7 Things You Should Never Include On A Resume

By Danielle Wirsansky on April 5, 2020

College students are always thinking about jobs. Do they need a job to help them pay their way through school? Do they need a job to help them get a job after graduation? If they need a job, how do they get it? What can they do? One of the most essential elements of landing a job is a resume, which is what makes it so important.

To get the job (whether you need it or just simply want it), you need a strong resume. A lot of sources will tell you the kind of information you should definitely include on a resume. But what about the things that you should leave off? You do not want to make some simple mistakes that could take your job application off-track. Read on to learn about some things you should never include on a resume.

Photographs

One thing that you should probably avoid putting on your resume is a photograph. There is no need to include a photograph of yourself. Your capability to do a job has nothing to do with how you look and everything to do with your skills and experience. Including a photograph takes up valuable space on your resume that would be much better served listing said skills and experience.

Including a photograph can also awaken inherent biases in recruiters that they may not even be aware of (though often they are). Even though many different types of discrimination based on gender, race, religion, and more are in place to protect applicants from being passed over for a job based on these factors, why even risk it? At least land the interview portion of a job application without any bias like the ones listed come into play.

It can also be difficult to get a nice enough photo for this purpose. You can’t just use any photo or it will make your resume look unprofessional, sloppy, and amateurish. And appropriate, professional photos can be expensive! Just avoid that mess altogether and do not even include a photo.

The only exception to this rule is if you are a model or actor where your looks actually are imperative to landing the job. Then including a photo or headshot is an accepted and regular practice.

Your Address

Most people, in the heading of their resume, include their name, their phone number, and their email address, this way they can be easily contacted. It used to be common practice to include your physical address on there as well, but this is not necessarily the case today.

Indeed explains, “Traditionally, including an address on a resume was standard practice as physical mail was the main way employers would respond after a submitted application. Today, most communication about the hiring process takes place online. As a result, including a full address is not always necessary.”

Other cons to including your home address can be the fact that it makes your resume look outdated and old-fashioned like you are out of touch with industry practices and standards. If you are located farther away from a business, your potential employers might be discouraged from trying to hire you because of the commute. You should definitely check out a commute before applying, but the distance that you are willing to commute is a decision only you can make. Do not let potential employers make it for you.

If you are trying to move to a new town and want a job lined up before you move (or something along those lines), you may also not want to include your address for fear of distance bias. Employers may be a lot less likely to call you in for an interview, even if you are qualified because you are not already physically located there. They do not know how serious you are about actually moving to the town or they may be worried about being unable to meet you in person. It might be better if you can land that phone interview and then verbally explain to them the situation. It might make them more open-minded to your situation.

And finally, another reason to not include your address on your resume is for safety and privacy reasons. In an age of electronic job applications, you have no idea who or how many people are actually looking at your resume. If they do not expressly need your address, you might be physically safer not giving it out willy nilly. If an employer needs your address, they will ask you for it.

The Word “I”

Instead of starting off the descriptions of your past jobs and experiences with the word “I,” cut that word out. It might feel unnatural to write in incomplete sentences, but you do not have a lot of room on your resume. Focus your descriptions on the action verbs that you use to describe what you did and what you accomplished for each experience rather than focusing the attention of your sentence on the word “I.”

You want to engage the reader of your resume, so do not focus on your pronouns. Highlight your skills, actions, and accomplishments instead and try to remove yourself from the focus of those actions. In fact, let your actions speak for themselves.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Irrelevant Experiences

Another element you can remove from your resume (or not include in the first place if you are starting from scratch) is irrelevant experiences. Especially if you do not have that much experience or you are just starting out applying for jobs, you get the advice to include everything you have done on your resume. Every experience can be relevant if framed the right way—they show that you do and have done things and are continuing to try and do even more.

However, once you are in college, you have probably had a job or two, had some extracurricular activities, done some volunteer work, or learned something at school (fingers crossed that you have). At that point, when you have enough to fill up your resume, you can start taking off the irrelevant experiences.

Listing irrelevant experiences stops helping your resume. It starts to look like a random collection of experience that makes you unqualified and ill-equipped for the job you are applying for. They may even make your potential employer question why in the world you are applying for their open position or if you read anything about their company or the open position.

When you have enough experience, take off either the oldest stuff from when you were in high school or items that are completely unrelated to the job you are applying for. If you are applying for a finance position, you might not need to include your babysitting side gig. If you are applying for a non-profit management position, maybe that summer gig you had as a cake decorator will not be the most helpful experience you have ever had that will help you get that particular job.

Old Experiences

Continuing on in that vein, if you are removing irrelevant experiences, it may be time to remove old experiences as well. Most people get their first job in high school and many students work while they are in college. By now, you can start removing really old stuff off of your resume. Your middle school awards do not need to be included on your resume, for example.

Even things from high school can come off of your resume—especially those earlier years. You can perhaps leave events from your senior year on there, depending on how far into your college years are. But the farther you are into college, the more of your high school extracurriculars and experiences need to come off, even if they might be relevant. You can probably leave off your high school GPA too unless you were either the valedictorian or salutatorian, which is a big deal and should still be left on your resume.

If you have an older experience that was particularly relevant to the specific job you are applying for, that would be an exception to leave it on your resume. Otherwise, clean it out. It is best to keep your resume to one page anyways.

Empty Language

In more academic writing, people are usually encouraged to use bigger words and to write more formally. The bigger the word, the better, because it is supposed to suggest a bigger and better brain in the writer. However, you want to make sure that your bigger and better words are focused more on your actions than describing you.

Using adjectives to describe yourself like “outstanding,” “trailblazing,” or “amazing” on your resume might seem like a good idea on the surface. Why not pump yourself up? Give yourself the accolades you deserve. Until you realize that you are the one giving yourself the accolades. And your potential employers know that you are the one who wrote your resume (most people write their own resumes). So they know that you are the one describing yourself as “outstanding,” “trailblazing,” or “amazing” rather than someone else.

And while you may very well be “amazing,” when you describe yourself that way, the impression that you give your potential employers instead is that of someone who is “arrogant,” “conceited,” “vain,” or even “narcissistic.” Those are not the kind of qualities that you want to impart to your potential employer. Rather than coming across as self-important, you want to come across as capable, level-headed, and a team player.

Shrink your big head and make sure that you are describing your actions rather than yourself and, if you must describe yourself, keep it in pleasant but professional terms rather than being overly complimentary in a way that makes your actions seem less than they were in actuality. Stay humble! Do not distract potential employers from your actual accomplishments and let them focus on what you have done and let that pave the way.

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Poor Academic Achievements

Finally, if you have not been the best student academically while in school, do not include those details on your resume. A lot of students feel pressured to include their GPA on their resume. This can be beneficial for you on your job hunt—but only if your GPA is actually high. If your GPA and other class scores are not that high, you should not include them on your resume.

By including poor academic achievements, you are setting yourself up for failure. It is like highlighting your flaws and failings and giving your potential employers reasons not to hire you or bring you to the next step of the application process. You could have enough experience and all the skills a position entails, but the low grades recorded on your resume could put an employer off. They might wonder if you even really want the job if you put your low grades on display in your resume.

Students know that a bad grade does not necessarily indicate that a student is unintelligent. Perhaps you struggle in a certain subject, like math. Or perhaps there were other circumstances one semester that affected your grades. Maybe one bad grade tanked your overall GPA. You can be plenty smart and still not have the best grades or GPA. And you can definitely still be a good, competent worker without high grades or a high GPA either.

Yet, if an employer is trying to narrow down between you and another candidate, they could use your low grades as a deciding factor. The recommendation is not to include your grades or GPA unless that is standard in your career field or industry.

Try going over your resume, looking for these elements, and removing them when possible. This should make your resume a lot cleaner, more concise, and much stronger than it might otherwise have been. Improve your resume and get that job. Good luck with your job search!

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre, a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History, and an MA in Modern European History with a minor in Public History. While a graduate student, she served as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President/Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor). Danielle has been lucky to be writing for Uloop since 2015 and to have served as the FSU Campus Editor since 2015.

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