or you were fired, for example, bring it up only if asked. Never write anything bad about a previous employer. Don't explain gaps on your résumé by stating that you were in prison for 10 years for killing your husband. Keep your résumé all positive, all the time.

10. A selfish objective
Why to leave it off: Employers are trying to determine whether you're a good fit for their organizations, so everything on your résumé should point to your experience. Employers would rather see a summary of qualifications that displays your accomplishments and background than a generic objective statement like "To gain experience in..."

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